When Sam Getz-Sheftel and Rebecca Schwab swiped right on each other on Hinge, they were, needless to say, looking for something more than a business partner. But while getting to know each other through the app, Getz-Sheftel shared with Schwab his idea to start a Jewish organization that would help Jewish young adults better participate in Jewish experiences in Chicago. "You know what, let's not date," Schwab recalls saying, "Let's just start an organization."
The result is ChiTribe, a new initiative to help Jewish young adults find their "tribe-within-a-tribe" by aggregating Jewish events happening throughout the Chicago area onto a single website.
"We want to empower individuals to create the communities they want," says Schwab, who also works full time for KAHAL, another organization that facilitates Jewish experiences, but for study abroad students.
The events ChiTribe pulls into its self-populating calendar range in affiliation and interest and include everything from Shabbat services catering to young adults to holiday meals, happy hours and classes. Schwab wants people to know there's so many more diverse offerings being served in the Chicago area than "deep dish and hot dogs."
Getz-Sheftel, who works by day as a software engineer, got the inspiration for ChiTribe from a similar platform called GatherDC, which he utilized while living for 9 years in the nation's capital. When he moved back to his native Chicago, he found that resource to be missing.
"I know when I lived in D.C. I would go on the Gather[DC] website all the time and see … a really cool event. Maybe I'll go to that," he said.
He relates the model to that of a restaurant menu; while you might not know what you want to eat, you can see what's available, he said.
Schwab said she wants to make it easier for people to find Jewish experiences in the country's fifth largest Jewish community. Over 200 people attended ChiTribe's launch party Aug. 29 at Trophy Room.
Andrew Emmerman recently moved back to Chicago from Israel and attended the party.
"I'm a big fan of the idea behind [ChiTribe] … getting people out there and connected," he said.
Phoebe Skowronski learned about the launch on Facebook and has already checked out the website to find other events to attend.
"I'm trying to get involved in the Jewish young adult community, so I've kind of just been going to all of the events," Skowronski said.
This fall, ChiTribe will be partnering with OneTable to host ChiTribe Shabbat Clusters for young adults looking to celebrate Shabbat with peers who live in their neighborhood and have similar interests. Cluster hosts can utilize the OneTable platform for meal subsidies and other resources.
Have an idea to get Jewish young adults involved beyond attending events? Schwab and Getz-Sheftel are looking for people with big ideas that ChiTribe can help bring to life.