David Yarus calls himself a hopeless romantic. “All I’m looking for is peace and love,” he said. Yarus’ penchant for passion explains why he has built a business out of playing Cupid.
Yarus is the founder of JSwipe, the Jewish dating app launched last year in time for Passover. Now, just after its anniversary, JSwipe has over 300,000 users.
Yarus grew up in Miami Beach with parents who became increasingly observant throughout his childhood. When Yarus was 16, he embarked on his own spiritual journey. In 2002 he applied to St. Albans School, a rigorous Episcopalian boarding school in Washington, D.C., where he attended the last two years of high school.
Attracted to the challenge and novelty of immersing himself in an unfamiliar environment, Yarus rose to the top of his class, becoming the school’s first Jewish president. “I was the token Jewish kid. It wasn’t about level of affiliation. I represented Judaism as a whole,” said Yarus.
Now calling himself “post-denominational Jewish,” Yarus has developed an algorithm within his app that allows users to choose from a bevy of options, including “Orthodox,” “Kosher” and “Just Jewish.” There is also a large LGBT presence as well as an option for people who aren’t Jewish.
In 2014, Yarus launched mllnnl, a millennial marketing agency that helps organizations like Taglit-Birthright Israel and Hillel International engage millennials through social media. Yarus regularly speaks about the millennial mindset and teaches social media strategy and best practices at major Jewish conferences, including the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly, the Orthodox Union’s YouthCon, Taglit Fellows, the Israeli Consulate and UJA-Federation.
In addition to his many projects, Yarus does pro bono work for Jewish organizations to assist with social media.
As of April, JSwipe has had 500 million swipes, 25 million messages and 10 million matches. The app has also led to three marriages and 10 engagements, according to Yarus.
Swaying in the breeze: In off hours Yarus rides his bike to the water, where he tacks up a hammock for a meditative sway. Tent time: Every year Yarus spends a month in a Bedouin village in the Negev.