On their ‘Schmuckboys’ podcast, two women share their passion for Jews dating Jews


(New York Jewish Week) — Despite its name, neither shmucks nor boys are the hosts of a Jewish dating podcast called “Schmuckboys.”

Instead, the podcast is the brainchild of content creator Libby Amber Walker, a 25-year-old Manhattanite, and video producer Marla Friedson, 27, who moved from New York to Los Angeles in late 2022. The pair, who met at a barbecue for young Jewish professionals in New York during the COVID-19 pandemic, instantly bonded over their zeal for helping Jews date other Jews.

The two women, who are passionate about growing the Jewish community, felt there was a lack of authentic representation of what it’s like to be young, Jewish and looking for love. Instead of relying on dating “advice” from well-meaning if out-of-touch parents and grandparents, “Schmuckboys,” which premiered in November 2021 and is a production of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal’s podcast network, spotlights the voices of Gen Z and millennials.

Walker and Friedson and their guests — including “Jewish Matchmaking” star Aleeza Ben Shalom and actor Jonah Platt  — dish on everything from the Jewish matchmaking process to bringing up conversion with a non-Jewish partner to the unique challenges of dating within the LGBTQ Jewish community.

“What do people in their 20s and 30s talk about? Dating,” Friedson told the New York Jewish Week. “It’s become less taboo to be proudly single and talk about wanting to find someone. As women who specifically want to date Jewish, we felt there was a space for this because while a lot of people talk about dating, there’s some issues that are specific within the dating community that only Jews can relate to.”

Case in point: When asked what the biggest challenge of dating within the Jewish community is, both Friedson and Walker said that the communal nature of Jewish life can quickly cement or doom a relationship. Since Jewish communities are often small in any given city — something that feels true even in a place like New York City, which has more than 1.3 million Jews —  it’s not uncommon for people to date someone who was previously involved with a friend or family member.

“The odds of you dating someone that your friend dated is slimmer and maybe looked more down upon when you’re not dating in the Jewish world,” Friedson said. “People have to be a bit more mature and accepting of that. And it’s not always easy to do.”

Then again, Walker — who has been in a relationship since the podcast began — said that the intermingled nature of Jewish dating can actually be a strength, as singles can better vet potential suitors since they probably knew someone who dated them or went to Jewish summer camp with them.

“We help each other but we also hurt each other in the process, since we just know too much before we meet,” Walker said, explaining that this over-familiarity often robs singles the chance to get to know their dates themselves.

As for the podcast’s name, the phrase was coined by Walker as a Yiddish version of the popular slang term “f–kboy.” That word is helpfully defined by Dictionary.com as “that guy … the one who doesn’t respect women, but relies on them heavily. He’s distant, doesn’t care about other people’s time, and won’t commit. He’s self-absorbed, does stupid things, and f–ks with others’ emotions.”

Walker emphasized the main facet of a schmuckboy is their refusal to commit. They will depend on a woman like a girlfriend and often treat her like a girlfriend, she said, but will refuse to define their relationship as anything more than casual.

“My favorite word is ‘potential’ — nothing is definite,” she elaborated. “They will definitely do things as a boyfriend and then make it very clear that they have no intentions of doing that right afterwards.”

Friedson, who is currently single, added that schmuckboys are players who will make their date believe they’re monogamous, but never will be: “They date around but will never say that,” she said.

While “Schmuckboys” was founded to talk about dating, topics like Jewish identity, Israel and antisemitism have become just as integral to the podcast as the discussion of so-called schmuckboys themselves. This is particularly true since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel — given their platform, Friedson said they felt it was “a calling” to speak out in support of Israel on their podcast.

“There wasn’t a question in either of our minds that we would talk about Israel,” Friedson said, adding that hosting high-profile guests — like influencer Liv Schreiber and activist and sports journalist Emily Austin — made it crucial to talk about the war. “We get to give important voices a platform to continue using their voices. There are a lot of people we interviewed whose platforms we want to help to elevate since our community has to be as loud as we can be because we’re the only ones talking about it.”

The pair had intended for Season 3, which launched in early November 2023, to be much in the vein of the first two seasons. But when the war began, Friedson and Walker had to put their lighthearted dating conversations on the backburner and pivoted to discussing antisemitism on college campuses, dealing with misinformation on social media, and advocating for the remaining hostages in Gaza. They invited Adela Cojab Moadeb — an Israel activist and NYU graduate who sued the school in 2019 for antisemitism — and influencer Lizzy Savetsky, who discussed her experience traveling to Israel after the war began.

Addressing more diverse topics became an educational experience for both the podcast’s listeners as well as its hosts. “We learned the importance of Judaism, to the core,” said Walker, who is also a TikTok influencer and comedian who often goes by the persona of “Sheryl Cohen,” a Jewish mom. “Like some people might think from the [podcast] name that it’s like some silly little gimmick, but really, it’s not.”

Still, dating — and dating advice — remains the bread-and-butter of “Schmuckboys.” And when it comes to dating tips, Friedson recommends that people should always be upfront and straightforward. She also encourages women to shoot their shot since she feels that societal norms often hold them back from being the first one to strike up a conversation.

“I don’t think it helps you to hide the way you’re feeling or to play games,” she said. “If you’re interested in someone and you’re trying to figure out if there’s something there, don’t be afraid and just say something.”

Ultimately, no matter how much Jewish dating advice the “Schmuckboys” hosts dole out, Walker emphasizes that it’s the day that someone stops needing advice that really matters. “One day you just stop asking for advice because you don’t need it,” she said. “You’re just going to be with a person that makes sense.”