In a series first, “The Bachelor” took its lead on a hometown date to Jewish New York. Ariel Frenkel, one of this season’s final three contestants who was sent home at the last rose ceremony, introduced Bachelor Zach Shallcross to her Ukrainian Jewish family.
The first-generation American quickly became a fan favorite for her level-headedness, maturity and humor. She’s spoken her mind and has quickly been labeled “too cool for Zach” by the show’s viewers.
Rocking knee-high leather boots and trendy longer dresses, Ariel’s quickly become a fashion icon to “Bachelor” nation fans.
Frenkel has discussed her Jewish pride all season long and last Monday night’s episode was no different.
Here’s a bit of information to get to know Ariel and learn why her hometown date is now being labeled the most Jewish “Bachelor” episode ever.
Who is Ukrainian Jewish contestant Ariel Frenkel?
Ariel is a 28-year-old marketing executive from New York City. The brunette beauty has worked for companies such as the Financial Times, Earl Enterprises and William Morris, according to her LinkedIn.
A 2016 George Washington University alum, Ariel completed a whopping 11 internships in marketing, public relations and finance.
She’s also a talented chef. During her college years, she spent a summer at the Apicius School of Culinary Arts in Florence, Italy learning how to cook Italian food from different regions.
Defined as a “thrill-seeker” in her “Bachelor” bio, Ariel’s traveled across the world. She also loves Architectural Digest and “dancing to Abba makes Ariel smile.” In short, she’s the cool girl at your synagogue Vodka and Latkes party.
Ariel previously volunteered with the UJA-Federation of New York and COJECO, which is “the central coordinating body of the Russian-speaking Jewish community of New York.”
On a recent episode of “The Bachelor,” she discussed the importance of the Jewish community with Zach: “I come from a community that is so loving, so fun, so funny. It’s not just my parents and my brother and his wife, it’s the entire Jewish, Ukrainian [immigrant community] in New York.”
Nothing trumps family in Ariel’s life. “My family is so important to me,” she said. “They’re such a window into my life.”
The Frenkel family is made up of her brother Bobby, dad Feliks and mom Marina. Her parents fled Ukraine during the Cold War and immigrated to the United States. In competing in “The Bachelor,” Ariel said that she “is looking to find love like her parents have.”
Her father, in particular, was skeptical about her joining the show’s cast, causing her to joke in a Ukrainian accent “And my dad is like, ‘Ariel, you can’t do the show. I know what they do there. He’s like, ‘orgies.’”
Frenkel’s Instagram documents her life, including her travels and milestones. In December 2021, she shared pictures of her brother and wife Gabrielle’s traditional Jewish wedding, which included a gorgeous floral chuppah and hora.
In addition, Ariel published a now-deleted op-ed in The Algemeiner back in 2014 discussing why Jewish New Yorkers should stand with Israel amid increased terror attacks.
What happened on Ariel’s hometown date to Jewish New York?
Ariel’s hometown date brought her and Zach to the Big Apple for an introduction into her life. The duo met up under the Washington Square Park arch and then grabbed a slice of pizza in the West Village.
The duo then made their way to Sarge’s Deli in Midtown Manhattan to enjoy Jewish delicacies, which Ariel described as a “rite of passage” for Zach entering her Jewish world.
While Ariel chose a pastrami sandwich, she ordered a cow tongue sandwich to a horrified Zach — he quickly admitted that the delicate meat was delicious. In a “Bachelor” first, Ariel spoon-fed Zach gefilte fish, which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy, reaching over for another forkful.
While at the deli, Ariel discussed during an interview how paramount it is that Zach understands where she comes from and embraces her Judaism.
“When someone enters my family or enters my life, they need to know how important it is for me to be proud of my Judaism, to be proud of my family and to be proud of where I come from,” she said.
After the deli, the lovebirds went to a coffee shop speakeasy where they spoke about Ariel’s Jewish-Ukrainian background at length and how being the children of immigrants has shaped her identity.
“My parents fled the Soviet Union and it was very difficult for them,” she said. “They couldn’t be who they were. They were persecuted for being Jewish. And they came to the United States and created a life for my brother and I here and for themselves.
“Being first generation, I spend every day being extremely proud of what my family created and who they made me out to be.” (Read more about the history of the Ukrainian Jewish community.)
Later that night, Zach and Ariel traveled to Brooklyn to meet up with her parents, brother and sister-in-law at a winery. She made it clear that her family’s approval is integral for the continuation of their relationship: “There is no pursuing a relationship with Zach without my family,” she said.
Ariel joked to Zach that they’ll both get “roasted” by her family and then told him to not be nervous. However, she was partially right and he spent the entire date getting flambéed by her brother and father.
The confrontation between the Frenkels and Zach was one of the best parts of the episode because it was evident they took this process seriously and wanted to know why Zach would be a good match for Ariel, rather than the other way around.
“I know you’re the one picking. But at the end of the day, my sister’s the one choosing you,” Bobby said.
Bobby — who Ariel said has threatened to beat up her exes — interrogated Zach the most, asking questions that probably should be asked on “The Bachelor” more.
First, Zach gave a less-than-satisfactory answer to the question of how he plans to reconcile their cultural differences within their relationship and then admitted he did not know Ariel’s birthday nor middle name. Yikes.
“Why should she choose you?” Bobby fired at Zach. The 26-year-old couldn’t think of an answer with any merit…which made things go downhill quickly.
At the most awkward point of the episode, Bobby looked at Ariel and asked, “So do you actually like this guy?”
Zach told papa Feliks that his feelings for Ariel may change “in a week,” causing the patriarch to note that he shouldn’t give Zach 100% of his support if he’s only giving 25% of his affection toward Ariel. At this point, it was already guaranteed that Zach did not get the family seal of approval.
Why this is monumental for “The Bachelor” franchise
While Ariel’s hometown date could be described as a disaster, this was one of the first times Judaism has been at the forefront of “The Bachelor.”
Traditionally, the show’s cast members and leads have been Christian, more often than not, deeply religious Christians looking for someone to share in their faith.
In recent seasons, contestants’ Christian beliefs have been central to the show’s storylines from Tayshia sending home Ivan after learning that he was not a practicing Christian; Matt James leading his contestants in prayer; and the iconic Hannah Brown scene where she says “I have had sex, and Jesus still loves me” to that season’s villain, Luke Parker.
Ariel’s unabashed Judaism was a breath of fresh air for the franchise and, hopefully, set the stage for more Jewish representation in the future.
Jason Mesnick, the first and only Jewish Bachelor in the franchise’s history, said on a 2020 podcast that the ABC dating show was skeptical in casting him because of his Judaism.
“As a network, ABC is always conscious of their advertisers. Because I had a Jewish background, they were saying, ‘We don’t know if America’s ready for that type of thing,’” Mesnick said.
He also alleged that they “filmed a bunch of Jewish things” like spinning dreidels but “everything was cut out.”
At his wedding to Molly Malaney, Mesnick claimed that ABC refused to let him break the glass or do Hava Nagila.
Jewish Bachelorette Andi Dorfman’s season did not mention her Judaism at all.
Despite the dinner with Ariel’s family ending on a sour note, she was given the first rose of the night during hometown week and made it to the fantasy suites as a member of this season’s final three.
Originally Published Mar 17, 2023 11:46AM EDT