Heaven makes all shidduchs, and we are merely facilitators.
JDate, Match.com and similar online dating sites boast legions of successes while Netflix is trending with “Indian Matchmaking” to which some Jews are glued.
Then there’s the Hater app from “Shark Tank,” which matches couples based on things they do NOT like. Meeting through friends to hiring a five-figure professional matchmaker, Jews share the art and mitzvah of making a match.
Even in Nepal. Moishe Shemtov was sent by Chabad to prepare a seder in Manang, north of the Annapurna mountain range, used as a mid-base for scaling Mount Everest. “I was dating others and ready to meet someone special when I got an email from my mom describing the sister of a camper I met at a Catskills camp. Running out of money as a backpacker, I flew back to the U.S., drove to Montreal and bought new clothes to meet ‘super compatible’ Mushkie Fine.”
Shemtov appreciated the matchmaker’s efforts in that he found Mushkie to be attractive, kind, smart and fun-loving. Three months later, he proposed. This past Passover, their third child was born at home in Atlanta with a fireman cutting the cord. (That last part was not part of the plan.) Shemtov noted, “In addition to the classic matchmaker portrayed in the shtetl, family members can be the ‘in between’ instead of the Tinder app.”
Some boldly take the initiative. Intown Jewish Preschool Director Dena Schusterman recalled, “My husband [Chabad Rabbi Eliyahu] was our matchmaker. He told his Dad he wanted to date me. He was best friends with my brother and through mutual friends, the match was suggested, we dated, and got engaged.”
Dena was amused by the eight-part Netflix series “Indian Matchmaking.” I found it to be similar to frum matchmaking in superficial ways: matchmaker and resume, which they call ‘bio data.’ In my world, the highest priority is shared values.
Marriage is about a shared purpose creating a loving home based on the eternal Torah values and practices. In the show, the pettiness, in different variations, is something about which we can get a good laugh. The show underscored how every culture has its own prejudices. We all have to work harder on eradicating that.”
Leah Rubin Lewis focuses on helping older Jewish singles find their bashert (soulmate). She and her husband Andy met as college students at Washington University.
Lewis has been making individual introductions and advocating for “all levels of observance” programs such as hosting a Jewish older singles weekend in Atlanta (which ultimately failed) and trying to get each synagogue to send one representative to a committee to implement local mingling events. “Older Atlanta singles are under-assisted. It can be tricky executing programs where women are more inclined to respond.” Her best advice for finding a mate:
• Don’t get set in your ways. Have one to three non-negotiables. After that, it gets too picky.
• Don’t focus on what you want, rather concentrate on what you need.
• When projecting that you seek a “perfect 10,” ask yourself, “What kind of mate would that person seek? And does that match me?”
Lewis does not charge for her services and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founder of Jewish dating service Saw You at Sinai, Tova Weinberg was a dentist before she sought to fulfill her dream of full-time matchmaking in 2004. She has still not completed her mission. In a recent interview with the AJT from her Jerusalem home, Weinberg, 66, states that she’s never going to stop matchmaking, and does not charge for her services, which are needed now more than ever because “during the pandemic, singles are much lonelier.”
SYAS continues to thrive with about 164 marriages a year. The name is inspired by the midrashim (Jewish commentaries) teaching that every Jewish soul stood at Sinai with his or her soulmate at the giving of the Torah. Now the challenge is finding the bashert, that one you saw at Sinai.
Over 42 years Weinberg personally has made 350 matches. SYAS uses “volunteer” matchmakers (who must be married). “After a successful match, although there is no set charge, we may ask for a charitable donation.”
She also is very keen on the “Indian Matchmaking” series. “Many of these could be Jewish people that I have worked with – uptight, not flexible.”
Weinberg, who appeared in The New York Times’ religion section, shares her observations:
• Some girls are super picky and reject suggested matches. When the right time comes, they marry whoever is running after them. Maybe he’s shorter than they wanted originally. A wonderful personality wins hands down.
• It’s ok to hedge a bit. I don’t lie and tarnish my reputation. But if it’s my judgment, I may subtract a few age years or call someone “chunky” versus obese.
• Address the real issue. A man told me he would marry XXXX if she got rid of her dog. I said, “I’ll take the dog.” Today they are happily married.
Marketing entrepreneur-CEO Joe Koufman speaks from experience about his company Setup™, the marketing matchmakers, where he contrasts business networking skills with romantic compatibly. Joe met his wife Michelle on JDate.
He said, “I knew that night that she would be my wife! I bought the ring four months later, two years later we married at Frogtown vineyards in Dahlonega. We are now happily married with twins.”
He added, “Romantic matchmaking is about compatibility (on paper) and chemistry (sparks). Business matchmaking is about capability and chemistry. We can make a good match by ensuring both parties are compatible (fit “on paper”) but it is up to both parties to lay the groundwork for good chemistry. You would never go on a date without combing your hair and putting on a nice outfit. You have to set the stage for great chemistry.”