Old World folklore paints a colorful picture of the chatty village matchmaker who knows everything about everyone and uses her knowledge to pair up eligible singles and set them on the path toward marriage. After all, who can forget Fiddler on the Roof, a story set in a small Russian town where three Jewish sisters sing to their well-connected matchmaker, Yenta, “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match”?
I’m always fascinated to learn how couples get together, and it strikes me how often there has been a matchmaker of some kind involved in lighting the spark in a modern-day relationship. Whether it’s a professional matchmaker, a friend of a friend or an online dating service, they all share the goal of helping compatible singles find each other – and lifelong happiness together.
In some Jewish traditions, finding the right mate is thought to be a matter of destiny. These people believe in bashert, the concept that each person has an ideal intended spouse designated for them from before birth. Fate will somehow lead them to that person.
To that end, professional matchmakers still are regularly used to bring couples together for marriage in Orthodox Jewish communities. My mother’s friend, Helen, provides this service. While you might think that matchmaking is an old-fashioned concept, Helen is anything but. She uses the matchmaking website www.sawyouatsinai.com that features an extensive database of eligible Jewish singles who have signed up for the service. She studies their detailed profiles and gets to know them personally. Unlike the old Yenta of the past, Helen and other matchmakers are discreet and vigilant, handling confidential information carefully. When she’s comfortable with suggesting a date, she does so, and then follows up. Although she won’t give her personal numbers, she says she’s made “quite a few” matches with no divorces, and overall, SawYouAtSinai has helped more than 1,600 singles find their bashert.
My cousin, Joanna, took a different route and found a wonderful partner by going through an online community for dating Jewish singles. Her main motivation was to find the right person without having to rely on chance meetings or the bar scene. Once she decided on JDate, she posted a few photos and filled out a comprehensive profile that included everything from her family background, religious beliefs and education to preferred leisure activities, smoking preferences and much, much more. Harry had done the same. Like a matchmaker, the computer filtered out the unsuitable candidates and gave each of them a list of potentially compatible dates. And voila! They found each other and have been happily married for nearly six years.
My own marriage has the element of a matchmaker, as well. I got to know my future mother-in-law, Louise, quite well while selling handcrafted Judaica jewelry to her specialty store, the original Traditions Jewish Gifts. After several meetings, she insisted that I visit a new store, where the owner, her son, would definitely be interested in buying our products. So I found myself heading out to the new store, where I met Brad. And one year later, we were married.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter if matches are made using technology, or instinct or both. What counts is two people coming together to share happiness in a loving relationship. I love the way my mother’s friend, Helen, describes the chemistry in a good match: “It’s the clicking of two souls.”No tags for this post.