Our beautiful Jewish legacy is replete with stories of matches and ways that our ancestors were united in marriage. In reviewing many of those accounts from the Tanach and Talmud, a common theme becomes clear: their diverse ways of meeting had nothing in common. Each one was unique, no one method was utilized and each had its own hashgacha pratit (individual Divine intervention).
Yitzchak and Rivka were united through an “old fashioned” matchmaker like Eliezer. Rachel met her husband, Yaakov, at the well. Moshe Rabbeinu was a ben-bayit (regular guest) at the home of his future father-in-law, while King Shaul hand-picked David the warrior to be the intended for his daughter Michal. And, it should certainly be noted, Ruth met Boaz in the workplace.
We also see through the tale of one of the most joyous days of the year, Tu B’Av, that there were community-sanctioned public gatherings in Yerushalayim and its environs which historically turned into an auspicious day for matchmaking and betrothals (Mishna, Ta’anit 26b).
In our day and age, where Grossinger’s doesn’t exist and many bemoan the difficulty of finding their spouse in this hyper-connected but socially-disconnected world, YUConnects fills the void by aiding individuals and communities in expanding their horizons and creating new opportunities.
Davening (praying) for siyahta d’shimaya (Divine help) remains of paramount importance, of course, and Hashem’s blessing is what truly matters. At the same time, hishtadlut, personal and communal effort, is essential.
Here are our practical suggestions for those entering the dating world to increase his or her opportunities for suggestions and introductions:
● Network (and network, network, network!): Many of the suggestions for successfully landing a job apply equally as well to obtaining a date. Speak to everyone you meet in an upbeat, positive way. While some disparage a written “profile,” putting something tangible on paper offers definite advantages. It serves a as a permanent physical reminder for a friend or matchmaker who can have the details handy when recommending you; of course, you also get to clearly articulate what you are seeking. The debate about whether to include the “dreaded photo” will not be resolved here but it should be noted that many young adults have their profiles and photos very visible on the internet already through the various social media. A photo on a profile allows one to immediately “put their best face forward” since they will invariably be “Googled” by a prospective match.
● Be active in community events and activities: Expand horizons beyond work or school, meet as many new people as possible, participate in social chessed activities and accept opportunities to grow spiritually while making new connections. All of these additional experiences make you more interesting and more desirable as a life partner.
● Register online: In the recently published groundbreaking study led by Dr. Eli Finkel, which examined current online trends (Online Dating: A Critical Analysis from the Perspective of Psychological Science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest), the researchers noted that by 2009 more romantic relationships were begun online than through any means other than meeting through friends. Some databases that exist nowadays offer the best of both worlds – they have access to thousands of members but are discreet and allow for directed personal matchmaking through an intermediary. The matchmakers of SawYouAtSinai and YUConnects are able to view a profile and make appropriate suggestions as they arise. Numerous options exist which allow the member to choose how public, private or visible a profile will be to others.
● Attend singles events: Appropriate social events offer so many distinct advantages. They allow one to meet dozens of suitable suitors at in a single evening or day, plus one can network with facilitators or matchmakers and suggestions often arise for you or for friends (see next point!). Events and activities are interesting, enjoyable and YUConnects specializes in providing venues that are comfortable, relaxed and selective. Recent YUConnects events have ranged from chessed projects for homebound seniors to a multimedia trivia panoply game to exciting food competitions modeled after the Food Network shows, plus many more fun-filled programs. Even if an event does not lead to a direct date, it is a great way to get out and keeps a person on other people’s minds.
● Make suggestions for others: Just as davening for others can cause the Almighty to answer your prayers first, making suggestions for others not only truly helps your friends, but it actually is part of hishtadlut. By thinking of your friends and neighbors, and coming up with suggestions, you not only do a chessed, but it is a great way to keep your name in the minds of those you speak to.
● Meet matchmakers: Certainly don’t rely on any one matchmaker. The most important thing to realize is that they are overwhelmed with hundreds, if not thousands, of names running through their heads. Therefore, stand out. Make the extra effort to meet them in person. Become a real individual to them and not simply another young person who “loves to read, travel and spend time with family.” Please bear in mind that matchmakers who seem not to care because they have not made any suggestions are not necessarily ignoring you. They may simply be inundated or have been turned down by prospective matches. Remind them with a friendly e-mail once a month or with a quick call before Yom Tov wishing them a happy holiday.
As Orthodox Jews, we know that Hashem is there to help. Though He sends many messengers, each one of us must put in our effort. Certainly, the path to success in making matches is tumultuous and overwhelming at times, with many challenges along the way. But if each of us does our part and makes our personal and communal efforts, we are sure to be successful.
About the Author: Marjorie Glatt, J.D., serves as the Special Projects Coordinator at YUConnects (www.YUConnects.com), a premier relationship-building program run by Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future. Grounded in academic research and the educational resources of Yeshiva University, YUConnects initiates conversations with community leaders, mental health professionals, educators and the greater community in an effort to establish healthy relationship-building fundamentals and, ultimately, more Jewish homes and families. This article is an excerpt from the first volume of a special two-part YUConnects edition in the CJF’s longstanding To-Go® series. It can be downloaded in its entirety at http://www.yutorah.org/togo/yuconnects/.
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