The mobile app Shagrir’im Ba’Lev (Lit. Ambassadors in the Heart, the name is a riff on the Lev Academic Center where it was first introduced) has recently partnered with the Orthodox Union and now offers sections of the app to Anglos in Israel who are part of the Orthodox community (we’ll offer the English app here as soon as the link is provided — DI).
The app, which began as a student social activity established by a student named David Shimoni at the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), has by now blossomed into a fully functioning platform with over 4,000 participants.
Unlike most dating apps, Shagrir’im Ba’Lev relies on dedicated matchmakers to carefully curate potential matches for the participants. The matchmakers are trusted friends of the participants who must enroll in a comprehensive training program to understand how the app works. Once that’s complete, they have access to the platform’s secure and sensitive data which consists of detailed information about each participant including their age, hobbies, religious observance, army service, and other important dating characteristics.
All participants must have a matchmaker who represents and advocates for them to be matched with appropriate candidates. Registration costs NIS 160, and if you get lucky, each spouse must pay at least NIS 1’500 to his or her “ambassador.”
“Each matchmaker must be discreet and selective when choosing candidates for their participants,” the app’s chief technical officer Rami Treistman explained. “On the other hand, these are not necessarily professional matchmakers, they just want to see their friends get married.”
“On a regular dating website, people hide information. A lot of dating sites are focused on fun and here it’s very much focused on a serious relationship geared toward marriage. Because the platform is not public, candidates feel free to be as open as possible and divulge sensitive information in the hopes that this data will lead to their matchmaker finding a quality candidate for them.”
Through the app’s partnership with the Orthodox Union, participants can now submit their questionnaires in English. However, since the majority of participants are native Hebrew speakers, all matches will likely expect candidates to have a working understanding of Hebrew.
Matchmakers conduct in-depth interviews with potential matches to ensure they are suitable and once the two matches meet on a date, the matchmakers will continue to log and keep track of the couple’s progress and future interactions.
To date, 57 couples got married directly through the app and 528 couples got married once they started using the app, although they found their spouses elsewhere.
“We still count those because once you’re affiliated with the program, your matchmaker helps you get in a dating mindset and acts very much like a dating coach that sets you on a path of success,” Treistman said.
He added that this app, which was initially launched only for JCT students, has been of particular interest to the Orthodox community, where the pressure to get married is more acute.
“I see how much this platform helps. A lot of people don’t have organic access to a dating pool and don’t know where to find people. At school they don’t teach you how to flirt or network, and this platform gives them the tool to do so,” Treistman said.