Meet my friend Anna
Anna comes from a large family of what she calls “facilitated marriages”.
Her parents met through a New York City based dating service in 1986, her Aunt and Uncle met using the first computer dating system in 1969, numerous family members and friends met using online dating sites; and all have successful marriages with many children.
A Jewish Dating Expert
Anna helps many Jewish singles find their perfect match through her matchmaking business Chai Connections (Pronounced “HAI” in Hebrew as “HAI” means life, life connections)
A phone call with Anna
A few days ago I was talking on the phone with Anna and I asked her why she became a matchmaker? I also asked her for a some advice that she could share with people looking to hire a matchmaker.
…here is Anna’s expert reply
Matchmaking: An Age Old Career Resurfaced
When I was in college, I found myself studying a particular subject, not often found in the University Course Catalog. I was naturally drawn to courses in Judaism; and I found myself fascinated by the subject of Jewish dating. In each of my Jewish Studies Courses, I was fascinated by stories about romantic relationships. While this may sound common for a young Jewish woman, I was intrigued by the intricacies of the relationships. How did they meet? What kept them together, or what brought them apart? How were they so certain that this was the right person? It became like an anthropological study of Jewish dating.
One year after my initial interest was sparked, I met with my Judaic Studies Professor to discuss the topic of my final paper for a Cultural Judaism class. My proposed topic was Jewish dating in conjunction with assimilation in the modern era. When I presented my thesis, my professor looked at me quizzically and asked, “Isn’t this the same topic as your paper from last semester’s course?” “Of course not! That was totally different. That was on romantic relationships in Orthodox communities, this is on Jewish dating in the modern era. They are totally different.” I responded. My professor hesitated, yet ultimately let me write the paper. I imagine her hesitation resulted from having never had a student write so much on this particular subject matter. As the years went on, my intrigue only grew stronger, and I continued to study the field.
Most think of the practice as an age old tradition, popularized by films like “Fiddler on the Roof”.
The tradition of matchmaking goes as far back as the Bible, when Eliezer, servant of Abraham, was instructed to find a match for Abraham’s son Isaac. In fact, the Talmud states that the head Rabbi could give corporal punishment to a man who was married without a shiddchan, or matchmaker.
Nowadays, the idea that one would be required by law to have an intermediary facilitate their marriage seems ludicrous. However, if we take the time to really think about the logic, does it seem so preposterous?
In modern America we have coaches for nearly everything we do. Financial consultants, athletic coaches, college counselors, spiritual guides, IT consultants academic advisers, the list goes on. Yet when it comes to choosing a partner, perhaps one of the most critical decisions we make in our lives, we rely primarily on ourselves to be the experts. On the surface, this makes sense. As human beings, we can pinpoint exactly what we want in life; what kind of career, where to live, how to raise a family, etc.. Therefore, we should be able to spot a desirable partner based on our own specific wants and needs. But when we want to find that partner, how do we go about it? And moreover, if we are lucky enough to find that perfect partner, how do we know they are the one? And finally, once we determine that that special person is in fact the one, how do we get them to stick around once they discover all of our minute idiosyncrasies? With all of the intricacies of dating, how can we truly be the expert in the game of love?
Who is the expert?
In Academia, we look to those who study a particular field as the experts. Scholars hone in on a specific subject matter: History, Philosophy, Religion, Political Science, Medicine etc… After a dictated period of time of study, they are awarded a degree, deeming them an expert; one to turn to when questioning a matter in that field. Yet when it comes to love, oftentimes we deem ourselves the expert. When I was in college, I studied Religion, one of my favorite professors always became infuriated when people insisted that one had to be religious to be an expert on Religion. He would make the analogy, that one doesn’t study Biology because they are biological; they study because they are interested in the science as a subject matter. So too could Religion be studied as a subject, not necessarily in conjunction with following it as a practice.
The subject of Love
Likewise, I’ve found that Love can be viewed as a subject matter; something that people can study, a Social Science perhaps, and become an expert in. Thus if becoming an expert requires study, rather than personal practice, how can we rely solely on ourselves the experts in our own love life? I think singles owe it to themselves to give in, and accept help from the experts.
Growing up, I never dreamed of becoming a matchmaker. While my interest in Jewish Dating as a subject matter grew in college, I never associated it with a career. In fact, I always dreamed of becoming a dentist, a field totally incongruous with Jewish Dating (unless you consider the many Jewish mothers who dream of their daughter marrying a doctor, and then settle when she finds a nice Jewish Dentist). It wasn’t until earlier this year that I realized I could actually make a career out of my passion. After my initial epiphany that matchmaking was in fact a modern practice, I met with my Rabbi to inquire about it. As a fellow Jewish Dating enthusiast, he was tremendously supportive of my venture, and thus Chai Connections was born (To see Anna’s blog click here)
Advice on hiring a Matchmaker.
The most important thing is making sure that the matchmaker you hire is compatible with your personality-spend a few minutes talking with them to see if your personalities and ideology are a good fit! (Otherwise it’ll be a painful waste of time.
Also don’t be afraid when choosing a matchmaker to ask them “What’s your track record” you want to feel confident in their ability to find you that someone special!
Something else to consider
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