Matchmaking Innovations


By Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, Esq.


When we profiled a matchmaker extraordinaire a few weeks ago, we promised to give our readers a glimpse into other matchmaking resources that are available to the frum community. Today, we’ll profile an innovation in technology-assisted matchmaking that has created a matchmaking network that was only dreamed about a few years ago.

When we first began to speak to singles, two individuals who were actively working to help singles each voiced the idea of creating some sort of a computer-assisted network that could enable matchmakers to share information about clients and work together to make matches. We suggested this concept to a number of matchmakers, but all but one was unenthusiastic. The idea couldn’t work for them, they said - they were accustomed to maintaining their client records a certain way and didn’t have the time to transfer this information to a data base, or they didn’t understand computers and couldn’t do any work involving sharing information through computers.

The two decided to focus their energies on training matchmakers, instead of helping them form a network. Meanwhile, other individuals found ways to develop an interactive matchmaking network. About three years ago, Chaim Falk, with the endorsement of Israel’s National Religious Party, founded the Yashfe project which groups together about 200 volunteers from throughout Israel to participate in a networking project to help match up national religious and hareidi national religious men and women. Singles register with the organization and are interviewed by one of the trained volunteers, who in turn post each single’s profile and interview results onto a computer database that only other Yashfe volunteer matchmakers can access. Volunteers promise to devote at least a specific number of hours per month on the project. In the first year, 50 men and women found their zivug through this process, and the number of singles using Yashfe as a resource continues to grow. You can reach Yashfe in Israel at 972-2-644-8422.

We Americans now have our own Internet-based matchmaking network, Saw You At Sinai, which can be reached at www.SawYouAtSinai.com. The originators of the site wanted to create a private, modest and effective way for singles to meet. While a number of people have found their mates after using traditional Internet dating sites and some of these sites are very well run, the system has built-in disadvantages. Many people are uncomfortable posting their picture and information about themselves for thousands of site members to view, even though their name and other details are not revealed. It is also very difficult to screen potential dating partners and there is always the risk that someone has intentionally posted a false profile, or is married, mentally unstable, or even dangerous.

Saw You At Sinai addresses these concerns by reserving access to member profiles to matchmakers who have volunteered to work with the site and who have been screened. Screening is the site managers’ biggest challenge, since it is a time consuming process that involves questions about the matchmaker’s background, the number, ages, and religious backgrounds of current clients, time spent each day on matchmaking, style of matchmaking, training the matchmaker has had, the matchmaker’s discretion, and his or her reliability. The matchmaker’s references are interviewed. Those who are accepted must agree to spend at least four hours on the site each week, but many spend 10-15 hours. Saw You At Sinai works to help its matchmakers improve their skills and rates of success, and in the near future will offer training courses to its matchmakers. At the present time, over 90 matchmakers have been successfully screened and others are patiently awaiting the screening process.

Orthodox (chassidic, yeshivish and modern Orthodox) and Conservative Jewish singles in the U.S., Canada, Israel and Europe who want to join Saw You At Sinai fill out a profile and select between one and two matchmakers as their own personal agent to finding them a match. The single’s matchmakers, who have access to profiles, suggest specific potential matches. The single then is given access to appropriate profiles to review and to decide if they would like to go out. The site is discreet, private, and does not allow browsing of other singles' profiles, but still gives the single the power to proactively look for a match.

www.SawYouAtSinai.com began recruiting members and matchmakers in November, and even though they were just in the formation stages they now have celebrated three engagements and know of many couples who are dating seriously. They’ve got over 2,700 singles who are members of their site, and the number of members increases every day. Right now, membership is free, but within the next two months members will be asked to pay a small monthly fee.

Marc Goldman, a manager of the site, explains why Saw You at Sinai has so much potential within the Jewish community. “You would be amazed by the privacy and concern for member’s emotions that we take into account at every stage of the development of our site. We have combined the advantages of human interaction, verification and evaluation with systematic online screening, searching and coordination.” So far, Goldman observes, “The reaction has been very positive. Since our inception, our reputation has been sole method of advertising. People spread the word about our site, so it is critical that we deliver a high value, quality service. I have always held by the belief stated in Kohelet, “Tov Shem Me Shemen Tov”, a good name is more valuable than good oil.”

We wish great success to everyone who participates in Saw You At Sinai, as well as to our readers who select their dating partners through more conventional means.

Many of our readers responded to our profile of matchmaker Mrs. M. She prefers that we keep her identity private, as she works within a small segment of the community in which she lives and feels that she cannot be helpful to other clients. The purpose of the profile was to help our readers –matchmakers and singles alike – adapt her successful methods to their own situations. (Written in the Jewish Press June 4, 2004)