The Formula For Matchmaking
Ilana and Aaron met for the first time during the summer of 2005. Ilana was a marketing intern for SYAS and staffing their first Shabbos Nachamu weekend, and Aaron was a participant. The two hit it off quickly, and even though Ilana was leaving soon to spend her (college) senior year studying in Israel, Aaron asked her out on a date. They decided to go out just one time, not expecting much and leaving things open-ended for the future. They had great date. It lasted 5 hours and included a trip on the Circle-line, a stop at Ben & Jerry’s, and a long discussion on a random park bench. Ilana left for Israel two weeks later. She and Aaron kept in touch via email for a few weeks and by Succos time had lost touch.
Fast forward three years now to 2008. Ilana and Aaron were each in the Shidduch process and despite running into one another at Central Park the summer of ’07, never thought to try dating again. Mostly because of their 9 year age gap which was discovered after agreeing to their initial date.
This time around Ilana signed up for the same Shabbos Nachamu weekend as a participant. Aaron had just stopped seeing someone else and had no interest in attending. However, when Marc Goldman asked him last minute to accompany his friend Lavi Greenspan on the Shabbaton, Aaron agreed. Lavi has lost his eyesight several years earlier and would be participating and speaking about his inspirational personal story during the weekend. Aaron planned on helping Lavi but did not plan to meet anyone.
That weekend Ilana though she spotted Aaron Friday night, but the two first ran into each other Shabbos afternoon. Ilana’s opening line …. “Are you crashing?” She had checked the participant list on Friday, scanned the names for guys she had dated, and did not recall seeing Aaron’s name which alphabetically would have been one of the first. Aaron explained that he was on the Shabbaton just to assist Lavi and was not officially participating. Soon after Aaron thought of a friend to set-up with Ilana and thought they should catch-up to determine if the suggestion was still appropriate. As the two had an extensive conversation about the last three years since seeing one another Aaron realized that he was interested in dating Ilana himself. The two had each grown spiritually and now had even more in common. Lavi, knowing that Aaron had been talking to Ilana for several hours in the afternoon, intuitively decided to take matters into his own hands at Seuda Shlishit. When Aaron stepped away from the table, Lavi asked Ilana if she would consider dating Aaron again. She said she wasn’t sure and gave no definitive answer. When Aaron returned to the table Lavi brought up the subject and put the two on the spot to schedule a date. Partially out of interest, and partially out of respect for Lavi, Ilana and Aaron scheduled a second first date.
Their relationship progressed quickly. Ilana and Aaron dated continuously and spoke on the phone every night, even when Aaron went on vacation to Israel. Both had a “good feeling” early on but waited three ½ months to get engaged.
They have now been married for a year, are living in Queens, and are grateful to Lavi and SawYouatSinai for bringing them together, twice :)
Ilana – 25 from Plainview
Aaron – 34 from Baltimore/NYC
Met August 2005 & 2008
Ilana introduced her friend Emily to her husband. Emily and Ilana became friends because they interned together at SYAS that summer :)
Matt was 34 when he met Asya, 25. He was from Staten Island; she from Boston. The couple was married in March 2008 and reside in Brookline, Massachusetts.
What was your impression on the phone?
M: It was a really engaging conversation. It was scintillating. Sometimes you talk to people and there’s just not a lot to talk about and that didn’t seem to be the case.
What did you do on your first date?
A: We went to a lousy Chinese Restaurant.
Did you know right away that this was your match? Or did the relationship grow to the point that you realized this was the right person?
M: It was a very casual date. I was intrigued at first sight, not love at first sight
Sometimes we think you know exactly what you want but when you find the right person you realize that this person is actually different than what you thought you wanted. How does your spouse compare to the image of the person that you thought you’d marry?
A: He was exactly what I wanted.
M: Its interesting, we tend to think about our bashert in really specific details about what we are looking for. I would say that Asya ticks a lot of the right boxes. But if you had asked me a year ago what does your bashert look like and who is she and all those things that make someone not just a set of specifications but actually human, I don’t think that I would ever have come up with the picture of Asya.
How long did you date before becoming engaged?
M: First date to engagement was about 3 months
Tell me about the proposal?
A: Moshe took me to the beach that we went to early on in dating and it was a magical day.
M: Of course the beach in the winter is totally deserted and I can say it was an amazing moment.
Aside from SawYouAtSinai, what other ways did you employ to meet people? (How did you go about dating? Use site, use other sites? Blind dates?)
A: I used other sites and friends recommendations
M: I used other sites and friends, and I would try to meet people at shul and other places. I even met someone on an airplane who I was serious with for awhile.
How long would you say that you were seriously looking for someone?
A: about 3 years
M: It’s been awhile
What were the biggest challenges that you feel that you went through while dating?
M: My travel schedule was pretty hectic. I spend almost half the month overseas. We’d go on a great date and then I’d be gone to Australia. It sorta breaks the momentum of things but it also forced us to be more thoughtful about things.
What did you find most helpful about the matchmaker?
M: It takes the meat market almost out of the equation. I think it’s really easy for people to become really jaded from looking through profiles.
How involved with your relationship was the matchmaker who set you two up?
M: For me it was a good casual relationship. Some people pour out their souls to their shadchans, but I felt like she had a good sense of who I was. Shifra was sending me people who I felt fit me, and I trusted her. She had a good sense of what I was looking for. She was also very effective at coaxing a bit. She was able to give me feedback from the girls
A: I really appreciated her technique. I worked with other matchmakers on the site, and Shifra was the one who would email me and ask me how things were going.
Did the matchmaker keep to your preferences or did he/she encourage you to meet people who fell outside your initial dating guidelines? What advice would you give to others about this?
A: I was too open minded at first, but I would tell people to try to meet as many people as possible.
Did you have any hesitation about using an online dating site? About using a matchmaker? What convinced you to try it? What surprised you the most about the site and the matchmakers?
A: by the time I got to SYAS I had been on other sites. My younger sister was on SYAS and she convinced me to try it.
What would you say to encourage others to try online dating, specifically SawYouAtSinai?
M: Someone recently made a comment to me that ‘gee its such an unromantic way of meeting someone’ and my response was that it was just the opposite and I think people should realize this. Leaving things to chance is possible, but for me what’s more romantic is making your own fate. I know I can always tell my kids that.