, anchor: With
St. Valentine's Day this coming week, we have a report today on the latest in
matchmaking -- online, with or without a matchmaker. There are about 800
Internet dating sites, among them those catering specifically to men and women
of many religious faiths. Want to find a nice Christian or Jewish or Muslim
life partner? Just log on.
Betty Rollin reports.
: Hala Durrah and Adeeb Jaber, who live in Bowie, Maryland,
have been married -- very happily, they say -- for three years. Their daughter,
Ayah, is two. Both Hala and Adeeb are traditional Muslims -- no casual dating
allowed. But they met in a very untraditional way.
: I had gone through the traditional channels that a lot of
Muslim-American and Arab-American women did, which were being introduced by
people through your parents, through family friends. And I didn't really find
anyone, and I was getting a bit frustrated. So a few friends kind of suggested
to me, "Why don't you go on the Internet?" So I decided to try it, and I went
on a Web site called Zawaj.com. I set up a profile describing who I was,
briefly what I looked like, what my goals in life were, what I was looking for.
At the same time you could browse the Web site to look at other profiles of
eligible mates or partners and see what you liked and kind of respond to their
: Adeeb, who is a doctor, also submitted a profile to Zawaj.com.
Dr. ADEEB JABER
: I said that I'm a well-educated professional, actively
practicing Muslim, seeking a Muslim who is also trying to do that which pleases
: I had loved everything he said except for the age. At the
time when I saw his profile, there would have been a 10-year age difference.
And I kind of put the cutoff at 9 years.
: But after several weeks, Hala had second thoughts.
: I saw his profile, and something in my head just kept
telling me, "Respond! Just send him an e-mail. You have nothing to lose. Just
do it!" And I did.
: And so they began to get to know each other via e-mail.
: With the Internet, you can just log on, see where we last
left off, you know, and then touch base again. And what it essentially did was
it allowed for a beautiful continuum to go on. You actually grew with each
: As is the tradition, the family was soon involved, and a meeting
with the young couple and Hala's parents was arranged.
: My parents asked him questions, because in the Arab culture,
and even in the Muslim religion, it's really a family kind of marrying a
: What did you think when you looked at him?
: Well, I actually had a picture of him prior to his coming.
He didn't know what I looked like, and he never asked.
(To Dr. Jaber): So what did you think?
: When I first saw her in her veil, I first thought she looked
like an angel, she looked so beautiful.
: Esther and Shlomo Druckman of New York City have been married
just six months. Like Muslims, some Orthodox Jews also have strict dating
: You can't be in the room alone with a woman; there's no
physical contact until you are married, like you couldn't hold hands, you can't
give her a hug.
: The Druckmans, too, turned to the Internet, to a site for
observant Jews called Saw You at Sinai.com, which involves a matchmaker as
: I can't go and look at a woman's profile if she's not been
suggested to me. I get to make a profile, and I get to see which matchmaker
sees the profile. And then the matchmaker from there decides who else's profile
I can see.
: So Esther was your
: Esther was my first shot.
: And he almost said no.
: I almost said no. I was very skeptical. From the first
phone call, it was love at first sight, love at first phone call. I hadn't even
met her or seen her picture -- she didn't have a picture on the Web site.
: The matchmaker called me; she told me that she had a
suggestion for me, and she read the profile over the phone. And I really liked
it, actually. I liked it a lot.
: What spoke to you about it?
: I'll tell you: passion. He kept talking about how he was
passionate about studying and how he was passionate about music and he was
passionate about everything he did in his life. And that was exactly what I
: Other religions have sites as well. There's DharmaDate for
Buddhists; JDate for both religious and not-so-religious Jews. There's also
Shaadi.com, primarily a Hindu site. And CatholicSingles.com and
One of the biggest sites, eHarmony, is multifaith but got its start because of
its founder's concern about his fellow Christians.
Dr. NEIL CLARK WARREN
(Founder, eHarmony.com): Amongst Christians, the
divorce rate is just as high as amongst atheists and agnostics, and that has
been terrible for us to deal with.
: As the result of his research, Warren identified 29 key factors
to consider in the selection of a partner.
: A lot of Christians think. "If I can just find somebody who
agrees with me on the basic belief about God -- that is, Jesus as God -- and I
feel turned on to them, we can make the marriage work." And I say that's 2 of
: In addition, says Warren, one must consider differences within
the same religion.
: A Pentecostal person is not going to be very happy with a
very rational, very cognitive kind of Christian who doesn't get the spirit very
much in their lives. So you've got to get things like that. You've got so many
denominations in this country, in the Protestant camp, that if you try to get
certain of those denominations together with other denominations, it's not
going to work.
: Singles bars are still thriving, especially in big cities, like
this one in New York, but many religious people wouldn't dream of going to a
singles bar. While the young people here may be looking to hook up, as they
say, for the short term, religious people are looking to hook up for life.
: We believe that who you are with, that spouse that you are
brought together with, is destiny. That God has decreed this -- that it's
written before you are born who you are going to marry and share your life
: The Jewish teaching is much the same.
: You are destined to marry someone; you are destined to
meet the right person. There's a question as to whether or not it was real. So
I was very skeptical -- but not skeptical anymore.
: Who got you together, God or the Internet?
: Well, God is powerful, but even he needs a little help.
: It may be that the most surprising marriage of all is this newly
sanctified marriage of technology and religion. For RELIGION & ETHICS
NEWSWEEKLY, I'm Betty Rollin.