Now Beginning its Third Year, CJF Program Offers Jewish Singles Multiple Opportunities to Connect
Much has been said about the need for healthy outlets where Jewish singles can meet one another with little pressure and, hopefully, find their soul mates.
In 2008, Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF)—committed to inspiring and strengthening Jewish communities around the world—decided to pool its unique resources and create a program with a multi-faceted approach to the age-old issue of meeting a mate. The result was YUConnects, a program that matched Yeshiva University students and alumni from an extensive online database.
With the recent engagement of two accomplished YU Graduates, Yaffi Spodek and Matan Wexler, YUConnects celebrated its 50th shidduch [match].
“What makes YUConnects unique is its capacity to convene a team of Yeshiva University trained mental health experts and Torah personalities from RIETS and partner with our students, alumni, educators and the community to promote effective dating and healthy relationships,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, The David Mitzner Dean of the CJF.
YUConnects is facilitated by more than 100 trained “YU Connectors”—many of them YU alumni themselves—dedicated, often seasoned matchmakers who get to know the singles signed up to the site and suggest shidduchim for them. To widen the network of available men and women, YUConnects—powered by SawYouatSinai, one of the Jewish community’s largest dating sites—recently opened registration to the public.
“This program offers multiple opportunities for individuals to meet,” said Rebbetzin Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects. “In addition to the various social events held throughout the year, participants can network online with assistance from their Connectors.”
One such event was an “International Weekend of Creating Connections” in May of 2010 that successfully partnered dozens of communities with YUConnects to develop unique programming for local singles.
Spodek, who met Wexler at an August mixer co-sponsored by YUConnects and the Young Israel of Teaneck, recalls being initially hesitant to sign up to the site.
“I was among the first of my friends to sign up,” recalled Spodek, a graduate of Stern College for Women and Columbia’s school of journalism. “Now, however, it has become much more accepted in the community and I don’t think there is a stigma associated with dating sites anymore among the post-collegiate crowd.”
For his part, Wexler, a rabbi at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County and a graduate of Sy Syms School of Business, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration signed up right away at the request of his close friends.
Now planning their April wedding and setting up their home in Washington Heights, the duo is eager to reciprocate their joy. “We would love to become Connectors and are excited to help singles,” said Spodek. “As people who have been through the system and who know the difficulties of the dating process, we view it as an opportunity to give back to others.”
For more information about YUConnects and for a schedule of upcoming events, please visit www.yuconnects.com.