Jewish Matchmaking Alliance Holds Inaugural Conference at Yeshiva University
Representatives from 12 Jewish matchmaking organizations from North America and around the world met on Wednesday, April 25 on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus for the inaugural meeting of the Jewish Matchmaking Alliance (JMA). Developed as the brainchild of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future’s (CJF) YUConnects and SawYouAtSinai, JMA has drawn enthusiastic support from various matchmaking organizations. Its stated mission is “to increase collaborative efforts by leading organizations in developing constructive projects, professionalize education and pool resources geared towards enhancing opportunities available for the Orthodox Jewish singles population.”
YU Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Mordechai Willig, opened the conference with words of inspiration to all those working for this important common goal. At the meeting, each organization shared its successful program initiatives and ideas, and its approach to addressing the singles issue. Subsequently, attendees participated in facilitated conversations examining common obstacles in matchmaking, dating and event planning.
“While many matchmaking organizations may focus on different age groups and religious preferences, there are several commonalities in the dating and matchmaking process across the spectrum,” said Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects. “The meeting was a wonderful platform to start making inroads together in the dating arena. By working together to bring singles together, so much can be accomplished. It was a dream come true and a real kiddush Hashem.”
Participants came from across the Tristate area and Toronto, as well as Australia, Montreal and Israel, via conference call. Organizations represented at the conference included Chabad, Gateways, JSMatchpoint, Kesher, National Council Young Israel, Neve Kesher, Orthodox Union, Sasson V’Simcha (Canada), Sasson V’Simcha (Israel), SawYouAtSinai, Shalom Task Force, Sheefa Links and YUConnects.
“JMA brings together an incredible amount of experience and expertise—more than any of us can access individually,” said Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO of The Jewish House in Sydney, Australia. “…JMA will help raise the profile of this very important issue.”
One hot-button discussion topic was the need for consistency and the possibility of standardized certification in matchmaker training across the gamut of organizations. Matchmaker education can include interviewing skills, addressing sensitivity or concerns of clients, while assisting them in navigating relevant technology and databases, and recognizing when to refer individuals to a therapist.
Other topics included community training programs for singles and peer matchmakers, running joint singles events, the need for community financial backing, and how to best facilitate the matchmaker-client relationship.
“This is a fantastic first step,” said Suzy Schwartz, assistant dean of the CJF. “Networking and collaboration have already begun, conversations started about joining together to share best practices as well as deficiencies, and everyone in attendance hopes that together we will be more successful than working alone.”
SawYouAtSinai founder Marc Goldmann agreed. “The open discussions… general networking that created immediate dividends, and the chizuk that everyone in the room received was incredible to witness,” said Goldman.
The JMA plans to hold meetings on a quarterly basis, hosted by alternating organizations. Learn more about www.yuconnects.com.