On the more traditional side stands Tova Weinberg. The year-old, Pittsburgh-based shadchan has been a matchmaker for Jews of all stripes for most of her adult life and was involved in the founding of SawYouAtSinai. Because of the impersonality of dating apps, she says, her business is booming.
In Orthodox Dating Scene, Matchmakers Go Digital
David Yarus, who founded JSwipe in , does not see the app as supplanting matchmaker-based options, but rather as expanding opportunities for successful matches. At a time when navigating the dating scene seems more fraught than ever, those committed to the matchmaking system believe a middleman or woman can be essential. Avitan, however, takes a swipe, so to speak, at the shadchan-based model of SawYouAtSinai, where matchmakers peruse profiles and suggest potential matches.
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As the gig economy creates increasing expectation for intensely customizable and immediately accessible services — from ride sharing to grocery delivery — questions about the usefulness of a standardized matchmaking system that involve less input on the part of the user continue to emerge. And while SawYouAtSinai and its affiliates are traditional in their commitment to the importance of the matchmaker, their payment model — based on couples paying matchmakers directly upon a successful engagement — hews neatly to a model similar to Uber and other on-demand direct service companies.
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In contrast, Avitan charges his clients for consultation not based on success but by the hour. Matchmaking is an ancient tradition, central to Jewish culture.
How Matchmakers Work
In Hebrew it is referred to as Shidduch and is considered a mitzvah commandment. Traditionally, any member of the community could and often would try his hand at matchmaking, thus becoming a matchmaker or shadchan. Often, when the amateur matchmakers mothers, family members, friends, etc … failed to succeed , a professional shadchan would be hired.
At a time when contacts between young Jewish boys and girls were restricted if not forbidden, this community involvement ensured that every Jewish single of marriageable age would find a mate so the community would survive and eventually grow.
However in Ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox Jewish communities, where contact with the opposite sex is still limited outside the family circle, matchmaking remains a vibrant activity and, as in the past, the entire family and professional matchmakers can be involved in the process. In these closely-knit communities, matchmaking often starts with a personal recommendation.
Those considered for marriage are carefully scrutinized.
Many inquiries are made about the potential mate. The matchmaker has to find out information about character, intelligence, education, future plans for work and family, wealth, level of religious observance, expectations, etc. A complete picture of the person must be formed before the matchmaker can consider introducing potential partners.