In her classroom, Michal makes the rules and sets the example. But at a speed dating event, she evaded the guidelines and joined a workshop for younger women. The move changed her life.
At age 30, Michal Levi had already spent a decade on the dating circuit. She was on various mailing lists and received an email about speed dating – done differently. The program was called Hamifgashim (translation: meetings). “I wasn’t really interested,” recalls Michal. A married friend encouraged her to register.
Meanwhile, Amir Maimon, then 27 and an engineering student, was surprised to receive the same email from the Jerusalem College of Technology. Though he wasn’t enrolled in its program, an inner something prompted him to read the message. Amir wasn’t at all sure he wanted to commit to a three-day marathon of dating. “Then I realized that it was an efficient way of meeting 100 women. And I did want to get married.”
Usually in speed dating, men and women rotate through “short dates,” measured in minutes. At Hamifgashim, groups rotate to attend workshops and activities lasting up to two hours. The non-profit program, in Hebrew, focuses on Orthodox singles, up to age of 40. In 2010, its first year, there were about 150 participants, resulting in two marriages.
Three hundred singles attended the following year. “I remember how nervous I was when I walked in,” she says. “I had decided to go it alone, and it was a decision I never regretted.”
Amir was assigned to Group #3, with the “younger” guys, and Michal to Group #7, with the “older” women. For two days, those groups did not interact. “By the third day, I had met everyone I was ‘supposed’ to meet,” says Michal. “And there didn’t seem to be any real potential.”
“That’s when I decided to enter the workshop of Group #3,” she continues. She persuaded a friend to go with her. Despite the program rules, the workshop coordinator added Michal to the roster. Only then would she be included in the end-of-session rating process.
“It was Michal’s laughter that made me notice her,” says Amir. She had been laughing uncontrollably during the session. He gave her a thumbs up on the rating sheet.
As he was getting ready to go home, Amir decided to take another look at Michal, and he entered a session of group #7. Wisely, the coordinator added his name to the rating sheet. Amir indicated an interest in Michal, which was reciprocated. “I was very interested but never thought he’d call,” says Michal.
The nonprofit''s founder, Yossi Glickman, looked at the ratings and contacted Amir about several potential matches. Amir rejected the first candidate because she was a GUD (geographically undesirable). Amir lives in Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron. Michal had an advantage; she lived in Jerusalem and was only about an hour away.
Michal and Amir got together at a pizza parlor on September 8. “It was not a great first date,” recalls Michal. But Amir wasn’t ready to give up. He thought they should try something fun and suggested bowling. “That idea saved us,” says Michal. They began dating seriously. Mid-January, Amir surprised Michal (and the rest of the diners at a Jerusalem café) by proposing marriage.
Yossi Glickman was an honored guest at their wedding. “After all, Hamifgashim gets the credit for our marriage,” says Michal. She and Amir were married on June 4, 2012. Mazal tov!