Viewers of Netflix’s entertaining Jewish Matchmaking documentary series will likely remember Cindy Seni, 28, whose appearances on the show are the only ones set in Jerusalem.
The series successfully debuted earlier this month and is already a sensation in the Jewish world for its focus on the Jewish dating scene. It takes place in the US and Israel, where matchmaker (shadhanit in Hebrew), Aleeza Ben Shalom, sets up Jewish singles on shidduchim (“dates for the purpose of marriage”).
Seni, who immigrated to Jerusalem in 2018, told The Jerusalem Post she was surprised the show decided to include the Jewish nation’s capital, since “Hollywood likes to kind of ignore Jerusalem.”
In her opinion, “the show did a really good job of representing Jewish diversity and religious diversity.”
From France to Canada to making aliyah
Seni’s French Zionist family was forced to move to Canada in the early 2000s due to growing antisemitism, she explained. In Canada she founded the Jewish student union at her high school – and inaugurated a branch of the Hillel student organization on her university campus.
After moving to Israel she was employed at the Foreign Affairs Ministry; the IDF’s spokesperson’s office; and IDF social media units. She also worked to combat BDS and protect Jewish students on college campuses.
“I’m very grateful that Jews from Israel were included [in Jewish Matchmaking],” and “very happy to be able to represent Jerusalem in this way,” Seni told the Post.
“I think this is one of the first reality shows that actually portrays [Israeli Jews] well – and doesn’t make Israel this weird place that no one talks about, or is swept under the rug. I think that’s a big step for us,” she said.
“The relationship of Jews to Israel was very normalized. It wasn’t something that was weird and it wasn’t taboo, which is the reality. I think, for most Jews and their connection to Israel,” she said.
“It was some of the show’s producers’ and crew’s first time in Jerusalem... and the responses were so great,” she said.
“Some of them liked Jerusalem even more than Tel Aviv.”
The challenges of dating in the modern day
THE SHOW tackles issues such as the difficulties of dating these days and the diverse ways in which Jewish people observe their religion.
Throughout the show, participants are supposed to be set up with multiple potential marriage candidates. However, throughout the show’s eight episodes, Seni only went out with one person.
“The show had intentions of setting me up with other people besides Daniel, but unfortunately they got COVID,” she said. All the same, she got the feeling “that Aleeza really wanted me to work it out with Daniel.”
Regarding Jewish Matchmaking and how people are set up with matches, Seni said the concept was better than the implementation, while admitting that, had she been introduced to more potential matches, she might have formed “a different opinion.”
Nevertheless, she described the matchmaking process in general as “better” and “definitely a more serious process than dating apps.”
When asked about how the dating scene in Israel compared with Canada, Seni said dating in Canada was more formal – and that Israelis were more spontaneous. But overall, she voiced disappointment with dating, saying “both [ways] just suck.”
“At least, in Israel, you get a wider and more attractive pool of potential partners,” she said.
Although Seni sometimes gets recognized when out and about, it is more often due to her popular Instagram account (@israelwithcindy) where she posts educational and comedic reels and videos about Judaism and Israel.
“People will tell me that they know me from my Instagram; but not necessarily from Jewish Matchmaking,” she said.
When asked what challenges she had faced upon moving to Israel, Seni said learning Hebrew was particularly difficult; as was adapting to the Israeli way of life and living in the shadow of terror attacks.
But “Israelis have this resilience, they have this ‘keep going’ attitude,” she said.
Since moving to Israel, Seni has “had a lot of blessings, with the army and jobs, Instagram and Netflix. I’d like to think that this is the right path for me. Through the hardships, I got this wide sense of ‘I made it work.’”
Seni quashed rumors that she and Noah (another Israel-based participant in Jewish Matchmaking, who also attended the Jerusalem premiere earlier this month) were an item.
She would not yet reveal her current relationship status “because I want people to keep watching the show – no spoilers,” but said she would eventually address that question on her Instagram account.