Matchmaking mobile app Shagrir’im Ba’Lev (Ambassadors of the Heart) has recently partnered with the Orthodox Union, enabling English in the app so that non-Hebrew speakers in Israel’s Orthodox community can engage in the preeminent dating app for Haredi matchmaking.
Thanks to the app’s new partnership with the Orthodox Union, participants can now submit their questionnaires in English. Haredi “olim” – or new immigrants exercising their Right of Return – will have the same access to Shagrir’im Ba’Lev’s matchmaking ecosystem, though most of the participants remain native Hebrew speakers.
The Orthodox Union, among other things, supports a network of synagogues, youth programs, Jewish and Religious Zionist advocacy programs, programs for the disabled, localized religious study programs and international units in Israel. The Orthodox Union also issues the famed “Circle-U Ⓤ” kashrut certificate– the most prominent of all kashrut symbols.
Shagrir’im Ba’Lev is not your typical dating app – though it is perhaps the most practical method for young orthodox Jews to find a match. Working on a “shidduch” – the Yiddish word for Orthodox-style matchmaking – system, Shagrir’im Ba’Lev relies on dedicated matchmakers to carefully curate potential matches for the bachelors and bachelorettes. Designated matchmakers conduct interviews with new participants in order to vett them and start to find suitable partners, before setting up an official date. Should the couple continue to date, Shagrir’im Ba’Lev’s team continues to track the new couple’s progression.
“In a regular dating website, people hide information. A lot of dating sites are focused on fun and here it's very much focused on a serious relationship geared toward marriage,” Rami Treistman, CTO (Chief Technical Officer) of Shagrir’im Ba’Lev explained. “Because the platform is not public, candidates feel free to be as open as possible and divulge sensitive information in the hopes that this data will lead to their matchmaker finding a quality candidate for them.”
To date, 57 couples have married directly through the app, and 528 couples got married once they started using the app, although they ultimately found their spouses elsewhere.
The matchmakers that are crucial to the app’s success will now be tasked with ensuring that new immigrants from the Jewish diaspora have access to potential matches regardless of potential language or cultural barriers.
The designated matchmakers, who must enroll in a comprehensive training program before they start, match candidates based on their age, hobbies, religious observance, army service and other important dating characteristics. All participants must have a matchmaker who represents and advocates for them in order to be matched with appropriate candidates.
“It’s very important that each matchmaker is discreet and selective when choosing candidates for their participants,” Treistman explained. “On the other hand, these are not necessarily professional matchmakers– they just want to see their friends get married.”
The app, which was started by a student at the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), has now blossomed into a fully functioning platform with over 4,000 participants, capturing the essence of the shidduch tradition in an era of dating apps.
“I see how much this platform helps. A lot of people don't have organic access to a dating pool and don't know where to find people. School doesn’t teach you how to flirt or network, and this platform gives them the tool to do so,” Treistman concluded.