Points of Contact: Helping Anglos wed

Points of Contact is a closed Facebook group of more than 560 volunteer matchmakers (called Point People) working primarily on behalf of marriage-minded religious Anglo-Israelis.

POC FOUNDER Tzippi (Schechet) Sha-ked (photo credit: SHIRA LANKIN SHEPS)
POC FOUNDER Tzippi (Schechet) Sha-ked
(photo credit: SHIRA LANKIN SHEPS)
Sitting in a hospital waiting room waiting for her husband’s cancer-staging surgery, Tzippi (Schechet) Sha-ked made a decision that would ultimately impact thousands of people.
“I felt that I needed to pray, yes, but also to do something far more significant and far-reaching. I had to beseech the heavens and get our Maker’s attention.
“I prayed, pleaded and pledged, ‘I will help those feeling the same darkness I’m feeling this very moment. I will be there for singles, day and night. I will storm the heavens on their behalf.’ “From his hospital bed, I created Points of Contact (POC). I didn’t have even one single at that moment. Ten minutes later I had three, an hour later, six. As the minutes ticked by while David was in surgery, I was on the phone, begging friends to lend their singles. By the time David landed in the recovery room, I had 15 singles.” Today, Points of Contact is a closed Facebook group of more than 560 volunteer matchmakers (called Point People) working primarily on behalf of marriage-minded religious Anglo-Israelis.
Board member Esther Hoffman explained, “We have expanded from dealing only with National-Religious olim [immigrants] from English-speaking countries to [include] secular, ex-religious and modern Anglo-haredi [ultra-Orthodox] from around the world.” There are approximately 1,200 English-speaking singles in POC’s private database, and dozens of successful matches have already been made.
One of the matches was Sha-ked’s own daughter, Tehila, who married Noah Michael, son of Deborah Michael, one of the site’s Point People. Noah Michael reflected on his good fortune.
“My initial reaction was one of both excitement and hesitation. I was 20 years old at the time and wasn’t sure I was ready to date. However, after hearing my wife’s description, I had a really good feeling about it and went for it. With our third year anniversary around the corner, I’m happy I did.
“POC saved me the emotional and time-consuming roller-coaster of seeking potential matches and dating different people. I was matched up with my best friend and soulmate almost immediately.
“I have many friends who have struggled for years to find a match. Groups like POC certainly help speed up the process, and people shouldn’t be embarrassed to join them,” he advised.
Bati & Bezalel Koplon. Point persons: Sha-ked and Yosefa Krauss. (Dovi Rhein)Bati & Bezalel Koplon. Point persons: Sha-ked and Yosefa Krauss. (Dovi Rhein)
Shoshana Scharf is one of the more active volunteer matchmakers on POC.
“I try constantly, all day long, to find my singles their bashert (soulmate). I try to match according to similarities, interests and differences. It’s important to listen to the singles’ [opinion about] what is important. I always ask what they don’t want in a partner. It gives me a [better sense] of what they want and what they need.” Scharf and her husband have been making matches for decades. She has a particular fondness for the POC way of bringing people together.
“Points of Contact is an organization that I have fallen in love with. We all give a personal touch. We interact with our singles, guiding, listening, working together with truly special shadchanim [matchmakers whose] only purpose is to work together to encourage, offer suggestions, and in the end, make matches.” As Scharf explains, there are safeguards in place to protect the singles. One of the fundamental rules is that each single is represented by a Point Person. Before a match is suggested to a single, both Point People have to agree that it’s a reasonable match.
She emphasized that “no single or anyone from the outside can enter our database. Our site is totally closed and used only by our matchmakers.”
Scharf’s motivation comes, in part, from her own happy marriage.
“I BLESS every day that I have with my best friend, my love of my life for almost 48 years. I want to give this over to others.
“I am dedicated to make my many singles their matches. I see their struggle and it makes me very sad. During these times of corona, the singles could feel isolated and very lonely. I feel their pain,” she commented.
Sarah Glaser is another active Point Person, currently representing 25 singles.
“I really care about my singles and create close relationships with them, because the better I know them, the more [easily] I can find someone who suits them. I tell all my singles in the beginning of the process that if you’re going to say no to a suggestion, tell me why, so I can make better matches for [you next time].” Glaser shared that a distinctive quality of POC is “it’s all hessed [compassion]. [There is] no paying the matchmakers, which definitely sets us apart from other dating platforms.”
She also emphasized the lengths to which the site goes to protect the privacy of singles.
“You can’t even tell your best friend if you saw her on Points of Contact!”
Becca & Benjy Nachshen. Point persons: Shelley Dayag and Sara Mor. (Herschel Gutman)Becca & Benjy Nachshen. Point persons: Shelley Dayag and Sara Mor. (Herschel Gutman)
The reach of POC far exceeds that of any matchmaker working alone.
As Glaser explained, “We have matchmakers from all over Israel and the States, so it gives the single so many options that they would not have known if they didn’t use our platform. What if your husband is waiting for you in Haifa, but you had no idea, and didn’t have the resources to find him? That’s why we are here to help,” she said.
Glaser’s personal commitment to her volunteer work with POC comes from a desire “to help build Am Yisrael [the Jewish people]. I think this program is the perfect way to do so.
“I also think it’s a beautiful process to share with the singles. The dating process could be so tough on them and I love being their cheerleader, standing on the sidelines, waiting to hear how everything went on their date. It’s an exciting process!” she enthused.
Glaser concluded by praising the dedication of Sha-ked who “has changed the world of dating for the better. She saw a need and filled it. She gives her every breath to this program and she is the reason why it is so successful. She keeps everybody in check when problems arise. She has touched the lives of so many people, including myself, and for that everybody is so grateful.” Hoffman elaborated on what makes POC exceptional.
“Because we’re an all-volunteer group, we’ve been able to create a warm, supportive and relaxed atmosphere, which our incredibly caring Point People really value. A lot goes on every day on POC Facebook. Point People post singles and other Point People respond with suggestions. You can potentially have several hundred Point People looking at a particular post, racking their brains to come up with a really good idea.
“Our goal is to make sure that the Point People who represent them have talked over the idea and have agreed to share information before either of the prospective partners is approached. We also have instituted very strict guidelines in ensuring confidentiality and using discretion for our singles.
“One of Tzippi’s strong principles is, ‘Let’s do right by our singles!’ That means cheerleading and galvanizing our Point People to keep moving forward and taking initiatives. For example, one of our POC members offers free professional pictures to our singles.” Hoffman’s personal experiences help intensify her commitment to POC.
Shikey Goldrich & Elisheva Paley. Point persons: Sha-ked and Adina Kay. (Daniel Stein)Shikey Goldrich & Elisheva Paley. Point persons: Sha-ked and Adina Kay. (Daniel Stein)
“I KNOW what being an older single is like. I started dating at age 18 and got married at 28, so I dated quite a bit. I’ll never forget the frustration of feeling out of place, the embarrassment and loneliness, and the uncertainty about what the future has in store for me.
“I’ve also had the privilege of making several matches for others. Seeing the fruits of your labor as you watch the two people you put together build a home is so satisfying and rewarding,” she shared.
Hoffman wants people to know that “POC is looking for committed individuals to join our network. Becoming a dedicated Point Person is not just about advocating for their brother-in-law’s sister or friend’s son but also ‘adopting’ singles who don’t have POC representation. That means really getting to know the single and checking out references.
“I consider Tzippi Sha-ked a true leader in every sense of the word. She feels the pain of every single. Her answer is to always keep on working and making more matches,” Hoffman concluded.
Board member Mordy Derovan is one of the group’s very few singles.
“I’m committed to POC because we give singles hope. We’ve facilitated dozens of marriages and hundreds, if not thousands, of dates in only a few short years. “In a world where we find ourselves increasingly dependent on our phones and the Internet, POC provides singles with a personal connection on their journey to finding their soulmates. As is now fairly common, especially during the coronavirus era, singles use a multitude of dating apps and services – JSwipe, Saw You At Sinai, Tinder, etc. – to connect with potential matches. “POC gives singles a personal touch to matchmaking and reminds them that there are other people who can look out for their best interests, too. Being single can be lonely. We help singles maneuver through this exhausting period.” Sha-ked shared that POC has, “Point People in virtually every community, city, university and yishuv [settlement] where Anglos reside within Israel. We address the issue of singles feeling jaded by knowing everyone in their respective communities.
“We post singles from within our respective communities or individuals we know well from Israel and abroad. We grow via word of mouth.  My motto is that anyone with a passion and a sensitivity toward singles can join in on this effort.” The only exception is professional matchmakers, who are not allowed to join POC.
“We don’t attempt to sell our singles by presenting them as sexy eye candy or the hottest dame or dude. We do our best to understand what our singles are about and make suggestions according to a host of attributes that may also include looks but are not exclusive to that.
“In other words, we work with quality singles. How do I know this? Built into our system is the watchdog principle. If there are any problems with someone who is posted, I will hear about it within five nanoseconds from other Point People.  POC posts people that we either know very well or that we can credibly vouch for.” Sha-ked is philosophical about the work of POC.
“I view the angst of singles searching for their bashert and our attempts to address this as one of the most important and vital jobs we can perform. It is no less a job of nation-building than promoting aliyah [immigration to Israel].
“I spend 10 hours a day, and often late into the morning hours, working on behalf of singles. My husband always teases that POC is the silver lining to his cancer diagnosis.  Baruch Hashem [thank God], he is doing well and POC is thriving,” Sha-ked concluded.
Contact POC at pointsofcontacthelp@gmail.com.