The matchmaker in this story is not a person. Eytan Englard met Dina Schwartz via a chatbot, an artificially intelligent (AI) program developed to communicate with people online. An Israeli nonprofit called Algo designed this particular chatbot for the purpose of matchmaking on WhatsApp.
In the summer of 2021, Eytan was 24 and living in Givat Shmuel. Dina, then 22, was living in Ra’anana. Both had put a lot of effort into dating.
Eytan: “I was fixed up a lot and tried different apps,” Eytan says. “But I was still looking. Then a friend recommended Algo.” Notes Dina: “I got the same recommendation.”
Algo chatbot leads one to their destiny
The Algo chatbot simulates human conversation through text interactions, and guides participants to a suitable match. Some compare it to the Waze app, which guides drivers to their destination. The Algo chatbot can lead to one’s destiny.
Dina is a student at Bar-Ilan University with a major in computational biology, a field that applies computational methods to analyze data. Eytan studies computer science, also at Bar-Ilan. They were both fascinated by the scientific aspects of Algo.
Still, one doesn’t have to be a techie to join Algo. Eytan: “The Algo process is user-friendly,” Eytan notes. Adds Dina: “And fun. It’s like talking with a friend.”
Maayan Sinai, a founder of Algo, notes that real-time statistics are available at their website (www.algo.org.il), including the number of users, dates and engagements.
“There are no fees and the participants are primarily dati leumi (national-religious) between the ages of 20 and 35 (but there are many others as well). The questionnaire is now in Hebrew, and an English version is being planned.”
“There are no fees and the participants are primarily dati leumi (national-religious) between the ages of 20 and 35 (but there are many others as well). The questionnaire is now in Hebrew, and an English version is being planned.”Maayan Sinai
Eytan and Dina were matched several weeks after completing their questionnaires. Algo had identified their many similarities. “We share the same values,” Eytan says. “In fact, our parents are very much alike.”
Dina adds: “We both love music and studied at schools that were compatible with each other. I studied at Nishmat, a modern Orthodox midrasha and Eytan studied at Yeshivat Hesder Yerucham. There seem to be many matches between these two schools. I also liked the idea that we both have Anglo parents – from LA, New Jersey and New York.”
WHEN A match is suggested by Algo, there are four possibilities: 1) ask for a photo 2) ask for a reference 3) ask for more time and 4) respond that you’re not interested.
“It was very helpful that I checked with Eytan’s reference,” Dina says. “It so happened that I had served with him in the army and he knew us both well. His opinion meant a lot and sort of ‘clinched the deal’ for both of us.”
On the night of selichot, 2021, Eytan and Dina had their first date. At her suggestion, they met on a bench in Park Ra’anana. He offered to pick her up, but she suggested that they meet in the park (actually, a good dating tip!).
That night, they went to selichot services together. “When I came home,” recalls Dina, “I really wanted to know what Eytan was thinking and I sent him a short message (another good dating tip!). He responded: ‘I really had a good time meeting you and would love to meet again.’”
It is said that timing is everything. When the couple met, they had several months to get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company before the school year started.
Eytan proposed to Dina at a spot overlooking the Western Wall in January 2022. Friends and family joined them, and, of course, there was lots of music.
Does the couple try to fix up friends or do they leave the job to Algo? “Both,” Eitan says. “I’ve made two matches, but I also recommend Algo.” Notes Dina: “We both have married friends who met via Algo. Algo works.”
Eytan and Dina were married on March 9, 2022. Rav Dov Zinger, head of the Yeshivat Mekor Chayim, officiated. Mazal tov! ❖