A match made on Earth

150 English speakers aged 30-45 look for the one.

“How old is she?” “What does he do?” “How long has she been is Israel for?” These are some of the questions heard on Thursday night at the Jerusalem conference for Anglo singles, as busy matchmakers walked among the attendees, juggling between taking down details and phone numbers, and reporting over the phone to perspective singles and colleagues.
The event, organized by the International Young Israel Movement-Israel Region, and Ahava Rabba, had a turnout of some 150 English-speaking singles aged 30-45 from across Israel. They hailed from the usual English-speaking countries, as well as from France, Ukraine, and the Netherlands.
According to Micki Lavin-Pell of the Young Israel movement, the success of these events is not measured just by the number of marriages that come out of them, but also by how happy people feel about themselves.
Though “this may lead to marriage,” she says, “it’s also important for people to feel positive about themselves and bring more positive energy into their lives while they are still looking to get married.”
The event began with ice breakers meant to get people talking and mingling, and then moved on to workshops, geared at both educating singles on how to date more effectively, as well as introducing participants to each other in small groups with moderators leading conversation topics.
“If you look in the mirror and don’t see someone attractive, don’t go on that date. If you don’t find yourself attractive, why would someone else?” Such is the philosophy of Rabbi Yehoshua Rubin, founder of Ahava Raba, a dating coaching service. In its two-year existence, Ahava Rabba boasts 28 marriages, attributed to “helping people clarify where they are in their relationships, and where they would like to be.”
Aside from the many events and workshops Rubin runs, he also markets a number of dating products, one of which is a conversationstarter deck of cards. Each card bears a question or instruction, such as “Who is a person you admire?” or “Share a birthday memory,” aimed at getting people to open up and share their values with each other.
A number of professional shadchanim mingled among the crowd on Thursday trying to arrange matches. Dorraine Gilbert Weiss, a life-coach and professional matchmaker who was at the event, markets herself as wanting to “help you find your soul mate.”
She usually conducts business by interview, charging for a 90-minute meeting, after which clients are entered into her database where she can search for matching qualities. And when a couple gets married, she also collects a fee, though this is not a set amount, but corresponds to the level of difficulty encountered in making the match.
In her one year of operation, she has amassed 160 interviewees; and though just one match has led to marriage, she currently has four couples dating. Weiss, who met her husband 18 years ago at a singles’ dance, says the most important thing in matchmaking is shared goals.
The conference, which was hosted in the new Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel building (37 Pierre Koenig Street, corner of 2 Poalei Tzedek Street in the Talpiot neighborhood), was funded in part by the Jewish Agency. According to Lavin-Pell, the Jewish Agency has become involved in singles’ life because many singles come to Israel in search of finding a partner.
The problem, however, is that “many stay here for a year or two, and if they don’t find someone they go back home.”
She says the agency “wants to build Israel and have people stay here, and for that to happen these people have to get married.”
She says that in recent years more and more of the people moving to Israel are doing so less for ideological reasons, and more because they were unsuccessful at finding a match abroad, and have come here to try their luck.
For some, this evening may have been the event that will change their life, while for others, it was just been another step in the search for that special someone. But whatever the case, there were plenty of tips and good advice to be taken, not to mention the desserts and musical performance.
“Fall in love with your life, and someone else will too,” Rubin sums up his message.