Coming up on August 5th is Tu B’Av, (the 15th of Av), a Jewish day for matchmaking and love. According to the Mishnah, on this day, “The daughters of Jerusalem would go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. What were they saying? ‘Young man, consider whom you choose (to be your wife)'”(Taanit, Chapter 4).
In honor of Tu B’Av, I have been speaking with different kinds of matchmakers. Patti Stanger, the star of the Bravo reality TV show, The Millionaire Matchmaker, told me all about prehistoric matchmaking, what Jewish men want, dating mistakes, and waiting for sex.
In your show you talk about being a third generation matchmaker. Were your mother and grandmother professional matchmakers?
Patti Stanger: Well, they did it for free. They did it for the local temple just to help people find love.
So you grew up around matchmaking?
Yeah, I actually did. I learned all my secrets from my grandmother.
What kinds of things did you learn from them?
Basically what I learned from them is how to size people up quickly. Look at them and get an intuition, like a sixth sense of who they go withâ€¦ and I can’t teach that sometimes, it’s just something you know. It’s part of the DNA.
Jewish matchmakers for a really long time were actually men. Until about 150 years ago–
Well it’s probably the oldest profession. Before prostitution.
You think before prostitution there was matchmaking?
Yeah, because I think, like in the caves, like clan of the cave bear, so to speak, it was the head of the clan who was doing it.
It’s been men for a long time in matchmaking and it’s only started to be women in the last 150 years or so. What do you think a woman brings to the job? Well I think a woman has is more sensitive–they’re not linear, they’re not just think and do, think and do. There’s a feeling component. And I think that men don’t really have that, and I could get yelled at, but how many male matchmakers do you know?
Well there are a lot in the really Orthodox communities.
That’s a rabbi, and you know, the rabbi’s wife is really the one doing all the matchmaking. Let’s be clear, okay, the rebbetzin is doing that because she’s the one trying to get everyone paired up so that they can procreate.