After speaking with Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, and Orthodox matchmaker Chana Rachel Frumin, I wanted to speak with someone who works with an online matchmaking service, because so many young Jews connect online.
SawYouAtSinai.com is a Jewish dating and matchmaking service that’s a little different from many others. Instead of having member profiles available for all to see and browse, members choose a matchmaker who looks on their behalf, and only sends them matches that seem especially compatible. I asked Manya Berenholz, one of the top matchmakers at SawYouAtSinai, about getting started in the business, looking for perfection in a partner, and the shortage of available Jewish men.
How did you get started as a matchmaker?
Manya Berenholz: I ran a Blind Date Dance when I was in college and matched people up by placing their information on index cards and then manually deciding who would best go with whom. That is pretty much what I do today but with great help from a data base and multiple screenings [of the prospective daters].
On the site you match people up and then show them each other’s profiles. Why do it that way instead of letting people browse?
I feel that browsing doesn’t help the singles get to the heart of the relationship because they are more concerned with appearances, level of education, specific interests, etc. When intermediaries match singles they have developed a sense of each person and have a fuller understanding of the most important things each party seeks in a partner. Communicating with the single gives a matchmaker insight into where and how the single would be flexible.
What are the toughest issues you face when trying to make a match?
Inflexibility is one very disturbing issue, particularly with age. Getting people to date out of town is also difficult and frustrating when a matchmaker sees the personalities and life goals are so compatible.
For hundreds of years Jewish matchmaking was a man’s business. It’s only in the last 150 years or so that is has become common for women to be matchmakers. Are most of the matchmakers at SawYouAtSinai women or men? What do you think a woman brings to the job?
There is a mix, though most are women. Men generally are rational beings, while women are more emotional beings. Women have a certain understanding that is special for them and they have the ability to bring that gift to the matchmaking experience. Anyone and everyone should think about matching people they know and meet. Let us leave no stone unturned to bring singles together to meet their intended soul mate.
Are you married? If so, how did you meet your spouse?
I am married and we met at a Young Israel “dance.” I used quotation marks because it was a most un-traditional dance. It then was an acceptable place for single orthodox people to meet. Today such a “dance” is extinct.
There’s a lot of discussion in the Modern Orthodox and Orthodox world about the “Shidduch crisis” and about there not being enough men to marry all of the eligible Jewish women, but I’ve heard some people say it’s a myth. Do you think it’s true?
There is definitely a crisis. I often call it a plague. So many wonderful Jewish singles are just that…single. Without a partner in life they cannot develop the extraordinary relationship that is possible in a marriage, nor can they be blessed with families.
Is there something you think Jewish women should be doing to avoid being a part if the “crisis”?
This is an interesting question. Not necessarily for women. Singles must use as many avenues as possible to make sure they arenâ€™t forgotten about. Sawyouatsinai has provided a forum for singles to be accessible to over 350 matchmakers, which in the past was not possible, as they would have to visit each matchmaker separately. Having more people looking for you, gives you more chance to meet the one who knows your soul mate. Having an extensive database of singles in an organized system allows those matchmakers to easily find the ones appropriate for you, so you are not wasting months dating the wrong types of peopleâ€¦..
What’s the biggest challenge of your job?
There are more available and suitable women than men so the men receive many women but the women receive many fewer men. In addition, most of the matches are first sent to the man so the women aren’t even aware of how many men have received their profile. Men are very quick to reject since they are sure to receive so many more options.
What’s the biggest reward of your job?
The greatest reward is helping two singles become a happy couple. Nothing beats the satisfaction of that.
What do you think is the most common mistake people make when they’re dating or looking to get married?
They seek perfection in the other person. Instead they should be seeking to improve themselves.
Judaism has this concept of yichus, of coming from good lineage. How does this factor into your matchmaking?
Yichus can be a factor but not a major one. Many singles request someone from a good family. A good family may mean decent and honest family or it may mean a family with an important name. As a matchmaker, I generally do not know about the family background but the research that the singles do should tell them what they need to know.