Teaneck—Do you have a single friend who has been set up countless times just to be disappointed or disheartened? Perhaps you are single and have just about “had it” with what is now termed the “Singles Crisis?” Each time someone calls with a suggestion, do you feel compelled to go out because “the shadchan said: ‘this time it will be different’?”
Enter Bergen Connections. What started as an informal gathering of women in a private home in Teaneck is now an organization that to date has hosted several successful singles events over the past three years. Spearheaded by a dynamic duo, Loretta Paley and Leah Shteingart, Bergen Connections is the vision of a group of women who were passionate about helping singles meet their bashert. What makes this organization unique is that instead of meeting in a home to review and match profiles based on age, hashkafa, etc., Bergen Connections focuses its efforts on running events which allow singles to first meet, or at least eye, each other before having to commit to a date.
“There is a lot one can learn from meeting someone in person and viewing their actions,” says Shteingart. “We believe that creating events where singles can be introduced face-to-face may be more valuable for some men and women.”
Every event is geared to a specific age range, and those who want to attend need to fill out an application and go through a mini-screening. This is primarily done for security purposes (the exact location of the event is never specified until accepted), but also to ensure that there is an equal and balanced group of men and women attending the event. The hashkafa of the events encompass the entire Modern Orthodox spectrum (some are geared towards more modern, other events are geared towards the more machmir), but it is ultimately the applicants who are the determining factor as to the type of crowd that attends the event. Every event has matchmakers present, who not only facilitate the singles to mingle with one another in a non-pushy manner, but are also available for those who prefer to approach them privately. At the last event, there were 10 shaddchanim for 68 singles.
Past Bergen Connection programs ranged from dinner at Mocha Bleu and a wine and cheese mixer to an evening of inspiration with Charlie Harary. One 30-something single (now engaged) who had been to countless singles events over the years described her experience at a Bergen Connections event as “well done, classy and just a comfortable evening.” She went on to explain that “it was simply elegant, and the shadchanim were warm and showed a personal interest.”
So what makes an event successful? It’s not just whether or not a couple meets and gets married. Certainly that is the ultimate goal. But there are other considerations, too. Paley explains, “Given the situation today, if a single can come to an event and meet others, make connections and maybe even (dare I say it) have fun in a non-pressurized environment, then it has been a successful event.”
What makes Bergen Connections events most unique is its follow-up protocol. The matchmakers, organizers and facilitators at the event are serious about reaching out to every individual who expressed interest in meeting someone. At the end of each event, every attendee is asked to confidentially indicate whether they are interested in pursuing anyone at the event and they can be certain they will receive a phone call or email to see if a match can be made.
Please spread the word….the upcoming event is this week on Wednesday May 22 on the Upper West Side.
Who: Open to Modern Orthodox (middle of the road) single professionals.
Men: ages 28-38 Women: ages 25-35
When: Wednesday, May 22nd at 8 p.m.
Where: NYC, please register to find out address.
How to Register: E-mail [email protected] to register or for any questions
Spaces are limited so register today!
By Irit Sandler