If only Yente had a computer, the “Fiddler on the Roof” matchmaker’s life would have been so much easier.
That’s because the world of Jewish matchmaking has gone high-tech with shadchans using the Internet to share extensive databases with other matchmakers, even across the world, to find the perfect mate. Once a potential union has been found, modern travel modes have made distance no barrier to love.
“Right now I have a database of over 500 Jewish singles from yeshivish, Chassidim, Modern Orthodox to some who consider themselves Conservadox,” said Rochelle Kipnis, a Burlington County matchmaker. “I share resumes with other shadchans to make a match. We all work together now that technology has allowed us to work as a group.”
However, the thing that sets Kipnis apart from her peers is that she got into the business only to help people and takes no money for her services. She simply realized that every time she met someone single she immediately had an idea of whom to set them up with. After a number of successful unions, Kipnis decided to take her talent and run with it.
“From college on, anytime I helped someone by matching them I seemed to always be successful,” said Kipnis. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Hashem wants me to do this.’ This is my chesed, my mitzvah. With assimilation having such a strong hold in the Jewish world I just wanted to help.”
Much like any modern online dating site, applicants fill out a comprehensive resume, including listing traits they are looking for, interests and hobbies, schools attended, professions, family members including siblings, and provide a photo. Most clients are in their 20s or 30s, but she has a smaller number of older clients. Some are in medical or law school. Some Modern Orthodox young people who have tried conventional dating apps tell her they have not had any luck finding potential partners. For a baal teshuva, Kipnis said she would especially “go the extra mile.”
The bulk of Kipnis’ clients are from New York, New Jersey, Florida and Israel and those looking to make aliyah, but is not limited to those regions. “I have someone flying this week from New York to Los Angeles to meet a girl,” she said.
“These are people whose priority is marriage, meeting a Jewish spouse and building a home where Torah is part of every decision they make. They’re not looking to hook up or have intimacy.”
With younger women there is a conversation with the parents, or more often, several conversations with the young woman and her mother to determine what they are looking for in a potential spouse. With those who are in their 30s, parents are not usually involved. Kipnis then might send her resume to 25 men she thinks could be appropriate.
Parents can also be involved when dealing with younger men. Those men who are interested respond affirmatively and those resumes are passed on to the woman and her mother. However, this being 2022 and not an Eastern European 19th century shtetl, parents more or less have only a consulting role in any shidduch.
Moreover, a growing number of religious women have a modern sense of independence and say they want to see resumes before they are sent to any potential male partners, which “I have no problem with because I myself would like to see the resume first,” said Kipnis.
“The girl must be interested,” she added. “She and her mother decide which guys may be appropriate. They may call references or may look at the shul he goes to. They may find the girl does not want to meet all of them. Maybe she is interested in only three or four. Then the guy might come and take her out to a kosher café or restaurant. They can talk on the phone at night or do Zoom meetings. At some point they will tell you whether it’s hayah. If she says no we move on.”
During the ensuing five months to a year the couple decides whether they are bashert by discussing such vital matters as whether the potential spouse is good with children or holds similar goals in life.
“Your neshama knows when it is right,” noted Kipnis. “Sometimes it clicks on the first phone call. Everybody is on the same page and it goes from there.”
“Parents are never the deciding factor in any marriage,” she emphasized. “In the Jewish world the couple makes their own decisions on dating and marriage. Nobody is forced. The idea is just providing a means for Jewish people to meet other Jews. For thousands of years it has been done this way. Now with technology there are so many ways to connect with other shadchanim to find your bashert and make these marriages work.”
She noted that it has been her experience that those who follow this path have lower divorce rates, adultery and abuse.
“When people have marriages guided by mitzvah and Hashem, they are on the path to happiness,” said Kipnis, adding enthusiastically: “I am always ready to help Jewish people find other Jewish people and have children. I just heard from one of my couples that they had a baby.
“Every successful match makes my heart and soul soar. I am just so happy to hear of a l’chayim from my efforts.“
If interested, text a dating resume and photo to (610) 533-0711.
By Debra Rubin