Once upon a time, a sweet young woman was placed at a table with eight men at a wedding. Why she wasn’t seated at the table with all of her high school friends, friends of the bride, she does not know. She was invited by the groom and was placed where she was, catching up with the men who all went to the same youth movement with her six years before, and didn’t mind it at all… Until Eli went and made things really uncomfortable.
“Are you seeing anyone?” my friend Eli asked. He had just gotten engaged himself, so I knew this wasn’t a strange pickup line or something. “No,” my 22-year-old self told him, only to be informed that if that were the case, I should just “pick someone from the table!” I had a good reason why I couldn’t possibly go out with each and every person at the table…Except for Avi. Happy to hear that there was one possible candidate, Eli told me that it’s settled then, and I just laughed.
I got lucky. I went on three first dates that didn’t lead anywhere, and then dated my husband. After three months, we got engaged and I ended up being one of the first in my circles to get married. I thought that, for sure, if I had an Eli who had the chutzpah to nudge me in the right direction, there were more Elis out there who would do the same with my friends. Unfortunately, as the years went by, I plunged into motherhood and work, while many of my friends stayed single, with barely any dating proposals in sight.
Our wedding clip — telling our story (in Hebrew):
When you ask one of my closest friends what’s the worst first date she has ever been on, she usually recalls the 20 minutes a guy spent mimicking the sounds different tractors make. Some people might find it cute, but she really didn’t. She is tired of being guilted into going out with guys she doesn’t think are the right fit for her, and for being let down by the ones she thinks are. But hey, she’s 28! In our world, when you run out of ideas of friends to match up, offers become scarce and you take what you can get.
I felt for a long time that I had nothing to do. My friends were still single while most of my husband’s friends were already married. So that’s it, I didn’t have anyone else to set up! Then I discovered Matchup. Have you heard of this new craze? Matchup is a dating event for people (married and single) who are looking to find a date for their friends. The event is a unique, fun and a competitive event which serves to help your friends find their Mr. or Mrs. “Right.”
Each person is asked to prepare a list of at least four friends (two guys and two girls) who are available to date. We come and represent them at the event. The room is filled with groups of four who bring up their friends one at a time — usually a short bio consisting of interests, their background, and a picture or two. If someone thinks they might have a match, they call/ text their friend and suggest the idea. More often than not, matches get set up in real time and by the end of the evening, several new couples speak on the phone and pick a date to meet.
I went to a Matchup event like this with my husband several months ago and it had such a fun vibe to it. We got a babysitter, had a blast trying to set up our friends and left with a whole list of new maybes to follow up with. We had just gotten back home at 22:00 when my friend called me in tears. She had just broken up with the guy she was seeing and she was so fed up and frustrated. My husband looked at me with eyes that said, you have to go to her. I was already wearing my superhero pajamas and t-shirt but that didn’t stop me. I got into the car and drove 40 minutes to her apartment. Equipped with ice cream and two large spoons, I spent the next three hours laughing and crying with her, holding her and telling her that it’s going to be OK.
I’ve been thinking about Ruth and Naomi as we get close to celebrating Shavuot. Four chapters filled with so many important lessons. I love how all of the lead roles are described in such a strong way, filled with determination and an understanding of what their role is in life. Naomi sent Ruth to Boaz’s field because she had a plan. She knew he was the ideal candidate for Ruth and when the time was right she sent Ruth down to the granary to make the match. For someone who asked everyone around her to call her “Bitter,” she was still so full of hope. Sometimes, I wish I could be more like Naomi and push my single Ruths into the hands of the people they are destined to marry. I am not Naomi. Heck, I’m not even a Yentah! But I am determined.
Matchmaking isn’t for everyone. I would like to believe though, that we all have it within ourselves to try and make the process a little bit easier for our single/divorced/widowed friends. Since Matchup started about a year ago, they have held over 160 events throughout Israel, NY, and Sidney. More than 1,000 couples started dating, and recently almost every week another couple (20 and counting!) has gotten engaged. It’s not because one person got very good at setting their friends up. It’s because so many people have decided to try and try again with people they don’t already know.
This Shavuot I’m going to be a bit more like Naomi and Eli and all those people out there who had the chutzpah to make a match. Help me! Find out when the next Matchup event is in your area. Call up a friend and ask them what they are looking for. Give them hope, give them strength, show them you still care. And if you can be an Eli, just go for it. It doesn’t matter if people will think you are crazy at the beginning if by the end you can make another match.