Matchmaking in the 21st century

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

So how do those who are single find a future spouse? At a bar? At a grocery store or book store? Walking the dog? It isn’t an easy task to find a mate in the 21st century — ask any single person. Increasingly modern singles are turning to an ancient tradition.

Filmmaker Suzannah Warlick takes a fresh look at matchmaking for 21st century singles in her documentary Match & Marry. The film had its first St. Louis screening at Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema as part of the Jewish Living and Learning series sponsored by Chabad of Greater St. Louis. Los Angeles based Warlick was in town to lead a discussion after the film.

“The messages of the film are universal,” Warlick said.

The film featured interviews with matchmakers, single people looking for marriage and several engaged and married couples who had used a matchmaker. The audience periodically erupted into bursts of laughter at the film which included some hysterically funny scenes as well as thought-provoking moments of introspection.

“People often find themselves in a relationship and then try to decide if they want to be in it when it should be the other way around,” Rabbi Yosef Landa said.

Matchmakers in the film discussed some of the unrealistic expectations people have when they are looking for a match. Matchmaker Lee B. First talked about how one person came to her looking for someone who was good-looking, smart and rich. First replied, “That is three different guys.”

Using a matchmaker helps cut through the misleading external things people tend to focus on, said Yosef.

“The film is a wonderful trigger to rethink about how we go about entering into relationships,” Yosef said.

Of course, once you are matched, then there are decisions to be made regarding the date itself. Going out to a movie or a bar doesn’t give people a chance to really get to know each other since they are concentrating on the film or distracted by noise or are drinking and not thinking clearly at a bar. Matchmakers often suggest people meet in a hotel lobby or some other public place where the couple can sit and talk and focus on one another.

Rabbi Levi Landa and his wife Rivka were set up by a matchmaker.

“People don’t know where to turn to find their soul mate,” Rivka said. “Turning to a matchmaker is not a negative thing.”

Part of the responsibility also falls on the parents to learn about the prospective match.

“Parents have a responsibility to do the research,” Levi said. “Otherwise it is just a blind date.”

Audience member Chana Novack pointed out the difficulties with the increasingly global world today.

“We grow up, go to school, go to graduate school and get a job — all in different cities,” Novack said. “How would someone from Australia marry someone from New York if not for a matchmaker?”

Though the film concentrates on professional matchmakers, Warlick pointed out statistically many people are successful matchmakers.

“Friends, family, people who know young people — anyone can be a matchmaker,” Warlick said.

Warlick had some additional advice to offer from the matchmakers.

“There is the two date rule,” Warlick said. “People are nervous on a first date or acting a bit not like themselves, so give them a second chance. And if you go on a date and you know right away the person isn’t for you, still put your best foot forward anyway. They may have a sister, brother or friend who might know someone who would be just perfect for you.”

Still having problems finding a date? One matchmaker recommended volunteering at a senior citizen center since they are filled with people who have children and grandchildren they are trying to set up.

“And it’s a mitzvah,” Warlick said.

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