July 22, 2021
By Aharon Loschak
A seismic shift is happening in the young Jewish world, and it’s only getting started. What started out as just one event with a few hundred participants has now spawned multiple such events, and for the first time in decades, young Jewish adults from across the world are being introduced to each other to date for marriage.
And this year, in honor of the 15th of Av, thousands more will be joining.
It’s one of the toughest nuts to crack: how do you find a suitable life partner? Young Jews everywhere grapple with this question, and with today’s increasingly disposable society of endless dating and infinite opportunities at the swipe of a finger, it hasn’t gotten any easier. In fact, it’s only gotten harder.
As those serving young professionals the world over, the shluchim cohort of Chabad Young Professionals have long noticed this gaping hole in Jewish communal life. After much field research and exhaustive planning, the central Chabad Young Professional International in partnership with Chabad on Campus International has rolled out a beta version of their Met @Chabad program.
Part of a comprehensive program that aims to bring the Rebbe’s perspective on dating by combining education, matchmaking infrastructure, and other resources. The primary goal, of course, is to foster a new culture of dating that is intentional and purposeful–for marriage only. To that end, Met @Chabad is developing an advanced curriculum to present a fresh dating perspective to young Jewish singles.
Education is the first step, boosted by real, practical resources to actually find a life partner. In addition to bringing in professional matchmakers, the ground zero are large scale virtual speed dating events. The kickoff event was held this past Lag Ba’omer, in which hundreds of young Jewish singles from the United states and Canada joined.
“Just wanted to say thank you for putting on an amazing event. You continue to do such amazing work for the community and I think this way of meeting could be a huge success for the Jewish community,” wrote Jason B to Rabbi Levi and Rivky Gansburg, shluchim in Toronto, Canada.
“Hello, I just participated in the online speed-dating event for the first time and it was amazing! Great platform, user interface, and more importantly potential besheret’s. I really want to support this initiative. Thanks again for making this possible!” wrote another.
And the enthusiastic and grateful responses keep coming in.
How Does It Work?
Upon the urging of their respective shluchim or other friends, participants sign up and receive a detailed questionnaire that is designed to find out more than just where they like to go hiking and if they’re vegan. This sophisticated form hones in on the most important element for successful dating (and marriage, too!): values.
A custom-made algorithm takes that data and matches each person with a potential suitor, and then sends out an invite to both parties with a dedicated link for a virtual date. Participants are matched with up to seven people, and are given only eight minutes to date each one.
If both parties respond after the event that they’re interested in continuing, the system connects them so they can continue dating offline and in-person.
After multiple successful events in the States, another dedicated one in Canada, and yet another for the Spanish speaking communities from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Spain, USA, Mexico, excitement is mounting for the global event on July 25.
“The program originally was exclusively for the CYP Shluchim, and their communities,” explains Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302 “however, when we saw the incredible results, potential and serious need in many regular Chabad house communities, we pivoted and opened Met @Chabad for all Chabad houses to join.”
“One girl was so ecstatic about it,” said Goldie Plotkin of Toronto, Canada. “She’s been living here for a while, struggling to find a suitable life partner, and Baruch Hashem, she found a match on the platform with whom she’s now getting serious. This program is one of the most important opportunities for young people ever, and will certainly help stem the tide of intermarriage. Me, and many other shluchim are so excited this is finally here!”
Plotkin is not alone in such feelings. In the words of Nechama Dina Carlebach of Chabad of Downtown San Diego: “Met@Chabad has revolutionized the way singles in our community have been dating for marriage! We are so glad that they are now able to connect and meet others just like them!”