The Jewish Matchmaking Tradition Lives On

Tim Farin


How do two people meet when looking for a bond for the rest of their lives? Looking for the right partner is a giant challenge. Jewish tradition offers an institutionalized answer to this problem: matchmakers are looking for potential marriage candidates and match up the right persons: Abraham sent out his servant to find a bride for his son Isaac. This service of matching people up is still in demand today, as can be seen when looking at the personals of Jewish and other publications.

Devora Alouf says: "The internet is almost divine instrument." No one could guarantee, she says, that two souls that are determined to meet will also be living in the same neighborhood, and this explains the idea behind Mrs. Alouf's service Jewish Quality Singles (www.jqs.com). She puts her Jewish mission clearly in the foreground: "I am a child of the Holocaust, and I know that matchmaking is directly related to Jewish continuity."

In the diaspora, she saw how great the danger was that Jewry simply dies away in those regions. "I know, how much assimilation threatens Jews. The major problem is Jews marrying people of other religious beliefs," says Mrs. Alouf. When confronted with this tendency in Canada, at first she started matching Jewish partners privately. Then, she assembled binders full of personal information and took the profiles of potential candidates for marriage to other continents. The development of the internet caused a breakthrough for her service. In 1996, together with her son, Israel Alouf, they developed the online-service and suddenly her customer base expanded rapidly. When internet services are criticized for apparent lack of seriousness and control, Mrs. Alouf strongly defends her case. Jewish Quality Singles' mission is only marriage, and she leaves no doubt: "I don't believe in relationships before marriage, I don't believe in dating. I want to bring people into marriage."

Even though she is a matchmaker, Mrs. Alouf doesn't take all the responsibility, however. She establishes a way for people to contact one another, when needed, she gives personal advice, and she also offers a huge database with potential partners. Still, she tries to appeal to their initiative of the interested people.

Mrs. Alouf believes in the strength of the internet as a social place: "It's all about trying, about learning from mistakes and gaining social competence. And also, you're taking initiative, you're proactive. Traditional roles don't really prohibit action anymore. An email can be composed by anyone, whether man or woman, and Mrs. Alouf sees the key bonus of her service in the global reach.

She says she leads a fight for Jewish continuity, and she does it where it's most needed. She is interested mostly in circles of secularized Jews that get distracted by the mainstream culture and common dating practices. Mrs. Alouf confronts you with a strong belief in predetermination: "we have been created as Jews, we have to accept our fate and remain Jews," she says. Any marriage she can help come about she perceives as a success of her mission. And the internet opens an almost closed road for lone Jewish people within their culture. She says that it's a great feeling to see children of the couples whom she brought together.

Today she is convinced that the service of matchmakers is important to the survival of Jewry. And so she describes the role she has when bringing people together: "when two people match up, it's as if they build a house stone by stone, and I give them the tools and the cement."

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