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The global Jewish population is just 15 million, with about 6 million in each Israel and the United States, and another 3 million spread out across the rest of the world.Montreal, London, and Melbourne each have fewer than 200,000 Jewish people, and Rome has fewer than 20,000. S., two trends are further winnowing the dating pool: More than half of American Jews now marry non-Jewish partners, and there are questions about the decline of Jewish identity among both Americans and Millennials.That’s where global matchmakers like Fass enter the picture, not to mention plenty of alternatives without the premium price tag.In addition to online services like JDate.com, there’s an extensive network of Jewish matchmaking connections across the spectrum of observance that span major cities around the world, from Buenos Aires to Rome.“I always say that love doesn’t have to be in your backyard,” she says.“If you really want it, you need to expand your parameters in terms of a lot of things—especially geographic.” Making a match between two Jews is considered a “mitzvah”—technically, a Biblical commandment, but colloquially expressed as a general good deed. “Even if you’re secular, you want to celebrate Passover.It helps, too, that even small and secular communities have what Berzack refers to as “infrastructure”: established institutions and weekly rituals like Shabbat lunch.
A 38-year-old female social worker who loves salsa dancing and kayaking was willing to relocate to Israel or anywhere in the United States for “a man who can appreciate an optimistic and ambitious partner.” All clients are identified as Ashkenazi or Sephardic (a reference to geographic familial origins), and their respective preferences for levels of religious observance are made clear.
“You can be attracted on every level, but if practice is off, it can be a deal breaker.” But she is seeing more openness to intercultural relationships.
In addition to some of the usual questions one might expect from any matchmaker—career ambitions, willingness to relocate, family expectations, physical type—Fass also asks questions specific to Jewish tradition, such as the keeping of kosher dietary laws and holiday observance.
, an Israeli newspaper, noted that one website of Chabad (an Orthodox movement) lists 27 matchmakers in Brooklyn alone, and dozens more worldwide, from Cincinnati to Melbourne. Many secular Jews also turn to matchmakers, and the majority of Tel Aviv—where Fass was trying to drum up clients—is not particularly religious.
Concerns about Jewish continuity, about raising Jewish children and going through the essential motions of tradition can become important enough to overpower other reservations—even about a geographic relocation.
“I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, and there are not really many Jewish people here,” says Laurie Berzack, a matchmaker since 2006 with Chai Expectations.