Netflix content originators came out of the gate with yet another binge-cringe-worthy series that shines a light on the Jewish community. Just after taking a deep breath from streaming “Rough Diamonds” and “My Unorthodox Life,” along comes “Jewish Matchmaking” lightening the mood, even to the point of being zany.
From boastful to genuine, those seeking love are outshone by Aleeza Ben Shalom, the “modern” matchmaker. With an omnipresent hearty laugh, she makes the process comfortable as she writes notes capturing the characteristics each one seeks.
Fans are polarized, as an inquiry on Facebook’s Jewish Women of Atlanta was replete with comments: Debbie Sasson said, “I liked the ‘Jewish Matchmaking’ series because it showed the diversity of people who identify as Jewish. My favorite line was when Aleeza, who’s Orthodox, said, ‘There’s 15 million Jews in the world, and there’s about 15 million ways to be Jewish.’”
Judy Hopmeier Eichel shaded, “It was so bad, I stopped watching! They were the most entitled young adults who are too picky. It’s a horrible representation of young Jewish people.”
The candidates cast a wide swath, including an exquisite Orthodox woman who eschews her match because he doesn’t pray three times a day. Then, there’s the 40-plus blonde who wants “immediate” sexual chemistry, and the 24-year-old Italian Israeli who doesn’t like gals with curly hair. Another older Israeli in L.A., living with his parents, is focused on being able to eat bacon. All through the process, Aleeza keeps her good humor and digs deeper for more matches. Kissing each door mezuzah and calling out “dating baggage,” of which there is no shortage, she explains customs like observant couples not touching before marriage.
The series features a local connection in episode 7 with Atlantan Hope Chernak, who had a date with a 50-plus eclectic dude from Chicago who had a wardrobe consultation to appear slimmer before their date. Chernak, who previously worked at Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta, changed careers after the show’s taping to work as a project manager for an IT company. Last April, she saw a casting call in a Jewish Singles Facebook group for those wanting to find love through a matchmaker.
She said, “I took out my phone and answered questions about what I was looking for, my dating journey, and photos. Later, I got a call from a casting agent for a Skype interview where I felt like I was talking to a girlfriend about the struggles of dating and my perfect match. I had no idea that I would be cast for this!”
Then came background checks, final interviews and, on June 1 she flew to Chicago for the date. The show was released on Netflix on May 3. Chernak, in her 40s, remains in touch with Aleeza for just the right guy and is still looking for a family oriented, active partner with whom to share life experiences like hiking.
She recalled, “The main reason I put myself out there is I’ve been on the same merry-go-round as many Jewish women these days. The apps allow meeting people quickly, though the eligible men…are either not ready to date (why be on there?), too bitter, or only looking for something casual. The days of meeting someone at a bar/activity outside of work or having friends set you up seem to be gone.”
Other JWOA comments came from Cantor Debbi Ballard, who stated, “As a recruiter in my past life, I noted that Aleeza really encourages her candidates with great advice. She is deeply spiritual and nonjudgmental.”
Shosh Nissimov mentioned, “I found it incredibly eye-opening as a Jewish woman who didn’t feel comfortable using the Shidduh route. It was incredible how diverse her clients were and how she was yet so willing to help.”
Judith Allen gave a thumbs down, and said, “I didn’t find it at all entertaining. I wouldn’t watch the second season…I found the ‘Indian Matchmaking’ show more captivating. “
Susan Proctor added, “The clients were very superficial and had false expectations of marriage. And yikes! Asking how many kids a person wants on a first date? Not good.”
Bottom line: Yes, the series is binge worthy…but it’s missing an update at the end listing the results of all this work, most likely because none of these matches lasted, not made in Himmel (Yiddish heaven).
Aleeza’s best advice, “Date until you hate, don’t judge on the first date.”
UPDATE: Netflix Star Matchmaker Aleeza Ben Shalom will appear live (sponsored by Chabad Intown, Intown Jewish Academy, and YJP Intown) at the newly renovated Tara Theater on June 14 at 7:30 pm. Regular tickets are $25. Enjoy a special pre-reception at 6:30 p.m. with Aleeza Ben Shalom for networking. Click the link below to purchase tickets while they are available: www.eventbrite.com/e/netflixs-jewish-matchmaking-aleeza-ben-shalom-live-in-atlanta-tickets-637680478477
- Arts and Culture
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Rough Diamonds
- “My Unorthodox Life”
- Jewish Matchmaking
- Aleeza Ben Shalom
- Jewish Women of Atlanta
- Debbie Sasson
- Judy Hopmeier Eichel
- Hope Chernack
- Temple Kol Emeth
- Cantor Debbi Ballard
- Shosh Nissimov
- Judith Allen
- Susan Proctor
- Intown Jewish Academy
- YJP Intown