Chabad Intown Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman knows how to reach an audience and produce topical and meaningful programs. The evening of June 14 delivered an electric crowd of mostly, but not exclusively, young professionals who came to adore, be photographed with, and learn from, arguably the world’s most famous matchmaker, Aleeza Ben Shalom, who has been raking in the accolades from her current Netflix series, “Jewish Matchmaking.”
Since ticket response was so overwhelming, Shusterman and his Young Jewish Professionals group had to change venues to the Tara Theatre to be able to accommodate the crowd of 450. Atlanta was the final stop of Ben Shalom’s whirlwind 10-city tour.
Coincidentally, Schusterman’s daughter, Sara, had just become engaged to a young man from Canada through a matchmaker. Mom, Dina Schusterman, explained during the pre-function mixer, “Going through a matchmaker is a very safe process…it doesn’t have to be a professional matchmaker. Can be a cousin or a friend who knows someone who knows someone…a few degrees of Jewish separation. When I met my husband, we met four times, before becoming engaged, now, 10-20 meetings before a decision is OK.”
Married couples who were fans of the show came to mingle as well. Jennifer and Brian Steinberg brought their 20-year-old daughter, Aubrey, a student at the University of Tennessee, to hear Ben Shalom. Brian Steinberg mentioned a personal connection when he attended the University of Delaware and knew Aleeza’s husband, plus Jennifer Steinberg said, “We found her so sincere, warm and friendly.”
Family attorney and mediator Pia (Koslow) and husband, Tal Frank, said, “I loved her personality and how she built trust with the clients while remaining focused and interested.”
Singles Risa Polokoff and Danielle Lifshitz said they were looking to meet men who were family-oriented with good values in the 30-38 age group. Lifshitz later appeared on the stage panel stating that her perfect match had to speak fluent Hebrew.
Rabbi Chanan Rose and wife, Chaya, who head up the Intown Jewish Academy, said, “I like that the subject of matchmaking is so current as it emphasizes a Jewish tradition by bringing in spiritual practices; but some of the recent other Netflix specials don’t necessarily show positivity or correctly portray observant Jewish life.”
Moving inside the theater, Rabbi Rose stated that swiping on apps can be ghastly.
“Matchmaking is related to ancient wisdom and pertinent today. In the Talmud, couples coming together are as difficult as splitting two seas requiring mutual selflessness.”
A hyper, energetic Ben Shalom took the stage with a rousing, “Hello, Y’all!”
She proceeded to explain the circumstances of her own young adulthood, finding her way to observant Judaism, living in sandy Arad, Israel, by the Dead Sea, and, ultimately, finding her career.
She said, “Living Jewishly has four top components: keeping kosher, dressing modestly, prayer, and observing Shabbat…even in small steps.”
Her matchmaking business was incorporated in 2013, and she detailed, “During the pandemic and the popularity of ‘Indian Matchmaking’…I got the call from Netflix. They were amazingly accommodating, having religious advisors on staff, and bringing kosher food and schlepping pots in suitcases to shoots in places like Jackson Hole, Wyo.”
Shelbelle Lapidus and Ben Shalom brought up a panel of four as they interviewed and fielded audience questions. Ben Shalom laughed and quizzed, “Are you Flex or Fixed?” and “Specific is Terrific” in a crash course for the audience to all become matchmakers.
The afterparty continued in the theatre lobby with food from the Spicy Peach.
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Chabad Intown
- Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman
- Aleeza Ben Shalom
- Jewish Matchmaking
- Young Jewish Professionals
- Tara Theatre
- University of Tennessee
- University of Delaware
- Dina Schusterman
- Jennifer and Brian Steinberg
- Rabbi Chanan Rose
- Indian Matchmaking
- Jackson Hole
- Shelbelle Lapidus
- Spicy Peach