Love is in the air during the lockdown with matchmaking service We Go Together reporting an increase in new relationships.
Open to any member of the London area Jewish community over the age of 28, the free enterprise was set up three years ago by Lady Daniela Pears.
Those involved anticipated a decrease in interest during the lockdown. In fact it has been the opposite.
Singles felt the absence of a loving partner “now more than ever”, Lady Pears noted. “Introductions during this period have led to people enjoying new ways of dating with more meaning and less pressure.”
Recent clients have included Simon, 55, who said he turned to We Go Together after coming to the conclusion that “the only way to meet somebody is through either fate or introduction”.
Having tried a number of dating apps since his divorce five years ago, he had considered signing up to a corporate matchmaking service before discovering that the initial fee was £7,000. Although not religious, a Jewish partner was culturally important to him.
Simon enjoyed a date with a new partner a few days before the lockdown began. It went well to the point that they were the last people to leave the restaurant after chatting all night.
Since then they have remained in touch through phone and FaceTime chats and delivering gifts to each other while observing social distancing.
“I was saying how much I missed homemade Friday night dinners. A few hours later, she was at my door with Tupperware containing chicken soup and matzah balls. It’s the nicest thing anybody has done for me in a very long time. So I decided to drop round a bunch of flowers to show my appreciation.
“This way of dating has been so nice and refreshing and has allowed us to really get to know each other. We’ve even had FaceTime chats in our pyjamas and I think she looks even more gorgeous when I see her without her make-up.”
Jackie, 49, is also a fan of the new way of romance after a recent introduction through We Go Together. Instead of dinners and theatre trips, she and her date have been going on socially distanced walks and bike rides through the Hertfordshire countryside.
“The pressure is off. No make-up, high heels or dressing for the occasion. Just genuine conversation and lots of laughter. Without physical contact, you also work harder at things like eye contact and smiles. For me that’s much more real.
“The simplicity makes for a more natural and stress-free start to a relationship.”
James, 48, recently moved to London and was recommended to the service by a friend. He has been chatting and on walks with a woman he hopes to build a relationship with.
“After my divorce, I dated a few non-Jewish women but soon realised something was missing,” he said. “There was a disconnect.
“I think this has been the perfect time to be introduced to someone new. It almost brings it back to being young again. It enables you to get to know somebody without the noise and without the pretence. It just feels far more natural.
“Dating used to involve going to fancy restaurants, which came with certain expectations and pressures.” Dating during lockdown had brought an appreciation of the “simpler things in life”.
We Go Together describes itself as “truly cross-communal”, having liaised with leaders of the major synagogue groupings.
The matchmakers have received training from Rabbi Nicky Liss, chair of the Rabbinic Council of the United Synagogue, but are “fully aware that questions of Jewish law differ between the denominations and these are taken into account when matches are offered”.
Lady Pears told the JC that the service still had unmatched clients and needed more men on its books.
“To all the single guys out there —we have amazing women registered with us so there’s definitely plenty of matches to be made. You’ve got nothing to lose but possibly the chance of finding someone you can spend the rest of your life with.”