Jewish matchmaking means socialising face to face and not using social media

Human beings are social animals and thrive on an affinity to a group - that's why organisations such as the JLE play a vital role


Since the founding of the Jewish Learning Exchange in 1983, 1,452 singles (and counting) have met and married through our activities.

One was a participant in a Poland trip four years ago, his first formal engagement with a communal organisation.

Two years later, he was, in the words of his wedding speech, “married to his best friend”, the couple having met on that trip. JLE educators looked on beaming and proud.

Today, young professionals need opportunities to meet like-minded people. Socialising fosters a sense of identity and belonging. Human beings are social animals and thrive on an affinity to a group or community.

Organisations such as the JLE play a vital role in modern-day matchmaking, providing a space for authentic and organic connections to be forged, built and sustained.

In-person contact is important when we are somewhat plagued with superficiality and distance.

True, social media has enabled us to reach out to so many people around the world, creating global conversations and keeping us up to date with an almost minute-by-minute commentary on current affairs.

I am certainly no fire and brimstone critic of modern technology. However, we cannot deny that these platforms have replaced deep friendships and relationships with virtual clicks and two-dimensional connections, buried quickly by the never-ending stream of new content that then dominates our feeds.

In a 2021 book, Rob Brooks, a professor of evolutionary ecology at the University of New South Wales, argues that social media tends to create surface-level connections instead of deeper emotional bonds. I tend to agree. For many, tweeting has replaced schmoozing, and Instagram has overridden meaningful interactions.

We offer far more than apps and algorithms — a sense of belonging and community. The JLE focuses on dinners, central London events, speakers and discussions offering young professionals an opportunity to step out of this virtual world.

While we appreciate that finding a life partner is no easy process, it can be lengthy and frustrating for many. Sensitivity must be shown to all and communal organisations should make a conscious effort to play an active role in supporting and guiding young Jews through this path.

As a rabbi, you may think that I’d say sitting and studying is the single most important aspect of our work as an organisation dedicated to young Jews, viewing those religious endeavours as the ideal.

Yet for me, giving our young professionals immersive Jewish experiences, socials, and ways they can find partners and build their Jewish home within the community is as important. Jewish education comes hand in hand with fostering Jewish relationships and sense of community.

So, besides the study sessions, Shabbat services and talks, we are now constructing a modern rooftop terrace on our site to create a much-needed space for young professionals to socialise and feel at home. We are also planning to build an industrial kitchen to allow hundreds of university students and young professionals to feast on Shabbat and at our regular social events.

Woodrow Wilson famously remarked that “friendship is the cement that holds the world together”. Socialising and enabling our young professionals to mingle, meet and find partners needs to be a great focus of ours as a community.

Since the time of Adam and Eve, building a family has been a central Jewish value. So running centres for Jewish connection and education, like JLE does, cannot just be about teaching people the practices of a Jewish home, should they wish to keep them.

Rather, our educational organisations should enable people to create and build a home of their own in a way that suits them. And what better way to do that through events and gatherings?
Put down your phone, and head over to our hub.

Rabbi Benji Morgan is CEO of the Jewish Learning Exchange

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