If it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, then it should also be acknowledged that single Orthodox Jews — especially on the Upper West Side — must be in want of a suitable partners. At 23, Leah Gottfried seized on the contemporary single Jewish dating scene zeitgeist and wrote “The Setup,” a short film about a meet-cute shidduch date mishap.
It did well, winning the best short film award at the Washington Jewish Film Festival, so Gottfried decided to expand it.
She turned the idea into a web series called “Soon by You,” referring to the well-meaning, but oft ill received catchphrase said to unmarried guests at Orthodox weddings and engagement parties. Each episode has tens of thousands of views, and the series has generated incredible buzz for its honest, funny depictions of the Jewish singles scene.
Gottfried was passionate about acting, despite not finding support in her Orthodox circles. “I remember writing that I wanted to be a movie star on a class assignment, and the teacher handed it back to me with my words covered in white-out,” she said.
At 14, her family moved to Los Angeles, where Gottfried found continued success, booking commercials for Yamaha and TimeWarner. As a student at Stern College, Gottfried created the school’s first film major. “I began writing and directing because I didn’t see a lot of opportunities for someone like me,” she said. “I decided to create them myself.”
Now, singles, marrieds, Jews and non-Jews alike clamor for new “Soon by You” episodes, each of which take a few months to write, film, and edit. Gottfried and her small team of co-producers and writers crowd fund and secure sponsorships and product placement to fund each episode. “I hope to pitch the show to a network or online platform so we can reach a wider audience,” said Gottfried. “I’m also developing a feature film and other projects that are both personally meaningful, and will hopefully inspire others.”
Dream date: So far, no suitor has fulfilled Gottfried’s aspiration of going horseback riding on a date.