To Israel With Love

To Israel With Love

Brian Finkel, a 26-year-old management consultant, recalls how it felt to be on New York City’s dating scene knowing he intended to make aliyah while others were generally on a different path.

“In a dating situation, it might be like, ‘This person is great, but is Israel in her future?’” he told The Jewish Week. “It’s difficult.”

Enter, a website that launched this week on Tu b’Av, the holiday in the Jewish calendar celebrating romantic love.

A joint venture of Nefesh B’Nefesh, a nonprofit that works with Israel’s government to assist Jews from the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom in making aliyah, and SawYouAtSinai, the online dating and matchmaking service for observant Jewish singles, seeks to connect single Jews who are aligned in their plans to immigrate to Israel.

“We are always trying to keep our finger on the pulse and identify what potential immigrants will need,” said Yael Katsman, director of communications for Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Over the last few years we identified a growing need among singles who would like to move to Israel with a spouse [who shares] the same aspirations. If in one or three or 10 years, you know you plan to move to Israel, this site will give you more opportunity to meet others of the same mindset.”

Katsman said is the brainchild of Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, who co-founded Nefesh B’Nefesh in 2001 after he lost a relative in a terror attack.

New York-area singles planning to make aliyah are enthusiastic about the possibilities the new site will provide.

“I think it sounds like a good service; I might join,” said Alita Mandel, a 23-year-old accountant from Elizabeth, N.J., who was leaving to make aliyah this week.

“Until recently there hasn’t been a resource like this for people who are making aliyah. … It could come in handy for people who are on the path but not yet ready to move,” said Finkel.

Adina Israel, 19, a recent high school graduate and current Jewish week intern, who plans to make aliyah in August and enter the Israel Defense Forces, credits Nefesh B’Nefesh with anticipating — and filling — many needs for new olim.

“Nefesh B’Nefesh will help you find a job, set up a home, and manage banking and bureaucracy, so only it only makes sense they’re setting up a dating site, too,” she said.

Like, the new site offers a combination of online matching technology and human matchmakers who interview, screen and match individual members.

Members are required to fill out a profile that includes references, along with information about lifestyle, interests and religious background. Matchmakers then screen potential matches and give members access to profiles for review.

The site is open to Jews of all levels of observance and to native Israelis as well as to those making aliyah.

“We’re excited to use our technology and expertise to create matches amongst aliyah-minded singles,” said Danielle Solomon, head of SawYouAtSinai’s Israel Division. “We look forward to these couples creating their homes in Israel.”

read more: