The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
The Jewish Observer

Find Love and Continue Your Story: The Jewish Matchmaker is Coming to Nashville

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Aleeza Ben Shalom, The Jewish Matchmaker is coming to Nashville on February 27.

It turns out anyone can be a matchmaker, with the right training, coaching, and desire to help people. That’s according to Aleeza Ben Shalom, otherwise known as The Jewish Matchmaker on the hit Netflix show. “Everyone has the potential to be a voluntary, part-time matchmaker,” she says. And Ben Shalom is bringing her expertise to Nashville this month a part of The Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville’s Life & Legacy program.

Ben Shalom’s philosophy of helping people meet and find love through telling stories aligns with the Life & Legacy’s goal of building for the future. Life & Legacy community coordinator Norma Shirk says, “We’re excited to bring Aleeza to Nashville. Her Netflix show is about people telling their stories, and hopefully, meeting their true love as a result. The new couple's story begins the next chapter of their lives which will continue with their children and grandchildren. Telling our stories is the basis of the Life & Legacy program. Every donor contributes the story of their family which is part of the continuity of the story of Jewish Nashville.”

Becoming a professional matchmaker is not a traditional career choice, and for Ben Shalom it began with volunteer work. “In 2007 I volunteered at an online dating site. I wanted to call people, get to know them, coach them, and then put them together. I loved it,” she says. As time passed, and she needed to find a paying job, Ben Shalom realized she was already doing it. “I thought, well I have me! I leaned into the coaching piece which was really very special.” She says she believes she is helping the world and with her husband’s encouragement, she dove in.

Ben Shalom says she knows from firsthand experience how hard it is to find marriage. “It was a difficult process to find the one. I’m not a hopeless romantic. For me it’s all about family and having a loving community and support.”

Unlike fictional matchmakers who are portrayed as nosy busybodies, Ben Shalom does not push people. “I like people to be aligned,” she says, “I find out what the client wants and find a partner to match that.” The mother of five also says she does not push the idea of children on anyone. “Marriage is about marriage. The goal is not to have children. Children is a byproduct of some marriages.” She points to Dolly Parton’s 57-year marriage as one that bucks traditional norms. “She and her husband have built a beautiful family together and it doesn’t include children. He does his thing and she does hers, and they’re happy.”

Ben Shalom admits her matches do not have a 100% success rate. “I follow up with people and some do split up. Probably close to 5-7% don’t work out,” she says. The surest path to success, she says, is honesty. “If I’m honest with myself, I can be that way with the client. They in turn need to be honest with me.” Her coaching technique helps build trust and honesty with the clients. And she continues coaching after the match has been made. “I’m there as long as they need. Sometimes even into the first year.”

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When it comes to her own family, Ben Shalom says what began as a way to be home with her children has become a sometimes-challenging lifestyle. She is based in the Pardes-Hanna region of Israel, but often spends weeks at a time touring in the United States and other countries. “We’re very close, and we talk a lot. We are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating. This is not just my thing, it’s our thing as a family.”

As her children have grown, Ben Shalom is able to bring them with her, providing some valuable one-on-one time. “It’s been really nice. My daughter came with me to Australia and we spent all day doing activities and having the best time.”

Leaving her family behind in Israel has been another challenge since October 7. “This is our first war. We moved to Israel three years ago and had to learn all the drills.”

Although the idea of matchmaking might seem to apply to a mainly younger demographic, Ben Shalom says married couples have a lot of experiences to share. “I enjoy mixed audiences. We share dating and marriage wisdom through banter and play. We share stories and I use a lot of comedy. It really sticks with the audience,” she says.

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The Nashville event is scheduled for February 27 at the Gordon Jewish Community Center at 7pm. All ages and stages of life are invited and encouraged to attend. It is part of the 7th year celebration of the Life & Legacy program. Shirk says while Ben Shalom is well known to many younger members of the community, everyone will find something to take away from the event. “The Life & Legacy program is an intergenerational initiative to support our local Jewish organizations and ensure the future of Jewish Nashville. Life & Legacy is a communal story continuing into the future. We also hope that younger members of the community will enjoy seeing her live and volunteer to contribute their life stories to the future of Jewish Nashville by joining with their parents and grandparents as Life & Legacy donors.”

Ben Shalom says building community is something everyone should enjoy. “Come learn something and do some good in the world.”

For more information about Life & Legacy and The Jewish Matchmaker event, contact barbara@jewishnashville.org, or norma@jewishnashville.org, or visit www.jewishnashville.org/landlreception.

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