By Rochelle Maruch Miller
YUConnects, the popular relationship-building initiative run by Yeshiva University, recently celebrated its 312th engagement! But impressive as that number may be, it is not nearly enough to satisfy the organization’s founders, connectors, and volunteers. Indeed, the initiative will not rest as singles continue to call the office, asking to be connected with others.
YUConnects offers unique social events, targeted matchmaking, and educational programs to help form healthy relationships towards marriage. “The program was started about seven years ago by Rabbi Kenneth Brander and Rebbetzin Dr. Efrat Sobolowsky at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future as a service for Yeshiva University students and alumni,” explained Marjorie Glatt, a rebbetzin at Young Israel of Woodmere, who is a special-events coordinator and volunteer at the organization. “YUConnects is housed at Yeshiva University; however, we service the entire Jewish world and have approximately 3,500 members.”
The program’s three-pronged approach is what sets it apart from other organizations or dating websites. YUConnect’s state-of-the-art website is powered through SawYouÂAtSinai, founded by Marc Goldman, which connects their 3,500 members with an additional 15,000 singles.
Connectors suggest compatible and appropriate matches. Thus, they respect the privacy wishes of their members. Connectors are also available to mentor throughout the dating experience. Mrs. Mindy Eisenman, full-time connector, is available to meet YUConnect members to recommend targeted ideas.
Educational Forums and Resources. YUConnects advances healthy-relationship instruction through four primary academic methods: research projects, forums and guidance for students, publications, and community outreach.
Unsurpassed Social Events. Coordinated by YUConnects staff, often partnering with communities or campus leaders to ensure compatible and interesting results, these unique events offer networking opportunities in appropriate arenas that ensure proper gender ratios and compatibility. Approximately 10—12 activities are held each year. Programs have included a comedy night in Woodmere, a “Lend-a-Hand” chesed event, a tour of Central Park, “How to Succeed in Business Without Any Lying” at Trump Plaza, a popular “Shiur and Sushi” lecture in Yerushalayim, and fast-paced team trivia Panoply games.
“YUConnects does more than matchmaking,” explained Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, YUConnects director. “We mentor social-work interns, do academic research on dating, and have the resources of Yeshiva University each step of the way.
“Some of our programs have brought other matchmaking organizations together, as there is such a need for collaboration in this realm. We’ve established strong ties with therapists and hosted trainings focused on learning sensitivities of contemporary dating patterns.”
Marjorie Glatt explained, “YUConnects has focused many of its social and educational programs on Long Island and in the Five Towns. Happily, quite a number of our recent engagements have been from the local area. By supporting organizations like YUConnects, each of us can make an impact and expand opportunities for today’s generation.”
One of YUConnects’ success stories is truly a Five Towns simcha–the recent marriage of Aaron and Nessa (Birnbaum) Levy, the 300th YUConnects engagement. Nessa, formerly of South Bend, Indiana, graciously spoke to the 5TJT several days prior to her wedding, crediting YUConnects and her connector, Mrs. Mindy Eisenman, for painstakingly and judiciously targeting the ideal match for Nessa and facilitating the entire process.
“YUConnects has a warm and highly personalized approach,” said Nessa. “The office is friendly, courteous, and extremely helpful. Every aspect of the program is professional and discreet, and members are afforded the utmost level of privacy and respect. Our connector, Mrs. Mindy Eisenman, was wonderful, accessible, and caring as she facilitated the entire process.”
We extend a hearty mazal tov to Nessa and Aaron, to the Birnbaum family, and to Rabbi Michael and Chava Willig Levy, distinguished members of our community.
Celebrating 312 engagements in just a few years, YUConnects serves as a one-step dating resource for Orthodox singles. Although housed at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, it is open to all and needs to raise its own budget to continue its work. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, and Rabbi Zvi Sobolowsky–all avid supporters of the program–serve as rabbinic advisers. Additionally, the organization benefits from an advisory council of outstanding Jewish leaders and faculty from the university, including Dr. David Pelcovitz. Mr. Henry Orlinsky is the dedicated chairman of the advisory board.
“I’m especially gratified by the growth of the program. We now oversee thousands of members worldwide and offer educational programs to our volunteer connectors to train them in various relationship building blocks. We pride ourselves on having a friendly office as our members are always stopping in,” said YUConnects Staff Connector Mindy Eisenman. “We not only make matches but are available to guide couples to deepen their relationship. There is a great need for our program and our work is our pleasure.
“This is what I do when I am at work, at a simcha, and at the grocery store–always talking to and meeting new people to see how I can make more connections to people.”
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator. She writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com.