YVR Yenta is the brainchild of Madison Slobin, left, Ben Eizenberg and Ariel Martz-Oberlander. Adapting to the realities of dating during the coronavirus crisis, they have introduced the online meetup Love in the Time of Covid: Virtual Single Mingle. This photo was taken before physical distancing was required. (photo by Madison Slobin)
Three young Jewish Vancouverites have set up a collective to help their friends – and their friends’ friends – find a romantic match “using old traditions to find modern love.”
YVR Yenta is the brainchild of Madison Slobin, Ben Eizenberg and Ariel Martz-Oberlander. The three believe that their old country methods, with the application of 21st-century technology, can procure a better match than any computer algorithm. Describing meaningful connections as “the antidote to capitalist alienation,” the matchmakers see a need to fill in a city where “finding the perfect view is easy, but finding someone to share it with can be challenging,” according to their introductory material.
The matchmaking collective was just getting up and running when the coronavirus crisis hit, but that hasn’t set them back. They resorted to technology to organize Love in the Time of Covid: Virtual Single Mingle, where anyone is welcome to join an online group chat, then tell the yentas of anyone they might like to be introduced to for virtual (and, perhaps later, in-person) meetups.
The idea of incorporating old world matchmaking practices with 21st-century singles is a growing trend.
“I would love to claim it as an original idea but, honestly, I spent the last three-and-a-half years on the East Coast, living in New York City, so I have been quite connected to young Jewish community there,” said Slobin. “It was something that I kind of knew was happening in different places on the East Coast. I heard that there was one happening in Minneapolis and it seemed to me like a new trend that was popping up, which is young, secular matchmaker collectives.”
In an age when Jdate and other online dating apps are a swipe away, why the need for the personal intervention?
For a certain segment of young people, Slobin said, Jdate isn’t cool. The other reality is that apps tend to be based on looks or instant attraction.
“I think a lot of people go on dates based on that and then don’t find success because they may not share anything other than that mutual attraction and so this is an opportunity to go a little bit deeper,” she said.
YVR Yenta invites clients – it’s all free and there’s no profit motive – to complete a comprehensive questionnaire about their religious affiliation and how important that is, whether they want a match of their own religious tradition, their political views, preferences, interests and a host of other attributes.
“We accept anyone into our dating pool who belongs to any religion, any race, any sexuality, any gender,” she said.
As clientele numbers increase, the yentas write to potential matches, “so will the quality of our matchmaking, seeing as we will have more match options to choose from! Please help us spread the word to your friends and family, either through word of mouth (as was done in the old country) or by sharing our Instagram page (as is done in the 21st century).” They are on Instagram at yvr.yenta.
“This is something that I would want for myself,” Slobin added. “I think it’s a very cool idea and I wanted to make it happen for all the people around me because I feel like I know so many amazing people who are looking for partners. So we decided to volunteer our time to make it happen. Really, it’s quite fun, so it doesn’t feel like work.”