This story was updated on Sept. 20.
Shifra Chait was no stranger to matchmaking.
The pharmacist, who moved last month from New Jersey to Squirrel Hill, had dated men with whom she was matched through acquaintances and matchmakers — but it typically didn’t go past the first or second date. But not so with Moshe.
Shifra’s friend’s new husband introduced her to the young man, who had been studying for five years in Jerusalem, and when he returned to the U.S., they started dating. Shifra was studying at Rutgers University at the time.
“A lot of guys I dated were not right for me — this was different,” she said. “From the beginning, we could tell.”
On Aug. 28, 2016, Shifra and Moshe Chait wed in Brooklyn.
“The system works — it’s a good one!” Shifra said. “It’s nice when friends set you up. They know what you’re looking for, they know what you like.”
On Sunday, Pittsburgh’s Kollel Jewish Learning Center, for whom Moshe Chait works, got into the matchmaking business.
Rabbi Doniel Schon, the group’s associate rosh kollel, invited Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish community to help his organization create a database of Jewish singles for shidduchim — a system of “grass-roots matchmaking.” Kollel collected the information through Sunday, Sept. 19, then distributed a completed Excel spreadsheet to its email list of approximately 700 to 750 community members.
Where it goes after that depends on the level of community involvement.
Schon, who said a Jewish lay-leader friend of his had tremendous luck with a shiduch list in Cincinnati, came upon the idea after helping connect two single Jews recently.
“I said, ‘Hey, why don’t we do this on a bigger scale?’” Schon told the Chronicle.
The list revolves around a simple Google form that collects the names, ages, and occupations and/or schooling of Jewish singles — specifically those who grew up in Pittsburgh, currently live here or have close family who live here, Schon said.
The form asks for Jewish affiliation, among other identifiers, for the single. Schon said, however, the list is open beyond Orthodox circles, though that is the community where romantic matchmaking in the Jewish world is most prevalent.
The single person’s permission is sought before the form is completed but, Schon stressed, he is not collecting private information of the singles, merely the contact information of those who can help put together a possible connection.
Kollel hopes much of the matchmaking would take place at Yom Tov tables during Sukkot. Although “it’s certainly not a tradition” to engage in shidduchim in the sukkah, Schon said, “when people are together, they talk.”
“This will allow people to think of new people,” he said. “This is a great way of getting together people in the community.”
He added, “One of the best things someone can do, a mitzvah, is connecting people.”
For inquiries about the list, email email@example.com. PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.