Seeking: Nosy Jewish Moms

Seven Jewish women huddle around a dining room table in Brookline, noshing on Jordan almonds and dried fruit. Their task: Find a love match for a 38-year-old divorced rabbi with kids and a Ph.D. One of the ladies immediately suggests a 37-year-old acquaintance. "She dresses bohemian, but very attractive bohemian," she says, and then leans in for the kill. "She’s a massage therapist." The others whoop their approval. Another potential success for the matchmaking Simcha Connection.

It’s true: Young Jewish singles, once overwhelmed by their mothers’ unsolicited advice, are asking their elders to barge into their love lives. In a world of online dating sites and singles lunches, Simcha’s clients—hundreds of them so far—look to these latter-day romance gurus for something more traditional and comfortable. And the women enjoy it so much, they work for free.

Business consultant Mindy Gewirtz, founded the group five years ago, after hearing some Jewish singles in her neighborhood grumbling about the trouble they’d had finding love. Perhaps because her husband is a rabbi, it occurred to Gewirtz that in centuries past the whole community was responsible for solving this problem. "This is an emergency," she thought. "If we don’t help them, they’ll feel we abandoned them." So she launched the Simcha Connection ("simcha" means "joy" in Hebrew), a rotating cast of friends who identified lonesome singles within their social circles and got together for whirlwind sessions of suggestions, countersuggestions, and speculative compatibility tests that they hoped would spark romance. As word spread, strangers around town also began asking for help.

Simcha members continue to meet monthly at Gewirtz’s home, matching everyone they can: singles, divorcees, widowers of all ages. (Sorry, no goyim allowed.) They can’t yet boast a marriage, but they’re optimistic.

So is the divorced rabbi, even though it turns out he’s already familiar with the massage therapist (who knew?) and isn’t interested. He figures it’s only a matter of time for him. After all, if you’re searching for someone who’s in shape, you look at the gym; if you want someone serious about settling down, you look to Simcha. "You hire a personal trainer because a personal trainer will keep you on track and motivate you," he says. "It’s the same thing with relationships."