“Jewish organizations spend time and money to keep Jews connected, prevent intermarriage and assimilation, yet they don’t invest in the one most direct and obvious way to do that: pay for Jewish singles to be able to have the assistance of my personalized matchmaking,” says Judith Gottesman, owner and founder of Soulmates Unlimited®.
“All the summer camps and college trips to Israel don’t matter or prevent intermarriage as studies thought, when those youth become adults, and then can’t find anyone Jewish to date and marry in the secular world. They give up and marry non-Jews they find where they live or on online dating sites, or just stay single forever.”
As a full-time professional matchmaker working solely with the California Jewish community, Gottesman has been in business for nine years, making wishes come true for her clients. Recently, L’CHAIM spoke with her about what it takes to be a matchmaker, and how she has helped numerous Jewish singles become couples and find love.
L’CHAIM Magazine: How did you get started in the matchmaking business?
Judith Gottesman: I saw my father, Rabbi Aaron Gottesman, do beautiful and romantic weddings, so I believe in love and [saw] the beauty marriage brings at a young age. I helped friends and acquaintances find love since college. I got my master’s in social work since I like to help people and believe bringing love into people’s lives is the best kind of social work I can do since love makes everything better. It’s good for your health, your finances, your everything.
L’CHAIM: Are your clients all Jewish?
JG: All of my matchmaking clients are Jewish but many of my date coaching clients are not. I specialize in matchmaking for the Jewish community and am the only matchmaker exclusively serving the San Diego Jewish community and beyond. My business is headquartered in San Diego. I am putting out a call to the formal Jewish community to help Jews find each other and make it possible for everyone to afford my service.
L’CHAIM: Is there a difference in matchmaking for Jews versus other populations? How?
JG: The Jewish community is so small and there is every type of Jew within the community. Many of my clients feel they know everyone in their community and like the fact I have clients out of the area to expand their pool in nearby Los Angeles and Orange County.
L’CHAIM: What are the top three criteria in making a good match?
JG: Shared values, goals, and lifestyle.
L’CHAIM: Do you reach singles in Israel and other foreign countries? What parts of the world do you work in?
JG: My clients can be anywhere in the world, as all my work is via phone and email. That said, I specialize in the West Coast and focus my marketing in California, where the majority of Jews live.
About half my client base finds me from Internet searches and the other half learn of me from being the only matchmaker who advertises in every major Jewish publication in California. People who are Jewish and care about being with someone Jewish, come to me. And, some start with me living locally and then can stay a client wherever they might move.
L’CHAIM: Are you seeing changes or trends in things people are seeking in “a match” today versus at other times in your career?
JG: I think love is love and that doesn’t change. Except for an occasional hermit, most people want to have love in their lives and share their life with someone. Judaism believes it is not good for people to be alone. As a matchmaker, I certainly agree.
I do my best to make it likely that my matches be compatible and have a more harmonious coupling. And, I believe for Jews, that means a Jewish soul mate. So many of my divorced clients feel they made a mistake marrying outside the faith and want to find a Jewish match next time around. People appreciate the more personal approach of my matchmaking in this more and more impersonal and computer-centered world.
L’CHAIM: Is there something like a 6th sense involved in matchmaking? Something beyond common interest or background that makes a matchmaker “know” that two people could be a match?
JG: I have a very strong intuitive sense about people. So far, everyone married through me married the very first person I wanted them to meet. I’ve been successfully matching people since college, over 25 years, long before I started my business, so I knew I was good at observing details about people and just sort of seeing who goes together and soul mate matches. I believe God sends me people’s soul mates and I do what I can to make sure they get together.
L’CHAIM: What is the biggest “tell” a client gives you? Are there certain buzzwords or key phrases that help you determine who is a soul mate for another one of your clients?
JG: I spend about an hour interviewing every new client. I have a very detailed list of questions to get to know them and their criteria. It is much more in-depth than anything people would fill out for an online dating site profile. I also pay attention to more unusual and specific things than others might, like are they night or morning people, what is their diet like and what are their long-term goals.
During the new client interview, I never know when someone might share something additional which may end up being something to make me think of the perfect match for them. I love it when that happens! Every new client is exciting for me since I feel like it’s a treasure hunt getting to know them, and discovering if I have their match. Their match can come along at any time, as new clients come along all the time.
L’CHAIM: What do you find to be your most successful matches?
JG: People who are more open to the type of person and location are more likely to be matched. Most of my couples started out long distance and didn’t stay that way long, since one person moved to be with the other. People who aren’t limited to an exact list and are more flexible to the more superficial criteria are more successfully matched.