50 shluchim who service young professional communities gathered in Stamford, Connecticut, for one purpose: to brainstorm how to best communicate the Rebbe’s perspective on shidduchim and marriage to the youthful demographic they serve.
By Aharon Loschak
The Jewish dating scene is about to dramatically change for the better. A dedicated team of young professional shluchim are putting the pieces together to create a new program called Met @Chabad, and from the looks of the special conference many of those shluchim participated in this past week, it really is gaining steam.
Over the course of two days, about fifty shluchim who service young professional communities across the country came together at the Crown Plaza hotel in Stamford, Connecticut, for one purpose: to brainstorm how to best communicate the Rebbe’s perspective on dating and marriage to the youthful demographic they so desperately wish to help.
“The CYP Kinus has generated many new initiatives and visions over the years,” said Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302, “and this year, we wanted to focus on this most critical need for young Jews across the world. The greatest minds with tremendous hands-on experience were there together, and to crystalize our game plan moving forward.”
With material provided from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute that presented many of the Rebbe’s letters on dating and marriage, the shluchim participated in an interactive learning session in which they imagined different questions and challenges that would come up when reading the letters. They then worked on developing cohesive language that could adequately address those concerns.
Thereafter, Rabbi Simon Jacobson spent many hours with the group, teaching, discussing, and learning with them how to best present these ideas to those who walk through their doors.
“Sitting together with other shluchim and learning with Rabbi Jacobson was very inspiring,” said Rabbi Zalman Levin, co-director with his wife Devorah of CYP of Palo Alto, California. “Perhaps some of the ideas we covered weren’t necessarily new to me, but I feel so much more empowered now, equipped with real language of how to properly present these ideas in a compelling way to my community.
“One of the things I walked away with is the notion that we’re offering an incredibly positive and helpful thing to people. Instead of fighting secular notions of marriage or dating, we can point to the lasting love Torah teaches and demonstrate to people that this is a ticket to a simply happier and more fulfilled life—in every area, marriage and family life included.”
Changing people’s conception of dating is really what Met @Chabad is all about. “What we’re doing isn’t just another app or algorithm,” said Rabbi Beryl Frankel, director of CYP International. “We’re changing the entire language of dating, teaching people that it’s about dating for marriage, a values-based activity that is intentional and focused on the next step—setting up a Jewish home for life together.”
To achieve that, so much of it is about education. While there are apps galore and events to mix and mingle, after much observation and research, it’s very clear to this cadre of committed shluchim that it’s the dating mindset that must change. And so, after brainstorming for two days straight and with the help of experienced teachers such as Rabbi Jacobson, a robust curriculum with multimedia and other tools such as the Met @Chabad app are in the works, creating a framework for shluchim to use in their respective communities and change lives for the better.
As Rabbi Yosef Wilhelm of CYP of the Upper East Side of Manhattan put it, “The in-depth education we received from the engaging two-day think tank was fantastic, and it really gave me a lot of tangible ideas I can use on the field.”
Check out metatchabad.com for more information.
Shluchim, visit metatchabad.com/shluchimsignup to have your Chabad House participate in our upcoming virtual speed-dating event.