Following the varying initiatives to solve the singles problem amongst young religious-Zionists, there is a demand for matchmakers amongst the formerly religious.
The Rosh Yehudi (Jewish mindset) Center in Tel Aviv will hold its first-ever singles seminar next month which is intended for young people who left the religion. The seminar will also include rabbis and marriage counselors.
“This is an untreated sector for which no one takes responsibility,” said one of the organizers. “We have no intention of bringing them back to the religion.”
In an announcement published recently by the movement, young people were called upon to sign up for the seminar which will take place on the Saturday of the Noah Torah portion at the West Bank settlement of Maale Hever in south Mount Hebron.
The advertisement insisted that people inform their friends; formerly religious people who do not go to synagogue and who do not see these announcements.
On the agenda: Lectures and seminars with rabbis and marriage counselors. The most prominent speaker there will be Safed's Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.
‘Society alienates them’
In a conversation with Ynet, Rabbi Eliyahu explained that the main goal is to give off a positive feeling towards those who left the religion.
“Sometimes, there is a feeling that they are outsiders, and that’s not true,” claimed the rabbi.
“Most of them were, ‘kicked out’ for unfair treatment by there parents, educators and rabbis and not as an outcome of problems with their beliefs.
“A lot of them are burning with the love of God but the society alienates them. There are even parents who turn to me and ask if they can kick them out of their homes,” said Safed’s rabbi.
On choosing to connect to this population through the matchmaking channel, Rabbi Eliyahu said, “These people usually create an ideological home, full of faithfulness.
“Someone who was once religious cannot see his wife with another woman. He will go crazy. In addition, they have religious taste, and once you do, a partner who doesn’t understand, never fits.
“Oftentimes, they also keep kosher at home and this is like the Sephardic Jews who are almost always traditional. We just need to provide the tools that will assist them to find there match at the place they are at,” said the rabbi.
Israel Zeira, general manager of Rosh Yehudi, added that “at the end of the day, those who left the religion look completely secular but they have a screaming soul and the need to find a similar partner just like anyone else.
“This is an untreated sector for which no one takes responsibility and we are trying to answer their needs and help them,” said Zeira.
He also said that many, “formerly religious people who secretly lay Tefillin (phylacteries) and are looking for a way to return,” turn to him.
He promised that “this time they are not planning on returning them to the religion.”
Regarding the matchmaking aspect of it all, Zeira said, “Many formerly religious women go to synagogue and it is just that it will be very difficult with a partner who is completely secular with no affinity for the religion.
“Of course, amongst those who come from a religious background there are those who are closer and those who are farther; they don’t deal with the question of faith and impiety all day long but rather live their lives and are looking for a relationship.
“If a semi-unbeliever will find a complete non-believer that’s good too,” said Zeira.