Video courtesy of jn1.tv
Israeli Academy Award winner Esti Zakheim, who herself is a reality show graduate after she participated in the last season of "Dancing with the Stars," felt she just had to come to see the show when she heard about its concept.
"I thought it's intriguing," she says. "I couldn't believe that there would be a reality series about religious Jews, very ultra-religious, and about matchmaking there.
"I think in Israel something about the population and being Jews and Arabs and religious and non-religious, and everything is such an intriguing and interesting mix that in reality can go on forever because all the time you find something different.”
The show's director and Ronnie Kay explains how this project came to be.
"All the religious people that participated realized that the whole idea is about learning and watching and not judging," she says. "Then the whole concept became much more open and they managed to open and to be very honest in front of the camera."
'Matchmaking has a lot of benefits'
Matchmaking is a precious subject in the Orthodox community, according to the producer of the show, Shay Verter, who feels very fortune to have been able to capture it all on camera.
“This is a very, very precious subject and they keep it very, very closed and they guard it with much care," he says. "One of the amazing things that people found out through the production was that they are like us, they are normal people that live by very hard and strict codes, but they have feelings, they want to connect, they want to find their soul mate, they want to find 'the one.'
"I was amazed; those young people, so serious, so mature, so honest and focused on their mission."
Ronnie Kay adds that "the matchmaking has a lot of benefits because it lets you understand who is the compatible person for you, at least on paper, and then if you fall in love that's like an extra bonus.
"So like our grandmothers used to tell us, you have to pick and choose someone who will be compatible and not only use your heart, so that's what they're trying to do.”
Jaffa Parnes, the matchmaker on the show, admits she wasn’t afraid to expose the hidden world of Orthodox Jewish matchmaking on reality TV.
“I'm not afraid that everybody will see it because I know that everything is from God, and he makes me to be in this show. So it's a 'shlihut' (mission) and I will do this mitzvah for everybody who wants me to help."
Like with every reality TV project, we wanted to know what happened after the filming ended and how many of the couples eventually got married.
"Three of the couples on the show got married," says Kay. "The rest of them are still single, and so am I."
The project, which was financed by Israeli satcaster YES, was filmed over two years and has gotten a lot of international buzz. Several television networks around the globe are now looking into making a localized version about their Jewish communities.