By McKenna Corson
Stop spending hours swiping on dating apps that aren’t getting you anywhere and try the matchmaking method that worked for your
ancestors – but with a modern and local twist: Cleveland Yentas.
Cleveland Yentas is a nonprofit public matchmaking service created and run by Rachel Heiser, a Pepper Pike resident, for Cleveland-area Jews or those with Cleveland ties. There’s no profile to create or app to download; individuals fill out a survey on cleyentas.com with personal questions covering everything from education to political views to past relationships to deal breakers in a potential match. Heiser and her team of volunteer matchmakers comb through survey after survey to make matches they believe could last – all for free.
“We don’t want to waste people’s time, like some other dating opportunities I’ve heard where they fix you up just to say that they fixed you up,” Heiser says. “We’re truly looking for good matches for people. We want to grow the Jewish community and keep it strong here in Cleveland.”
Heiser describes the matchmaking process as finding connections and shared values between people – but not too many similarities, as to prevent matching personality clones. After finding a prospect, the matchmakers reach out to each person with a brief description of the other, to see if they are interested. If they are, they are connected to meet on their own terms.
“I think a lot of people want to text or find someone online like with these other dating opportunities,” Heiser says. “What we try to push is, when you agree to going out, you actually have to talk to each other on the phone and meet within a week or two. There’s a hesitancy to get in front of people, and we try to encourage people to do that more because that’s how you really can connect with someone.”
Heiser says she notices many people nowadays think their first date has to go perfectly to think about a second date. She stresses this idea is false, and encourages people to try many different first date ideas, like a fun, out-of-the-ordinary activity to experience together, like museums, an ax throwing class at Class Axe Throwing in Valley View, a blacksmith class at Cleveland Blacksmithing in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, a glass blowing class at Glass Bubble Project also in Ohio City, or painting at Pinot’s Palette in Woodmere or Olmsted Falls.
“It’s nice to go out to dinner, get coffee or meet at a bar, but there are other things that are more off the beaten path,” Heiser says. “Do an activity with someone to get to know them, or at least have the process where you’re not just sitting somewhere. When doing something interactive and out of your comfort zone, you’re experiencing something together so you have something to talk about and a way to be with someone.”
To those hesitant about putting their romantic life into the hands of complete strangers, Heiser urges them to think about Cleveland Yentas’ 40% second date success rate and the 500 currently single clients, of which 250 are between 21 and 45 years old.
“It never hurts to have assistance,” she says. “When people shop for a house, some people do it on their own, but some people have a real estate broker. I just tell people it’s just one more tool to help you try to find the right person.”