Jewish Matchmaker, Aleeza Ben Shalom, has a universal message

By Emily Litvack
If you are someone who binge watches Netflix, you most likely have seen Aleeza Ben Shalom work her magic on “Jewish Matchmaking.” And whether you’re single, married for 50 years, Orthodox, secular, or anything in between, Aleeza has made her way into our hearts offering words of Jewish wisdom and guidance for creating and maintaining strong, healthy relationships.
This is what inspired JET to bring Aleeza Ben Shalom to Ottawa on April 10. 
“When we invited Aleeza, last July, we had no idea that there would be October 7th, the war, or a troubling rise in antisemitism,” says Lauren Shaps, co-founder of JET. “Currently, it’s a very dark time for Jews throughout the world. We need something to bring the community together in a positive way. Something that is hopeful and looks to the future.” 
In a time when antisemitism and misinformation about Jews is on the rise, “Jewish Matchmaking” showcases the beautiful diversity of the Jewish community, busts Jewish stereotypes and as Shaps says, “makes Judaism look cool” to millions of viewers worldwide. The diversity of Jewish journeys, backgrounds, and lifestyles are all highlighted in the show and allow Jewish viewers to feel seen when, too often, positive Jewish representation in the media is lacking. 
On the show, each person seeking a match is brought to life through interviews and self-disclosures. The viewers get a sense of who these people are and what makes them tick. Many local members of the Jewish community find that they gravitate to one match-seeker or another. Sheri Chiprout, event planner for the upcoming evening, said she related most to witty Sephardi Montrealer Cindy who made aliyah (emigrated to Israel) and who identifies as “flexadox,” (Orthodox in spirit, flexible in practice). 
For myself, I relate best to Noah, the down-to-earth, active, nature-loving baal teshuva (person who has taken on Orthodox practice) in Wyoming. He also studied in Israel. For me, I find that there are so many negative stereotypes of Jews in the media that it means a lot to watch a show that demonstrates how important spirituality, family, community, and Israel are to the Jewish people. 
Ben Shalom’s ability to share an important message about Jewish values, wisdom, and life to a very broad audience, has made her a positive and engaging spokesperson for the Jewish community. 
Shaps, also a social worker and therapist, was inspired by her inclusive and universal message. Shaps shares that many clients come to her struggling with relationships and looking for guidance. 
“Today, people are having challenges in terms of commitment, marriage, and finding that right person. Rather than looking to dating apps, Aleeza Ben Shalom gives real, important guidance on how to date and create meaningful relationships. I have non-Jewish clients who have watched ‘Jewish Matchmaking’ and they think Ben Shalom has so much wisdom to impart on valuing, respecting, and empowering yourself.”
Chiprout agrees that Ben Shalom’s warm, welcoming, and magnetic nature make her approachable to a broader audience. “It reframes matchmaking through a Jewish lens. It’s amazing how she pulls out gems from an ancient tradition and makes these Jewish teachings modern and relevant to everyone,” Adds Chiprout.
Most poignantly, the Jewish community has been reminded of how precious our relationships with loved ones are. Shaps believes that Ben Shalom coming to Ottawa will lift the Jewish community’s spirits, bring us together and help us to cultivate and strengthen these special relationships in our lives. 
“This event is truly for everyone. You don’t have to be single to benefit from what Aleeza has to say.” 
Chiprout concludes, “Even during the hard times we are going through over the past five months, we deserve a fun night out and a special experience where we can all come together.” 
With generous funding from Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s microgrants, Aleeza Ben Shalom will be live in Ottawa at Sala San Marco on Wednesday, April 10 at 7:15pm. To learn more about the event, click here.
- Emily Litvack is the program coordinator for JET.