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March 19, 2004 - Image 92

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-03-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

C0141141erce
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Matchmaker
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with e-mails, phone calls and meet-
IVII atchmaker Dvorah
ings in person. "We want to see
Alouf guarantees
about everyone, to make sure that
that within 12
they are not abusing the site, to
months she Can suc-
make sure that everything is OK,"
cessfully pair up Jewish singles and
she said.
marry them off.
She is working to make the site
Now the Montreal-based founder
"friendly for people who are blind or
of three Web sites for Jewish singles,
deaf," and plans to translate the site
including Jmatch.corn, is applying
into Hebrew so that terror victims
her experience to Jewish singles with
and injured soldiers in Israel can
special needs through a new site,
access it.
www.jswsn.com , which went live last
The relationships with everyone
year.
After emigrating from
Poland in the 1960s,
Alouf taught Torah to
high school and adult stu-
dents in Canada and the
United States, becoming a
full-time matchmaker in
1989. Within six months,
she had married off three
of her original clients.
"As soon as people were
getting matched up, I saw
results and that inspired
me," she said.
According to Alouf,
thousands have used the
site. The network also has
representatives in New
York, Miami, Montreal
and Israel, and Alouf also
Dvorah Alouf seeks a match for everyone.
makes an effort to travel.
"Everywhere I go I
interview people and sit
with them," she said.
"People come from all over. We're
involved allows for a very personal
international because the Internet is
touch. "We're not trying to play psy-
international."
chiatrist," Alouf said, but the staff
The new site caters to "people who
does try to be sensitive to everyone's
are challenged in some way, and
wants and needs by "offering coun-
because of this they have a greater
seling and direction" for clients.
need for love and acceptance," said
Merna Vin, whose son Lee-Or, 28,
Alouf. "We go out of our way to give has a severe learning disability and
them a vehicle for acceptance."
uses the Web site, knows the site is
Alouf's new service reaches out to
veryafe because Dvorah oversees
people facing mental or physical hur-
everything. People don't necessarily
dles. Applicants enter a profile,
understand that these are intelligent
which is then processed by Alouf and people," said Vin, who started a
her staff. Participation is free.
group for high-functioning people
Alouf personally contacts the appli- with special needs in their 20s and
cants, asking about their Jewish
305 in Manhattan. "They think that
backgrounds, among other topics.
people with special needs are pecu-
They follow that initial interaction
liar. It's hard to meet people, espe-

((

cially if you have a disability."
Right now, jswsn.com is mostly
publicized by word of mouth, Alouf
said. Our challenge is to make sure
that wherever people need the serv-
ice, they should know about it."
"There are a lot of special people
with disabilities who would love to
have someone to spend some time
with," said Hope Bard, head of
Kesher, a Cincinnati Jewish organiza-
tion that works to integrate disabled
singles into Cincinnati's Jewish com-
munity.
Ben Tunkelang, whose
son Michael is mentally
and slightly physically
impaired, said he is
"happy with the service,
because it is not aggres-
sive." Michael recently
was matched with Eve, a
30-year-old from Queens,
N.Y., whom he had
known before but never
had spoken to. The two
write "once or twice a
day," Tunkelang said,
which "teaches both of
them to write letters." -
"I say that success is
100 percent," said Alouf.
"Just to give them a tool
to communicate, to show
them that we care, that
they are not cast away
from society." She
declined to say exactly
what her success rate is.
"I know-what the numbers are, but
I don't tell them because it is against
the religion," said Alouf, citing a bib-
lical tale about counting people that
led to a plague.
"Wherever. I go, I meet people"
who have used her service. On one
recent trip, she ran into two married
couples whom she had matched, one
couple with six children and the
other with three. "We have this bless-
ing that people can get together,"
Alouf said. "I see it today as a mis-
sion. I am a child of the Holocaust; I
want people to get married and have
children. It's a great joy." ❑

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