New York Singles Flock to Rabbi's Wife for Advice, Matchmaking
BY: Ansley Roan
NEW YORK, Dec. 6 (RNS)--Hundreds of single, hip professionals on Manhattan's Upper East Side set aside their skim lattes and turn off their cell phones on Tuesday nights because they are looking for more than sex in the city. It's not power yoga or a trendy guru who brings them together. Instead, it's a Torah reading by a 64-year-old grandmother.
The grandmother is Esther Jungreis, whose stage style was described by The New Yorker magazine as "a cross between Dr. Ruth and Gracie Allen." She dons the title "Rebbetzin"--meaning wife of a rabbi--and explains the Torah while practicing old-fashioned matchmaking in her weekly classes at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.
"To make matches is not a hobby," she said with a faint Hungarian accent. "It's not just a nice thing to do. Matchmaking is a mitzvah. Mitzvah means it's a commandment, a righteous deed."
In her eyes, Torah study and introductions for singles are equally important efforts to encourage Jews to practice their faith, marry and have children.
"One of the first things God did was to make a match between Adam and Eve," Jungreis said. "She was the only female on planet Earth, but God introduced her, because you have to help people connect."
Jungreis (pronounced Yungrice) has been helping people connect to one another and to their faith for more than 40 years. She is a Holocaust survivor and the author of two books. Her late husband was a rabbi, as was her father.