On Monday evening, November 26, some of our community’s single women gathered at Hashevaynu for an inspiring workshop given by Mrs. Aleeza Ben Shalom, the Marriage-Minded Mentor.
The event was organized by Miss Tzipora Zelmanowitz. Miss Zelmanowitz greeted everyone and thanked Rabbi and Rebbetzin Zakutinsky for opening the shul for the event and she thanked Mrs. Ben Shalom for traveling from Philadelphia in a driving rainstorm. She then shared a short visualization exercise. She told everyone to imagine a time in your life when you experienced pure joy. “Picture that moment of joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Picture yourself smiling.” She told everyone to hold that vision and joy when life throws curve balls and your dreams aren’t materializing. She said, “I’m here to tell you that we can tap into that joy.” She shared her passion to empower singles in our community. She has a Facebook group called “Free To Be,” in which she endeavors to spread possibilities to women. “The goal should be to enjoy life and to let the process happen.” She pointed out that “our energy attracts like energy. If I’m happy, I attract that type of people.”
Next, Aleeza Ben Shalom spoke. She noted that the evening was sponsored by “Partners in Shidduchim,” a free dating database that you can visit at Partnersinshidduchim.com. The website was started by Baila Yaniv with the goal to help singles empower their search and find their bashert.
Mrs. Ben Shalom shared that she works on helping singles to figure out the dating process and make relationships work. She said that there is stress and pressure when dating for marriage in the frum community. Her theme of the evening was: Express who you really are to get what you really want. She said, “Even if you find one new thought tonight, this could help bring about a shift in your dating.” She first defined “relationship” based on a standard definition. It is the way people connect, connections by blood or marriage, or emotional and intimate association between two people. She then defined “collaboration,” which is the act of working with someone to produce or create something. She then suggested popping the definition of collaboration into the definition of relationship. She taught in relationships that you have to work with someone else to create something.
She posed a question to the group: “What is something you want to create with someone else?” She handed out a chart with three columns of values. She explained that what we want to create is a relationship based on our values. She asked, “What do you value in a relationship?”
People responded with thoughts like kindness, compassion, humor, values me, respect, understanding, being someone’s priority, loyalty, open communication, honesty, trust, and safety. Mrs. Ben Shalom suggested that singles create a long list and then figure out their main value categories. “Finding your values will help you in the dating process. Then you know what is important to you.”
She pointed out how well-meaning friends or shadchanim or acquaintances may want to support singles but may not know what they need. She advised, “Give people working on your behalf enough information to be able to help you.”
She explained, “The goal is to know your preferences and to clearly be able to explain them to someone else.” She shared a story that happened with someone she was helping. This person included some information about her values and preferences on her résumé. When her potential spouse was looking at a few résumés, most sounded very similar, but hers was unique and expressed more specifics that he found matched with him. Eventually, they married. She said, “I want to know who you are from a quick glimpse at the résumé, so I’ll remember you even if I don’t meet you.”
She then spoke about relationships, saying, “There are always going to be positives and negatives in a relationship. It’s the way the world is built.” It would be ideal if the person was mostly in line with your values, but of course not all of your values will match. She advised that you need to identify the difference between a preference and a deal-breaker. A deal-breaker, for example, would be if you are allergic to smoke and he smokes. So, you must figure out the things you cannot tolerate.
She shared how it can be difficult to sort through the feeling of uncertainty about a shidduch and it is good to have parents, a rabbi or rebbetzin, mentor, or a dating coach to speak with.
She said, “You need to know who you are, and no one knows you better than you.” After a date, it is important to check in with yourself first. Set up a system that works for you, so you can process. Sometimes you don’t need input and information from others; especially right after a date, you may just need time to process.
The workshop was informative and very positive. Hashem should bless all the singles in our community and klal Yisrael to build a beautiful bayis ne’eman b’karov.
By Susie Garber