Aleeza Ben Shalom has been a matchmaker for years, but the Netflix series “Jewish Matchmaking” has made her skillset a globally-recognized brand.
Ben Shalom has turned her TV show into a stage show, which she is bringing to the Mayerson JCC for a Chabad Jewish Center event on Tuesday, Sept. 5. The event is co-sponsored by the Mayerson JCC and the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. Tickets are limited and available online.
“Cincinnati is a wonderful, dynamic Jewish community, and it deserves someone as big as she is,” said Chabad Rabbi Yisroel Mangel. “From a Chabad perspective, to proudly present Judaism in such a package is a grand slam. She’s everything you can ask for.”
Ben Shalom said that she developed the live show under the premise that everyone can be a matchmaker.
“There are three different components to being a matchmaker, and I turn everybody in the audience into a matchmaker, whether they’re single, married, I don’t really care,” said Ben Shalom, who then brings a single audience member on stage to interview them, get to know them, and then has the audience think of who would be a good fit to match them. “By the end of the interview that I do, I asked the audience ‘Nu? So what have you got for this person?’ And they look at me, and I’m like ‘I’m not going to stop this whole shenanigan until you give me names of people.’”
The live show process, she said, is “spectacular.”
“I really never know what’s happening,” she said. “It’s one of a kind, and it is always spontaneous and exciting. I personally love being on the spot.”
The television show jumps around between nine Ben Shalom clients and gives an inside look into the interview process she uses to get to know the client, some footage from the dates, and then the reaction to the dates that she sets up.
Despite her level of observance – she’s Orthodox and lives in Israel, but comes from a secular Jewish upbringing in Philadelphia – she works with people of all levels of Jewish observance. As she says in the show’s first episode: “There are 15 million Jews in the world, and there are about 15 million ways to be Jewish.”
“I became observant in my mid-20s. And people have stereotypically pinned me into the religious community because I look religious, and you’re most likely to hear about a religious engagement sooner because it happens fast,” she said. “But this is the whole spectrum of clients that you saw, is exactly stereotypically the types of clients that I might be meeting.”
Ben Shalom also shows off a directness in dealing with the clients and some of their likes/dislikes.
“Can they really merit what they really say they want? Sometimes the answer is yes,” Ben Shalom said. “If I do think that it’s out of a range of what they really could strive for, or what they should strive for, I will definitely sweetly and lovingly put them in their place. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”