Although utilizing the services of a professional matchmaker may seem like a modern-day trend, matchmakers have been facilitating marriage proposals for centuries all around the globe. Traditionally, matchmaking has been quite popular in Jewish communities where people often regarded it as a mitzvah, or good deed. Many matchmakers today are Jewish and specialize in setting up people who’d like to marry someone of the same religion. NYC’s #1 Jewish Matchmaker, Shoshanna Rikon of Shoshanna’s Matches, says that “Bringing people together in the Jewish community has been the most rewarding aspect of being a matchmaker.”

In cahoots with the matchmakers from earlier days, she agrees that “word of mouth has been the most valuable marketing tool for generating new business.” Indeed, it seems that some things never change! People frequently associate matchmaking with the Jewish yenta, but for centuries, matchmakers have been popular with those of all religions and cultures. Matchmakers, from family members to outsiders, were often present in Catholic and Hindu societies. Arranged marriages were a tradition all over the world, especially in Asian countries like India, Japan and China, as well as in Mexico, Russia and many African and Middle Eastern countries.

In the past, matchmakers were not always compensated for the introductions they made. Some just set up their family and friends until others outside of their own social circles began recognizing their talent for putting people together in a romantic context. Many matchmakers got their start from setting up family members. In the twenty-first century, it is often difficult for people to find and maintain relationships. Despite the seemingly endless array of romantic options, as evidenced by the number of people using online dating sites, many singles realize that true love is not always just a mouse.

In the United States and Canada, many people work long hours that leave little time for socializing. Americans barely use their vacation time, let alone lounge around in cafes like the Europeans! They do not live in the close-knit communities of yesterday with friends, family or clergy who make it a priority to help them find a spouse. In addition, many men and women find themselves divorced with the challenge of having to start all over again in a dating scene that they haven’t been a part of for years.

With nearly everyone looking for love, the talents of matchmakers will seemingly always be in demand.

Rachel Russo