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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The adage mitzvah goreret mitzvah (one mitzvah leads to another) is something that most of us do not think about very often. However, the organization YUConnects has been working on this concept quite literally—to bring singles together while also doing chesed.

YUConnects plans ongoing events for singles groups such as hiking, lectures, cooking and shiurim. “We pride ourselves on coming up with different ideas for our participants to join together,” said Margie Glatt, the group’s special projects coordinator. However, they kicked it up a notch with a partnership with Yad Leah this past yom tov season.

Yad Leah is known to many of us as a clothing reclamation center, where all goods are sent to Israel after being packed and sorted at their Passaic warehouse. This past fall, Yad Leah’s director, Jessica Katz, worked with Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, YUConnect’s director, as well as the other staff to bring a group of young men and women to Yad Leah in order to combine doing a chesed with the opportunity to socialize.

An initial orientation took place at the warehouse where the group was given instructions on the jobs that needed to be done as well as an overview of the tzedaka’s work in Israel. A rotation system took place that allowed the female members to stay at one particular table and learn the task at hand. The male attendees rotated after 10 minutes from table to table where the specifics of the packing, sorting and boxing were explained by the female team members. The quiet and orderly room erupted into structured and happy chaos with 36 large boxes filled “with love by YUConnects” and shipped to Tekoa in Israel. A note was inserted into each box with the message of love.

“After spending time together sorting, packing and boxing, the program participants were invited to the home of Dr. Michal Rubin in Passaic where she and Yonina Zolty hosted a casual brunch with wonderful treats to eat,” said Glatt. “It allowed yet another venue to get to know each other!”

The shidduch group, which began eight years ago with Efrat Sobolofsky at its helm, originally accepted only participants who were associated with Yeshiva University. After five years, that policy was changed to expand to all singles who were interested in utilizing its services. The organization is self-funded and relies solely on donations to continue its work. To date, Rebbetzin Sobolofsky is happy to report that she is “gratified by the success of YUConnects in making matches and are thrilled that we recently celebrated our 281st engagement. More and more people sign up every day as the demand for our services continue to grow.”

At the conclusion of the Yad Leah/YUConnects event, a male participant from Queens offered a ride to a young lady, whom, he discovered, lived in his neighborhood. Fast forward a few months, and an engagement was announced. Mazel tov to Esther Gittel Rubin and Dani Goldman, who will be tying the knot mid March!

Esther Gittel shared her hakarat hatov to YUConnects and Yad Leah for the idea of bringing singles together while having the opportunity to do an act of chesed. An informal setting, goal oriented in getting a particular job done, gave the participants the opportunity to work together without feeling any awkwardness. While informally chatting, they were working toward an important cause. Everyone understood the importance of packing these clothes so that they would be one step closer to getting them to the recipients in Israel.

YUConnects is always looking for suggestions of new venues to bring participants together. They have hosted lectures at the Trump Tower, gone on hikes in Central Park, held shiurim and shared cooking demonstrations. Their constant goal is to enable as many singles as possible to have an opportunity to meet and get to know one another informally.

Again, a big mazel tov to Esther Gittel and Dani, who came to do a mitzvah and left within a few weeks with the knowledge that they had met their life partner.

For more information about YUConnects, go to www.yuconnects.com or email [email protected] Jessica Katz at Yad Leah can be reached at [email protected] or (973) 955-0861. Family groups and chesed parties would be warmly received.

By Nina Glick