Updating the Yenta for Generation Tinder


Erika Kaplan is thinking of changing her ringtone to “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.”

“Or maybe it should be my theme song,” said Kaplan, an employee of Three Day Rule, a Los Angeles-based matchmaking company with offices in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C. — and, as of last week, Philadelphia.

The official local launch was last week at Vesper, but there’ll be a second event in June — a Jewish singles gathering organized in conjunction with JDate — that’ll serve as another opportunity for people to get to know about TDR.

It wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for Kaplan, who recently moved from New York to Society Hill to bring TDR’s personalized, tech-savvy services to Philly. Though it’s early, Kaplan has high hopes for Philadelphia.

“It’s a city filled with smart, educated, successful, well-rounded, busy people who could really use a service to streamline the dating process,” she said.

TDR takes on a handful of clients per month in each city, and they devote themselves to getting to know that client very well.

“We have a pretty personal relationship with them. A lot of them would consider us friends because the better we know them, the better we can be a good partner for them.”

Once they understand what a client is looking for, they’ll start with the TDR database, which is extensive. Then, if there’s no match there, it’s time to hit the pavements.

“We’re out at events, we’re meeting people at our gym class or at a bar at night or at a beer garden or on the street,” Kaplan said. “We’re shamelessly networking. I’m not afraid to say hi to anyone.”

The matchmakers at TDR do all the things their clients are too busy to do, which also includes meeting someone in person for the first time.

“We meet people for coffee and really get to know about them and their lives and their intentions and their dating histories and what it is they’re really looking for. So I might meet five or six people for my client before sending them one person I think is actually a good fit.”

In a world of online dating, where it’s so easy for people to manipulate their profiles, a white-glove matchmaker like Kaplan creates a more secure dating experience for a client. “Everyone I send to my client has been vetted in person. There are no guessing games. No catfishing.”

TDR works in partnership with some of the biggest online dating services, from Match.com to JDate. The businesses are not in competition; they simply offer different services.

“When you’re dating online on Tinder and Bumble and OKCupid, all you can see is what that person is telling you,” Kaplan explained. “We’re able to screen out for incompatibilities that you wouldn’t necessarily know from a dating profile.”

She rattled off examples of questions that might be important to long-term compatibility but that don’t always get answered online: “Do you want to have kids? What’s your stance on politics? Would you raise your children outside your own religion? How do you like to spend your money? What do your vacations look like?”

Kaplan said that people waste time going on first dates — and second, third and fourth dates, even — with people who are unsuited to them.

“They don’t have the knowledge to know if this is a long-term compatible partner,” she said.

Kaplan is willing to ask all those pesky, personal questions right up front. It’s like sending your nosy best friend from second grade, who understands everything about you, out on dates with people on your behalf. It’s a huge timesaver for some people — and saving time is a big factor in matchmaking.

“One common thread of all my clients,” said Kaplan, who worked for TDR for about two years in New York, “is that they’re busy professionals.”

Many of Kaplan’s clients also are Jewish, though she works with clients from all different backgrounds.

“I tend to attract Jewish clients,” she said, “which I think goes along with them feeling like I have a pretty large Jewish network of my own, because we don’t just work through a network that we already have.”

Kaplan will participate in Jewish events on her clients’ behalf.

“I’ve gone to Shabbat services for a client before,” she said. “I have a couple clients who are quite spiritual Jews, so I went to Kabbalah lectures for them to find people who are like-minded and spiritual. Knowing that I understand the ins and outs of Judaism makes Jewish clients more comfortable.”

Kaplan does have some modern Orthodox clients who are open to dating people who are a little less religious than they are, but they like to understand what a potential match would be comfortable with. If they don’t keep kosher now, would they be willing to do so in the future? These are questions Kaplan is comfortable navigating.

Though she’s only been in this line of work for a couple years, Kaplan loves it. She got into it accidentally. Growing up, “the only matchmaker I’d ever heard of was from Fiddler on the Roof,” she said. But when a friend who works at Match.com told the Penn State grad about TDR, it appealed to her.

“I started my career doing PR for magazines like US Weekly, Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal. It was really, really fun and glitzy and glamorous, but I was looking for something with a little more meaning,” Kaplan said. “I wanted my days to have a little more intention to them. Matchmaking is a really noble career. We get to play a part in helping people find love, and I think that kind of partnership is the cornerstone of happiness for a lot of people.”

In addition, Kaplan said she’s energized by the seriousness of the work.

“It’s entrepreneurial and keeps me really challenged. It’s not just fluffy chatting with people all day long. You can’t be on auto-pilot ever. If I meet with someone, I’m all ears, I’m really listening. I’m trying to read them and get some insight into their world and who they are and what kind of partner they need for something long-term.”

Then she goes home and watches TV to decompress.

Though her parents still sing “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” to her, Kaplan is glad to be working with TDR in its newest city.

“I’m happy to have found such a unique career path.”

Contact:  [email protected];215-832-0747

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Liz Spikol is the Jewish Exponent's editor in chief; she has worked for the publication for four years. Prior to that she was at Philadelphia magazine, Curbed Philly and the before-its-time Tek Lado, a magazine for bilingual Latinx geeks. She is active in the American Jewish Press Association and contributes to the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, Baltimore Jewish Times, Washington Jewish Week and Phoenix Jewish News. A Philly native, Spikol got a bachelor's degree at Oberlin College and a master's at the University of Texas at Austin. She lives in Mt. Airy.


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