Drew Seid and Rachel Waxman were walking down the street last year when he got down on one knee to propose (pictured at right). Fortunately, she said yes.
The moment was even more special for the Jewish couple as it fell on Tu B’Av, which many describe as the Jewish version of Valentine’s Day. While Waxman was aware of the date’s significance, Seid was not. Whether it was dumb luck or fate, Waxman was happy regardless.
“It’s funny and nice that we got engaged on Tu B’Av,” Waxman said. “He was really proud of himself.”
Tu B’Av is an ancient holiday that marked the beginning of the grape harvest in Jerusalem. For the occasion, women would dress in white and dance in vineyards to attract potential partners. In the Talmud, Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel is quoted as saying, “There are no better days in Israel than Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur.”
Today, it’s common for Jews in Israel to exchange tokens of affection on the holiday. While it hasn’t caught on in the United States like other celebrations, several local organizations are taking part in the spirit of the occasion.
Chevra, which hosts programs aimed at young professionals, will hold its annual Festival Ahava when Tu B’Av starts the evening of Aug. 15. This year, the rock concert will be at World Cafe Live due to the February fire at Chevra’s Center City building.
And with love in the air, making matches is certainly on many attendee’s minds.
Danielle Selber is the assistant director at Tribe 12, one of the dance’s co-sponsors, and head of its matchmaking program. She said there are many people seeking out her services this time of year.
“It’s funny: I have seen a bit of an uptick lately in people reaching out. I don’t know if I can attribute that to Tu B’Av coming around because I don’t think it’s so well-known, at least in the 20- to 30-something secular community,” Selber said. “Summertime, in general, is just a sort of a sound time that people feel like they may have a little more time to go dating anyway.”
While Selber hasn’t heard of any matches coming out of Festival Ahava, it’s common for people to seek out her services after meeting her there. One year, she walked away with about 20 new clients.
And when it comes to dating, she encourages people to put themselves out there.
“When in doubt, go out. Maybe taking the energy of this time of year, the Tu B’Av season, to make like our ancestors and give some people a shot. Because part of Tu B’Av in the past was like that. The women would go out into the fields wearing white dresses, and the men would come out and try to court them, and that was one of the traditions. So, in a way, it’s sort of putting yourself out there and seeing who comes around and then giving a chance to whichever suitor comes knocking.”
Meeting “the one” is like winning the lottery, according to Aleeza Ben Shalom, a dating coach and owner of Marriage Minded Mentor. She said with the summer and sunshine come many events and opportunities to meet people. Her advice is to not despair when going to an event and not walking away with a match. Simply making friends is a win that can help in the long term.
“I always say, summer lovin’, it’s a good time of year to find somebody and make something happen. A lot of people’s energy is brighter, more hopeful; it’s a sweet time of year,” she said. “All I tell people is find one person to connect with who you would like, would get along with, and even if you don’t meet the right person, maybe that person can lead you to the right person.”
Being opened-minded and willing to step outside comfort zones is something that Michal Naisteter, a senior matchmaker with Three Day Rule, also encourages. She said the holidays are a great motivator for meeting new people.
“Holidays are times where people often reflect and get the push to shake something up in their dating life. So yes, I see an uptick in people who contact me around all sorts of holidays. Tu B’Av not quite as often to be honest. But I am open,” Naisteter wrote via text message. “It is a great date to have a wedding. Maybe yours will be in 2020.”
As for those already in relationships, like Waxman, the day is just something to smile at while looking forward to her special day scheduled for the month of Elul.
“The fact that our wedding is happening around all of these important Jewish calendar moments, it’s a good sign our marriage will be about Judaism in a relevant way,” she said.
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