Cherry Hill Teacher Shares Experience on Netflix’s ‘Jewish Matchmaking’

Aleeza Beth Shalom and Ryan Green, both dressed up, standing inside a reception room, smiling at the camera.
Aleeza Ben Shalom and Ryan Green | Courtesy of Jennifer Milton

Last March, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, resident Ryan Green packed a bag and his rollerblades and traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, to go on a date with a woman he knew nothing about.

Avid Netflix watchers or reality television buffs may know what happens next: Green’s date was featured on episode seven of Nexflix’s “Jewish Matchmaking.”

The eight-episode reality TV show, a spinoff series of “Indian Matchmaking,” follows matchmaker (and 2013 Tribe 12 fellowship alum) Aleeza Ben Shalom as she works with Jewish singles across the country and across denominations and Jewish upbringings.

In the show’s seventh episode, “So the Song Goes,” Ben Shalom meets Nakysha, one of the few Jews of color in Kansas City’s Jewish community. Nakysha is a Reform Jew looking in her mid-20s looking for a nice Jewish boy no older than 33 with a full head of hair and tolerance for motorbikes and guns.

Enter Green, 38 and bald, but a teacher who is “personable, talkative, friendly, outgoing, communicative”, Ben Shalom insists. 

The pair share a date at the roller skating rink Nakysha grew up going to, and Green shares his own experience with ice skating as a kid and have a brother with disabilities, who inspired him to become a special education teacher.

“I went into it as if it was someone that they felt was a compatible match for my personality and her personality,” Green said. “And I took it as this is an opportunity to meet someone new to hopefully see if it was a true match, and then go from there.”

Green prepared for the date as he would any other, and treated it as though there weren’t any cameras around. After the date, he flew back home.

Though the match didn’t spark a romantic relationship, Green said the experience was growthful and made him more open-minded to meeting Jews across denominations and backgrounds.

“It definitely made me think about, to become more open or more vulnerable to having potential dates — Everyone has a different religious standpoint in Judaism, where she has her religious standpoint; I have mine,” Green said. “Everyone is Jewish in their own separate ways.”

Green first learned about the opportunity to be on “Jewish Matchmaking” from Philadelphia-based matchmaker Michal Naisteter, who had worked with Green previously. Naisteter would occasionally connect Green with a client before Green became Naisteter’s client a few years later. 

Naisteter, who referred dozens of singles to pursue a casting call for the show, thought Green was a good fit.

“When I was working with him closely as a matchmaking client, he was open to matches; he was open to new ideas,” Naisteter said.

“For me, he was just like a dream,” she added. 

Around a kitchen table, three women are sitting and talking.
Nakysha (center) with her mother and Aleeza Ben Shalom on “Jewish Matchmaking” | Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Green’s hometown of Buffalo, New York had a dearth of Jewish dating options, making the Philadelphia area an appealing dating scene when he arrived in Cherry Hill in 2009. 

Green is tethered to his Conservative Jewish upbringing, making dating Jewishly a priority: His mother, who died in 2017, instilled in him the value of marrying a Jew, and his family belongs to Congregation Beth Tikvah in Marlton, New Jersey. Green also serves as a board member for the Philadelphia Jewish National Fund-USA’s JNFuture Philadelphia Board, helping to fundraise for JNF-USA and recruit young philanthropists to the organization.

Like many other singles, Green was fed-up with using dating apps and was drawn to matchmaking as a more meaningful way to find love. But like so many on the show, Green was not able to find a romantic match.

This is a typical part of the dating process and an important depiction of dating, Naisteter said. 

“I loved watching every single date. Every single date was important because every single date gives you an opportunity to work on presenting yourself,” she said. “Saying ‘no’ is just as important as saying ‘yes’.”

Dating is vulnerable, even more so on television in front of a global audience. Naisteter was glad that no one on “Jewish Matchmaking” was married after the first season, as it was a more realistic portrayal of what dating is like.

“That’s just what dating is, you know?” Naisteter said. “It’s a world of possibilities and a world of rejection.”

Matchmaking is more than just setting people up on dates, Ben Shalom said. It’s about mentally and emotionally preparing someone for the highs and lows of dating and opening hearts to connection.

“I help people to build their confidence,” Ben Shalom said. “When a match doesn’t work, we know it’s not the right person and we don’t blame ourselves.”

[email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here