YOU SHOULD KNOW…Michal Naisteter

Michal Naisteter (Photo by Nichole Howard)

Michal Naisteter, 39, has been a Jewish matchmaker/connector for seven years. She got into the game because, as she put it, she wanted to “both work from home and be extremely social.”

Seven years in, she averages at least one relationship per year. But Naisteter also says that her record runs deeper. For example, she was recently hired by the father of a 23-year-old who had never been on a date. Naisteter not only helped him find a date but get a second one, too.

Now, the client has that confidence. That’s what Naisteter tries to help provide.

Since COVID, families have hired her as a sort of life coach to help their children or siblings get back on track. They spent too much time isolating themselves during the lockdown days, according to Naisteter.

The East Passyunk resident, who occasionally attends the South Philadelphia Shtiebel and the Chabad of Fairmount, is part matchmaker and part life coach. Since she charges $400 per session, her clients are often high end. But the matchmaker/life coach feels she has a lot to learn from others in her trade, including Orthodox matchmakers who do it for free.

That’s why she’s planning Yentacon, a conference for matchmakers, from Feb. 28-March 1 at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History. Fifty matchmakers and connectors have signed up to attend, according to Naisteter.

Aleeza Ben Shalom, star of Netflix’s “Jewish Matchmaking,” will be in attendance. So will Danielle Selber, the founder of the local nonprofit organization Tribe 12’s matchmaking program. But not all the matchmakers and connectors attending are full-time practitioners of the craft.

“They might be a Realtor, but they’re a connector,” Naisteter said.

The event will also include a mixer at night for 5-10 “VIP” guests who are looking for love, according to Naisteter. Entrance costs $360, according to Proceeds go to Tribe 12, which connects young Jews to Jewish life.

The organizer says it’s “the first Jewish matchmaking conference in the U.S.” Before Yentacon, there were two Jewish matchmaking conferences, one in Jerusalem and another in Montreal.

“It’s going to showcase some beautiful Jewish values. Putting people in a room who aren’t necessarily like-minded,” Naisteter said. “Someone who’s a religious Jew doesn’t necessarily share the principles of someone who’s a matchmaker and runs a for-profit business. But they want to learn from each other.”

The event was born out of the friendship among Naisteter, Ben Shalom and Selber.

“As soon as I embarked on my matchmaking career, I tapped into my local Jewish network,” Naisteter said. “The three of us joined forces and became the yentas, and we found a way to collaborate despite our differences.”

Naisteter has a master’s degree in human sexuality from Widener University and used to teach sex education. That’s why she refers to herself as a “super connector” on Ben Shalom, as her Netflix show portrays, is Orthodox. Selber “takes the best elements from the Jewish tradition of matchmaking and reinterprets them to fit modern dating,” according to

All three will have workshops on their respective approaches during the conference. Naisteter’s will focus on “weaving traditional values with contemporary, sex-positive perspectives.” Ben Shalom’s will be about communication and “bridging the gap between your mindset and your client’s perspective.” Selber will discuss “the intersection of matchmaking, collaboration and community building.”

They are different. But their goal is the same, according to Naisteter.

“How can we all come together and collaborate to help Jewish people find Jewish matches?” she said.

Regardless of denomination or approach, matchmaking is not a science, according to Naisteter. Love is the same. It’s about feeling.

“I do believe there’s a part of this that is divine,” she said. “I think a part of it is that I imagine sometimes how the story of two people will play out in my mind. I close my eyes and can imagine how their energies will play out together.”

“I’m looking to learn and see that love is possible, that love is powerful and that you can create love in a room full of differences,” she added.

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