The Alternative to the Dreaded Singles Shabbaton

Michael Feldstein

Ask a group of typical Jewish singles about whether or not they like attending singles Shabbatons, and chances are that the vast majority will say that they hate the experience. Yet singles Shabbatons continue to be one of the more popular venues for Jewish singles to meet others.

Why do singles continue to flock to such weekends, even though when asked, they profess to hate them?

Part of the reason is that many singles really believe that their future spouse might be at a particular weekend.and that by not attending a Shabbaton they are going to miss out on their golden opportunity. Advertisements for these weekends loudly claim .Meet your bashert!. -- and singles are more than willing to plunk down up to $300 a person in hopes of cashing in on the claim.

Another reason is the numbers game. Singles believe that if there are lots of other singles in attendance, it means that there should be a better chance of finding their soulmate there. Singles tend to gravitate to the Shabbatons with the largest number of people, thinking that this will improve their odds of finding a match.

Logically that may seem correct. However, what.s the real success rate? Virtually everyone who attends these Shabbatons generally leaves disappointed. Fortunately for the organizers, there always seems to be a new group of singles interested in attending the next Shabbaton.

Is there a better way to run a singles Shabbaton that participants will enjoy more?

Indeed there is. This past year, personally helped organize eight Shabbatons for singles through an organization called EndTheMadness ( And each one has been an unqualified success, according to the feedback provided by participants and the number of singles who have attended more than one Shabbaton.

What made these Shabbatons different than the typical singles Shabbaton?

First, the Shabbaton is held in a Jewish community that has an active synagogue (not in some hotel in the Catskills), and activities and meals are integrated with the rest of the community. Past Shabbatons have been held in Lawrence, Teaneck, Passaic, West Hempstead, Stamford, Elizabeth, and Monsey. Singles are divided up into groups of six (three males and three females) for Shabbat meals, and they eat their meals at hosts. homes. This makes for a much more natural, comfortable, and less pressurized environment for singles to meet and mingle. Singles also daven with the rest of the members of the community, and participate in the rabbi.s class on Shabbat and the Shalosh Seudot meal.

Second, the Shabbaton is intentionally limited. Only 48 singles can attend, and applicants are carefully screened to make sure they are the kind of people with which other participants and members of the community will enjoy spending a Shabbat. Every one of the Shabbatons that were planned has been sold out . and there is always a waiting list for singles to attend.

Third, the Shabbaton does not cost singles an arm and a leg. Because of the hospitality of community members in providing meals to singles at their own tables, the Shabbaton is usually priced at only $25 per person, which includes a Saturday night activity as well.

Finally, by interacting with members of the community, singles increase their own networking opportunities. After meeting singles over Shabbat, many hosts stay in touch with their guests . and sometimes recommend others that they know as possible dates to those who attended the Shabbaton. In addition, community members enjoy hosting meals because it allows them to do something tangible for the singles community.

The nice thing about this model is that it doesn.t take a lot of work to plan a Shabbaton. It can also be accomplished by singles informally, without an official organization. You.ll need to find a point person in a specific community to arrange housing and meals, and you.ll need a couple of organizers on the singles side to screen applicants, take reservations, assign participants to homes for meals and sleeping, and plan the program.

There is a better way to run a Shabbaton for singles.and this concept really works. Why not plan one in your community this coming year!

Michael Feldstein serves on the Singles Task Force of the Orthodox Caucus, and volunteers for EndTheMadness. He can be reached at