Forget JDate — Matchmaker Helps Angelenos Find Love

By Karmel Melamed

Published January 13, 2006, issue of January 13, 2006.

He’s not your typical yenta, and he’s certainly not JDate.com, but 70-year-old Asher Aramnia spends every Sunday afternoon working the phones at his Los Angeles office to make national and international love connections for Jewish singles of different backgrounds.

With countless successful matches to his credit, Aramnia’s matchmaking activities, based out of an Iranian Jewish community center called Eretz-Siamak, have become something of a phenomenon in the local Jewish community, where typically women and online dating services have helped Jewish singles find their soulmates.

“I know people think this is for women, but I don’t care about that,” said Aramnia, an Iranian-born Jewish businessman. “What’s important to me is the mitzvah of two single Jews finding the loves of their life.”

In the past four years, Eretz-Siamak’s Peyvand-e-Delha (Union of Hearts) program has helped bring together more than two dozen Jewish couples from various cultural backgrounds. Eretz-Siamak’s co-founder, Dariush Fakheri, originally developed the program 12 years ago to enable divorced Iranian Jews in Southern California to meet potential mates. “This program was first called ‘Another Spring,’ and we wanted divorced Jews to make connection with each other, because there was a taboo for divorced people to remarry in our community,” Fakheri said. Union of Hearts has now expanded to include Iranian Jewish singles elsewhere in the United States, Mexico, Europe and South America.

“We’ve had a couple of successful marriages recently between Mexican and Iranian Jews and many Iranian Jews wanting to marry American Jews,” Aramnia said. Jewish seniors as old as 80 who are seeking companionship have been paired up, too.

Though a one-time $100 processing fee is requested by the organization to cover its program expenses, Aramnia does not get paid for introducing couples. In fact, he and his wife often stay up late on weeknights to keep in touch with singles he has introduced.

“The secret to our success is not asking them what they want, but rather asking what they don’t want in a mate or would despise in a mate,” Aramnia explained. “This allows us to better match up couples.”

Information sought by Jewish singles in the program includes age, height, weight, hair color, number of children and their ages, alimony receipt or payment, religious observance, education, occupation, hobbies, drinking limits, turnoffs, smoking or nonsmoking, and priorities in a companion, according to the application sheet.

In addition, Aramnia said he does extensive background checks on singles participating in the program and works closely with them to ensure compatibility and that their relationships last.

“After they fill out an application, I personally and confidentially interview them,” Aramnia said. “Our whole objective is to make sure that if anyone does get married, that it will last forever.”

“I have been really blessed to know Mr. Aramnia,” said Soheil Bamshad, a Southern California accountant who was introduced to his wife, Rozita, through the Union of Hearts program four years ago. “I think what he does is invaluable with all the time he puts into this at nights and on the weekends; it all takes away from his own family in order to help Jewish singles meet each other,”

Aramnia, who has been married for nearly 50 years, said he was first drawn to matching Jewish singles after seeing the collapse of many marriages and families.

“When a couple divorces with one or two children, the weight of the breakup is on the children’s shoulders who are tremendously impacted,” Aramnia said. “This breaks my heart, and I’m willing to do anything to prevent that from happening.”

Karmel Melamed is an internationally published freelance journalist.



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