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The Debate: ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’ v. Rabbi Shmuley

Later this month, the peripatetic Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is taking the stage at Nessah Synagogue, a Persian Orthodox congregation in Los Angeles, to debate Patti Stanger — the yenta matchmaker of the hit Bravo series “Millionaire Matchmaker.”

Stanger, a Jewish, third-generation matchmaker, was profiled by the San Diego Jewish Journal last year. You can read here. Rabbi Boteach, for all his media-savvy self-promotion, espouses a much more traditional view about what makes relationships succeed. Stanger, who favors miniskirts, works in a world — that is to say Los Angeles — where 40ish men with more money than sense expect to date 20-something women with perfect bodies and professionally blown-out hair. Stanger is happy to make the shidduchim, for fees steep enough to keep a Botox account open indefinitely.

According to Stanger’s company Web site, the non-refundable memberships for men start at $25,000 (cash or check only, please, no credit cards). It costs an additional $30,000 for her staff to do a “personal search” beyond the women in their database.

On her show Stanger catalogues her clients’ flaws — trying to shape up the nebbishy, nerdy and clueless before their dates. She screens women who have submitted professional glamour shots until she finds an acceptable group of about two dozen, who she introduces en masse to one or two of her clients in kind of a harem cattle call. The client selects three women with whom he wants to chat, and then one or two to actually take out on dates, with the cameras rolling the whole time.

Watching “Millionaire Matchmaker” is a little like watching a slow-motion train wreck. You feel a bit sickened, but at the same time you just can’t look away. Stanger’s gig with Shmuley, billed as “Can Money Buy Love? Dating in a Material World,” will take place April 28.

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