“We actually don’t believe in the concept of a shidduch crisis,” say the creators of an artificial intelligence (AI) dating app called forJe. It’s a groundbreaking option within the Jewish dating world. Founders Yossi and Shira Teichman dated others unsuccessfully for many years. They tried every route, from shadchans, to websites, to friends, and more. They recall, “We tried everything in the system, out of the system and we realized we weren’t getting anywhere.” Once Yossi and Shira had met and were happily married, they started helping their friends find shidduchim. This led to an epiphany: “We strongly believe that every single, man and woman, with the right set of tools and the right outlook, can move forward [in the world of Jewish dating.]” The Teichman’s app helps make these tools available to anyone with the app.
Contrary to popular belief, dating is not a numbers game nor a competition. Much of the success of forJe is due to its underlying, core philosohpy: educating one’s self about dating and how to do it right. Yossi says, “Dating is the only field where people don’t think that an education is required… [but success is more likely] given the right set of tools and [an] educational component.” Unfortunately, Western values complicate what could otherwise be a smooth process. People view it as, “I’ll get there, I’ll meet a thousand people or whatever it is. If I don’t get burned out, then I’ll for sure get engaged or that love at first sight concept that Hollywood has.”
Because of Yossi’s background in finance and tech, and Shira’s background in education alongside top psychologists and researchers in the field of relationships/dating, they started working on transforming the dating platforms they already knew. For example, Yossi states that with all other apps, “Almost the entire focus of the profile is… exclusively the pictures.” To undo that, they’ve limited it to one picture only on a profile so that, “The person is actually able to see and hear the other person; not just look at a picture and decide.” Moreover, they don’t display the exact age of a potential match. When users set their filters upon sign-up, they receive match results within their desired range. Unlike other apps that pull you in and want to keep you dependent on them for their success, forJe wants the opposite: to get you out of its system by getting married. The AI is constantly wanting to get to know you on a deeper level when asking questions. When you answer about why one certain suggestion doesn’t work for you while another other does, it helps the app understand you better each time. Based on the reasons given, it adjusts your profile automatically.
A part of forJe’s mission statement is having no judgements. Yossi’s takes pride that “We have someone for everybody,” whether a Jew is affiliated or not. In terms of security, the way forJe was generated and structured makes it impossible for users to lie about who they are. Facebook and Google safety networks are incorporated into their system, as well as a built-in AI monitor that notices negative patterns and flags people that are suspicious or problematic. Users are always able to report on other users if need be. The app is free, but the premium services offered do come with a price tag, including additional features like a personal coach and specific enhancements that further enrich your experience. “At this point, there have been over 50 engagements and marriages from the program in just a few years.”
“The results were astonishing…there is no other dating app like it in existence both in the Jewish world and in the non-Jewish world,” Yossi recounts. The Teichmans strongly believe in the overwhelmingly positive feedback they’ve received. Future-forward, they can envision the app going as far as being the primary dating app for the Jewish world.