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Micki Lavin-Pell thinks it's time that singles took their dating more seriously. She is the director of singles programming for the International Young Israel Movement, and is also a marriage and family therapist. Israel National News spoke to her about one of the largest ever singles events in Jerusalem, the 'Mega-Event for Religious Anglos', Thursday July 29th.

Lavin-Pell described the impetus for such a massive event, which is organized by Young Israel. "We want to create a venue so that religious English-speakers in Israel can meet in a way that is different than most other people meet. Many religious Anglos don’t like to go to parties and pubs. They would rather meet people in an environment that is conducive to meeting a person on a deeper level. Here, they will get to see someone in a place where they are not necessarily under the influence of alcohol, they have their head on their shoulders, and they are more serious."

There's more to the event, though, than just a better place for singles to meet. In addition to mixers and minglers, and a musical jamming performance by Yehoshua Rubin and Maury Epstein, there will be a workshop on how to date more successfully.

"We want to help people think about being more successful about their dating lives," says Lavin-Pell. "The idea is to focus on what successful people do in their lives, and help these singles realize that if they apply some of those things to their lives on a regular basis and they may be more successful in their dating as well."

When asked what kind of advice she has for singles, Levin-Pell says, "One tip is to set goals for yourself, like you would for your career. If you invest in yourself, you'll be more successful. Also, if you look at yourself in a positive way, but acknowledge the negative things, then you'll be even more successful. I liken it to Roger Federer, who's the world's leading tennis star, but who doesn't ignore his weaknesses; rather, he deals with them. If you apply that to yourself, you'll be more successful in your dating."

Levin-Pell described the demographics of the expected attendees. "The event is for religious Jewish English-speakers between the ages of 28 - 40, people who take themselves seriously, who are fun and easy going, but who have a strong sense of who they are and where they're going, mostly professionals. These are people who are willing to admit that they can do things better. About 300 are expected. There will be shadchanim (Jewish matchmakers) too, for people who are shyer."

"It's not just for extroverts. There will be lots of games that will help shyer people meet others. There will be situations that will help them meet a larger number of people. I can't say more without giving it away."

When asked if there will be speed-dating, Levin-Pell says, "we don't call it speed dating". She admits that there will be some, but that it will be done, "in a less contrived, less speed-dating sort of way. Maybe less speedy."

Levin-Pell was emphatic about what makes a relationship succeed. "When I help people understand what they loved about each other when they first got together, then that helps their relationship on the long term. I think it's really important that people communicate to themselves what they need and want in a relationship and then communicate that to their partners. If we can break through the fear to communicate from the get-go, we can get people to understand that they have to be open and know what they want in order to get what they want in a relationship."

Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood, where many of the singles live, is sometimes known as "the swamp", alluding to the fact that a lot of singles seem to get stuck in a rut there. Levin-Pell says that can be overcome. "I think that people create their own swamp and can surround themselves with their misery. But people who are living a more uplifting life, who are inspired and have passion and desires and dreams and goals, are not in a swamp. It's really a state of mind."

Avi is a 37-year-old single who plans to attend next week's Mega-event. He's been living in Katamon since he made Aliyah four years ago from the Bronx, New York. Today he's self-employed, and is also into sports. Avi is no stranger to the dating scene. He yearns to find the right person and get married. Israel National News asked Avi about his experiences.

INN: In what ways do you try to find your soul mate?

Avi: These days there are many different ways to meet people. You have Shabbat meals, setup dates, random parties, singles events, not to mention internet dating.

INN: Do people have a better chance these days, with all these new methods?

Avi: Ironically, it works the opposite. It seems like the more choices you have, the harder it is to choose.

INN: Why is it hard to meet the right person?

Avi: I don't have all the answers. I think it gets harder as you get older. Part of it might be that there aren't too many choices. You don't want to make the wrong choice. You're not even able to. It's not like you bought an ice cream flavor you didn't like, so you just finished it and you're done with it. When it comes to making a choice that's going to affect the rest of your life, you're not able to make a choice that you think could be wrong.

INN: Have you done a lot of dating?

Avi: There are times I did a lot of dating, other times less. In one case I dated a person for a period of a few months, almost a year.

INN: Do you get set up often?

Avi: When I came to Israel, I was starting over again. In America people knew me, and it's easier to set up a person when you know the person. When I came to Israel, it was hard to make good connections, because people didn't know me as well. There has to be a lot in common between the two people being set up, I believe.

INN: Do you have hopes for this event?

Avi: Any time I try something, I always have some hope. If I had no hope I wouldn't go. Out of all the types of things I've done to improve my dating, this kind of event ranks somewhere in the middle.

INN: Is it hard to make it in Israel as a single?

Avi: It's a little harder as a single.

INN: What are you looking for in a mate?

Avi: The number one thing is someone that I'm comfortable with. Someone with whom I feel at ease. I am also looking for someone with similar level of intelligence (however intelligent I am). I play a lot of sports, and would like to find someone who has appreciation for health and fitness. I played on a softball team at Kibbutz Gezer and I belong to a basketball group.

INN: What about religion?

Avi: It's important to me. I'm looking for someone who keeps all the halachot (Jewish laws). I'm not Hareidi but I'm pretty strict.

INN: Why would someone want to date you?

Avi: I'm intelligent. I'm a caring person. I think I try to be helpful to people. When I get close to people I try to understand them. I'm pleasant to be around. I'm pretty entertaining as well and I'm good with words and know how to be funny. I think I have a lot to offer.

The Mega-Event takes place at an opportune time of the Jewish Calendar. It comes just three days after Tu B'Av, (the 15th of Av), a joyous holiday where traditionally, young Jewish men and women would go out to the fields and vineyards and find their matches.

The event is co-organized by Yehoshua Rubin, a dating coach who heads the Ahava Rabba organization, and is partly funded by the Jewish Agency for Israel. Levin-Pell explained that the Jewish Agency realized that helping people find their mates will help them stay in Israel and therefore decided to support the event.

The Mega-Event is set to take place Thursday, July 29th6 - 11 PM at the AACI building (37 Pierre Koenig Street, Talpiot, Jerusalem). The event is for single religious Jews aged 28- 40. There is a 40 shekel entrance fee.