He's not your typical yenta, he's not JDate and he's certainly not your grandmother's cousin once removed, but Asher Aramnia loves making love connections for local Jewish singles.
With countless successful matches to his credit, Aramnia's matchmaking activities through the Iranian Jewish Chronicle (Chashm Andaaz) magazine, which is operated by the Eretz-SIAMAK Cultural Center in Tarzana, has become something of a unique surprise in the local Jewish community, where women traditionally help Jewish singles find their soulmates.
"I know people think this [matchmaking] is for women, but I don't care about that. What's important to me is the mitzvah of two single Jews finding the loves of their life," said the nearly 70-year-old Aramnia, who lives in Westwood and also works full time as a manager downtown.
In the past four years , the magazine's Peyvand-e-Delha (Union of Hearts) program has helped bring together 25 Jewish couples from various cultural backgrounds who were single, divorced or widowed, Aramnia said.
"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."
The Union of Hearts was the brainchild of the magazine's publisher, Dariush Fakheri. He said he developed the program 12 years ago to enable divorced Iranian Jews in Southern California to meet and later expanded it to include other singles.
"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," said Fakheri, who is also co-founder of the Eretz-SIAMAK Cultural Center.
While a one-time $100 membership fee is requested by the magazine to cover its program expenses, Aramnia said he does not get paid for introducing couples, and the magazine makes no money providing the service.
Every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Aramnia is busy working the phones at the Eretz-SIAMAK offices and often stays up late weeknights to keep in touch with the singles he has introduced and to meet with new ones.
"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."
Top requests from single men participating in Union of Hearts are for women with beauty and good families, while single women frequently ask for men who are not stingy or liars, Aramnia said.
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 observations, education, occupation, hobbies, drinking limits, turn offs, smoking 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.
"They [participants] become like members of my family, like my son or daughter, and that enables them to open up to me and nothing is hidden," Aramnia said.
Aramnia, who has been married for nearly 50 years, said he was first drawn to introducing Jewish singles after seeing the collapse of many marriages and families.
"When a couple divorces with one or two children, the weight of the break up 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."
Individuals collaborating with Aramnia said his unique, youthful spirit and desire to help others has been the main reason for his success in getting couples together.
"He's just an angel, he does this [matchmaking] out of pure love," Fakheri said. "The man is remarkable. He does so many great things, like personally visiting patients at Cedars-Sinai out of the blue on a weekend."
While the Union of Hearts program has primarily introduced local Iranian Jewish singles, Aramnia said he frequently introduces other Jews from elsewhere in the country, Europe, Mexico and even parts of South America.
"We've had a couple of successful marriages recently between Mexican and Iranian Jews. Their cultures and families are very similar," Aramnia said. "We also have a lot of Iranians [Jews] who want to marry Americans [Jews] in L.A."
Jewish seniors as old as 70 who are seeking companionship have also been paired up, Aramnia said. He said will continue introducing Jewish singles, because of the joy he sees from happy couples.
"The greatest satisfaction for me is getting invited to the wedding and seeing the couples stand under the chuppah or when they call me up to tell me about the birth of their child," Aramnia said.
For more information on Union of Hearts, call the Eretz-SIAMAK Cultural Center (310) 843-9846.
Karmel Melamed is an L.A. freelance writer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org