There are many pitfalls of online dating. Posting your own profile can make you feel exposed. You can be e-mailing someone whose photo promises that he looks like Brad Pitt's younger, taller and more handsome brother, whose profile pledges that not only is he poetic, sensitive, kind and creative but he is also the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, only to find, once you meet him, that he is an octogenarian troglodyte ax murderer.
"Online dating has no valid reference point, and there is no way to gage a person's interest level," said New York based management consultant Marc Goodman, who set up his own site www.sawyouatsinai.com -- a matchmaking Web site to rectify these and other drawbacks of online dating. "But in the matchmaking world, the intentions are very clear, and the matchmaker can verify the information about a person."
SawYouAtSinai -- the name coming from the midrashic aphorism that every Jewish person met his or her soulmate when we received the Torah on Mount Sinai -- is a site where users can fill out a profile, and then choose one or more matchmakers out of the 46 (four are from California) currently on the site to find a match for them. The matchmaker either interviews you or uses some other criteria to verify your information and then sets out trying to find a mate for you. There is no mate shopping on SawYouAtSinai -- only the matchmakers can trawl the site seeking out matches. Once they think they have found someone who meets your criteria, they will e-mail you his or her profile, you can e-mail back your thoughts and feedback and then the matchmaker can facilitate the shidduch. If you decline a person's profile, then you no longer have access to it.
The site has been up for 10 weeks and is currently free, with about 1,000 members in it. Goodman hopes that, within the year, the site will have more than 5,000 members, will sponsor classes and a wedding charity for poor couple, and offer the dating advice of psychologists and rabbis.
"We want people to go out on quality dates," Goodman said. "And obviously we want to get as many marriages as possible."