Eliana ClineCasey Shevel

Casey Shevel was the last of her friends to get married. When she finally met Eyal at the age of 30, she had been in the dating scene for years and absolutely hated it. Shortly after she married Eyal, they began hosting Friday night dinners in their Johannesburg home for up to 50 singles. One Friday evening, after all the guests had left, Casey felt frustrated by the limited interaction of the guests due to seating arrangements. She turned to Eyal and said wistfully, “I wish every guy and girl would just say one sentence to each other.”

And so Casey’s Shmingles was born. As the owner of a wildly successful events company, Casey had all the know-how of arranging fabulous events and was intent for her speed dating to be just that. She has one aim: to create a space for Jewish singles to meet and mingle in a relaxed environment, and thus promote Jews marrying Jews. She has successfully managed to remove the stigma of going to such events by making her events beautiful, stylish and fun. Her artistic flair and welcoming nature has made her events the trendiest place to be for singles of all ages and any affiliation.

A mother of three lively little boys, Casey is passionate about Casey’s Shmingles and works round the clock setting up the events. With over 700 singles connected, tens of relationships started and 9 successful matches to date, Casey has some valuable advice for those navigating the turbulent dating waters:

1. Know yourself and where you are headed in life

It is essential for people in dating to know where they are headed in life. Dating is not about finding the best-looking person in a crowd. It’s about choosing someone who can become your life partner and can grow with. Casey urges singles to take the time to think about who they really are, and who will be the ideal partner for them. If you don’t know yourself and what kind of life you want to lead and what’s important to you, chances are you will date unsuitable people and miss out on great opportunities which are right in front of you. Ask advice from mentors and friends. Read books, go for counselling, speak to a rabbi – do whatever it takes to really get to know yourself before embarking on finding a partner.

2. Glam up

This one sounds obvious, but unfortunately it’s not always the case. For all dating, external appearances are what are first seen so taking care to look your best is important. Casey says, “First impressions are made in milliseconds, so make it last.” For guys, this means no hand-knitted sweaters, flip-flops or stained t-shirts with inappropriate sayings. And shave! For the girls, Casey says, “I know how disheartening it can be to keep putting in all that effort date after date. But put the effort in – it is worth it. Put on your best heels, your favourite lipstick and get yourself looking like the fabulous person you are.”

3. Give up on the image of the perfect partner

Everybody has an image of the perfect spouse. And as people get older and date many different people, their image of the perfect partner can become more refined and more rigid. While being discerning and having a clear idea of what you are looking for has its value, it is paradoxically important to let go of what you think the perfect partner is. It is easy to get fixated on the check list which includes hair color, social status, financial status etc – but keep your eye on what is truly important and flexible about everything else. When you are being offered a potential match, don’t reject it out of hand for what may ultimately be petty reasons. “You and your mate need to share the same life goals and direction,” Casey says, “but you still never know what kind of person you will end up with.”

4. Be open to meeting people

There is a Hollywood-induced fantasy that meeting the right person will just happen spontaneously. So actively pursuing the chance to meet people can be ego-busting and fraught with stigma for some. “Be brave,” urges Casey. “Whenever you attend any singles event, be open – you never know you may be there.” As much as possible, learn to put aside all your fears and expectations and come with an open mind and heart. And do not think it’s beneath you to put in the effort to meet people.

5. Put in the right effort

Casey describes that she has seen that are two kinds of attitudes prevalent in the dating world. There are those who take too much responsibility for their situation and those who take too little. Striking the fine balance is crucial to maintaining one’s equilibrium during the dating process. While ultimately there is so much is not in one’s control, you still need to do everything you can to open yourself up to meeting your spouse. Doing everything includes:

  • Going to singles’ events
  • Internet dating
  • Meeting matchmakers
  • Letting friends, family and people in your social circle and community know you are looking to meet someone

And finally, don’t underestimate the power of prayer. In the end, even if you do everything right, one never knows where they will meet their soul mate. Casey says, “There is so much blessing that God is just waiting to shower onto you. But you need to open yourself up to receive it. Never stop talking to God throughout the process and make room for Him to give you what you want.”