A version of this article was published on Hey Alma. Light spoilers for “Jewish Matchmaking” ahead.
For Cindy Seni, the idea of getting engaged was surreal. “You go to all these weddings, you hear about all these things, but it happens to other people,” the star of “Jewish Matchmaking” told Hey Alma. “You never really feel like it’s gonna happen to you. Or at least I never felt that way.”
Fans of Netflix’s “Jewish Matchmaking” will recall the 29-year-old Jerusalemite for her intelligence, independence and zingy one-liners like, “No abs, no Cindy” and “Putting on tefillin is hot.” Her journey on the show didn’t include finding her partner. After two dates with Daniel, a 34-year-old tech engineer from Tel Aviv, she and matchmaker Aleeza Ben Shalom had a frank conversation about emotional baggage. Together, they concluded that Cindy hadn’t completely processed a breakup from her past, and that is the last viewers see of her.
Behind the scenes, however, a different story was playing out. In May 2022, while still filming for “Jewish Matchmaking,” Cindy met Eldad through her job. (Cindy works for Brothers for Life, an Israeli organization which supports injured veterans, and Eldad is a “Brother.”) At first, the pair chatted on WhatsApp, but when Eldad was slow to ask her out, Cindy “blew him off.”
Then one day, Eldad happened to come into the Brothers for Life office.
“And I’m like, ‘Oh damn. Oh, no. What have I done? He’s so good looking,’” Cindy recalled. Later, she and Eldad more fully reconnected during a Brothers for Life retreat in Eilat, where they talked the entire night. That wasn’t their first date, though.
“Our first official date was at the Kotel [Western Wall] at Selichot,” Cindy explained, adding, “It’s just the most Jewish thing I can think of. It was really special.”
Flash-forward to last week, and Cindy had an inkling that a proposal might be coming. “I had no idea but I kind of had an idea so I did my nails,” she said.
After a birthday spa day for Cindy, arranged by Eldad, he suggested they head to the Kotel. Wanting to get out of the heat, Cindy declined and the couple went back to her apartment where he popped the question.
“I just looked at him, blank faced. And I said, ‘Why didn’t we go to the Kotel?’ And he’s like, ‘That’s your yes?’ And I was like, ‘I have nothing to say right now.’ So we ended up going to the Kotel and he did the official thing. So it was nice and I got two proposals,” she explained.
Though Aleeza didn’t set the pair up, Cindy said that the Jewish matchmaker still had an impact. At the beginning of their relationship, Cindy was nervous that her boisterous personality was too different from Eldad’s, who is more easygoing. So she called up Aleeza.
“I told her that I didn’t know if I could speak to him about philosophy or French art and literature. He’s an Israeli and I’m a woman of the world, you know? And I love going to museums, and he hates museums,” Cindy said.
She went on, “Aleeza said, ‘Do you absolutely need that in a partner? Or can you find that in someone else?’ Meaning, can you be fulfilled with going to a museum or talking about Baudelaire with like someone else? I thought about it for a second and was like, you know, I guess I don’t need it in a partner, it’s OK if I can speak with it [sic] with my sister or my friends. And she said, ‘There’s some beauty about sitting in silence with him and being OK and feeling calm.’”
From then on, the relationship was smooth sailing.
Now, Cindy and Eldad will begin actually planning the wedding. For the bride-to-be’s part, she’s hoping to have a very small wedding, around 50 people, either on a beach or somewhere in Jerusalem. What’s definite, however, is that the couple wants to have a short engagement, with the wedding likely coming in the winter. (If Cindy’s parents have anything to do with it, however, the wedding might happen even sooner, after the High Holidays.)
And if you’re wondering whether or not Eldad prays with tefillin, don’t worry, we made sure to ask that, too. Cindy smiled, laughing, before responding, “Absolutely.”