November 30, 2023

Florence Berger, a Cornell College professor who discovered a second calling as a professional bono matchmaker, main her to efficiently prepare some two dozen marriages, died on July 13 at her house in Charlottesville, Va. She was 83.

The loss of life was confirmed by her son, Larry, who mentioned the trigger was issues of a number of sclerosis.

Ms. Berger was a well-liked presence on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, N.Y., the place she grew to become an skilled within the hospitality business, instructing programs in organizational habits, human relations and creativity, writing three tutorial books and gaining distinction as the primary lady to be elevated to full professor on the lodge administration college.

In 1999, 4 years earlier than she retired, she obtained the college’s highest instructing honor, the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow Award for Distinguished Instructing.

She was maybe finest identified, although, for her work as a shadchante, the Yiddish phrase for matchmaker.

She organized marriages over greater than 4 many years, nearly all of which endured, based on her son. (The one couple that divorced was the one which didn’t invite her to their marriage ceremony.)

“I’m fearless in relation to matching,” Professor Berger instructed Melanie Thernstrom for a 2005 article in The New York Times Magazine, one which prompted a deluge of letters from readers in search of her assist in snaring spouses.

Ms. Berger was deliberate in scoping out potential mates, requiring them to fulfill two checks: They needed to be no less than 30 years outdated, and so they needed to comply with go on no less than two dates.

“Understanding that even in case you fail, you’ll nonetheless have dinner subsequent week makes everybody loosen up,” Ms. Thernstrom wrote.

She added: “On the second date, Florence says, individuals begin to see the best way they’re actually going to see one another. And Florence’s concept has been confirmed: A lot of her {couples} instructed her they might not have gone out a second time if that hadn’t been the discount.”

Ms. Berger demonstrated her really feel for human chemistry on the younger age of 16, when she was scuffling with a science truthful undertaking at West Hempstead Excessive Faculty on Lengthy Island. She then enlisted a cute, sensible boy — he performed on the rival Freeport Excessive’s basketball crew — to assist her construct an digital quantity cruncher.

His identify was Toby Berger. He grew to become {an electrical} engineering professor at Cornell. They married in 1961 and have been collectively for 66 years, till he died in 2022.

Along with her son, Ms. Berger is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth Mandell; her sister, Trudy Cohen Labell; and 4 grandchildren.

The primary individual she matched with a partner was her brother-in-law, Robert Berger, Toby’s brother. Robert and his spouse, Barbara, have been married for 41 years till her loss of life in 2009. Ms. Berger then matched him together with his second spouse, Harriet; their marriage lasted 11 years, till her loss of life final yr. It was Ms. Berger’s final match.

Ms. Berger’s son mentioned that he and his sister married too younger for his or her mom to decide on their spouses. “Each my sister and I bought married earlier than age 28 in order to have some say within the matter,” he mentioned.

Among the many individuals she paired have been the daughter of Cornell’s former president, Frank H.T. Rhodes, with one in all her former graduate assistants. She additionally organized a match for her secretary, however the couple ultimately broke up.

Ms. Berger by no means sought or accepted remuneration, however typically the newlyweds would ship her a present. And through the years she was notified of the scores of births that resulted from her introductions.

“She needed individuals to be pleased, and he or she needed them to not be lonely,” Larry Berger mentioned in an electronic mail. “So matching single individuals — whether or not they needed it or not — was a pure expression of all of these traits.”

(In accordance with Ms. Berger’s Jewish custom, it takes solely three shidduchim — matches of putting up with love — for a shadchante to safe a spot in heaven.)

Florence Cohen was born on Could 3, 1940, within the Bronx to Joseph Cohen, a pharmacist together with his personal pharmacy, and Belle (Krotin) Cohen, who helped handle the enterprise.

She graduated from Goucher Faculty in Baltimore with a bachelor’s diploma in psychology in 1962, earned a grasp’s in schooling from Harvard in 1965 and obtained a doctorate in schooling in 1979 from Cornell.

She utilized her psychological coaching as Cornell’s assistant dean of scholars, then determined to show, drawn to the lodge administration college (now the Nolan Faculty of Lodge Administration). There, her son mentioned, “the artwork of being a Jewish mom was professionalized — conserving everybody secure, well-fed, making them really feel welcome, and managing all of it.”

“As for her avocation of matchmaking, she was at all times drawn to individuals and had nice instinct about what made individuals tick,” Larry Berger mentioned, “and he or she was pushed by what she referred to as her ‘Noah’s Ark Complicated’ — the impulse that folks ought to be paired off two by two.”

Ms. Thernstrom characterised Ms. Berger, whom she met by way of her son, a good friend, as “the form of old school matchmaker who used to exist throughout however is now thought to be a form of archaic angel.”

Ms. Berger even tried to make a match for Ms. Thernstrom, with a company lawyer. However Ms. Thernstrom rebuffed Ms. Berger’s noodging in favor of an artist who favored poetry.

“Matchmaking requires each the generosity to need individuals to search out love and the perception to learn their souls and film how they may align,” Ms. Thernstrom mentioned. “Florence handed on her present to her son, Larry, and he and his spouse set me up with my husband, Michael, who’s an outdated good friend of Larry’s and a beautiful match. We have been over 30 however didn’t have the two-date rule. We didn’t want it.”

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