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The guests – almost 150 for the Shabbat night meal and over 100 for the Shabbat day meal – ranged from curious tourists and university students to lonely widows and singles to drunks and mentally ill people who considered the Machlis family’s love and warmth more delectable than even their ample food.

It has so permeated Western popular culture that even those who aren't looking for love know what it is.The concept was introduced to the American dating scene at the turn of the 20th century by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo and his wife, Sue, who founded their own service, Speed Dating.Henny’s son Moshe was pushed aside at the crowded funeral by one of the Machlises’s mentally ill “regular guests,” who proclaimed, “I have to get closer.She’s my mother.” For those who equate spiritual greatness with God-consciousness, with the ability to see God’s hand always and everywhere, Henny had indeed achieved those spiritual heights.The service is based on an old Jewish tradition: helping young, single Jews meet others in the faith.

This tradition of creating a shidduch, or a match, called for Jewish singles to be kept in the dark about each other until the time for matchmaking came.Starting as newly-weds 35 years ago, the Machlises’ open Shabbos table expanded gradually over the years until the overflow of guests had to be seated in the courtyard and outside the front door.Henny’s great dream was to enclose the courtyard so guests could sit there even in the winter.At the funeral, a tearful Rabbi Machlis related just one story: He invited a destitute man whom he always saw at the Kotel (Western Wall) to come home with him to eat.That day Henny served her homemade whole-wheat pizza. He came back to their house every day asking for a slice of whole-wheat pizza.Homeless people slept on their couches, some for weeks at a time, and those whose mental instability might have endangered the Machlises’ fourteen children were accommodated in the family van.