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Finding a life partner is hard enough. For those of the Druze faith, their future depends on it

Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Religious News

Kaedbey's husband, Firas Talhouk, recalled a cousin from Miami whose parents sent him to Lebanon one summer.

"All his mom's friends stacked up their daughters and he was so happy," Talhouk said. "He dated one each night and he's like, 'You know what, cuz? ... I'm coming next summer, man.' But he didn't marry any of them."

In the United States, annual conventions of the American Druze Society, which is based in San Antonio, have become a well-known matchmaking ground, with mixers and outings aimed at young people always on the schedule alongside religious presentations.

Muakkassa, the society's current president, met her husband at a convention, as did the the vice president, Labiba Harfouch, and her daughter. Some gatherings have included weddings.

But the conventions are not for everyone. Halabi, the young sheikh in Chicago, said the first time he attended one he left the singles night after an hour because it was at a bar and alcohol was flowing. As a strict adherent to the faith, he does not drink.

He complained to the society's leadership, which led to his teaching religious sessions for the children at this year's convention in Irvine.

Halabi, who is now in college, said he eventually wants to return to Lebanon, where he grew up, to marry and start a family with a Druze woman with similar religious views. But for now, he sees his mission as reaching the younger generation of Druze living in the United States.

"If they don't know their identity, it's easy to have them dissolve in the society we live in," he said. "Once we abandon being Druze, we are just like all the other people around the world who have no identity."

Sewell is a special correspondent.

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