Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match…

By “MG”

While on some level, my mom probably still has the idea in the back of her head that I am going about my daily business with an inner monologue singing for someone slender and pale and waiting for a telephone call from The Matchmaker with “The One”, she acknowledges that she doesn’t _actually_ think that’s _actually_ how things work… Anymore.

As it turns out, Baruch HaShem, shidduchim was one of the first topics that I explained to my mom that she thought was a good idea. Goal-oriented dating with marriage in mind was something she approved of. It sounded like a good approach. She didn’t seem to be caught up in an idea that it was outdated, and she understood it for its practical relevance.

So, thank G-d, my mom is supportive of my approach in dating. And she’s interested in being helpful. “Mom, I’ve been thinking about the characteristics that I need in a husband. What do you think?” is a beginning of a conversation with her. She is also thoughtful and insightful in her responses to questions on some of my best characteristics. I’m grateful for the relationship that we have.

While this is good, I don’t think that it is enough to get me, as a BT, through the phase of shidduchim.

As a BT ‘in the parsha’, I find that my experience is vastly different from the experiences of others in the parsha in my community. Of the families who I am reasonably close with who have been blessed to be involved in recent wedding celebrations, it seems that the majority of matches have been made through family members, chevrusas, or other friends of the family. In other words, it’s a small enough Jewish world that the natural Jewish networking (likely combined with a fair dose of parental advocacy—‘Do you know anyone for my Rivkele?’) is sufficient, baruch HaShem, to create many happily married couples.

This network is also something extremely helpful for checking references. A parent checking out a potential match for a child may already know the potential match’s rebbi or the staff at the camp where the potential match was a counselor. With a personal connection established, maybe directly, maybe through a close intermediary, more information can flow more freely about the appropriateness of the suggested match.

As a BT, I have not had a lifetime full of connections in the frum world, and my network seems to be relatively small.

Practically speaking, when it comes to shidduchim, I need to outsource a few different things that would otherwise be done ‘in house’—in the family.

I have to actively think about how to expand my network or access the networks of others, and I need to solicit and make myself available to shidduch suggestions.

I need mentorship in the shidduch process in general and in investigating individual matches.

I need someone who will check references of the men suggested to me.

I need a personal advocate who will be on my side throughout the trials of the process.

Some of these roles can be played by friends and mentors that I have in the community. And the last one can be played in part by my family (frum or not) and select friends. But in some senses, the all-too-easy default option, is to take on myself, as many of these roles as possible.

While that may be convenient for a while and have the advantage of minimizing my obligation to others, I worry that it is not a sustainable model. When I put my energies into shidduchim and fill these various roles, I sometimes feel like I am working four jobs. Personally, professionally, physically, socially, and spiritually, I sustain myself and try to grow. I serve as my own network advocate. I call references, ask questions, and get more phone numbers in order to track down the connection through which the information will best flow. And I encourage and advocate for myself, saying, ‘You’re one phone call closer! Aren’t you excited to find out all the great things about this guy?!’

I’m not sure that it’s possible to do things this way, and if it is, I don’t think that it’s the best idea. I think that many other BTs are facing similar challenges. These BTs would benefit from a lot of different types of assistance in navigating shidduchim. If you want to help someone you know, there is more than one way to do it. If you think you know someone who is appropriate, you could certainly make a suggestion, but if you don’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be helpful. Serve as an entry point into ‘The Jewish Network’. Maybe you know someone who knows someone who is an appropriate match. Offer to call references. Suggest that if there are any references from your yeshivah or seminary, you would be happy to make the connection. Be a mentor for the shidduch process in general. Be a more general source of support, or suggest someone who could play that role.

Jewish marriages involving BTs happen between people who are living in distant states and between people who may have grown up in different countries from where they were when they developed into who they are today. As such, it takes more than just one matchmaker/person to bring together the zivugim that HaShem calls out. You can choose any of several ways to partner with HaShem to help bring these matches together.

Matchmaking: Not just for Yenta anymore.

12 comments on “Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match…

  1. MG, you’re not alone! I was a BT in that parsha for a loooong time, and filled all those roles myself for most of that time. Only near what turned out to be the end did I get wise, after a number of devastating events, and found a mentor. And a Rav. I can’t stress it enough. A mentor for you should be an older, married woman, frum, who you are close with and can be frank and honest with and who can be frank and honest with you. And she should be willing to check out some shidduchim for you. They need not be connected to anyone in particular, even in the frum circles people usually keep calling other people until they find someone who IS connected. I asked a friend who had children in shidduchim, so she was even focused on the right questions to ask. If you go to check out a shidduch, you might be afraid to ask certain questions lest the reference you are asking be judging you at the same time. And you might not think to ask other follow up questions or understand enough to read between the lines. Find a mentor. And maybe your shidduch, like mine, will be just a nice family you went to for shabbos that happened to meet a nice guy who came to them for shabbos once… Hatzlocha, much davening, and may you have continued success on your road to serving the Ribbono Shel Olam.

  2. As someone also in the parsha, I know exactly where you are coming from. I have FFB friends who have relatives calling all the time with a boy from this yeshiva or that and it seems to be this huge network. Yes, they might be older and still single, but there always seems to be some boy on the horizon.

    I also have many BT friends who moved to NY for shidduchim purposes, but are overwhelmed trying to create their own network. Without family, many of them feel lost in the shuffle even though they have friends and families that they are close to. Relying mostly on shadchanim who only meet them for a few minutes here or there seems to yield very little results.

    In both groups, they are davening as they know that Hash-m makes all the matches,
    but being a BT seems to make doing your hishtadlus that much more trying.

    I agree that people should try to get involved in helping make matches and also that kiruv organizations should do more. Maybe this is not common but I know many single, BT girls working hard for these organizations only to see boys go to yeshiva, become frum, and disappear. I ask them why the rabbis of these organizations don’t make matches for them (although 1 did B”H to another boy in kiruv) and they said the girls come back or stay in the US while the boys go to yeshiva, the kiruv organizations lose connection with them, and they are usually married while in yeshiva. I don’t what can be done about this really, it just is something that I keep hearing about…

  3. Regarding the shidduch site that Mark (#6) linked to, I would recommend that those who can, ask their rav or mentor about the different resources listed there. This is a good list, but it doesn’t indicate who runs these services or who they are targeted towards.

  4. The grass is not necessarily greener or easier for FFB’s in the shidduch scene either, despite connections.

    Hashem gives us each what we need. So if you don’t have the large network, either you don’t need it to find your bashert, or this is your challenge from Hashem to try to spread your wings and meet new people.

    Also, count yourself lucky to have a supportive mom! That is a bracha.
    Good luck and all the best!

  5. Networking and community can also be done as a BT. Granted, some places it’s easier than others, but if there’s one family you’re close with, it’s a start.

    Hishtadlus being necessary doesn’t have to mean making every phone call yourself. Someone you’re close to and trust within the frum community may very well be honored to be trusted with that role, even if you’re giong to be making the judgement on the shidduch yourself.

    Good luck to you and everyone else “in the parsha”.

  6. My wife and I met on She was living in a different city. We corresponded for five weeks and spoke to each others’ rabbis before meeting in person. We were engaged 23 days later! All the best to all who are still single.

  7. Michoel,
    I agree that the element of bitachon is important! Striking a balance may be a different process for each person, but it is important to keep this in mind.

    I think that people need to continue to develop themselves in all areas, regardless of whether they are single or married. Presumably, each person’s potential in serving the Ribono Shel Olam extends beyond his/her marital status! Personally, I involve myself with the community and pursue social and physical activity, in part, because of this reason. I think it’s also important to seek hadracha in this regard, since different activities or settings may be more or less appropriate for different people.

  8. I think that hishtadlus and networking can’t be emphasized enough but I am a strong believer in going beyond the edge of the proverbial envelope on this issue. IOW, think of as many possible ways other than singles weekends and programs where you might see or think of someone you might be interested in-like a Shabbos table with both single men and women.

  9. MG,
    It is important to not make too little hishtadlus and it is important to not make too much hishtadlus. For every phone call you make to check on a potential shidduch, add one kepitel of t’hillim. The Ribono Shel Olam will send your besheret with or without the right connections.

    Hatzlacha Raba

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