How Do You Chose a Shadchan?

A friend writes in the following:

Here’s a question that has become increasingly relevant to our family of late. How do you chose a Shadchan?

Here’s the nitty gritty of our question. We are basically a yeshivish family (kollel, chinuch career) yet have been open minded in encouraging our daughter to attend college. We have done so in part because of our awareness that it will help her make ends meet, and partly because she’s very bright and really needed to do this. She would have been a misery her whole life having a mindless job. The first encounter with a teacher in our daughter’s school who has been instrumental in helping many girls find their bashert was eye-opening. My wife and I both got the sense that since we didn’t fully “go along with the whole program” (ie. no college, only strive for a guy who wants a kollel lifestyle), the school doesn’t fully respect or understand us.

So the question is, are there shadchanim out there, who are essentially Bais Yaakov minded, who can look at a girl who has gone to college, and will continue post graduate school, who wants a guy that is quite frum and intends to earn a living from the start of the marriage, and take her seriously? Going to my past Rosh Kollel for guidance on this one is not an option for obvious reasons.

Originally Posted – June 2006

45 comments on “How Do You Chose a Shadchan?

  1. I think that ” select, don’t settle” takes on more importance than just a cute advertising slogan in this area. IMO, it is a critical factor.That being an absolute and inflexible given-I think that we can all be honest that there are numerous types of bachurim in the Batei Medrashim of the US and EY. I think that the following guide is helpful:

    1)The 1/1000 Gadol as described by R EE Dessler ZTL,

    2) Someone who is learning for as long as possible but who has a plan for chinuch, rabbonus, safrus, kiruv as a career

    3) someone who wants to learn as long as possible but without a plan

    4) someone who wants to learn for a few ywars and then seek a career in a profession or business

    5) someone who is “kvetching on a bench” and really should have gone to college as opposed to spending any long term time learning post high school.

    I am sure that there are more types and I welcome any comments and additions.

    Parents of daughters should be able to ascertain this information from a rebbe, friends , etc . Obviously, midos , as opposed to either the size of a check book or yichus, IMO are crucial.

    We also are aware that “shidduchim” has become a major issue across the frum world-regardless of whether you call it a singles crisis on the Upper West Side, the psychotic stories re tableclothes and dates gone wrong , BTs vs FFBs or the very common signt of post seminary girls saying Tehilim at a chasumah as if their situations remotely approximated that of a choleh Msukan with yeneh machalah. It is important that we realize that it is neither a mitzvah to have one’s child either be the first married in their class or the first divorced-rather the key is that we aid their search as much as possible to helpthem find their basherte-the person who is the right person for them to be a life partner in raising a Bayis Neeman BYisrael.

    IMO, one has to network relentlessly and speak to bachurim who are learning full time , who are involved in shidduchim and who can tell you who is a boy with all of the proverbial “maalos.” Family friends also can help in this way in a far more qualitative way than some shadchanim who will meet with you and your children, enter your data in a computer and then not exactly provide you or your childen with a potential basherte simply because they are deluged with numbers and have priorities such as those who can pay what in EY is called “siddur maleh”, children of RY and rabbanim, etc. Your friends and their childen who are in the learning world may have far more information available than a shadchan, RY or Mashgiach.

    I have blogged on this issue at Sephardic Lady’s blog in more detail.However, since this issue affects BTs and their children and shows no sigh of abating, I think that it is important that people have a sense of what they are seeking for their children and that they exercise hishtadlus before relying on bitachon in this area.

  2. Here’s another non-shadchan networking thought: http://endthemadness.org/. I can’t tell you how many young (and not so young) men and women have contacted me after seeing my name on the “Shadchanim Page” (http://endthemadness.org/cgi-bin/shadchan/Shadchanim.cgi) — it’s not easy trying to find an ideal match for someone, but b’H’ I’ve been able to make the time. Many of us ETMers are, like me, simply fellow Jews interested in helping our brethren and sisters find their lifetime spouse. If you’re looking for such a person, either for yourself or for a close relative, please feel free to contact me or one of the other ETMers. Thanks, and Chag Sameach!

  3. Regarding the comment:

    “My wife and I both got the sense that since we didn’t fully “go along with the whole program” (ie. no college, only strive for a guy who wants a kollel lifestyle), the school doesn’t fully respect or understand us.”

    In that case, one should exercise a lot of caution towards Shadchanim who tow the party line not necessarily out of sincerity but rather because of public image.

    Some are quite averse to dealing with nuanced situations such as cases where college could actually be a benefit for someone, because they’re fearful of being branded an “outsider” or a pseudo Shadchan.

  4. Perhaps, I am more than just a tad biased as a YU alumnus , a talmid/chasid of one its RY or reacting to some of the posts re attitudes in BYs re YU. It is sad that the some look at the label rather than whether the person is a Ben Torah, Ben Aliah and Baal Midos who happens to be learning in RIETS or its kollelim.

    One can only attribute such an attitute to confusion , urban myths and stereotypes about RIETS, its RY and Kollelim that can be easily dispensed with by a tour of the Beis Medrash, meeting with the RY, Talmidim and hearing a shiur and learning the Seforim produced therein. Obviously, that is equally true for anyone with stereotypes about any other yeshiva.

  5. Anon (#39):

    Great point, and one that’s relevant no matter what type of boy you’re looking for. It’s not just about the parents, y’know.

  6. On a little bit of a side point, I have one suggestion to throw in there, as a parent of three girls in the parsha.
    As much as you are trying to sort out all of these questions, as you are new to the scene, keep in mind that your daughter is, as well. It is a very difficult thing for the oldest (as mine makes sure to remind me constantly) to try to figure out how to go about doing this.
    Although it may be hard for you to squeeze in some extra money, it’s crucial that you give her a lot of space while you’re sorting these issues out. The girl needs to FEEL that she’s in the parsha (i.e. her own room if possible, some extra privileges like later or no curfew etc.)
    My own daughter had a very hard time feeling like she was a kallah maidel while I and wife were trying to adjust to our new status as parents of a shidduch-seeking girl. Just remember, she is having an even harder time and needs to feel taken care of.

  7. “I think the guest contributor was trying to say that the reaction of that teacher indicates an attitude that is endemic to the system that his daughter was raised in. Going to another teacher from that same school might not help much.”

    I understood that. I think that conclusion may be a mistake – not knowing the school/teachers of course. Just judging from the post which reads “The first encounter with a teacher in our daughter’s school who has been instrumental in helping many girls find their bashert was eye-opening.” That sounds as though the guest contributor went to a teacher with a reputation for making many shidduchim. It’s easier to make many matches when the kids involved fit a common profile, harder when you have a more unusual kid. That type of teacher may be the wrong place to start. I was suggesting going directly to a teacher that the daughter had a good connection with, even if this teacher doesn’t have a reputation for doing lots of shidduchim. Even if the teacher generally favors a more kollel-type situation, one who knows the daughter well might be more open. Of course my advice may not work, it was just a small point, that I made because it sounds like the young woman in question was a good student who probably made an impression on some of her teachers. My advice is really just a variation of the networking advice – don’t look only to “Shadchanim” and give thought to people one has more individual contact with.

  8. BS”D
    1) Whoever said that a Ner Yisroel boy might be a good bet is probably right.

    2) “What you’ve described is actually a solid RW YU boy. I know that in BY circles “YU” is cause for automatic rejection, but your daughter sounds atypical and she should definitely consider options in that direction.

    It’s an interesting point because there are YU families that are very very frum, and coming from the Yeshivish world myself I know that in BY cirlces people do not realize that. Automatic reaction is usually an understatement.

    3) “David, my experience mostly centers on the NY BY’s. My daughter graduated from one and her chevra from grade school attended 5 others. In all except for one YU is not considered a valid alternative for attendeding or for seeking shiduchim. This is then reinforced in the BY sems in Israel. I imagine that, like in other areas, the out of town By’s may be different.”

    Hmm, another interesting comment. I think people from NYC (who understandably don’t know a lot about out-of-town) don’t realize how different out-of-town BY’s are from each other. Some city have two (ex. Chicago) or even three (ex. Toronto) BY’s (although it depends how you define bais yaakov), and they are often very different. And even just between cities with one Bais Yaakov, there are such differences hashkofically (ex. Los Angeles vs. Baltimore vs. Milwaukee/Atlanta/etc.).

  9. David, my experience mostly centers on the NY BY’s. My daughter graduated from one and her chevra from grade school attended 5 others. In all except for one YU is not considered a valid alternative for attendeding or for seeking shiduchim. This is then reinforced in the BY sems in Israel. I imagine that, like in other areas, the out of town By’s may be different.

  10. If I understood the post correctly, the trouble in the case we are discussing here is that the teacher wasn’t open to the instance of a girl going to college and also looking for a guy who “intends to earn a living from the start of the marriage, “i.e. nonkollel….

    I think the guest contributor was trying to say that the reaction of that teacher indicates an attitude that is endemic to the system that his daughter was raised in. Going to another teacher from that same school might not help much.

  11. “boy, just saying she should keep her mind open to it, something that goes against the BY grain.”

    Maybe that didn’t come out right. In my experience there are numerous BYs and numerous hashgafos within them.

  12. Tzvi N.

    Thanks. I am certainly not rushing her at all, just trying to find out how it works. When she’s ready, I’m sure she’ll know.

    Marty

  13. A little defensive Michoel. I’m not saying she should ONLY look for a YU boy, just saying she should keep her mind open to it, something that goes against the BY grain.

  14. C’mon Menachem… He could be describing Rav Reuven Feinstein! Much ado about nothing. There are a zillion guys that would be appropriate. Call some shadchanim in Baltimore, Queens, St. Louis, etc etc.

  15. Martin (comment 21):

    The general connotation of the term “in the parsha” is that she is at the stage of dating or almost ready for dating.

    If your 18-year-old is open to dating and marriage within the next year or so, it’s not too early to be talking to people. If she plans to wait until, for example, she finishes college, then you ought to wait.

    Keep in mind that depending on the circles you travel in, it may or may not be considered a liability for a girl to be still single over the age of 20 or 21.

    Clearly, the contributors to this thread (and more generally, this blog) represent a wide range along the spectrum of Orthodoxy. There are different expectations and practices in different circles. You have to find your place (or create your place) on that spectrum, and there will be like-minded people there. Those are the people you want to focus your networking with. Sometimes leads come from other directions, but that’s where most of your focus should be.

    Regarding you question of whether kids in college appreciate their parents “interfering” in their search, I’d have to say it depends on the relationship you have with your daughter. If she trusts you and your judgement of what’s good for her, she’ll probably welcome your assistance.

    In general, youngsters who are in a position to meet other Jews on their own (e.g. in college) are less likely to seek out the help of a professional shadchan. Suggestions and introductions from friends and family can always help, but professional shadchanim tend to be used more by a) those in circles where there’s no other way for boys and girls to meet, and b) older singles.

    As mentioned by others, shadchan fees depend on local custom, and can range as high as $5K (usually split between the 2 sides) in the NY area for some shadchanim. Keep in mind that this is a professional service fee which they have EARNED. It is different from a friend etc., where your obligation is to offer a token of your gratitude (which could still be $1-2K, but it’s your choice).

  16. Yaakov-Ruby’s last posts were on the mark as to young women, married and “in the parsha”( i.e. who have announced to their friends and determined with their families that they are looking for a shidduch) who trek to Touro & elsewhere.

    In addition, one cannot ignore the fact that there are a range of bachurim with different goals and aspirations who are learning in the Batei Medrashim of the US and EY. IMO, it is almost wrong and probably a waste of time for a young woman to consider any shidduch before she verifies somehow that he has the minimum basic goals that she is seeking in a spouse.

    Although Chazal use a minimum age of 18 to start thinking of marriage, one can question whether most young women, except in some Chasidishe circles, are physically and emotionally ready to become wives and mothers.Assuming that a BY grad goes to seminary, the start for a shidduch gradually commences after her return with networking,etc and all of the things that we have been discussing .

    TFB’s last post is also worth important-if the shadchan doesn’t have a positive view of your daughter’s POV, then you might want to consider a different shadchan. FWIW, there are many earners out there who value both their careers and being kovea itim LaTorah as well. Once you move away from the spectrum of full time learners to earners/learners,I would have to hazard a guess that your choices are nowhere as restricted.

  17. Guest contributor. What you’ve described is actually a solid RW YU boy. I know that in BY circles “YU” is cause for automatic rejection, but your daughter sounds atypical and she should definitely consider options in that direction.

  18. C might be a middle ground, but it may be that the daughter does not want the risk that c entails.

    It is one thing if the husband has a degree or a trade, but is still learning. It is a completely different ballpark if the husband does not have a degree (or is not in the process of getting a useful degree) or has not learned a trade.

    There are plenty of women I know who married a husband in kollel, supported the family through a few years in kollel, and still are responsbile to support all the way through grad school while he learns an employable skill.

    It is sad that there are so few working guys for the author’s daughter to choose.

  19. Question for our Guest Contibutor –

    There is a significant middle ground between (a) “…no college, only strive for a guy who wants a kollel lifestyle”, and
    (b) “…a guy that is quite frum and intends to earn a living from the start of the marriage”. Namely
    (c) A guy who will learn for a year or two and then intends to earn a living.

    Shadchanim – and potential shidduchim – most definitely look at girl interested in (c) differently than at (b). Is your daughter clearly looking for (b)?

  20. “Oh, it exists. 100%. I’m not commenting on what I think of it. But it exists. Not everyone, of course, and not everywhere. But some see it as a chesoron.”

    Yes BUT. 1. The guys who see it as a chisoron probably are more RW than the girls who want to go to college. Not always – it may be their parents who nix the shidduch – but generally speaking, the guy who doesn’t want a girl who’d go to college even to support a kollel guy is often not for the girl who thinks this route makes sense.

    More important 2. There are more learning guys who see a degree/job as an asset than there are guys who see it as a chisoron.

    If I understood the post correctly, the trouble in the case we are discussing here is that the teacher wasn’t open to the instance of a girl going to college and also looking for a guy who “intends to earn a living from the start of the marriage, “i.e. nonkollel.

  21. Let the facts speak for themselves – there are carpools traveling from Lakewood to Touro and other graduate schools every week. Certainly there are those who avoid higher education for their girls; they probably are also not reading the blogs.

  22. Gershhon-I have seen zero evidence that a BY girl who goes to Touro is condemned in the world of shidduchim.

    Oh, it exists. 100%. I’m not commenting on what I think of it. But it exists. Not everyone, of course, and not everywhere. But some see it as a chesoron.

  23. Tzvi N:

    What do you mean when you say “a daughter in the parsha”? I ask because I have an 18-yr old daughter going to college next fall, and wanted to know, since this thread was started, how to go about “networking” so that my daughter, down the road, can find her bashert. I also wonder, and I’m sure others might wonder as well, when a girl or boy goes to college, and they meet other Frum Jews on their own, if they mind a parent “interfering” in their search. Some kids don’t mind, others do. Also, how much do Shadchans charge?

  24. Gershhon-I have seen zero evidence that a BY girl who goes to Touro is condemned in the world of shidduchim. The RY that I mentioned was at one time an active speaker on this and many other issues , a well known kanai with opinions on other yeshivos within the “velt” and minced no words about this subject. However, IMO, even in the yeshiva world, this RY, who needs a Refuah Shelemah, was a Daas Yachid on this issue and many others as well.

    The facts are that post seminary women, for the most part are seeking degree granting programs whether at Sarah Shneir, Raizel Right, Machon LParnassah ( Touro in BP), Touro, SCW and CUNY’s best schools. Many aim to to obtain a degree as quickly as possible and take a very relentless program.

    Ask any parent whose daughter is in Touro, Brooklyn.This school has graduates of almost every BY oriented school in the Metro NY area and beyond.

    The simple facts are that bachurim have lists of eligible youg women in the parsha and they inititate, continue or terminate a potential partner as a relationship either progresses or shows that “it isn’t shayach” .Anyone who has gone thru the process will tell you that finding a shidduch for a guy is infinitely easier than for a young woman.

  25. I think that one should explore all reasonable options. Why not deal with someone who knows your daughter well and what kind of shidduch she wants, as opposed to a well-meaning shadchan who really doesn’t know you or your daughter?

    As far as the resume is concerned, your daughter should include your background and hashkafah, her educational background, chesed involvement, camps, references and her objectives as to what she considers deal breakers in a spouse vis a vis midos and where she could conceivably see herself living
    ( i.e. US vs EY, only EY).

  26. All very true Steve, but once a girl who went to a Bais Yaakov, chooses to get such education, are they now condemned too? If so, we’ve got a whole new crop bais yaakov + college graduates who might find themselves in a sort of hashkafic limbo. This does not bode well for their shidduch prospects, does it?

  27. One other point-Many yeshivaleit and not just NIRC as Sam mentioned know that their wife has to earn a salary to help meet family expenses. In an ideal world, women would not have to work or even have the skills to earn a living and still be around for their kids. That is just not the scenario that we have at this time for the overwhelming majority of the frum world.

    I know of one RY who has condemned Touro but the simple facts are that its graduates in speech, physical and occupational therapy as well as those from SCW and other colleges have the means to help support a kollel or kli kodesh lifestyle.

  28. I’m reading this thread and taking notes. So this is how it works? You just call up a yeshiva and they have a roster of affiliated shadchanim? IS there a list of shaddchanim circulating that describes their typical clientel?

    Any one have an official dollar amount for the shadchonus? We’ve got anywhere between an ice small gift to $2,000 to $5,000. That’s quite a range.

    How about the famous profile/resume? Is there a classic format? Any tips on what goes in there and what doesn’t?

  29. The Shadchanim who work with Ner Yisroel guys are open to this profile. Call up the yeshiva and ask who the shadchanim are.

  30. One other consideration-you mentioned that you learned at one time in a kollel. If you are friendly with some of its members or consider any of them a mentor,etc, IMO, you should not be hesitant in discussing what your daughter is looking for in a spouse.

  31. CYLOR. I asked my Rav, he said a small gift is fine.

    Actually, we were on the other end of it. My wife was the shadchan for our nephew (her sister’s eldest) and my daughter’s best friend. After the wedding both my sister-in-law and the friend’s parents wanted to give us the going “shadchanes” rate. We were incensed as this was a labor of love and we found it quite insulting. But out of respect for the customs of the other parties we asked our Rav and he answered as I noted above.

    We were finally able to negotiate them down significantly, but it was still much more than we were comfortable with. (I kept saying that they should just buy us a pitcher or a vase and we could call it a day.)

    This is just another example of the financial stress that is being heaped upon the frum community. If a rav on the caliber of ours can pasken that we need not be paid “professional” rates then clearly there’s room to reduce one of those stresses.

  32. Mike, I’ve heard your side of the story and Menachem’s side of the story in terms of payment to the shadchan, and I will say that you will be hard pressed to find a friend that makes a shidduch who will even consider taking amounts like $5000 (the amount I am told is the going rate in NY). And, if you were to give $500 or even buy a nice piece of Judaica or a kiddush cup, you will not be taken to the Beit Din by your friends.

    Unfortunately, the problem of payment to the shadchan is a sore subject for many people. It is probably a subject for a whole other post.

  33. Menachem- You write that one needn’t pay a friend the $2,000 you’d have to pay a shadchan. I am not sure this is correct. Shadchanus payment is viewed in Halacha as a financial obligation dependant upon local custom, even enforcable in Beth Din. You are obligated to pay, as you would have to pay any free-lance broker, and it would certainly portend well for the shidduch :)

  34. Another thing to keep in mind with professionals, and this dovetails the “financial realities” discussion, is that the going rate in the NY metro area is $2,000 per side.

    There’s a an inyan to give any shadchan a gift, but if it’s a friend it doesn’t have to be anything close to that.

  35. If there are any teachers other than this shadchan your daughter got along with well, it’s a good idea to ask them. This might still be a good avenue, esp. since your daughter sounds like she is academically inclined – don’t necessarily give up on teachers as a source for shidduchim because of the one teacher with a reputation as a shadchan that you spoke to.

  36. Networking is key. Don’t ask for recommendations how to find a specific type of shadchan — ask all types of shadchanim, particularly since you generally don’t pay for the service unless your daughter gets married to someone they recommended.

    If it’s too difficult to work with a particular shadchan, then it may be worth giving up on that particular shadchan.

    I recently went to someone to discuss this, and was told that since I’m a BT who has never been to yeshiva, I should go to yeshiva. Thanks, but not the advice I needed, particularly considering that the reason I’m not in yeshiva now is becuase I couldn’t make it work, and now I don’t know when I’ll get another opportunity to make it work.

  37. Chazal were not exaggerating or speaking in terms of drush in stating that making a shidduch is tougher than splitting the Red Sea.

    I think that a close friend who knows your child may be far more helpful than someone who views your daughter as a bdieved case within her own school.We are a “small velt” wherein we all know someone, as a child of a good friend , who just might make a good Shidduch for someone. In the world of shidduchim, one has to realize that there are levels or madregos to which one can aspire-all legitimately.

    As R Y Horowitz has pointed out in a different context, one should be able to differentiate between long time learners who might become Gdolim, learners who plan to eventually go into the kli kodesh such as rabbonus, chinuch,etc , learners/earners who plan to learn, then go for a professional degree but will always be kovea itim LaTorah, and some young men who learn but don’t have a real plan at all. Another issue is whether the young man has been learning steadily and climbing in his religious growth or has suddenly “flipped out” and become more religious. These preliminary issues of identity are important, but they should be discussed in more detail on a date where a couple can and should discuss these issues.

    More importantly, parents have to be able to guide their children or present some realistic options for their children and be willing to reach a happy medium. The key is that parents and their son/daughter are on the same page and working together, as opposed to cross-purposes.

    Some shadchanim like a shidduch resume,but a would be candidate should be able to articulate their goals in life as the process unfolds. Networking is also important, even if it seems against a naturally ingrained sense of Tznius. While Tefilos are invaluable, one can certainly make the point that hishtadlus is much more warranted as a midah, than just bitachon.

    Once your daughter is “ret” a bachur, then you or your daughter should make some specific inquiries as to his attendance in seder, hasmadah in learning, midos ( especially during Bein Hazmanim) and with any past and present rebbe or chavrusos or people who know him now.Obviously, parents are also put thru this process as well.

    We are all familiar with horror stories about some of the psychotic inquiries made about parents ( i.e. tableclothes, silverware, etc). IMO, such questions say more about the person asking the question than their would be machatonim and really don’t shed a lot of light on their midos,etc.

    OTOH, As far as parents breaking up a shidduchim based on background such as a Ben or Bas Torah whose parents are BTs or of a lesser level of observance, I would suggest that those interested in this issue check out my survey of the views of many of the Gdolim on this issue who view Midos,as opposed to Yichus, as paramount, in many cases. I hope that that survey prevents a nice shidduch from being broken up for the wrong reasons.

    Hatzlacha Rabbah!

  38. Don’t be afraid to let your daughter communicate herself about what she wants with people who are trying to help.

    While we ourselves are not “Yeshivish,” we have friends who are, and while I sometimes have an idea for them, I find it seriously frustrating to only find out about what the daughter is looking for through a third party or the mother. Sometimes, I’d like to ask the young lady a few questions myself, yet the opportunity is essentially unavailable.

  39. I agree with Ezzie that (professional) shadchanim are not the only way to find a shidduch, nor even necessarily the optimal way. It’s much like looking for a job — it’s OK to look through the want ads, or to contact headhunters, but the vast majority of jobs are found through networking — a friend of a friend, etc.

    For shidduchim, likewise, I would encourage you to use and expand your network, rather than put too much emphasis on shadchanim. Every opportunity you get, when you meet new people or renew old acquaintances, you should mention that you have a daughter “in the parsha,” and be specific about what she brings to the table and what she’s looking for. Do not be shy about it. Also ask friends and relatives to be on the lookout for shidduch opportunities, and to network on her behalf.

    While it is hard work and quite frustrating at times, you will find over time that there are people who understand you and your daughter and are quite supportive and helpful. (You will also find people who are not.)

    And of course, don’t forget the power of tefilla!
    Hatzlacha Rabba!

  40. A board member of the Agudah said, in my presence, that as long as the boy and girl haven’t met before they go out, that’s a shidduch date. So, I’d say you’d have to broaden your network a bit. If this shadchanit doesn’t think highly of you and by extension your daughter, she’s not going to get your daughter the shidduch she deserves. I’d go to someone else.

  41. The best idea is to look for like-minded friends (or even not) that know of other people like them. A few people asked us if we had guys for girls that are similar to that, for example; though most of the ones I know aren’t quite what they’re looking for, I think that was wise. It never hurts to ask.

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