While many are aware of The Shidduch Center of Baltimore’s pioneering work, there are two questions that are frequently directed our way. First, what does it means to be a Dedicated Shidduch Center shadchan? And second, why is it so important that we have an organization in our city that formally employs shadchanim?
Regarding the first question, the answer is rather straightforward. We have assembled a team of outstanding shadchanim from our community – Mrs. & Mrs. Efy & Penina Flamm, Mrs. Shani Leiman, Mrs. Michelle Mond, Mrs. Tova Rappaport, and Mrs. Keren Traub – to whom we provide financial compensation for their day-to-day work. This is done with the express goal of enhancing their capacity through meaningful support so that they may create more opportunities and produce more dates and engagements for the single men and women of our city.
To answer the second question, a broader detailing of recent societal changes in Jewish life is necessary. Throughout the history of Jewish people, when a shadchan completed a shidduch, shadchanus was given by the parents of the chosson and kallah, as remains mandated by the Shulchan Aruch. Beyond that, however, all of the time spent by shadchanim was done as a chessed – entirely for free. Which begs the question, what cultural shift has suddenly made it necessary to more expansively compensate shadchanim in order to see maximum results?
To successfully address this question, we must first appreciate that the way we go about shidduchim now looks vastly different than it ever has in the entire 3,330 years since Matan Torah. Jewish communal life no longer resembles the shtetl, and the days of Fiddler on the Roof have long since passed. Shadchanim are no longer simply community members that set up the butcher’s daughter with the tailor’s son, and if that doesn’t work you try it with the merchant’s son, and so on and so forth. In order to successfully bring matches together, today’s shadchanim must play a significantly broader role throughout the entire process.
Shadchanim spend endless hours meeting single women, and identifying young men from across the globe whose attention is often swayed in many directions with a multitude of suggestions. Once these gentlemen are located, shadchanim begin the profoundly challenging task of trying to get a yes from two families for a shidduch. Many hours go into making calls, taking calls, sending emails, exchanging text messages, suggesting one idea after the next, and contending with the extensive and often over-the-top research that families commonly engage in as they investigate every idea with which they are presented.
Eventually, a shadchan procures two “yeses.” Chasdei Hashem! Now, one might think that at that point it is all smooth sailing right to the chupah. Not exactly. Shadchanim are commonly expected to recommend where the dates should take place; coordinate travel; decide when it is time to graduate from a hotel lobby to a fun activity; and advise what topics should be discussed on each successive date – not to mention the expanse of time that is required when a shidduch with real potential hits a major bump in the road. The shadchan may then find it necessary to secure the guidance of a rav or therapist, or act as the coach themselves, to help the potential couple overcome the hurdle.
All told, it is tireless work. For one to be a truly effective shadchan, it is 100% a full-time occupation, and one that is all consuming as parents and singles understandably reach out to shadchanim for assistance at all times. At shul, at weddings, and at the grocery store.
Are there individuals who make shidduchim on the side, an idea here and there? Certainly. Are there a few yechidim that can dedicate themselves endlessly to the task without support? Also yes. Nonetheless, given the nature of any burgeoning community, the reality is that such a construct is insufficient to meet the needs of this generation.
So how can we get more people to agree to devote such a huge portion of their time and energy to making shidduchim? We pay them in the same way we pay lawyers, accountants, electricians, and any other service professional. In our day and age, being a shadchan is no less a profession deserving of fair and proper compensation. This is what lies at the heart of The Shidduch Center’s premise in hiring dedicated shadchanim for our community.
And this strategy works! We have seen each of our shadchanim double or triple the amount of couples they set up each month, along with the amount of resulting engagements. It is without a doubt the most valuable resource that we are able to offer our community, and it has already led to numerous dates and marriages here in Baltimore.
In fact, our results are so remarkable that we have been called on by community leaders across North America asking how to replicate our programs. Indeed, b’ezras Hashem, we have become recognized as a genuine leader in the field, and have had the tremendous zechus to guide a number of other communities in successfully establishing very similar organizations in their own cities.
In short, and as countercultural as it may seem, we have come to a point where we must take on a societal shift when it comes to shidduchim. Namely, in the form of compensating shadchanim for their time, so that they can carry the immense burden we have collectively hoisted upon them. That is what The Shidduch Center of Baltimore has taken on as our primary mission, and Boruch Hashem, it continues to produce amazing results.
As we know, Klal Yisroel is the Am Hanivchar. We are HaKadosh Boruch Hu’s chosen nation, and we are commanded to see to our own continuity. Without shidduchim there is no perpetuity to the Jewish people. This is what The Shidduch Center is all about: Partnering with our Creator to ensure that our nation remains everlasting.