Republished from The Baltimore Jewish Home
We spoke with The Shidduch Center to learn about their vital mission and the impact of COVID on dating.
How does The Shidduch Center serve the Baltimore community?
Rabbi Shlomo Goldberger, Executive Director
In a nutshell, the recipe is simple. Develop and financially motivate talented shadchanim to produce more dates than they ever did before; be the primary location for dating resources; give personal guidance to hundreds of families; hold outstanding shidduch events; offer exemplary education; and above all, daven to Hashem that our efforts always bear fruits. Having witnessed 95 Shidduch Center engagements for Baltimore in just five years, 23 of which took place over COVID, b’ezras Hashem, I think it fair to say that our service is essential.
What is your vision for the future?
Mr. Chaim Wealcatch, Chairman
Thanks to our dedicated shadchanim and many selfless volunteers, we have steadily grown, and are poised to expand further by cultivating innovative ways to bring more couples together and expand our programming. In fact, work has already begun on a new network to better serve our older single men and women. It is our tefilah that this crucial effort will have a long-term positive impact on our community.
Can you describe your daily role as a Shidduch Center Shadchan?
Mrs. Yocheved Strum, Shidduch Center Shadchan
As a Shidduch Center Shadchan, it is my responsibility to arrange suitable dates for as many local daters as possible. Constantly on high alert for on-target ideas for Baltimoreans who have reached out, I spend all day (and night!) meeting people, following up, and guiding couples. For each couple, there are two daters and four parents who need the complete and reliable attention of an experienced shadchan. All told, it is a full time job, and more often than not, it requires overtime hours.
You were all involved in shidduchim long before accepting your Shidduch Center Shadchan position. How have your accomplishments for our community increased since joining The Shidduch Center?
Mrs. Keren Traub, Shidduch Center Shadchan
Before joining The Shidduch Center, I was involved on a much smaller scale; I would say I was a dabbler. However, after joining the team, and accepting the accountability of a monthly quota, I was motivated to start meeting many more local daters, take longer interviews to get to know them better, and have been able to set up SO many more couples than ever before. As a result, and thanks to great siyata diShmaya, since joining this incredible organization, boruch Hashem, I have had many more engagements, as well.
What are you are most proud of as a Shidduch Center Shadchan?
Mrs. Michelle Mond, Shidduch Center Shadchan
There is no doubt that The Shidduch Center of Baltimore has garnered global acclaim. Our community has a proverbial eye-in-the-sky advocating for us in a way that no other community has had before. The Jewish world sees this, and is profoundly awed by the achdus of our community. Indeed, many communities have modeled shidduch initiatives after ours. B’chasdei Hashem, we have become the benchmark for what a shidduch initiative should look like and accomplish. What more could we really ask for?
How has the pandemic affected The Shidduch Center’s ability to support our community?
Mrs. Tova Rappaport, Shidduch Center Shadchan
Fully aware of our central communal role, we immediately recognized the need to adapt during COVID. Wehave been teaching couples how to successfully date virtually, and we just ran our first ever Virtual Meet the Shadchan event, allowing our team of shadchanim, and 12 other local shadchanim, to host more than 180 Zoom meetings with local daters, over three separate evenings. We have also been consulting extensively with rabbonimand medical professionals to ensure the health of couples going out in-person, and we are constantly identifying fitting places for couples to date safely and effectively.
Can you share one inspiring coronavirus success story?
Mrs. Shani Leiman, Shidduch Center Shadchan
As Chazal tell us, every shidduch entails endless hashgacha, and in some ways, COVID has exemplified that reality. A bachur came to visit family in Baltimore, and with the world shutting down around him, he appreciated the need to stay. Despite uncertainty about finding his bashert on furlough, he agreed to try in the interim. Serendipitously, I set him up with a Baltimorean who had moved away, and only returned home due to COVID. Sure enough, they hit it off, and the rest is history. Two people, with no reason to be here, were brought together by COVID, and more importantly, the hashgacha of HaKadosh Boruch Hu.
Where do you think The Shidduch Center can do more for our community?
Mrs. Sara Schachter, Executive Board Member
While we have been doing our utmost to acclimate to COVID’s restrictions, challenges remain. With winter hitting, preventing sustained outdoor dating, dating venues are further limited. Following the Passaic community, we are working swiftly to organize a pleasant, fun, indoor location that can accommodate a number of couples in a dignified manner, with privacy, and in accordance with halacha.
What can community members do to help support The Shidduch Center?
Rabbi Shlomo Goldberger, Executive Director
As it so happens, we have a CauseMatch Campaign on Dec. 20-21. Our amazing community showed up in full-force to support us last year, and the exceptional work detailed above was made possible by each community member who contributed to that campaign. We ask you all to continue to support us, so that our impact on the community can continue to blossom, and so that we may together merit the building of more Jewish homes right here in Baltimore.