By Moshe Pogrow, NASI Project
Over the last few weeks I have been contacted by no fewer than six shadchanim who have expressed their plans to either quit or significantly cut back on the time they currently invest working on shidduchim. Normally this wouldn’t be to concerning, as there are in general plenty of people happy to redd shidduchim to their friends relatives and neighbors. What was and is alarming is that these six shadchanim are from the very few who are dedicated bilev v’nefesh to spending the vast majority of their waking hours working on behalf of the singles in our communities who find themselves with few shidduch opportunities coming their way. In fact I’d be hard pressed to name another six such shadchanim in the country like them. It would truly be a very sad day for the community if we lost the dedication and expertise of these shadchanim.
Anyone even slightly familiar with the shidduch scene with readily acknowledge that some singles are easy to get “yesses” for, others aren’t, and of course there is a broad range. This is an assessment that experienced shadchanim with know very quickly after meeting or hearing about a single. With regards to the singles whom the shadchanim perceive as not so easy to get yesses for, the shadchanim understand the degree of concerted effort it will take to get a shidduch for them off the ground.
To think that overwhelmed shadchanim should do this full time as a chesed unrealistic. It wouldn’t be realistic to hope/expect any other busy service provider (plumber/electrician/Lawyer etc) would devote tens of hours for a particular issue that I need assistance with, and it is equally unrealistic to expect that of shadchanim who are spending hours upon hours each day working on shidduchim and who are pulled in all directions.
The very few shadchanim -tzadikim and tzidkanios- who do focus on the under the radar singles on a consistent basis, inevitably quit, significantly cut back their hours, or simply shift their attention to the singles for whom it is far easier to get a shidduch off the ground. This is due to a combination of frustration with the lack of perceived success since most of their efforts on behalf of these singles don’t even end up with a shidduch getting off the ground to a first date! Coupled with the almost non-existent compensation for all their super human investment of time and energy. This happens time and again with large numbers of ex-shadchanim now in the real estate, mortgage or other fields where their expertise and perseverance enables them to help bring home a parnsassah for their families, something that full time shadchanus on behalf of the under the radar singles clearly doesn’t- this includes taking into account the “shadchanus gelt” they receive for each of the difficult shidduchim that they make. This hit me with a thud with these recent phone calls.
It is clear, that we as a community desperately need an army of such shadchanim who will spend the vast majority of their time on behalf of the singles who have no one looking out for them.
The following two suggestion would go a long way towards making this happen.
- 1. If a professional shadchan makes a shidduch for a single who has been in shidduchim more than 24 months, then shadchanus should be set at 2k minimum. Depending on the specifics of the shidduch the shadchanus should go up accordingly. The (current) notion of shadchanus being the same for a shidduch where the single has been in shidduchim for three months or ten years, straightforward family situation or complicated situation, a family that will make a takanos wedding or if they will make a gala, no-holds-barred top of the line affair, is simply unfair and unrealistic. This current unacceptable state of shadchanus compensation is a primary cause why there are so few professional shadchanim who can afford to invest their time in singles who have been dating four/six/eight/ten years. The compensation adjustment needs to be standardized and openly discussed in our communities. Widespread implementation of this idea will be extremely beneficial, it will help those who need the help the most.
- 2. If you know of a particular single who has been in shidduchim for 2-6 years and you are aware that this particular single is currently getting barely -if- any attention from shadchanim, there is an effective tactic that I have seen work many times. Friends/relatives/acquaintances should put together funds and reach out to a number of active shadchanim who are likely to know the kinds of boys/girls who would be appropriate for that particular single. Let those shadchanim know that you understand that for whatever reason it isn’t easy to get shidduch interest from boys/girls on behalf of this particular single. You are asking them to go the extra mile, to put in the extra time and work to find a quality shidduch idea for this particular single. In recognition of their time and effort that is entailed, you are offering them fair compensation should they set up a date and it reaches date #2. I personally would recommend the offers be anywhere between 500-2000 for a date #2 (depending on the specifics of the situation/level challenge for that particular single to be set up), and another 500-1000 should it reach a date #4. This approach of offering fair and appropriate compensation as per the effort that it takes to help the singles whom don’t have an easy time getting “yesses” has proven to accomplish just that. (for various reasons it is best if the parents and single themselves are completely unaware of these efforts).
As a community we are quite familiar with the cost of wedding related expenses like the caterer, hall, flowers, clothing, apartment etc, but we have been in the dark vis-a-vis the fair and realistic cost to generate sustained shadchan attention for the singles that are struggling from a lack of shidduch opportunities coming their way. Perhaps the readers would agree with me that of all the wedding expenses, the cost to generate quality shidduch opportunities for such a single is by far the most important wedding expense. What I have seen from extensive involvement in this kind of model and after much research coupled with unending trial and tweaking,
is that it costs approximately 7500, – invested wisely as per the above model – to generate the requisite sustained shadchan attention to bring these singles to the chuppah.
I have never spent more than $10,000 on any particular single without them getting engaged. Sometimes despite very fair offers, the shadchanim were unable to get these singles dates-but they surely tried. For the singles who did get set up as a result of the shadchanims focus on them, they are Baruch Hashem engaged without having to go out with too many different suggestions.
Generally speaking, for singles who have been in shidduchim 2-6 years and barely go out, all they need is a few date 2’s, one or two date 4’s and Bezraas Hashems they will be standing under the chuppah. All these singles need is a few good shidduch opportunities. This is a model that has been proven to be an effective and reasonable histadlus on behalf of these singles. As such, it would be extremely beneficial for this tactic to be adopted by friends, family (other than parents) to help individual singles. The more widespread this becomes the more people we will have who are enabled to really invest themselves on behalf of the singles who need it most.
Od Yeshamah Biarey Yehuda Uvichuztos Yerushalayim.