The Shadchanim Fair, A Milestone Shidduch Event


rabbi-gershon-tannenbaumBy Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

A most wonderful shidduch event took place on Sunday, May 9, 2010. A “Shidduchim Fair” was held at B’nai Israel of Linden Heights, where Mr. Abraham Yakob serves as its president and this writer serves as rav. The leadership of the shul felt that it could thus make a major contribution towards shidduchim efforts, nobly addressing an important community need. The shul’s social halls were made available. The date and time were set and announcements were made. Several respected kehillah rabbonim, roshei yeshiva, and chassidishe rebbeim were asked for their guidance and endorsement. A display ad appeared on page nine of the May 7, 2010 edition of The Jewish Press, as well as in some other community publications. In addition, the announcement was carried on a number of shidduchim and community websites throughout the greater New York City Metropolitan Area and flyers were distributed at appropriate locations throughout Boro Park and Flatbush.

Calls were made to area shadchanim inviting and encouraging them to participate. The response was warm, enthusiastic, and overwhelming. The display ad indicated that 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. was set aside to receive ladies and girls and that 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. was for men and boys, and that these times would be strictly enforced. The ad asked that profiles and pictures be brought to facilitate processing of participant information. A nominal charge was set as an entrance fee to help defray expenses.

 The Huge Response

Almost immediately, a deluge of phone calls began streaming in. Calls came from New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and from as far away as Montreal, Canada. Literally, the phones did not stop ringing from Wednesday, May 5, the day of The Jewish Press distribution, and continues as these words are being written. Callers wanted to know more details of the event, what type of shadchanim would be there, what type of religious categories would be served, etc. Many callers disappointedly said that they would not be able to attend the event but asked if additional events would be planned and if they could be kept informed. Callers also asked if they would be able to mail, fax, or email information to be included in the event’s shidduch process.

Hundreds Attend the Event

Early Sunday morning, the day of the event, organizers set the stage for the expected crowds. Areas in the social halls were designated as reception areas, waiting areas, and for interviews. A management system was set up so that as many attendees as possible would meet with different shadchanim and be interviewed. Colored oak tag posters were posted with the names and telephone numbers of participating shadchanim and their locations in the social halls were strategically positioned for all to see.

Many shadchanim arrived early and proceeded to their assigned stations. Luckily, the weather was beautiful. Doors were opened wide before the 4:30 p.m. starting time for ladies and girls. Lines formed almost immediately. As participants entered and reached the reception area, they were given cards with the names of the next shadchan available. Mothers came for their sons and daughters, as well as for themselves, if they were single. Girls came with friends. Some came as groups.

As hundreds of participants came, waiting times increased. A system of directing ladies and girls to the next available shadchan was employed. Many of the shul’s members pitched in and helped decrease the waiting time as much as possible. Though not everyone was able to meet as many shadchanim as they wanted, nevertheless the mood was enthusiastic and appreciative. Much information was conveyed and the shadchanim were given the necessary ammunition they need to, B’Ezras Hashem, bring about many shidduchim.

At 8:00 p.m., the end of time set for ladies and girls, a large number of participants were still waiting to meet shadchanim. Imbued with a feeling of trust and responsibility, the organizers of the event had no choice other than to continue processing the ladies and girls still waiting. The men and boys that began to assemble well before their 8:30 p.m. starting time also had to wait outside the social halls for the shadchanim to become free and for the waiting areas to empty. When that finally happened, men and boys were ushered in and they began to meet with individual shadchanim. Again, feelings of enthusiasm and appreciation permeated.

The interviews continued to almost midnight, as the shadchanim worked diligently. Early in the evening, one of the organizers ordered pizza for all of the shadchanim, who were giving their time and efforts for the important event and purpose. As refreshing and welcome as those slices of pizza were, they could not compare to warm home-cooked leisurely meals. The shadchanim, nevertheless, did not express any regrets but, on the contrary, were upbeat and supportive.

As the event was closing, all the shadchanim reiterated their feelings of having taken part in an exceptionally important and productive event. Many repeated words of praise and gratitude that were showered on them by one participant after another. A suggestion box had been placed in the waiting area so that participants could share their thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. Most blessed the organizers and indicated their interest in such future events. Some complained that they were not able to see as many shadchanim as they had hoped. Such complaints were, in effect, welcome compliments.


The Gracious Shadchanim Who Participated

The event was a colossal and productive success. All words of thanks and appreciation must be directed to the participating shadchanim: Devorah Abraham 718-436-8382; Pauline Beilus, Faigy Brecher 718-576-1094 X113 at Kesher; Lisa Elefant, Baila Feig, Meyer Friedman 347-645-4700; Reb Gartenhouse, Tzirel Gombo 718-782-8003; Shirly Heller 718-646-0281, Chana Rivka Jacobs; Pearl Klepfish 718-338-8106; Loretta Koslowsky 718-891-8235; Chani Landau, Debbie Liebowitz 718-854-9223; Sara Liebowitz, Chaim Naiman 718-338-1664; Pessie Reichberg 347-683-4476; Chana Sandler, Reb. Shifra Stone, Abe Schonfeld, Tova Schonfeld, Mrs. Schweitzman 718-435-0297; Avi Stern, and Aaron Yosef Ungar 718-853-7687. Debbie Liebowitz and Meyer Friedman helped organize the event.

You Can Reenact the Shadchanim Fair

The event can, and should, be replicated and reenacted in as many shuls as possible, as often as possible. First, a comfortable space must be chosen. Generally, shuls and/or their social activity centers are ideal. Next, shadchanim, both men and women, are invited to participate, to meet with parents of and/or eligible singles. Female shadchanim are set up in one room to conduct individual interviews and male shadchanim are set up in another room to conduct individual interviews. Adequate time is set for women and girls to come and meet with the shadchanim, followed by another segment of time for men and boys to meet with the shadchanim.

The separation of men and women is an important ingredient and creates a setting in which both shadchanim and participants can work in comfort. Targeted events, such as, only younger singles; older singles; divorced or widowed; Chassidish, Yeshivish, Modern Orthodox, etc., or mixed events can be held. Adequate refreshments should be prepared for both shadchanim and participants.

Preferably, a uniform information questionnaire should be made available for all singles so that their profiles are easily composed should they not have prepared profiles to give to the shadchanim. As the participants enter, a simple program should be used to have each individual directed to a shadchan. As the number of people entering increases, ample space must be reserved for participants who must wait for the next available shadchan. Having a suggestion box placed in an easily accessible place facilitates participants sharing their thoughts, ideas, and giving suggestions. Anyone making a suggestion is invited to write it down and deposit it into the suggestion box.

Oak tag posters should have the names and phone numbers of all participating shadchanim. Preferably, a blurb should be next to each shadchan listed, highlighting his or her specialties. Throughout the event, shadchanim should be formally introduced to each other so that easy communication is established and facilitated.

Such events will contribute greatly towards the shidduchim efforts that our communities greatly need.

{Rabbi G. Tannenbaum}

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  1. Wow! What a positive event. I wish every shul would copy this event. The shidduch crisis could be cured almost instantly. The organizers of this event should be widely congratulated. I sure hope that they continue their fabulously good work. Chazak Veamatz.

  2. I was at this event.

    Special thanks to Rabbi and Rebetzin Tannenbaum for putting this together.

    With the ever growing frum community, these type of networking events are extremely important to make sure that people know about each other,

    Abe S

  3. Very important guidance and a message to people living out of town, ie. Toronto, Cleeveland, Baltomore, where the Shiduchim crisis is perportionately, far worse then in NY & NJ. (yes, Far Worse)::

    People will overwelmingly look to the behavior of your married daughters, already living in NY.

    1. Do they keep on shlepping their husbands to their home for every Yom Tov or occasion?

    2. Do they refrain from going to their NY or NJ inlaws, because “why should they see us more than my parents”?

    3. At the time of the Chasunna did you insist on doing everything (Dating, Vort, Chassunah, Shabos Sheva Brochos) out of town?

    4. Hint: Money spent on clothing to perfect the appearance of your married daughters living in NY, will get you much more milage than spending it on your shidduch seeking daughter who is currently still living out of town, and not seen as much.

  4. It was quite apparent that some “shadchanim” who attended were only there to find shidduchim for their own children and not necessarily for anyone else.

  5. I had heard that there was a fee charged for this event.
    Can you confirm this?
    How many expenses did this event incur that so many people would be required to render payment?
    Is this just one more way we are taking advantage of the “Shidduch Crisis” mania?

  6. Whoever didnt want to pay the 15 or so dollars to walk in had the option not to. And if the shull who can use the money had some financial benefit from it, then who is bothered by it?

    Now while I might agree that some people may have tryed to game the system by posing as matchmakers and in effect tryed to look out for theyr own kids, I am not sure how this can be confirmed as hard fact.

    Bottom line is, the concept of this venue is important for singles , so that matchmakers and non matchmakers alike are aware of the fact that he and she are out there.The other option is for the singles to stay home and do nothing.

    And lastly, there is no reason why another shull or organazation cannot copy this model as clearly suggested and outlined by Rabbi Tannenbaum in the main article, and build upon it and fix whatever needs fixing.

    They can insist on having only matchmakers with a track record in the community, They can charge nothing if they wish to,and they can channel singles to specific matchmakers based on expertise and experience in different areas and social circles , like older singles , divorced , chasidish , modern orthodox, yeshiva type, etc.

    Now, this sort of venue will not have the answer to every individual and distinct personality that shows up, but I belive that alot can result from these events.

    Abe Schonfeld

  7. To #4:
    What’s your point?
    To #5:
    According to the article,
    “A nominal charge was set as an entrance fee to help defray expenses.”
    What’s wrong with that? Lets say the amount was more then you think is appropriate, if true, why don’t you put something together for less?
    (I do not know the amount, but as the article says, it was “nominal”.)

  8. #3’s comments is “perportionately” dumber than any other I have seen in a while. How ridiculous. No wonder out-of-town girls prefer to stay out-of-town!

  9. To: #8

    No, we don’t want our girls to stay out of town. We want them to get married. And the fact is that 99.9% of the boys we are looking into, are from New York. Right now we are turning them off.

    #3 has a very valid point.

  10. I guess I value your experience but I would rather take care of (lowkey) Shabbos sheva brachos out of town (yeah, it means a Thursday chasuna if possible) with the help of friends
    than be forced into prohibitive catering etc. expenses.

    And BTW, since one married child lives in the same city as we do, when they go away for yom tov, if their schedule permits, they go away for the WHOLE yom tov. We happily share, especially with wonderful machutanim who are fantastic grandparents. Can’t yet say what married children who don’t live near us will do. But their decision. (And not everyone is on Jewish time, to be able to travel so predictably.)

  11. I clearly see the whole article as sharing an experience and as a strong suggesstion for the event to re-enacted and perfected in shuls everywhere. If only more (if not ALL) shuls would have similar events, the shidduch situation (not using the word crisis) would be greatly helped. The issue of an entrance fee is obvious. Even if everyone is volunteering, there still are costs in advertising, printing, electricity, heating or air cnditioning, refreshments, and clean-up. By the way, Abe Shonfeld (#6) is a well known, respected, and productice shadchan and he was at the shadchanim fair. His experience and opinions are very important and should be listened to carefully. Thank you.

  12. To #3
    You are right on the mark.

    To #8
    While you’re busy correcting spelling errors, there are over four hundred good girls, here in Toronto, deperately looking for a Shidduch.

  13. To # 12.

    You have 400 single girls in Toronto looking for a shidduch?

    OK ! Here I am , send me one girl ( the best one that you have) and we will call it a day.
    ( or a date)


  14. #12

    If you are looking for the important things in marriage like middos and personality it’s shocking that there are 400 single girls in Toronto. There must be a different criteria that you are looking into, causing $$$uch a backlog of good girls.

  15. “Whoever didnt want to pay the 15 or so dollars to walk in had the option not to.”

    It is not proper to advertise an event, without mentioning a fee, and then surprise people with a $15 charge (not nominal in my book) when they have already traveled there.

  16. The add said “nominal feel” so while I do agree that the exact amount should have been stated , there was still mention of a fee in the advertisement.

  17. i was at the fair.. the intentions were good… but there were so many pple that u couldn’t see more than 2 shatchanim and u also didn’t know which shatchan was in the criteria that you needed.. i know it was the first time and there were great intentions but hopefully next time it will be better.. i overheard someone saying that half the shatchanim will throw half the profiles out.. i dont blame them bec again there were all kinds of pple there… no one knew which shatchan dealt with what.. as for the single shatchanim there… it was just a little uncomfortable..
    but overall i am glad to see that pple are trying to find a solution to this crisis!!
    May hashem bless everyone to find their right zivug at the right time!!

  18. No. 18 is right. Hopefully, the next time around, a list of participating shadchanim should either be included in the advertising and announcements or, at the very least, be given out at the event. Also, very important, next to each shadchan name, there should be some description as to what the shadchan specializes in, i.e. younger singles, oler singles, divorced, etc., etc.
    Again, the idea is good and the intentions were indeed noble. Could very well be that this event was a learning experience. The article by Rabbi Tannenbaum does spell it all out. I sure hope that more and more shuls undertake holding such events. It sure would help.