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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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Interview With A Shadchan – Part III
(See Chronicles of March 22 & 29)

The preceding two columns familiarized readers with the “mechanism” that drives the world of shidduchim in Chassidish mode. In her engagingly candid and perky style, R.B. has obliged us with articulate and to-the-point responses. This column concludes the series, which will have hopefully lent both the aspiring and seasoned shadchan some valuable insight and guidance.

Rachel: Have you ever experienced a tug-of-war situation, where the young ones are agreeable and their parents reluctant, or where the parents desire the shidduch and the young resist?

RB: It is more common for parents to want a particular shidduch and for the daughter or son to resist, since by the time the parents meet the boy/girl they have already gone through all the sifting (getting the most detailed information). Their rejection of a shidduch would occur much earlier in the process.

When I got married some 15 years ago, I knew when I went to b’show with my intended that it was more or less a done deal. My parents had done so much “digging” that I felt I almost knew him personally when we met for the first time. However, today’s generation doesn’t rely as heavily on parents and rejecting a shidduch has become more commonplace, even after a b’show. Kudos to the young of today for having a mind of their own — even if it does distress me, as a shadchan, to have to notify a party that the other side has declined the shidduch after coming so close…

We know that a shadchan must be compensated for his/her shlichos. Some shadchanim set a fee while others tactfully accept whatever their satisfied clientele will offer. Which group do you belong to?

There is no set compensation. The average standard amount I have received ranges from $1500 to $2000 per side. People of means, parents of a child who has issues, or those who yearned for a specific shidduch at any cost have paid much more generously, sometimes up to $10,000.

Is there a set dowry protocol set by Chassidic families?

No. Both sets of parents generally offer as much as they possibly can to help the young couple starting out. I have also dealt with cases where the girl’s well-to-do parents pined for a particular boy and would either offer an apartment or full support. I also had one instance where the boy was perfectly healthy but had a physical cosmetic issue and his family offered to pay the entire wedding, plus full support.

Have you ever dabbled in matchmaking outside of the Chassidic circle?

No, can’t say I have, simply because I have to know whom I’m dealing with – either personally or through mutual friends, neighbors, cousins, etc. – in order to be comfortable and confident to go to the other side.

And I suppose you’re kept busy enough in your corner of the world…

I would say so. After every shidduch I complete, I receive a barrage of calls from people (referred by the families I just worked with) who have a child/sister/cousin/friend in need of a shidduch.

What would you offer in the way of advice to a fellow shadchan?

Don’t give up! If your first try is nixed, consider revisiting the shidduch again in a few weeks. Don’t get frustrated if your first suggestion doesn’t “happen” instantly; patience pays off! And always be respectful of the parents you are dealing with. They raised their child for approximately twenty years, and you can be sure they want to see him or her under the chuppah. If one suggestion doesn’t work, try others. My most outrageous ideas are mostly the ones that end up happening (don’t ask me why).

To every woman out there: remember that you are not born a shadchan. My husband once pointed out to me where in a sefer it says that every person has a chiyuv (responsibility) to do two shidduchim in his or her lifetime. I never dreamed that I would be successful at this, but my effort paid off! The feeling of completing a shidduch is priceless (and more so when hearing of a baby born to the couple).

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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