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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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There is a tremendous need for shadchanim, and I do not refer to the prominently out-there ones known to charge an arm and a leg as “down payment.” I am talking about YOU; every person knows at least a few people in need of a shidduch.

What sage counsel do you have for the single entering the shidduch arena?

Be positive! Take all suggestions seriously, and never consider yourself “superior” to your peers.

Have you ever experienced the letdown of hearing of a couple you “put together” getting divorced or separated?

Although I know there are no guarantees in life, I have Baruch Hashem never experienced such disheartening news. Other of my fellow shadchanim have described their feelings in such circumstance as awful and nausea inducing — notwithstanding that the shadchan is hardly at fault. We Yiddishe mothers just love feeling guilty!

From your position and perspective, what would you say to The Jewish Press reader who cannot fathom the concept of ‘boy and girl meet two to three times before deciding to get married’?

The open-mouthed shocked reaction of non-Chassidic acquaintances and relatives is not new to me. Fact is that the effectiveness of our “dating” method has been substantiated over and over. Simply stated, it works. Two perfect strangers who meet less than a handful of times can live happily ever after.

For starters, the extensive “looking into” by both sides after a shidduch is redt will determine overall compatibility — such as the philosophies shared by the two families, both on a spiritual and cultural level. Inquiries of a more personal nature follow, revealing the individual’s general outlook in life, his/her physical attributes, personality and middos, etc.

Thereafter, the parents will personally interview the prospective shidduch (boy/girl) in a non-confrontational, casual manner.

By the time the young ones meet, it’s as if the two families already know one another. Some apprehensiveness on the part of the boy and girl about meeting for the first time is natural (much like when a boy picks up a girl for their first date); I assure them that this b’show is about “breaking the ice” and establishing that neither one is repelled by the other. The conversation is to be “easy” and the private encounter limited to a brief hour or so.

At the second b’show (provided the first goes well), the conversation gets more serious and lasts longer. At its conclusion, ninety percent of the time both parties are ready to drink a le’chaim. Chassidim are wary of shlepping a shidduch for longer than necessary, and each side is anxious to “seal the deal” if the second b’show goes well. (For the record, I have been involved in several shidduchim where the couple drank le’chaim after the FIRST b’show!)

Fact is you don’t know a person until you live with them, and statistics have shown the divorce rate among Chassidim to be lower than anywhere else. I attribute this mostly to the parents’ engaging in intense research before allowing the shidduch to get off the ground.

Just recently, after years of dating, my Modern Orthodox cousin’s lovely daughter became engaged. At the vort she confided to me how envious she is of the Chassidic shidduch system, in light of witnessing her Chassidic cousins’ happy marriages — entered into without the pain and heartbreak of endless dating and breakups.

May we all be zoche to find the life partners meant for us… Amen!

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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