Friday, June 15, 2018

Using Weddings as a Shidduch Resource

Typical Charedi Chuppa (YWN)
Well… it appears one of my ideas regarding the so-called Shidduch crisis has actually found some currency among the right wing. I for one am very happy to hear of it.

Although it is being done in a somewhat more methodical way, it is nevertheless a huge step in the right direction. I just believe that if they eliminate the ‘middle man’ there would be an an additional means of achieving the same goal. Which is for young Charedi singles to meet for Shidduch purposes. More about that later.

This idea is the subject of an article by Rabbi Yair Hoffman in YWN where the following idea was executed at a wedding at the Rye Town Hilton: 
Single friends of both the Chosson and Kallah and their parents were contacted and asked to submit their resumes. The parents then placed the chosson’s friends and the kallah’s friends in a side room at the weddings, on separate sides.  They then packed the room with circulating shadchanim and instructed them as to what to do. They had received the resumes in advance.  It was all done in a very tznius manner.
The prospective shidduch got to meet each other – then and there.  The Rye Town Hilton has numerous lobbies, walkways, and other venues to make for a perfect venue for the couple to meet and talk.  The shadchanim worked hard – real hard.  They worked both sides of the Mechitzah. 
Finally! …a common sense, natural, and obvious resource (at least in my view) is being taken advantage of. I can’t remember how many times I have mentioned weddings as an option. The idea of young men and women of marriageable age being completely separated at such an event in light of the number of singles having difficulty getting married is incomprehensible to me. And yet that is the status quo in Charedi circles.

I suppose that in the past - the idea of meeting that way seemed to lack Tznius (modesty). Additionally it lacked the ‘requisite’ research that goes into the Shidduch process where Shadchanim (professional matchmakers) find out as much as they possibly can about their clients (i.e. parents’) children – factoring every demand into who they will or won’t recommend as a potential mate for their child. No matter how ridiculous some of those demands may be.

While that may be a more efficient means of finding compatibility - it often ends up in unnecessary rejections by parents of potential mates for their children. Often the compatibility that might actually have with each other is a lost opportunity because of some of the more frankly stupid demands. Like what kind of table cloths a family uses on Shabbos.   Especially when parents have unreasonable expectations for their child’s eventual spouse.

I am not here to discourage using Shadchanim. They have a legitimate place in finding suitable marriage partners for young people. And most of the time they do work out well. But I have often wondered how many Shidduch prospects were lost because of excessive over-the-top demands by a parent about the families the prospective date comes from - or because of the unreasonable expectations about who they are setting up with their child.

So, yes…  meeting in this new (for Charedim) manner is a huge step in the right direction where the ‘research’ found in the submitted resumes will not necessarily carry as much weight  considering that the opportunity at hand not be wasted.  It should at the very least eliminate the kind of artificial demands about the kind of tablecloths a family uses on Shabbos.

This does differ somewhat from my idea about simply sitting singles together at the same table at the wedding dinner. The same type of resumes that were used at that Rye Town Hilton wedding can be used to seat compatible young men and women at a wedding feast. But even this modified method of doing it puts to bed the idea that it is not sufficiently Tznanua (modest) to meet that way. It is just a way to increase the odds of a successful courtship. Rabbi Hoffman addressed the Tznius issue with the following: 
At the outset, some of the Rabbonim were very concerned.  Will this turn the wedding into a disastrous breach of tznius?  The Kallah’s father assured the concerned Rabbonim that the Shadchanim, who were Bnei Torah, would make sure that things went well.  Most of the Rabbonim who heard of it were for it. One or two, however, still had some hesitations. 
How successful was it? Rabbi Hoffman addressed that too: 
And they (the Shadchanim) were successful beyond anyone’s imagination.  Numerous couples met.  Some spoke for 30 minutes.  Some spoke for an hour.  A number of shidduchim were made that night.  Some dated this past Thursday evening.  Others are dating on Sunday. 
Will this help improve the odds if it becomes the ‘new norm’ (as rabbi Hoffman puts it)? I think the answer is obvious. Of course it will!