Many people who are “looking” are searching for one or both of the following: Jobs and, the other part of this equation, shidduchim.
If you can make sure, or at least do your best to make sure, that people looking for gainful employment can find it, then you are accomplishing something on a very high level. As we sometimes say, a person’s gashmiyus is your ruchniyus. That is, looking after the next person’s material needs comes about as a result of your own good works, your spiritual obligation.
A dictum that we are all familiar with is the responsibility that we all have for one another on a multiplicity of important levels. That includes manufacturing or finding jobs and, of course, shidduchim.
In the context of last week’s Torah reading, when Yaakov Avinu wanted to reveal the schedule of the End of Days to his children, his sudden inability to do so leads the Talmud to expound on the following. The Gemara says that there are three things that happen in an “unaware” fashion. That means that at any given moment you are not expecting anything of that particular nature and then the next moment it happens.
And those three are: the revelation and arrival of Mashiach, finding an object, and an attack by a scorpion. Placed in a more contemporary context, the coming of Mashiach in its time will be what it will be in its time. Finding an object or, in some cases, a lost object, can conceivably cover broad ground. This can include, of course, finding a job that affords one the opportunity to make a living and support his or her family, as well as finding a proper shidduch for yourself or a child.
Frum life is wonderfully satisfying but also in a rather intricate way somewhat challenging. And the coronavirus pandemic, going on for almost a year now, has exacerbated and compounded these difficulties in two areas in particular — jobs and shidduchim.
When the pandemic hit us in earnest back at the end of March, a couple of weeks prior to Pesach, one of the immediate reactions was industries closing down on an emergency basis, with the result being that hundreds of thousands of people either temporarily or permanently lost their jobs.
It didn’t take too long for our community to come to the realization that we could potentially have a huge problem on our hands. Family breadwinners losing jobs plunges these families and, consequently, entire communities into crisis mode.
It was at about this time that two Five Towns residents, Chaim Bess and Nosson Ginsbury, approached the 5TJT about organizing an effort that would identify people who lost their jobs and were looking for work and also identify companies that had job opportunities and were hiring. Right there was the problem and the solution. If it sounds simple, well, one thing is certain — it’s not at all. The product of the Bess and Ginsbury effort is known as FrumBiz and has already assisted several hundred people in finding gainful employment.
At the same time, for many years now my wife and I have been working on making shidduchim for single men and women who come to our attention. Let me say this right here: there are many difficulties and complications that are inherent to a certain level of frum life. For my part, I believe that something is terribly wrong when what should be an exciting and gratifying point in young people’s lives — finding a life partner — is turned into a painful and even torturous experience.
Frankly, I find it irksome when a speaker combines best wishes for people who are ill and need a refuah sheleimah, people who are struggling with parnassah issues, and people who are searching for a shidduch. That juxtaposition always reminds me of the old multiple-choice tests in high school that asked: Which one does not belong with the others?
But the reality is that it is problematic for many. In addition, the system is broken, and one of the problems is that it works so beautifully for the people who would otherwise have the ability to create change to some extent. And those are the children of the top income earners in the community who get all the attention from the shadchanim who work for a big payday by devoting all their attention to them. There’s really nothing wrong with that, as it is a legitimate business decision. The problem here is that so many — the other 99% of boys and girls — are often sitting around waiting to be the beneficiary of their largesse, but it is just not forthcoming.
So this is where I have recently found a common ground between the looking-for-a-job and the looking-for-a-shidduch efforts, and it is not necessarily in the results, although results are vital. Just involving people in the process and letting them know that they are being thought of means an extraordinary amount to many people.
Nosson Ginsbury has a database of 300 people who reached out to him for advice on finding a job after being victimized professionally by the pandemic. “We reached out to many companies,” Ginsbury says, “but we would not have had any success without Centers Health Care, Yakov Gade of Cross River Bank, and Ohel.”
He adds that responding to people and providing some direction, even if not successful in that particular instance, meant that those seeking help did not feel alone or isolated in their search.
Chaim Bess says that one morning in shul after davening a man approached him to thank him for helping him find a new job, but Chaim did not recognize the person or his name. “I went back to my records but could not find his name anywhere in our database,” Chaim says. He eventually figured out that a job lead he had provided someone else had been passed along to a friend who landed the job. So that means FrumBiz knows they helped out many men and women but cannot determine exactly how many.
Nosson Ginsbury adds that while he and Chaim were seeking to assist people to find work and in some instances manage finances, they discovered an unusual amount of large credit card debt that in many cases was out of control.
In reviewing the nature of the accrued debt, at an interest rate of 18% and upward, he found that an inordinate amount of that debt was incurred by paying tuition. He says that it looks like whether people have an income or not, they are too proud to go ahead and ask for a reduction in their yeshiva tuitions. While that is good for our yeshivas, it runs the risk of creating an insidious communal crisis.
So while people with children looking for a shidduch are not going into debt paying shadchanim, at least not yet, they do feel a sense of satisfaction and even fulfillment when someone calls them with an idea for their child. The mother of a young man whom we called out of the blue last week because we came across a young lady we thought would be suitable said to me that I lifted up her heart, knowing that someone is thinking of them and trying to be helpful.
Whether it is the search for work or a prospective candidate for marriage, there is unfortunately an obstacle course out there that needs to be navigated. That it is difficult and problematic for many is nothing new. By pitching in, though, we can lift people’s burdens, help to get things done, and simply make the effort easier, if that is possible.
Contact Larry Gordon at email@example.com. Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.