The lament is a recurring one: If only everyday people like you and me would take it upon themselves to attempt to make a shidduch, the current crisis that we are dealing with in our worldwide community might be somewhat ameliorated.
The fact is that most of us do not get involved; we tend to leave it to the so-called professionals who reached that status by just doing what we do not do—that is, attempt to bring a boy and girl together so that they live happily ever after.
A few things have led to my contemplation of these matters at this point that I’d like to share with our readers. One is my relationship with the prolific shadchan P.D. Roth of Lakewood, New Jersey. Then there is the matter of the recent engagement of my youngest child, Nachi, to an extraordinary young lady, Shana Katz of Monsey, and then the clincher is the shidduch that I had the good fortune to orchestrate between Naomi Steinberg of Lawrence and Dovid Dachs of Brooklyn that was announced last week.
Let me say a few things about the art of making a shidduch. I’ve done this before—introduced a young man and a young woman who dated and ultimately married. Here’s the mechanism necessary or the secret behind the process: there is no special formula. All you need to do is do it. The one obligatory aspect of the process is perseverance.
P.D. Roth works at this continually. He has immense patience and seems to have time for everyone who he deals with, and that is a beautiful thing. I do not want to make this sound too simple as it is anything other than that. An additional thing about him is that he does not want to be the center of attention and really does not want me to say too much about him.
P.D. (Pinchas Dovid) and others like him in the field will tell you that he or they are not the solution to the problem that has become known as the shidduch crisis. He will tell you directly that he has personally made about 350 shidduchim over the last decade. Of course, over that period of time there have been many thousands of shidduchim made and there are, they say, currently tens of thousands of young men and women desiring marriage partners.
So what is the obstacle that has these good and vigorous young people stuck in this logjam that has often changed the entire scope and direction of their lives?
While many of us are not only observers standing by and watching this social scientific reality unfold, we are actually stuck inside of what has become a puzzle wrapped in a mystery and an enigma. And the shadchanim I’ve spoken with exhaustively about the matter say with resignation that we are dealing with a problem that cannot be solved but that needs to be managed and contained somehow. That means, it seems, that it is what it is and we have to do our level-headed best to make sure the situation does not worsen.
For many who understand the communal quagmire we’ve created, there seems to be few good or comprehensive solutions. One of the stopgap measures, however, that can stem the tide of this increasing problem is for us as individuals to take matters into our own hands and seek in our own small ways to facilitate the meetings of these young men and women.
And no, having them fraternize in separate rooms at weddings unfortunately is not workable for a variety of reasons. Mostly, it is too much like a corral and creates too much pressure on the participants on any given night. There is no question that there is some onus on us to create respectable venues where young men and women can meet in a natural social environment without violating the mores and traditions that we have decided to live by over the last few decades.
In the frum, yeshiva-oriented community, there is a definitive red line that exists when it comes to men and women mixing. And whether you agree with that approach or not, and whether you believe that this direction is imperative, the fact is that it has created a crisis in a community that very much values the development of marriage and families.
Anyway, the shidduch that I shepherded through from first date to engagement was a satisfying and gratifying accomplishment. Actually, it is the third shidduch that I had a hand in, but I would say that this one was essentially a solo effort on my part.
We are told that marriage partners are destined from before they are born, and in a fashion we do not understand, on some level they are assigned to one another. So while a boy and a girl meeting and marrying is a matter of fate, there is still the element of human involvement in identifying who these predestined marriage partners are.
Since we operate with the idea that these new couples are the work emanating from the celestial heights, then it may very well be that presiding over a successful shidduch has inherent in it elements or wisps of prophecy. So if P.D. Roth did in fact make over 350 shidduchim, then he might be the greatest prophet of our times.
Presiding over the evolution of a successful shidduch is a combination of simple and complicated — or let’s just say it is simply complicated. The obvious aspect of doing a shidduch is that you have to know families and their children. In fact, I found myself recently thinking — but not about this shidduch — that the boys and girls are basically similar; it is matching the families that can present insurmountable challenges sometimes.
But that is only a thought. Usually it is the boy and girl who need to share the vision of the important things in life that make marrying and living together possible.
I have to add that over the years, my wife and I have set up a number of singles who went out on anywhere from one to five dates before discovering that it was just not a workable combination. Successes aside, it is the effort that so many people appreciate. If it results in success, that is almost a bonus.
People need to be thought about by other people. That is a beautiful thing. If you know someone who has children of marriageable age at home, know that when they receive a call from you or anyone else with an idea for their son or daughter, it means the world to them, whether or not the idea materializes.
All shidduchim start with a thought or an idea. Making it happen and watching it come to life in front of you is a great experience for all involved.
Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles here.