Recently, I was contacted by a guy who said he was a shadchan with a large database of résumés in various WhatsApp groups. Over the phone, he sounded like a wise, older gentleman who knew what he was doing. I thought maybe he and his wife had a nephew for me, or perhaps one of their sons or a single friend from beis midrash. Sounds awesome?
Well, after I asked a few of my friends about this person, it turns out he is the furthest from a “caring uncle.” Instead, he is a twenty-something year old bochur who collects girls’ résumés and photos and then redistributes the ones who reject him into his dozens of WhatsApp shidduch groups! (I rejected him once.)
When I told my family about this, my older brother, who is also single, told me that he once helped this bochur organize some “20-Something Singles’ Hangouts,” but backed out after two events because his Rosh Yeshiva paskened that they were highly cultish, money-grabbing tendencies in the logistics of the programming.
The hangouts have been out of commission for several years now, but this guy continues to rapidly distribute résumés and solicit clients. Also, I learned from another friend that during the height of COVID, when many singles were unable to go home to their parents and had to make Shabbos and yom tov seudos all alone in their apartments (including Pesach Sedarim), this guy exploited their loneliness and desperation by charging $600 for “Premium and Priority Access” to more girls’ résumés. My brother refers to this bochur as a “Self-Serving Single Shadchan” or “Quadruple-S”. (He coined the term!)
Since when does being the organizer of a half-baked Motzaei Shabbos singles’ hangout in your apartment grant you the community-wide trust of being a shadchan?
What can be done to stop Quadruple-S’s from preying on desperate, tear-filled singles?
You are preaching to the choir. For a long time, other shadchanim and I have been trying to put a stop to the corruption that has been allowed to infiltrate shadchanus. The powers that be don’t seem to care enough, or are perhaps too afraid of creating a chillul Hashem if a scandal should erupt. Instead, they remain silent on the matter and do nothing to impede the exploitation of singles. So we certainly cannot expect even a temporary halt to the harm resulting from the actions of a scammer.
Consequently, not only have such situations not improved, they have gotten tragically worse. There are multiple scam artists disguised as shadchanim who draw vulnerable singles and their parents into schemes because they sound authentic. Many of these shidduch groups on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites have become the means by which scammers con singles out of thousands of dollars. They tell their victims what they want to hear and promise to fulfill their requests. When they fail to do so, the scammers often tell their victims that they need to revise their résumés, a service for which they charge more money. And when that fails, they urge them to get coaching, which requires the payment of a hefty new fee. These scammers abound, and they come in all ages, genders, and marital statuses.
The shidduch business has become so lucrative that some of the scammers have quit their regular jobs to become a full-time matchmaker. For them, it’s the best and easiest way to earn a comfortable living. This is the type of business that has no financial overhead, no regulations, and no supervision. They report to no one. And if someone is unhappy with the service, there is no one to complain to. Worse, when victims come forward and tell their story to hopefully prevent others from being scammed, they are accused of spreading lashon ha’ra. Thus, the victim is not only scammed, but are doubly victimized by being made to look like the bearer of false tales and thus shunned. Meanwhile the scammers who pretend to be frum are laughing all the way to the bank. They know they have protection with their external Orthodox guise, and will never be brought to justice or face the consequences of their misconduct.
Do you think that’s bad enough? It has gotten much more dreadful. Shadchanus has become a corrupt business with people joining this money-making industry by declaring themselves a shadchan, and then employing mafia-like tactics to victimize their clients or other shadchanim they view as competitors. In fact, they consider every single person who become their client to be their exclusive property and will fight bitterly to prevent other shadchanim from wooing them away. They will also threaten their clients to not speak to other shadchanim.
There used to be the case where the organizers of singles events would threaten other organizers they viewed as competition, and get them kicked out of the venue so they could have a monopoly on events in their neighborhood. Baruch Hashem those days are mostly over because there are so many events going on that it is almost impossible for any scammer or unscrupulous person to control the market. Still, there are events that are a business falsely advertised as a shidduch event, which you mentioned regarding your brother who helped organize a “20-Something Singles’ Hangout” that his Rosh Yeshiva astutely recognized as having “money-grabbing tendencies” in the logistics of the programming.
We hit rock bottom recently when Hollywood was allowed into our midst under the pretense of making shidduchim. We are living in a time when shows that depict vulgarity and partial-nudity are hosted in shuls and other organizations that organize singles’ events by alleging they are for Orthodox singles. Are you disgusted yet? There’s more. Some of the producers of these shows proudly support those who promote Hamas.
When all these issues are brought to the attention of the organizers, the whistleblower is often shut down and accused of lying, even when links proving the accusations to be true are presented. Or they accuse the whistleblower of having self-serving motives or of engaging in lashon ha’ra.
Any normal person hearing this would likely ask why these situations are allowed to continue. The answer is that it’s all about the Almighty Dollar. People worship money so much that they deliberately justify any wrongdoing and will spin the truth of their actions in any way to make it seem right. This is akin to declaring chazer to be kosher. And in the example you presented, they claim it’s all for the greater good of making more shidduchim. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it’s only about the money and has nothing to do with matchmaking.
So, what can you do? The sad truth is there is no way to convince any person that black is black when they are convinced it’s white. You can complain about it all you like, but it will not change the situation. Most people, even those who are outraged, will remain silent. And as history has proven time and time again, silence is acquiescence. Evil will continue to perpetuate until it no longer does.
The focus right now should be on you finding your bashert. Baruch Hashem, we have among us G-d fearing shadchanim who practice shadchanus for no other reason than for the mitzvah. They are totally in it lishma. You can easily tell the difference between a shadchan with yiras shamayim and one who is merely a lover of money by the way they conduct themselves. Shadchanim who practice shadchanus lishma will never try to recruit clients. There is nothing more in it for them whether they have one client or one hundred.
So, stay away from anyone you don’t know personally who contacts you out of the blue, or who promotes themselves on social media claiming to have a large database of singles, but asks for a fee up front. Do not let anyone convince you that by paying them money, your shidduch will come faster. Here is what you and other singles need to understand: There is no monopoly on shidduch profiles. No shadchan has exclusive rights to any individual. Those who seriously seek a shidduch will reach out to as many shadchanim as possible and place themselves in networking situations until they find their bashert. Run as fast as you can from anyone who claims to be the gatekeeper of your shidduch. There is no such thing.
I must strongly stress that there are single people out there (as you cited) who pretend to be shadchanim. It is not always for the purpose of making a quick buck, but because they are looking for a shidduch themselves. This gives them full access to profiles of singles so they can interact with them either in person, by phone, or electronic communication. And when they are rejected by the person they are interested in, they often retaliate by distributing their picture and profile to dozens of WhatsApp shidduch groups.
Regarding your question about what can be done to stop the Self-Serving Single Shadchan from preying on desperate singles, the answer is to recognize the situation for what it is. Do not show blind faith in anyone. Do research on the people who try to help you, not just on your shidduch potentials. Hashem counts the tears of every person afflicted with tsuris. May you speedily be blessed with a yeshua and find your bashert without any more agmas nefesh.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. Baila also produces and hosts The Definitive Rap podcast for 5townscentral.com, vinnews.com, Israel News Talk Radio, and WNEW FM 102.7, FM HD3, listenline, & talklinenetwork.com. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com.