One of the goals of this website to help steer singles away from relationships which may lead to unhappy marriages. Personality traits, relationship habits, or separation issues that could play out in controlling, manipulative, or passive aggressive behaviors may often be detected while dating or during an engagement. It is important, however, that the single and/or parents know to read the signs.
In addition, singles or their parents, should be willing to trust their “gut instinct” if they feel uneasy about the dating partner/fiancee, rather than rationalizing certain behaviors away. This may not mean breaking off the shidduch, but it is essential to check out the situation more carefully and perhaps bring in outside help.
Serious Grounds for Concern
It is strongly recommended to seek professional help if the dating single shows the following signs:
• Personality changes that seem worrisome to those who know the single well
• Denial of certain things about the dating partner that are obvious to everyone else.
• Loss of interest or involvement in activities previously enjoyed
• Panic, to the point of irrationality, at the prospect of the relationship not working out,
• A compulsion to have excessive contact with the dating partner, which s/he does not seem to actually desire
The section below is written from the point of view of single girls. In truth, however, women may also be abusers, controlling and manipulating their date/fiancee; therefore, single men may find it useful to read this too.
Behaviors of Potential Abusers
Some “red flags” that may indicate that the boy has serious problems relating to women are listed below.
Contempt/Disrespect: The boy seems to looks down on the girl, her family, her friends, or women in general. He treats the girl with condescension, putting her down and making her feel incompetent. The boy may treat the girl differently in public than in private.
- Pressure to Change: The boy pressures the girl to change: her dress, her career, her schooling, etc. He may ask her to stop doing activities that she enjoys or ask her to do things she does not enjoy.
- Isolation: The boy persuades the girl to spend less time with her family or friends, cutting her off from her social support system.
- Suspiciousness: The boy needs to know what the girl is doing and where she is, when they are apart. He may act suspicious, too, interrogating her repeatedly in order to find out “where she really was”.
- Authoritarian: Everything has to be done his way; he is not willing to give in. The boy insists on making all decisions himself, without taking the girl’s input or preferences into account.
A boy may also have a tendency to duck responsibility for problems. It’s never his fault when things go wrong. He minimizes his negative behavior, shifts the blame and never apologizes.
- Overreaction: The boy/girl cannot tolerate frustration or stress. S/he gets angry easily and starts yelling, cursing, punching the wall or breaking things.
- Physical Intimidation: Screaming in the girl’s face, threatening her physically, pushing, grabbing, or even hitting.
Changes in the Girl
- Isolation from Family: Parents may notice changes in a daughter who is involved in an abusive relationship. They may find that their daughter is more distant with them, does not seem to trust them, and finds reasons to avoid their company, always making excuses. (It should be understood, however, that the girl will spend less time with family/friends as she spends more time with her future chosson)
- Fear of the Boy: They may also notice that their daughter feels that she has to “work around” the boy’s tendencies, since she’s very worried about upsetting him. She may constantly make excuses for him and taking on herself the blame for his inappropriate behavior.
- Abrupt Changes: Girls in such relationships often hesitate to tell even close family about how the boy treats her. However, outsiders may notice deterioration in her appearance (e.g. sudden weight gain or loss), her performance (lower grades), or life goals (dropping out of school).
It may not be clear cut whether the boy’s behavior truly matches the profile described above. Parents and their daughter may need to consult with a professional to find out how likely the relationship is to be harmful. A mutually respected Rav with experience in Shidduchim or counseling young couples may be a very good resource here.
If the Boy/Girl Matches the Profile…
A scenario can arise in which a single gets so involved with the person s/he is dating or engaged to that s/he doesn’t realize that this is an unwholesome situation. The shidduch prospect may gain so much influence over him/her that s/he does not want to listen to the parents’ concerns. In such a situation, parents need to intervene carefully.
Mirel Goldstein (MS, MA, LPC, psychotherapist and marriage counselor) advises parents to avoid criticizing the match directly, since this may provoke a defensive reaction from their son/daughter. Instead, the single should be encouraged to air his/her own feelings. A parent may help the process through reflective comments, along the lines of “It sounds like s/he makes you feel very protected and understood and that you like that, but other times you are afraid to say your own opinion and that you are worried about that.” This allows permits the single to reflect on what s/he herself is saying and draw his/her own conclusions. In contrast, statements such as: “I really don’t have a good feeling about him/her." or " I don’t like her/him and I’m really worried about how much you seem to like her/him…” may be counterproductive.
In addition, it is helpful to guide the single into becoming aware of the process between the two of them, aside from the content. Comments such as the following encourage thinking about the process:
- If the two of you will have different ideas about the children, how will you deal with that?
- Can s/he see your point of view when you disagree?
- Do you find yourself not saying certain things? What things are those? Why don’t you say them?
It is important to empower the single by taking his/her ideas seriously so that s/he feels supported in trusting her instincts. This also gives the single the confidence to bring up troubling issues. Criticism by the family undermines the single's self esteem and may lead the single to second guess him/herself rather than challenge mistreatment by the dating partner.
Mirel Goldstein MS, MA, LPC is a psychotherapist and marriage counselor in NJ. Her blog on relationships can be accessed at GoldsteinTherapy and she can be reached for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If their child persists in wanting to continue a potentially abusive relationship, parents can try to persuade them to go for pre-marital counseling. In the end, parents may have no choice but to stay connected with their son/daughter and be there to help deal with the consequences. If they issue an ultimatum and the son/daughter nevertheless maintains the relationship, their child may have no one to help should s/he want to leave a harmful situation later on.
Project SARAH and Shalom Taskforce are two organizations whose mission is to prevent abusive relationships and to provide help for women who are trying to escape from such relationships.
This post was prepared with help from Rabbi Raffi Bilek, LCSW, BaltimoreTherapyCenter
Boy’s Shidduch Assessment Questionnaire for assessing girls during the dating process
Is she a happy person? How do you know?
What kinds of things upset or anger her? Does she stress out easily?
How does she handle stress or anger?
Are most of her statements about people positive?
Is she flexible? Can you see that she can give in? How do you see that?
Do you feel that you can rely on her?
Is she a giver or a taker? Could she be described as “high maintenance”? “Entitled”?
Do you trust her?
Do you feel that she respects/looks up to you?
What do you admire about her/what does she admire about you?
Does she want you to change? Do you hope she will change after marriage?
Do you feel that you can be completely yourself with her?
Does she “get” you?
Can you and she disagree? How do you handle disagreements?
How does she react when something goes wrong? When there’s a mess up or miscommunication? Are you made to feel that it’s always your fault?
Can you problem solve together?
Do you enjoy being with her?
Do you find her attractive?
Relationships with Others
How does she get along with her parents? Her siblings?
What are her friends like? Are you comfortable with her circle?
Did she ever have a difficult roommate? How did she manage that?
Does she have a Rav or a mentor from high school/seminary?
Are you comfortable with the way she dresses? Do you share similar tzniyus standards?
Do you agree on the kind of household you would have? The type of community? What kind of Yeshivos for your children?
Have you discussed media exposure? Internet use?
Does she have traits that annoy you?
Is there anything about her that you would like to change?
Do you feel that she needs more time/attention/affection than you might be willing to offer?
How does she spend her free time?
Do your strengths complement each other? Can you help each other grow?
Is she kind, good-natured, patient, tolerant? Does she criticize easily?
Is she willing to grow? To learn new skills as wife/mother?
Can she live within a budget? How do you know?
If you are planning longterm learning, is it realistic to expect her to be happy with a lower standard of living?
Does she seem organized? Effective at getting things done?
Have you discussed her expectations of how much her husband should help with housework and child care?
Does she have experience with kids?
Has she been involved in chessed activities?
Do you like the way she dresses?
Do you feel she puts the right amount of stress on her appearance?
Do you like how she expresses herself? Is she too loud? Too introverted?
Are you comfortable with how friendly she is with strangers? With men?
Does she want to live in a specific place? Close to her parents? Eretz Yisroel?
Do you share similar ideas about how long you should learn?
If she wants you to learn, does she have a viable career plan to support you?
Are you comfortable with her career plans? With supporting her while she gets a degree?
Are you in agreement about whether it’s desirable or feasible for her to be a stay-at-home mother?
How do you like her family? Could you handle staying with them for an extended period if it were necessary?
Is she capable of being independent of her mother?
Does she seem comfortable with your family? How does your family feel about her?
Girl’s Shidduch Assessment Questionnaire for assessing boys during dating process
The questions on this page are designed to help a girl clarify her feelings and attitude towards the boy she is dating. This questionnaire may also be useful in the shidduchim preparation process to help a girl formulate what she is looking for in a boy, and understand which characteristics are important to her.
Is he a happy person? How do you know?
What kinds of things make him upset or angry?
What does he do when he is angry or upset?
Is he flexible? Can you see that he can be “mevater”? How do you see that?
Are most of his statements about people positive?
Your Relationship with Him
Do you feel safe with him?
Do you trust him?
Do you respect/look up to him?
Do you feel that he respects you? Does he want you to change?
Are you able to communicate with him about any topic?
Do you feel like you are completely yourself when you are with him?
Are you attracted to him?
Is he appropriately complimentary towards you? How do you see that he likes you?
Does he seem positive about your friends? Family?
Can you and he disagree? How do you handle disagreements?
How does he react when something goes wrong? When there’s a mess up or miscommunication? Do you tend to feel that it’s your fault?
Fitness for Marriage
Do you see that he is capable of being a Baal HaBayis? Making decisions?
Do your experiences with him show that he is a competent person?
Does he drive responsibly? Can he accept directions from you?
Do you see that he is financially responsible?
How Does He Relate to Others?
How does he speak about his parents? Warmly? Distantly? His siblings?
Who is his closest Rebbe? Why did he connect with this particular Rebbe?
Did this Rebbe ever advise him to do something that was difficult for him to do? How did he react to that?
Does he have close friends?
Does he call his grandparents on a regular basis?
Did he ever have a difficult roommate? How did he manage that?
Who does he confide in?
His Plans for the Future
Where does he see himself raising a family? What does that place offer?
Where does he see himself in ten years? Chinuch , business, Rabbonus?
Are these plans that you are comfortable with? That you can support?
What does he consider a very bad Midda in a person?
How do you know that he has Yiras Shomayim?
Is he cynical about people/yeshivos/rabbanim/chumros?
How does he speak about Jews that are not frum?
How does he speak about non-Jewish people?
What challenges has he taken on?
What accomplishments is he proud of?
What does he do in his free time? i.e. Friday afternoons, Motzai Shabbos?
Beliefs/Hashkafos Relating to Marriage
How does he feel about working mothers vs. stay at home mothers?
How does he feel about your pursuing a degree?
Will he help with physical aspects of raising children, i.e. changing diapers?
Would he be willing to help with any of the chores around the house?
Are you comfortable with how he expresses himself? What type of language when he’s angry or excited?
Are you comfortable with how he dresses?
Are you comfortable with how introverted/extroverted he is?
Is he friendly with strangers to a degree that you are comfortable with?
Which summer does he consider his best, and why?
What does he like to do on Chol HaMoed ?
Are you proud to walk next to him?
Would you be proud to introduce him to your grandparents? Teachers? Friends?
How do you see him fitting in with your family? With your brothers?
What might he have to adjust to about your family?
Researching a Prospective Shidduch
An important part of the shidduchim process is researching shidduch prospects. Professional Shadchanim usually do not know the boy/girl personally. Even friends and family may not be very familiar with one's child or with the boy/girl they propose. Generally, the underlying assumption of the middleman is that their job is to provide a plausible name and a resume; it is the parents' job to do the legwork to ascertain that this is a shidduch worth pursuing.
There are differing approaches about the goal of checking out a shidduch prospect. In one approach, the task is to learn everything possible about the prospect in order to ensure a "perfect" match. The other school of thought is that the purpose is to find out whether there are any serious health issues in the family or with the person being suggested. Parents of younger, less exposed singles may feel it safer to learn as much as possible before allowing the couple to go out, whereas older, experienced singles may prefer to rely more on their judgement as they date the prospect.
Questions posed during the research process are meant to ascertain:
- whether the person is who s/he is represented to be (e.g. is she a Bais Yaakov type girl?, is he in learning?)
- if there are underlying issues in the prospect that could undermine a marriage (vices, troubled past)
- if the prospect seems compatible with their child.
For some parents, researching the family is also important, to determine whether the boy/girl was brought up in an atmosphere of domestic harmony and to determine the likelihood of their child integrating well with his/her in-laws.
The Limits of Research
Parents and singles should realize researching the shidduch prospect does not provide a guarantee that s/he is "right" for them. Families may put up a good front and give even their friends and neighbors a falsely positive view of their situation. Singles are able to live "double lives" more easily using the internet. A shadchan may (accidently) mislead.
Another issue that pertains particularly to girls is that friends and Rebbeim of a boy may never have seen him in the context of an intimate relationship, since boys are less prone to develop intense, obsessive relationships during camp and high school than girls. Unhealthy relationship habits may lie dormant in a boy, to emerge only as he begins dating.
Therefore, the single needs to use of the dating process to find out for him/herself the details that are important: character, personality, hashkafa and plans.
Checkout Dor Yesharim
If genetic compatibility is a crucial issue for either party, they should check the match with Dor Yesharim before dating or very early in the process. Once both parties are in the Dor Yesharim database, all that is needed is to call the Dor Yesharim hotline, (718) 384 - 6060, to determine if there are genetic problems with the match.
"Googling" the shidduch prospect (performing an internet search on the name) may yield information not provided on the shidduch resume. This is a good way to learn more about the professional life or extracurricular activities of the single. It is also wise to double check that the prospect's online activity and use of social media is compatible with one's hashkafa.
It may also be useful to perform online searches about the parents of the prospect to get a better feel for his/her background.
Examining the Photo
It is better if the single does not look at the photo that is often included with a shidduch proposal, because this may lead to mistaken preconceptions about the match. It is a pity to have a match rejected because a single was not photogenic or did not conform to the someone's idea of his/her future spouse's looks. Moreover, the physical looks are only one aspect of the "chemistry" between a couple. In real life, the prospect's charm may totally overshadow his/her appearance.
On the other hand, a photo may yield useful clues about the shidduch prospect, and should be examined by the single's parent or guide. The clothing, pose, facial expression, or setting may reveal more about the subject than the resume alone.
Finding Useful References
Shidduch proposals usually arrive accompanied by a resume with a list of references: the family Rav, friends of the family, former Rebbeim/Moros of the boy/girl, and friends of the prospect. References listed by the prospect are likely to be biased in his/her favor. Nevertheless, it is worth contacting them, because they give a picture of the prospect’s social context: where s/he grew up, what type of shul or school s/he attended and what his/her chevra are like. Friends on the reference list are especially useful to provide details on the prospect’s personality and preferences.
In order to find less biased information, one needs to network. The resume may provide starting points: members of the prospect’s shul, classmates, staff or roommates from the Yeshiva’s/camps s/he attended, or co-workers at current or past jobs. The prospect’s peers are especially useful to provide information about middos. Ideally, parents should try hard to find people they know and trust from the prospect’s circle, because even “independent” references may be reluctant to divulge negative facts about their friend or neighbor. One strategy is to enlist a friend with social clout to make inquiries on their behalf.
Parents should be aware that they might find that a neighbor or acquaintance is very negative about the shidduch prospect; perhaps, they had a dispute. The reports of relatives should probably be treated with caution, since family situations are sometimes intensely positive or negative. In addition, it is better not to rely on references that have been out of contact with the prospect for many years, since people do change. However, a composite picture does emerge if one speaks to a number of sources.
Ask the Shadchan
For certain types of questions it may be most useful to ask the shadchan to ask the girl or boy directly, rather than asking a reference. These include hashkafa markers, such as "Do you watch videos?" or "Are you planning to have a television?". The shadchan should be asked to state the exact words and tone of the respondent, in order to obtain nuances. The idea here is that the shidduch prospect would not want to marry someone with incompatible views on these questions, and therefore, the answer would be genuine. Friends and references may not be as attuned to the girl/boy's positions on these important questions. Moreover, they might be motivated to fudge replies to these questions in order to get the shidduch to happen. The efficacy of this approach depends highly on the integrity of the shadchan.
It may also be efficient to submit a short list of questions about the tastes or habits of the shidduch prospect to the shadchan to ask directly rather than relying on references. Note that compatibility in these areas may well not be important for the success of the shidduch. However, it is sometimes helpful for maintaining conversation, especially during the first dates, to know which conversation topics to pursue.
Preparing for the Phone Call
Before calling references and other contacts, parents should think about the knowledge that they already have, what needs to be confirmed, and what they need to find out. Questions should be appropriate for each individual reference. For example, peers (friends of the prospect) on the prospect's reference list should not be asked about the sholom bayis between their friend's parents.
Questions should be categorized so that they may be addressed to the appropriate type of contact. Conversations with references are more effective when the parent uses a notepad with sections for different areas of inquiry. This way, parents may record information that is provided as topics change over the course of a conversation.
Phone Call Preliminaries
At the beginning of the phone call, the parent should introduce him/herself, stating that s/he is calling about a possible shidduch for so-and-so (the boy or girl being checked out). Before continuing the phone call, it is courteous to ask if this is a convenient time to speak. The contact number is often a cell phone number, which reaches the recipient at any time or place. Offering the contact to try again at a better time improves the chance of having a productive conversation. In addition, one should try to speak to the reference when s/he has privacy. Otherwise, word may spread about who is inquiring about whom.
Once it is established that this is the right time to call, it is a good idea to specify the connection ("I got your name from ____") in order to gain the reference’s trust. If the reference seems to have time but is a little nervous, it may be worth shmoozing a little to establish a bond so that s/he will be more willing to speak freely. Sharing information about one's own background may also help the reference feel more comfortable. However, if the reference is a busy person, especially someone who heads a chinuch institution, it is best to be efficient and expect the phone call to last about 5 minutes. It often is not practical to ask the same questions of every reference.
It is crucial to establish the identity of the shidduch prospect at the outset. It is easy for a reference, especially someone who has been in chinuch for a few years, to confuse names, siblings, or cousins. Spelling out the name and providing details such as graduation year and home address of the prospect should prevent this problem.
One should try to determine towards the beginning of the interview, the extent of the relationship between the reference and the prospect and/or the family. How do they know each other? How long? How recent? How well?
It is good to initially leave room for open ended responses, defining afterwards what kind of boy/girl one is looking for. Many times, knowing a little about the son/daughter will give the reference the ability to guide the parent and help him/her decide if the shidduch is right. However, one should avoid talking non-stop about one's child.
Sometimes it takes a reference time to warm up to the questioner. Lack of enthusiasm from one reference does not necessarily reflect badly on a prospect, since this may simply be a reflection of that reference's low-key personality.
Starting with a few questions that have several good options prevents the reference from trying to "sell the boy/girl" by telling the parent what they think s/he wants to hear. Some questions need to be specific. “Does he smoke?” rather than “Is he a smoker?” In each case, one should try to get the raw data rather than the reference’s interpretation of the data (how many cigarettes a day/week/month makes a smoker?). The reference should be asked to clarify what s/he means by learner, easy-going, etc.
Questions about the parents' living standards are best addressed to people whose own living standard is known. The same family may be described differently, i.e. “high living” or living poorly, depending on the reference's perspective.
Any issue that would make or break the shidduch should be asked before accepting the first date. One such issue may be where the couple would live. Some young people are committed to Aliya; others greatly prefer to live near the family. Much pain and aggravation may be avoided this way. Finances, when appropriate, are discussed first with the shadchan and later, when the parents meet.
Parents should be aware that the people whom they question about a prospect may inform the prospect about the inquiries. If the reference feels that a question is inappropriate, the reference may tell the family of the prospect that “someone was checking into you, and you should know that they asked absurd questions.” This could break off a match. It complicates matters that different circles have different norms for the inquiry process. Therefore, it is a good idea to listen for cues from the reference that they are not happy with the questions. Parents may make a request along the lines of “Please keep this phone call confidential, I don’t want the girl/boy to be hurt if it doesn’t work out”—but they have no way to enforce it.
We have a list of sample questions parents are asking references.
Generally, people try to speak enthusiastically about the prospect in order to help a shidduch along. If more than one reference seems tepid about the boy/girl, this may be a warning sign. If one finds that one reference after another seems unable or unwilling to speak about the prospect, this may mean that they do not want to take the responsibility of sharing negative information that could break the shidduch.
Blank years in the prospect’s history might indicate a problem. They may mean that the prospect had to take time off for physical or mental health reasons. Disclaimer: we are not stating that those with a physical or mental health health issues should not be considered for a shidduch.
Ending the Call
It is appropriate to thank the reference for their time at the end of the call. Depending on how the conversation went, the parent may ask if s/he may be called again in the future for additional information.
The information provided here reflects the shidduchim system as it is practiced in American Orthodox social circles ranging from right-wing Modern Orthodox (YU Machmir) to somewhat Yeshivish. In other circles, the system may be different.
The Function of the Resume
The purpose of the shidduch resume or profile is to provide basic information about a single. This makes it easier for shadchanim to understand who the single is and for parents of a single to find out more about a shidduch prospect.
There are different opinions about the main function of the resume, and therefore, how to write a resume. One viewpoint is that the resume is not meant to advertise or fully describe the boy/girl. Rather, the parent or the person who presents the resume to the shadchan, the parents, or other representatives of the other party (or the single him/herself) also describes the single and advocates for him/her. From this perspective, the resume should be minimalist, presenting only the facts about the single’s background.
In this viewpoint, parents are expected to check with the shadchan regularly to see if s/he may have a shidduch prospect for their son/daughter. This advocacy makes resumes stand out and circulate, since Shadchanim often have a large collection of similar resumes.
Another opinion is that the resume is the single's "shop window" and must stand out from other resumes in order to attract attention. This applies especially for single women because of the gender imbalance in the Yeshivish shidduch market. Many shadchanim do not have the time to speak with parents regularly, and therefore, advocacy is done through the resume.
Please note that there is no “ideal” resume format. The sections outlined below may be ordered differently than stated here, and there are many variations.
Shidduch resumes begin with the single’s name, birthdate, and height. In more traditional circles, both the full Hebrew name of the single and the name s/he is known by, are spelled out, since some families do not allow children with the same name as a parent to marry into their family. The home address follows, with a line indicating the single’s current location if s/he is not living at home at present.
Where the parents are directing the single’s shidduchim, the involved parent’s contact information: cell phone, home phone, and/or email address is listed next. In less traditional circles, or where the single is directly involved in her shidduchim, the single’s phone number is included. Otherwise, the single’s contact information is left out, to be provided to a shidduch prospect if the parties agree to go out.
The resume usually continues with information about the parents: names, birth place, and occupation, along with their shul affiliation and the name of the family Rav. Including the name of the Rav is important since many parents perceive having an ongoing relationship with a Rav as a good indicator of the family’s commitment. If the Rav is hard to reach, it is helpful to add a preferred time to call.
In more Yeshivish circles, the grandparents’ names and birth places are also stated. It is useful, for those circles, to also include the Yeshiva where the father learned.
Parental information is followed by (or proceeded by) the single’s educational background, possibly camps (see below), and current position if s/he is working.
A list of the siblings follows: name, age, educational institution and/or occupation, and name of spouse if applicable.
Somewhere among these listings, there may be a more detailed description of the single, either in first person or written by an outsider. Alternatively, the single may list hobbies, chessed activities and the like.
At the end of the resume is a list of references and their contact information. References typically are family friends, personal friends, former Rebbeim/teachers/seminary principals, roommates, and colleagues. Where possible, it is more convenient to include cell phone numbers.
Formatting and Presentation
The format of the shidduch resume generally follows that of job resumes, with section headers followed by short statements or lists. Resumes make a better impression if they look neat and well-formatted with consistent headers and indentation; fonts should be easy to read. It is preferable to keep the content down to a single page. Having an outsider proofread for errors in spelling, grammar, or formatting is a good idea.
We have shells of two sample resumes at the end of this post. Below is more detailed guidance on writing the resume.
What to Include
Aside from the basic facts about the single, the information on the resume should be either relevant to understanding the single or helpful to make connections to facilitate investigation.
Grandparents, for example, might be included if their names may be recognized by people in the community, or to convey that the single prefers to marry someone with “background”.
Where applicable, the names of the siblings’ mechutanim (in-laws) are considered important, since this gives a better clue about the family and makes it easier to check them out.
Camp is more relevant for younger singles. After a few years, the camp defines the single less, unless the single has been keeping in touch with his/her old camp. Listing extra-curricular activities that are meaningful for the single is a method of signaling values and strengths.
Tips for Writing Resumes
Involve a Mentor!
The shidduch resume is often the only advocate the single has to the representative of a potential shidduch. It is important, therefore, to show it to someone who knows the single and is savvy and experienced with shidduchim. It may be better to delay giving out the resume until it has been “passed” by the mentor.
Focus on the Target Audience
Part of the preparation for shidduchim is to decide from which circles to seek one’s marriage partner. Resume styles vary across the frum spectrum. Therefore, it is wise for the single to use as models resumes from people who have recently married into the desired social circle. For example, the more right-wing set seems to be more comfortable with standard-looking resumes, that emphasize family connections, whereas singles from more “Modern” circles may be more attracted to out-of-the-box presentation emphasizing the single’s own experience.
Within the constraints of following the norms of their social circle, singles may tweak their resumes to highlight individual characteristics that define them. For example, a standard resume formatted with a little creativity may signal to the shadchan that this Yeshivish single is looking for a somewhat out-of-the-box partner.
Blending In vs Standing Out
. A shidduch resume can be made to stand out through:
- Presentation: Using creativity to present the material in an original, eye-catching format (but see below)
- Outstanding Achievement: The single may have a superior education or be very accomplished
- Unusual Background or Life Experience: The single may have a more interesting story to tell than many of his/her peers.
- A passion or life mission: The resume reflects the single’s commitment to a particular cause (e.g. kiruv), career or hobby.
However, while a superior resume is more likely to be effective, a resume that is too distinctive may seem extreme to the shadchan or other gatekeepers to potential shidduchim. This may lead to a single being rejected out of hand as “too brilliant” or “not mainstream”. Moreover, the resume may be limiting, by defining the single on only one dimension. The super-geek, for example, might be happy with someone non-technical, so why give an impression to the contrary?
On the other hand, if the single truly feels that this resume defines him/her as a person, a more extreme resume may act as a filter, reducing the number of prospects, but leading to more productive dating.
Revealing or Concealing Information?
Some of the information on the resume may be embarrassing or detrimental to the single’s prospects: e.g. advanced age, parents who are divorced or siblings who are not in mainstream Yeshivas. A general rule is to include information that is likely to be uncovered during the checking out process. Other family secrets could stay hidden until sometime during the dating process; see Disclosures in The Dating Process post.
A single might deliberately lay out more information in the resume than strictly needed in order to filter out shidduch prospects that are likely to reject him/her when they learn about a problem.
The references listed on the resume should be selected carefully. The best references are positive, outgoing people who are able to speak enthusiastically and articulately about the single.
While prestigious references may make the resume look good, it is more useful to list people who know the family or the single well, are accessible and have the time to talk. It is appropriate to consult references before putting their names and telephone numbers on a resume. This is also a good opportunity to update the reference about the single and what s/he is looking for, and to discuss how to explain potential problems that the other party may discover while investigating the prospect.
Include a Personal Statement?
Some singles include a statement about themselves or about what kind of person they seek to marry. Many shadchanim in Passaic recommend that the resume present only the basic facts. People are less likely to read through a long resume. In addition, resumes are sometimes examined very intensely. Parents of a shidduch prospect might reject a resume based on something they read into a harmless statement. Moreover, since a resume may circulate for years, it is best not to incorporate material that may change over time.
That said, it might be a good idea nevertheless for someone from a non-standard (e.g. Ba'al Teshuva, Ger, very out-of-town) background to include a sentence or two about themselves or about what they are looking for, to make it easier for Shadchanim and parents of a shidduch prospect to understand who they are. Such sentences are more useful when they avoid cliches.
If the resume is likely to be presented by a shadchan or someone who knows the single, there is less reason to include a personal statement since the presenter will provide the necessary information about the type of person the single is seeking. However, if the resume may be forwarded by people who do not know the single, it is courteous to state what kind of person one is looking to date, so as to avoid wasting time and effort on the part of other singles.
The personal statement or description is an important adjunct to the resume whether or not the single chooses to include it on the resume itself. Learn more about it in The Personal Description.
Include A Photo?
There are different schools of thought about including a photo in the resume. It is a good practice to follow the norm in one’s social circle. If everyone else includes a photo in the resume, omitting the photo makes a shadchan or parent wonder what the single is trying to hide. A shadchan mentions that resumes that are accompanied by the girl’s photo are more likely to be taken up by the boy’s family.
On the other hand, including a photo is frowned upon in some Yeshivish circles as trying to “sell” the person on his/her looks. Another argument against including a photo is that it may give the other party a reason to reject a shidduch out of hand if they have preconceptions about their future spouse’s appearance. For example, a boy from a family of brunettes may not be used to blondes and therefore think that he cannot marry one. If he would meet the girl, he might see beyond the hair color. In addition, people are prone to forming misconceptions about the personality or the physical attractiveness of others based on photos of their face.
However, it is a good idea to send the shadchan a picture with the resume, since this helps keep the single in mind. If the parents do not want the picture to be sent to the other party, they should send the picture separately rather than together with the resume, and they should state their preference to the shadchan. Note: Rabbi Levi and Rabbi Lewenstein of Lakewood do not use pictures. Nonetheless, some parents of boys will only consider shidduch proposals after seeing the girl’s picture.
Important note: if the shadchan wants a photo, you need to send it. Otherwise, the shadchan will put your resume on the bottom of the pile.
Click here for more information about taking a shidduch photo.
It is better for single men not to see the photo at least until the shidduch prospect has been checked and cleared since they may place undue importance on the appearance or they may get overly excited and then disappointed about a shidduch that doesn't materialize.
Supplementing the Resume
Parents may supplement the resume by creating a “cheat sheet” with a more elaborate description of their child, to use when speaking with shadchanim and people who inquire about their single. This supplement is also very useful to help references describe the single when they are contacted.
Keeping the Resume Up-to-Date
Shidduch resumes should be updated regularly to reflect what is happening in the single’s life: the transition from career training to working or taking on new responsibilities. The list of educational institutions attended should be compressed and put further down in the resume as the single moves on.
It is a good idea to keep the reference list current. For example, if the single is not keeping up with a seminary roommate, this reference should be replace with the name of a co-worker. The single should also update the references with his/her activities. In addition, the single may have changed his/her ideas on what kind of spouse s/he is seeking; this, too, should be explained to the references.
If a single has been in shidduchim for many years, it may pay to rework the resume. The parent of a shidduch prospect might be willing to take a second look at the resume of a single they had previously rejected if the resume looks fresh.
Sample Shidduch Resume Form
Name of Boy/Girl
Parent’s Contact Information: telephone number(s)
Father’s name , birthplace, occupation
(optional) Grandparents: birthplace, current city
Mother’s name, maiden name, birthplace, occupation
(optional) Grandparents: birthplace, current city
Rav & telephone
High School / Mesivta
Seminary / Bais Medrash
Volunteer Chessed or Kiruv Activities
Name, age, where they are being educated, occupation , if married, to whom and where they are living
(Optional) Looking For
Names & telephone numbers
(optional) Mechutanim (parents of siblings’ spouses)
Personal References (friends, roommates, chavrusas)
Names & telephone numbers
Yeshiva Bochur's Shidduch Resume Form
Bachur's Full Hebrew Name
Home phone #
Cell phone #
Father's complete Hebrew name
Father's cell phone #
Mother's complete Hebrew name , mother's maiden name
Mother's Cell phone #
Family Rav (name and telephone)
Bachur's Rav - Moreh Derech (name & telephone)
Current Rosh Chabura (name & telephone)
Recent summer program:
Eretz Yisroel (how long- whose shiur):
Siblings (name, age, school, married to whom, from where and where currently living)
Family References (at least 2 - include cell no.)
Bachur's References (at least 1 roommate, 1 chavrusa, & 2 other friends - include cell #)
Working with Shadchanim
When to Go to Shadchanim
Contacting shadchanim is a very important part of picture, a normal component of the Shidduchim parsha. The value of Shadchanim is that they serve as a centralized clearinghouse for boys and girls, with access to more prospects than the parents are likely to have. Girls who are not from well-connected families should go to shadchanim early on rather than relying exclusively on leads from friends and family.
Boys may also benefit from going to Shadchanim, because while they may be supplied with many resumes of girls by friends and family, they may need guidance about which girls would match them best. An effective Shadchan can help singles avoid the frustration and time wasted by dating unsuitable prospects.
Many shadchanim are goodhearted people, practicing their trade because of a genuine desire to help singles find their bashert. While parents or children may have a negative experience with a shadchan, one should not let this prevent one from trying other shadchanim. Over time, parents and singles may discover the shadchan(im) who understand what they are about and what they are looking for. To some extent, the relationship with a shadchan can be like a shidduch, too. A good shadchan who is well-matched to the single becomes a trustworthy source of information and a guide to parents and single.
Choosing a Shadchan
Amateur and professional shadchanim are both useful. Friends and relatives should be called regularly, since they are often great shadchanim for one's child. Professional shadchanim are useful because they have access to a wider pool of boys and girls. It is best to look for a shadchan who has found shidduchim for children similar in hashkafa, age range, or background (for example, the handicapped) to one’s own child. The parents of the child's married friends are a good source of information about shadchanim.
Singles from less standard backgrounds, such as the geirim, may find it best to seek shadchanim who have experience matching people like them.
Whether professional or amateur, it is best to work with someone who is skilled and experienced. Skills that are useful for a shadchan include knowing how to listen to feedback and whether or how to move the process along or to stop it. While parents cannot be true friends with their children's shadchan, since this is a guarded, cautious kind of interaction, they need to feel comfortable enough with the shadchan to be able to work together effectively.
Shadchanim who are also close friends/neighbors of the parents are often successful in finding the right match. Singles and their parents may prefer to refer shidduch suggestions offered by friends and neighbors to a professional shadchan since this "professionalizes" the shidduch. Using a close friend or neighbor as a shadchan may complicate a relationship or lead to uncomfortable situations if they end up seeing the shidduch differently.
The major shadchanim (for Lakewood, Rabbi Levy & Rabbi Lewenstein) are very hard to reach, but very worth it because they know many boys and have more clout with the boys; boys will return their phone calls. On the other hand, a less prominent shadchan is more accessible and may work harder to look for prospects. It is best to use both. While there is a limit to how many shadchanim a child is willing to meet, since these meetings may become demoralizing, sometimes, the parent/child have to keep trying shadchanim until they find the right one.
Meeting the Shadchan
Visiting the shadchan is a good idea. The purpose of the interview is to help the shadchan “peg” the child and find out what kind of person s/he is. Moreover, the mother of the boy sometimes feels better about a shidduch prospect if the shadchan can assure her that s/he met the girl. However, successful shidduchim have been made without the shadchan meeting either party.
Find out in advance if the shadchan expects an upfront fee; some do, many don’t. It is not clear whether a shadchan who takes payment upfront is more effective than one who is paid only if successful.
Should the son/daughter go alone or with mother? When the child goes alone to meet the shadchan, the child gets the shadchan’s full attention, undiluted by the mother. The advantage of the mother accompanying her son/daughter is that this helps the shadchan better understand the child's background. If mother comes, she should try to stay in the background and let her son/daughter speak; otherwise, s/he may come across as incompetent.
The child must dress the way s/he should would on a date, since this is the impression the shadchan will keep. S/he should be prepared to answer shadchan’s questions. Typical questions include: What are you doing now? Describe what you are looking for. Any strong preferences or dislikes (e.g. moving to Eretz Yisroel, smoking)? Questions should be answered in a positive way, to give an upbeat impression e.g. a job should be described in a favorable light.
If your son/daughter is not capable of handling him/herself competently in an interview, parents should either coach him/her or find someone else to teach him/her the skills needed to interact with an adult. Someone who is involved in shidduchim and/or has excellent social skills may be suitable for this task.
If the boy/girl has a specific challenge, it may be better to share this information with a trustworthy shadchan; this enables the shadchan to focus on finding prospects who are more likely to accept the boy/girl’s problem.
Where relevant, parents should present their financial support plan (what they can offer and for how many years) at the outset.
Working with the Shadchan
How Often to Check-in?
Parents of daughters (or single women) must be prepared to keep reminding shadchan at least once a month; otherwise, it’s hardly worth meeting the shadchan. This is because shadchanim are usually overwhelmed with girls’ resumes. If they’re not on the phone or reading an email, they are probably not thinking about one's daughter unless they are reminded. While some parents recommend checking in every two weeks, a shadchan advises every 3 or 4 weeks, because shadchanim may find it annoying to be called more frequently if they don’t have a prospect.
Another point of view, submitted by a shadchan:
I have about 950 people in my database (usually more). So if each person in my database emails me every month, I am spending time replying to 950 emails saying, basically, "I am so sorry; I don't have any new ideas now, but I will keep looking!" That time could be better spent redding shidduchim or communicating with people about ongoing shidduchim, or what they are looking for, etc. That's a lot of time every month!
A shadchan suggests:
In terms of staying on someone's radar, I have people who email me to wish me a good yom tov, along with an updated resume, or they send me a new resume whenever there's a change (friend has gotten married or has a new number, sibling is now married, girl/boy has graduated or has a new job, or they are now looking for something else).
Looking Into a Prospect
Once the shadchan proposes a shidduch, parents should try to be respectful and considerate to all parties: the shadchan and the shidduch prospect. This includes raising at the outset any questions that could end up breaking the shidduch. The checking references
section of this website provides guidance on how to research shidduch prospects; questions for references
is a list of sample questions.
When inquiring about a lead provided by the shadchan, ask the shadchan for the other party’s Dor Yesharim number along with requests for other information. This way, if Dor Yesharim rules out the match, meaning that both parties carry a defective gene, the shadchan will not be able to know this with certainty, since the match may have been rejected for other reasons. This is important because some shadchanim may be prejudiced against carriers.
Some parents ask immediately for the other parties' Dor Yesharim number rather than waiting for the couple to become emotionally involved.
Another point of view:
I am pretty sure that DY does not want you to call unless the couple has already agreed to go out. Either way, I would never give out my son's or daughter's number "along with other information" until both sides had already said yes! If we carried a gene for something, there'd be no reason for the X family to know if if the couple wasn't going to go out anyway. Also, odds are the shadchan will know, since DY will call the other side, and the other side will likely call the shadchan to say, "sorry, we can't go ahead with this". (As an aside, I have never met a shadchan who said they'd hesitate to red a shidduch for anyone who is a carrier, since it only matters if both sides carry the gene for the same disease, though it could be that other people have had that experience.)
During the Dating Process
When both sides accept a proposed shidduch, either the shadchan tells the boy to call the girl directly, or the shadchan sets up suitable time and place for the boy to pick up the girl.
Parents should find out in advance how the shadchan expects to conduct the dating process. Who calls whom first after a date? Do the parents of the girl call the Shadchan? Or do parents wait for the shadchan to call them? How soon after a date does the shadchan expect to be contacted? How late may the shadchan be called at night?
It is considerate for the boy to let the shadchan know at the outset when to expect his feedback after a date. Some boys have a policy of “sleeping on it”. Boys in Yeshiva may prefer to wait until after second seder (when his mentor is available) before giving his answer on whether he wishes to go out again with the girl. Otherwise, the girl and her parents suffer needless apprehension about his feelings towards her.
The parent should not be afraid of pressing the shadchan for more information about how a date went rather just accepting a brief “he wants to go out again”.
There are different opinions of whether one should or should not explain to shadchan the reason for rejecting the boy/girl after a date. It is possible that the shadchan will disagree with the parent/child's reason, damaging their ability to work together. Moreover, there is a risk that the information will get back to the other party and spoil the relationship should they meet again later. On the other hand, if the shadchan uses the information wisely, it can help the other party get married sooner.
Some couples manage without the shadchan (“drop the shadchan”) after a few dates; others continue to involve the shadchan. Shadchanim can be useful even after the parties are dating, to help move along the process and build the relationship. If the couple continues dating without the shadchan's involvement, parents should make sure to let the shadchan know the end result of the shidduch--whether it ends in an engagement or not.
Shadchanus Money and Showing Appreciation
Most shadchanim do not have a set fee but they do expect to be payed for their work. Rates for professionals vary according to location and the family’s ability to pay. At present, the range is $1,000-$2,000 from each side, when the couple is engaged. Less is expected from fathers in learning; $500 may be enough. Amateur Shadchanim usually expect less remuneration than professionals. Parents may research the matter by asking other people what they paid that shadchan.
If someone else was involved in making the shidduch, they, too, should be recognized and rewarded, whether with cash or a gift.
It is important to show appreciation for any effort a shadchan makes for one's child. This motivates the shadchan to keep trying. This may range from a thank-you card for facilitating, or flowers, chocolate or a small present for setting up one date. If the relationship continues for 3 – 4 dates, give a present once the relationship ends.
When the child gets engaged, it is considerate to inform and thank those shadchanim who had made other shidduch suggestions so that they remove his/her from their list.
I have been living in Passaic, New Jersey for nearly two decades, active as a volunteer in various causes in the Orthodox Jewish community. A few years ago, I realized that parents in our community often feel bewildered and overwhelmed when their children reach marriageable age. In our community, parents are expected to bear the primary responsibility for finding their children the right person to date and marry. Parents who themselves did not date within this system may appreciate learning a little bit about this "shidduchim process" before they approach friends or mentors for guidance.
I also thought it would be useful for the Passaic/Clifton community to have a centralized online location to connect residents with resources in the Passaic/Clifton community.
The information presented in this website was collected by interviewing shidduchim experts in the Passaic/Clifton community. The content derives from a hashkafa somewhere between Modern Orthodox Machmir and Yeshivish. There are many gaps. I'd like this website to work like a wiki, with experienced readers contributing by adding material, correcting mistakes, or providing other points of view.
Please note that this website is meant purely as a public service; there is no intention to monetize it. The professionals listed in the Professional Resources page are included because they are known to be effective, and they have not paid to be listed.
Hoping this is helpful,
P. S. Since the website went live about a year ago, I realized that many of the visitors are the singles themselves rather than the parents. While I am gradually revising the content to reflect this, many references to parents and children remain.