Working with Shadchanim

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 or background to one’s own child.  The parents of the child's married friends are a good source of information about shadchanim.  Find out if the shadchan specializes in boys from specific Yeshivos or people from specific age ranges or background.

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.

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