We have five children, baruch Hashem. They are all ready to get married; the youngest is 20 years old. We are having a hard time with shidduchim. Each of my children is looking for something different, and they have different hashkafos. We have chassidishe, litvishe, modern, and tzioni. One of my children can marry any type and be happy.
My wife and I were not raised frum. We became frum after our second child was born, and we allowed our children to choose their own derech. It always worked for us as a family unit. My children each went to different yeshivos and wore clothing suited to their custom.
People are telling us that our children are having a hard time because they are so different from each other. One shadchan even told my wife that when people read the shidduch résumés and see how everyone went to a different type of yeshiva, we come across as a dysfunctional family. She said that is how it is and that there is nothing more that can be done for us.
But we are not dysfunctional. We are a close-knit family. How can we help our children get married? I heard of people finding shadchanim in directories. Is there some sort of special directory where I can find a shadchan to help?
By Baila Sebrow
For starters, do you know what is really dysfunctional? Giving credence to that shadchan who dared to say that your family comes across as dysfunctional. Outwardly intelligent or otherwise, there are people who hastily make a terminal diagnosis when they feel that they are unable to assist further—not much different from a callous doctor who advises the family to pull the plug on a patient who is very much alive, just because he or she does not have the capacity and expertise to continue treating the illness.
Here is what you need to acknowledge. The manner in which you and your wife raised a family is worthy of an award. If more parents brought up their children as you did, there would be fewer kids off the derech. How many parents actually allow their children to choose their own hashkafos? Furthermore, how many children can get along with their siblings under one roof while practicing various customs?
You clearly did something right that few can ever aspire to master. Moreover, you truly epitomize the wisdom of Shlomo HaMelech’s advice in educating children. He advises parents, “Chanoch l’na’ar al pi darko—teach each child in his own way.” And that, my friend, you surely did!
When you and your wife became frum, I assume you were inspired to follow one specific custom, whatever that might have been. Yet, maybe because you already had children at that time, you both felt it would be in their best interests to allow them each to choose their own way in serving Hashem. After your younger children were born, you continued that same method for them as well.
Now that we have established that you and your wife are exemplary parents who have raised a wonderful family, the next step is helping your children find their compatible spouses.
It sounds like you sought the services of only one shadchan, or of several shadchanim of the same type. Those who are not familiar with how the shidduch system works are under the impression that a shadchan is a one-stop-shop, meaning that just because someone is a shadchan, he deals with all types of shidduchim. That is not how these things work. Regardless of how popular and well-connected a shadchan may be, it is impossible for any one shadchan to work with all the various types of singles out there.
A shadchan who professionally works with chassidishe boys and girls will not be well-versed in the modern way of dating, and for sure will not have much access, if any, to those types of shidduchim. With regard to a tzioni type of shidduch, forget the shadchan who deals with chassidishe singles. By the same token, if you are looking for a litvishe shidduch, you are likely to have similar issues. So you will need to find different shadchanim who specialize in all the specific types you are searching for.
When embarking on a new or different task, it is much healthier to start fresh. It is possible that there will be some conflict between you and any current shadchan you have been working with on behalf of your children. You will need to launch a new operation—as though this is your first go at finding the bashert for each of your children. Your job is likely to be more tedious, as you need to find experts in each hashkafic area. How you set out to find these shadchanim will be the key to your success.
When people ask me to recommend a shadchan or ask how to find a shadchan, I always respond with the following. When searching for a shadchan, employ the same tactic as though you were searching for a medical specialist. The right shadchan can potentially become the lifeline in fulfilling your child’s or children’s wishes, and should never be taken lightly. It is important to understand that there must also be compatibility between the shadchan and the client.
Many people will look for a shadchan in directories of those who advertise their services. Please do not use that as your only guide. While there are many experienced shadchanim whose names appear in those directories, there are also some who are just getting started in the field and want to get their names out.
My advice is for you to get the word out that you are looking for shidduchim for all your children. Tell everyone you know and ask them for recommendations of shadchanim they had positive experiences with. Insist on an initial personal meeting between the shadchan and your child. Be cautious of shadchanim who refuse to meet in person and deal only via e‑mail. Those who practice shadchanus by getting to know the single boy or girl only by their résumé, without any other contact, will likely not be the right shaliach.
There is another option as well. Not everyone gets married through the services of a professional shadchan. A friend or relative who knows your child well may do an even better job. Some of the best shidduchim have resulted from the (unofficial) shadchanim being well acquainted with the boy and girl they introduced to one another.
I will not mislead you and say that finding the right shadchanim will solve your problem. You are still going to be dealing with people and families who may be narrow-minded and stuck in the “cookie cutter” mold. There are families who are insistent that they only be meshadech with those who are just like them. The extent of bias varies from person to person.
It is not just that each of your children has a different hashkafah; you and your wife being ba’alei teshuvah may also be a factor with certain families. That should not discourage you. Rather, it should serve to strengthen your spirit that those who have rejected your children are in essence doing them the biggest favor.
People oftentimes feel devastated when rejected in shidduchim, or they get angry if someone purposely prevents a shidduch from happening. All these seeming barriers are there to protect someone from ending up married to the wrong person—one who was not bashert.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com.
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