Do We Have Enough Shadchanim?
by Rabbi Moshe Pogrow
Director, of the Nasi Project
The answer is yes and no. We have plenty of shadchanim who are ready, willing and able to service singles who are relatively easy to set up. And this is the reason the vast majority of boys are redt many shidduchim and get engaged exceptionally fast.
But there is a serious dearth of shadchanim who are available to service those singles who desperately need extra attention and work on their behalf to find them quality dates. And this is to be expected. The current shadchanus structure encourages and forces shadchanim to spend the majority, if not all, of their time—on singles who are easier to set up.
Shadchanim, regardless of their motivation, are in the business of setting up dates, hopefully quality dates. What that means is that both the boy’s side and girl’s side say yes to a specific suggestion. The last thing a shadchan wants is spend hours and hours trying to get a shidduch off the ground and then get a no from one side.
After meeting a girl or receiving her résumé, a shadchan makes a quick judgment about whether or not it will be easy to get a yes for her. The easy ones they work on; the less easy ones they don’t. We might prefer that shadchanim not work this way, but the reality is that if they are going to invest ten-plus hours a day, they want to set up dates. They don’t want to spend ten hours and have ten refusals to show for it. The reality is that there are some girls who will get yeses from 80 percent of boys, and there are girls who will get yeses from 20 percent of boys or fewer.
There certainly are strategies that girls and their families can use to make it easier for the shadchan to get them a yes, thus greatly increasing the likelihood that shadchanim will focus on them. Yet, at the same time, it is crucial that we adjust the shadchanus system. The current structure of paying only for a completed shidduch guarantees that shadchanim will spend their time on the easier singles, the ones where the return on their investment is much higher.
It is crystal-clear to me that the current system is broken and needs to be replaced by one in which shadchanim are properly compensated for the time and effort that is involved in arranging dates. The more difficult it is to set up a particular single, the higher the agreed-upon fee should be for a second date and a fourth date.
Over the years we have given out hundreds of thousands of dollars to shadchanim through our numerous programs, and we have developed very strong relationships with dozens of shadchanim. Yet I would never reach out to a shadchan and request that he or she take on a particular girl as a favor and make her a priority. What right do I have to expect them to make any particular girl a priority? And yet every time a single meets a shadchan, isn’t that what she is really hoping for?
On the very rare occasions when I ask a shadchan to look out for a particular girl, I always make a very fair offer. It can be $1,000 for a second date; it can even be as high as $3,000. It all depends on the situation and the degree of time and skill that would be required to service that particular single well.
I want the shadchanim to know that I recognize the time, energy and skill involved in looking out for this particular single, and I recognize that they owe me and the single person nothing. I recognize that come what may, there is no guarantee that they will make the shidduch. Only the Ribbono Shel Olam can do that. But if a shadchan really puts her mind to it, she can get that particular single a quality date. And if she does so, she will be very fairly compensated.
Whenever I have used this method, the girls have received a very significant increase in quality attention from the shadchan.
Such a system will ensure that the field is leveled since girls who have an easy time getting dates will have no need to make these offers ahead of time, nor should they.
(However, they—and the boys’ families as well—should absolutely recognize the time and effort that is involved when a shadchan sets them up and they go out a few times but don’t get engaged. Enough with the chocolates and candy dishes, enough with the flowers, and certainly enough with parents saying, “Oh, well, this didn’t work out. Do you have any other ideas for my Yankel?” A generous check is absolutely appropriate every time a shadchan sets up your child and they go out a few times. How much? That will depend on the specific nature of that particular shidduch and the work involved. It is always better to err on the side of generosity.)
At the same time, singles who previously did not get sufficient shadchan attention will now receive it because it will be very worthwhile for the shadchanim to invest in them. Inevitably, some shadchanim will continue to focus solely on the easier singles, but there will no doubt be plenty of shadchanim who will invest in the more complex situations because their time and energy will finally be properly rewarded.
If you or anyone you know would like to arrange a presentation for a a bungalow colony, a community, or a group of school alumni or to discuss effective strategies that singles and families can use to make it easier for shadchanim to set them up, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.