(Hebrew: שדכן / Spelling: Shadchan, feminine form Shadchanit or in Hebrew שדכנית, plural Shadchanim or in Hebrew שדכנים / English definition: A Matchmaker)
A Shadchan is a person who practices matchmaking and makes Shidduchim, matches, for marriage minded singles in the Orthodox Jewish world. Though the name Shadchan in Hebrew is in the masculine form it is usually used to refer to both male and female matchmakers.
A Shadchan’s job is to offer match proposals for Jewish singles. Though even secular Jewish singles may visit a Shadchan they are much more active in the Orthodox Jewish world especially in the very religious Orthodox circles. The reason for this is simple; most ultra Orthodox singles don’t mingle with the opposite gender nor participate in coed events. They therefore don’t have the opportunity to meet singles. Instead they rely on Shadchanim or recommendations from friends and family.
Types of Shadchanim
There are all different types of Shadchanim ranging from men and women and young and old. Majority of Shadchanim though tend to be middle aged or older women. This is due partially for two reasons. One is that it’s not considered tzniut (modest) for men especially married men to converse with girls, nor young married women to converse with men. In contrast middle aged and older married women serving as a Shadchan are viewed as acceptable. Two is that older Jewish women tend to have many more contacts they often converse with, and therefore have much more access to information about singles. In addition a bunch of middle aged Orthodox woman are full time housekeepers or work part time taking care of their households that may include a large number of children, and will have some spare time on their hands to talk with singles.
Some times newly wed young couples after leaving the dating scene are motivated to help their single friends working together as a team to gather names and information.
Some Shadchanim work for different websites assisting Jewish singles and there are even sites where Shadchanim suggest matches between registered members of the site.
A Shadchan’s personality will range from very friendly and genuinely interested to one of a more serious nature and even indifferent. Some Shadchanim have a natural knack for their work and quickly get a sense of the men and women they interview. These are the best since the matches they suggest are usually close to the mark. Being that going to Shadchanim though very effective is not the ideal method of meeting other singles, having a Shadchan who is easy to work with, and is determined to learn from their unsuccessful suggested matches is highly valued.
Really anyone can be a Shadchan whether it is friends, family or acquaintances. These unofficial Shadchanim are often the best since they tend to know both parties very well and they save singles the time and hassle of having to get interviewed by official Shadchanim.
The most common way to find a Shadchan is by word of mouth from friends who suggest Shadchanim they have seen. Many different lists of Shadchanim exist online but are often outdated and it may be a hassle calling the numbers only to find that many of the phone numbers either don’t work or the Shadchanim have retired from their post.
Within in the Orthodox Jewish world there are different groups with different religious outlooks, this is perhaps the main qualification singles look for in choosing a Shadchan. Some Orthodox Jewish singles are flexible in their religious outlook and may experiment with different Shadchanim to find the ones that cater best to their religious views.
Shadchanim work in many different ways and have an array of qualifications. Some have charges and others do it for free. For the most part those Shadchanim who charge will only due so if a successful match is made. The cost can range anywhere from $300 to $2,000 varying from place or country. Some Shadchanim however have an initial first meeting charge. Some Shadchanim who don’t ask for payment will request that a set amount be given to the charity of their choice upon a successful match. It is customary to give a gift to Shadchanim who don’t charge for their services when they make a successful match.
Some Shadchanim will interview over the phone but most will request a one-on-one meeting to get a stronger understanding of their clients. Some older Shadchanim still unacquainted with the new technical wave and don’t use email may even request a resume mailed to their home.
When meeting the Shadchan one is often asked to bring a resume with personal information and a portrait photo for the Shadchan to keep on record. The interview usually begins with very basic questions about oneself such as age, height, living accommodations, and current occupation, with the Shadchan marking down the information. The conversation then bends toward ones history, upbringing and a bit about the family. One then gets to describe his/her personality, likes, the kind of match they are looking for, and their religious outlook. The religious outlook is a priority as it is one of the highlighted points that determine what kind of singles the Shadchan will look for. Some meetings may be very casual and others official but for the most part they are very relaxed. If the Shadchan finds a comment interesting they will most likely interrupt and focus on the point of interest.
Meetings usually take place at the home of the Shadchan but can happen in other locations such as coffee houses, and due to convenience even at bus stops.
Does it work?
Meeting Shadchanim can be a frustrating process for many singles since it can take meeting many Shadchanim to find one that is affective and targets the singles they are searching for. Some Jewish Orthodox singles bypass meeting with official Shadchanim relying on friends, family and acquaintances to set them up. Shadchanim are however a proven and affective way of pairing Jewish singles having made thousands and thousands of successful matches. They are relied on by many Orthodox Jewish singles as a useful and adequate means of finding their soul mates.