Matchmaking is probably the oldest Jewish
profession. According to folklore, from the time God matched up Adam with Eve,
he has been arranging marriages on earth. Hence, the saying, "Marriages are made
in heaven." But God also appointed helpers in this job--everyday matchmakers or
marriage brokers--or shadkhns. (Note: "shadkhns' is an alternate
Yiddish is filled with sayings and stories about matchmakers.
1. A "shatkhn" must be a liar.
2. "With a matchmaker there's no homely bride."
Perhaps you've heard the story about the "shatkhn" in Eastern Europe, who
received a percentage of the dowry for his services. Yes, matchmakers held an
honorable position in the community.
"Have I got a meydl for you! She comes with a dowry of ten thousand
"That sounds interesting. Let me see her picture."
"Sorry, but with a ten-thousand-ruble dowry we never show pictures!'
The period from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day is usually the busiest for
matchmakers on the Internet. Internet dating sites are basically cyber-shadchans.
They help people sift through potential dates and pinpoint the men who have
successful careers, dynamic personalities, and chiselled abs.
Today, about 20 million Americans are using dating sites, more than double the
number five years ago. Online dating is a BILLION DOLLAR industry.
In the digital age, love is potentially one mouse click away from dozens of
dating websites: JDate, Frumster.com, OKCupid, Sawyouatsinai.com, Match.com,
eHarmony, UrbanTraditional.com (UT), and Darwindating.com (the site accepts only
"good-looking members--no ugly, unattractive, desperate fatsos." In other words,
you must have a "shayna ponem.)
My favorite: "Chai Expectations." Laurie Berzack created Chai Expectations in
2006 to help Jewish marriage-minded singles find their soul mates. Berzack meets
with her clients, who range from 23 to 80 years old. Berzack says that she
doesn't take on everyone. Her fees start at $3,000, which guarantees a minimum
of six introductions. However, for $750, she will help people develop online
While people are finding casual dates and even love online, they are also
encountering married people pretending to be single--or worse--sexual predators
and convicted felons.
There's a website that actually encourages people to cheat on their mates. It
has a slogan:
LIFE IS SHORT, HAVE AN AFFAIR.
Someone has suggested that their slogan should be:
LIFE IS SHORT, SPREAD DISEASE, AND MAKE IT SHORTER.
Another website enables people to request background checks on anyone they have
met on a dating site. It's called, "MyMatchChecker.com." Their motto:
LOOK UP BEFORE YOU HOOK UP.
The basic background search costs $9.95.
Here's a letter written to The New York Times on 6/15/08:
A few months ago, I met my boyfriend on JDate, a dating site for Jewish singles.
He assumed I was Jewish, and I didn't correct him when I had the chance. Now I'm
afraid that if I tell him, he's going to dump me. What do I do? I really like
this guy, but it's getting weird.
Part of the answer:
"All denominations are welcome on JDate, but the local custom is for non-Jews to
identify themselves as such."
What do rabbi's think about dating and meeting your "bashert" online?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach "is sick of the dating scene." In an article in the Jewish
Press, America's Rabbi "ranted that Jewish singles place utmost importance on
superficial values such as looks and money when seeking a lifelong mate. Boteach
complains that singles are "immune to love" and go on endless dates, but can't
find a person who meets their standards because they make quick judgments
instead of seeking a deeper spiritual connection.
A final thought for eligible young and "seasoned" singles:
In 2011, may you meet someone who shares your values on children, money,
education and religion. Isn't that what your mother wanted?
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe invites all of her S. Florida friends to visit her. She
is giving talks at libraries in Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach,
Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Highland Beach, and Wellington.
Who's the most famous matchmaker? Yenta, the matchmaker in "Fiddler on the
Roof." The part of Yenta was memorably played by the Yiddish actress, Molly
Picon. Beatrice Arthur, Florence Stanley, and Theresa Tova also played the role.