A secret look into the world of Chabad matchmaking
By Naomi Stricker // CTeen North Orlando, FL
Do you ever feel like half a person? Jewish tradition teaches that before we are born, our soul is split in two. One belongs to us and the other, somewhere out there in the world, belongs to our literal soulmate.
Still, finding your other half among thousands of people can be a daunting task. Who’s the one for me? What’s my type? How do I know they are The One? Enter the Shidduch dating system—one way to make the world of seemingly endless possibilities feel smaller.
Catch me a catch
A “Shidduch” or “match” is the traditional way that Jews have been getting hitched for centuries. The CEO of the practice involves a matchmaker, the “shadchan,” who comes up with ideas. The shadchan is a born networker. “Do I have a guy for you!” they will say when you bump into them at the supermarket. But a matchmaker can really be anyone. Man or woman, cousin or neighbor, old friend or someone you just met. A match can come from anywhere!
“So what are you looking for?” That’s the first thing any shadchan will want to know. Are you looking for a doctor or lawyer that will make your Jewish mom proud? Or do you see yourself with more of an artsy type? Do they need to be an avid reader or love to travel? What kind of personality attracts you—the life of the party or a more quiet type?
Before a grand entrance into the dating scene, it’s time for deep introspection. You must ask yourself, what are your goals and ambitions in life? How can someone else help you down this path? Only then can you look to lean on one another.
Applying for a Spouse
While a family member or a friend may already know details about you, such as interests, likes, and dislikes, a third party may not. This is why a shadchan needs to get to know you first. After gaining insight into your preferences, the shadchan is more easily able to make suggestions that will be right for you.
To get the ball rolling in the Shidduch system, they come prepared with a resume summing up who they are. Besides for the basics like name, age, education and work history, a resume can also include Shidduch-focused items like a paragraph titled “What I’m looking for” and character references who can be called for more information.
To pic or not to pic
Some dating resumes in the Jewish world also include a picture. People pro pictures say it helps them get a feel for the other person’s vibe. Others say it’s an easy way to write someone off based on something as superficial as looks. What about you? When it comes to pictures, where do you stand?
Do your research
The research phase comes before any dating happens. This research may consist of reaching out to you potential date’s friends or family members to get a better idea of who you are about to meet. You call the references listed on the resume and ask about habits, goals, or just general personality. Doing this research allows both parties to determine whether or not their lifestyles are aligned. By figuring this out before the first date, you can avoid wasting each other's time and make sure you’re dating with purpose.
When you finally meet your potential match, both sides already know they are a good fit when it comes to values and lifestyle choices. This eliminates much of the fact-finding process that would otherwise need to happen during dating. By going into the first date already knowing so much about each other, the dating period ends up being much shorter in Jewish communities than what’s usual in other settings.
Can’t touch this
In Jewish law physical touch between a man and a woman is holy and reserved for husband and wife. That's why before marriage, Judaism introduces us to a practice called shomer negiah. Even a professional handshake is off limits for Jews who keep these laws to the highest standard. During dating, a man and a woman spend their time talking. It’s easier to form a deep emotional connection without distracting physical connections getting in the way.
See you later?
If the date doesn’t feel like it could lead to marriage, you go your separate ways. But if it is a match made in heaven, it is customary to show the matchmaker gratitude by way of payment—called “Shidduch gelt.”
If all goes well, this beautiful process results in finding the one you are meant to face all of life’s challenges and joyful times with. So hopefully—Mazal tov!