I guess Tevya was right when he said, “When you’re rich, they think you really know!”
Let me fill you in.
Recently, there has been a flyer circulating our community, you can see it pictured above.
Here is the crux of it: A few shuls in Monsey, as well as some well-meaning families in our community are joining together to help tackle the “Shidduch Crisis” and this is how they plan on doing so.
The flyer states that the program is being sponsored by a few generous families who will be covering most of the “Shadchan fees” while the families and singles involved will only have to pay for “Success Fees,” In turn, these shadchanim will work to help singles in the program find dates and proper matches/suitors.
Here is their pricing breakdown:
$150 for the first date
$150 for the third date
$200 for the fifth date
What these people expect, seemingly, is that singles in the program will not only pay for dates and everything those dates entail (gas, food, activities, clothing, etc.) On top of all of that, they will pay for their Shadchan sending them on a “successful” date. This is beyond ludicrous. To add to this already mind-numbing, inane logic, they also expect each side of a successful shidduch to pay another $1500-$1800+ (per side, or more as the families feel is appropriate)to the shadchan! Isn’t everyone lucky that they even allow the moneys paid towards the first five dates to be counted towards this final fee?!
What does this program actually offer you? Brainstorming? Reviewing of lists? 3-4 days of working on potential matches? Wow! It should cost double as much! This flyer is so comical, I would have thought it to be parodic in nature if someone hadn’t informed me that is was a real thing.
It seems that the wealthy in our community, probably distracted by their own profligacy, are under the assumption that the rest of our community shares in their wealth. Additionally, what costs are these wealthy families actually supplementing? It seems that families in this program are already paying more than enough for something once considered to be a free service. It seems that people may not realize that by charging singles to go on a date will decrease the chances of a single saying yes to a potential shidduch. Who knows how many good shiduchim may be ruined this way!
When did shidduchim become more about making money and less about actually helping people find their soulmates?
When did being a shadchan go from helping your neighbor, friend, family member, find a suitor to a lucrative business?
I am not saying that this is a new problem. All I am saying is that this is a problematic mindset that is slowly becoming normalized in our society! Gone are the days when shadchanim would make a match just to help others. Now every shadchan wants to know how much each side is paying before they even suggest an idea for a single man or single woman. When it happens, people are surprised to hear that a shadchan made a shidduch and wasn’t paid thousands of dollars for it.
“What?! You just made a shidduch? And you didn’t even charge them? Wow! That’s so special of you!” People are less interested, these days, to hear how the shidduch was made, than they are in hearing how much money was made in the process!
There’s a nice boy from Monsey whose parents eagerly sign him up for this wonderful program. The amazing shadchanim employed by the program set him up with a great girl from Brooklyn. They go on five dates, and only on the end of the 6th date does the girl decide (after speaking with her seminary madrichah, of course) that the boy is just not for her. Not only is this boy out at least $500+ bucks, but now he needs to start back from square one! Who knows, next time, maybe this nice boy says “no” to a girl after the first/second date because he’s unsure and doesn’t want to incur and additional fee by going out again! Maybe they were just bad dates! Maybe they belong together!
I hope his father is raking it in cooking the books at some nursing home, because he’s going to need the money!
What we have here is a classic case of two distinct phenomena plaguing our Jewish Community. And a program as described on the above flyer is just a byproduct of the two.
1. People tend to capitalize on a basic need and often, a mitzva, that our community possesses in order to make money.
2. Wealthy people, apparently so removed from the regular way of thinking, believe that their misguided efforts to help our community are the most brilliant and innovative ways to do so. They are not.
The first phenomena is readily observed if you’ve ever gone to buy a lulav and esrog in Monsey. (Or for that matter, even oil for your menorah.) It’s amazing how people can take a simple fruit that costs barely anything more than their shipping costs (see their price in CA supermarkets per pound) and charge anywhere from $100-$300! Now, it is understandable that people need to make money. But people also need to do a mitzva without feeling inept or downtrodden. And the latter is more important. There is something called a normal markup, and then their is something called being a Chazer. When the same esrog costs $15 to $45 dollars in one city, and in Monsey it costs exponentially more, there is a problem. A family shouldn’t have to spend less on Yom Tov necessities just so their father/husband could purchase an esrog that will at least be somewhat on par with what will be shown off by others in shul. If someone feels the need to mark up and item over 5000% its actual value, let them sell some other ware. Stay away from esrogim.
There is (supposedly) an increasing demand for shidduchim and as a result, there are more people looking for ways to capitalize on the situation and make money dealing in shidduchim.
There must be something about having tons of money that just makes a person think they can tell others (who aren’t their employees) what to do. Maybe the wealthy just forget that every single penny they have comes from Hashem and that their intelligence or business acumen had literally nothing to do with it.
The flyer above is a clear example of the wealthy in our community telling us how to spend our money and, in the process, helping a select few line their pockets. And a program like this is the result of a perfect combination of the two phenomena described above.
Whether people suggest ideas such as this one out of sheer ignorance and stupidity or out of malicious intent, I cannot tell you for certain, but I will assume it is the former.
As I write this now, I have received confirmation that some of the community leaders who have supposedly signed off on this program were not fully aware of the details and what the program entailed of. I am certain that if they did, they certainly would not have condoned it.
This is a problem. A big one. This program is an obvious trap set to take advantage of desperate singles and their families. A program like this is designed to make the most moneyout of shidduchim, NOT to help people.
Would it be so hard to come up with an idea that make sense? That sounds logical? After all, the wealthy in our community obviously want to help! What’s stopping them from coming up with a solution that might actually work?
Here’s an idea!
For all you wealthy do-gooders out there.
Do you want to help the “crisis” in our community? Do you want to help singles get married?
Instead of “supplementing” and helping people pay for “success fees,” why don’t you all get together and use your money to actually help the community, while utilizing a plan that sounds logical and makes sense?
Gather together all of your best shadchanim (we all know which group of winners you’ll choose), and hire them as full-time employees. Regular, 9-5 employees. Pay them a salary, whatever you’d like, say, 65k to 80k per year (seems like a reasonable living for a job all our mothers do in-between caring for their families). Give the shadchanim office space, phones, computers, give them all the tools they need to succeed in shidduchim. These shadchanim will be considered regular employees, they can even be assigned quotas and have goals set to determine a certain amount of dates per week they must “set up” etc. Let them work solid week after week to help marry off the singles in our community.
If these shadchanim make a successful shidduch and the parents want to pay them for the shadchanus, great! Let them pay! But it isn’t required, as they are already being paid by the caring wealthy people (and supported by the rabanim, of course) of our community! Paying these salaries should not prove too difficult for the outspoken wealthy families in our community. I am certain that others would be more than willing to donate money to such a lofty cause.
If more money is donated to this cause? Great! Hire more full-time shadchanim! The more the merrier!
Hey! The people in charge could even come up with a great acronym for the group. Something like:
Shadchanim Who Actually Care and Not Just About the Money!
(STILL SOUNDS BETTER THAN F W H S S)
A program like this not only ensures that there are top shadchanim working tirelessly to aid our community, but it also ensures that:
They are fairly compensated for their time, work, and effort.
Everyone in the community has access to top shadchanim.
Shadchanim are no longer incentivized to set up rich families with other rich families over families of lower socioeconomic status.
Families are no longer pressured into paying “high-end” shadchanim more than they can, for shidduchim they present to the family.
The wealthy in our community actually has something worthwhile to put their money into and to help transform all their “talk” into action.
Now, is an idea like this one something that is doable? Something that will greatly aid our community?
On the other hand, perhaps people might not take it seriously because the one presenting the idea doesn’t own several nursing homes, or live in a three-million-dollar house, or both. That could be true, but it doesn’t detract from the points made above.
The Bottom Line:
Keep your Forshay Wesley Hills Shidduch Service. We don’t want it. It solves nothing. It only contributes to a growing problem in our society.
The wealthy who seek to aid the community should do so in ways that actually make senseto the general public.
If the wealthy really care about our community, let them put their money where their mouths are.
Hire full-time shadchanim and pay them regular salaries. If others want to donate to the cause, let them, but it cannot be required of them.
Finally, do us a favor, please. Next time, before plastering the names of Rabbonim and Community Members all over a flyer, a flyer detailing a program that could only be described at best, as unintelligent and misguided, and at worst, malicious and avarice, please make sure they fully know what the program entails.
Honestly, it’s hard to believe that some of the people listed on this flyer ever thought this would be a good idea from the outset. The only explanation can be that they were not made fully-aware of the details and just had their names added to the list by someone else.