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Shadchan: Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Match
A Reform Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

 • Matchmaker, Matchmaker
 • Romance vs. Matchmaker
 • Contemporary (modern) Shadchans

At the root of the word shadchan is the essence of a matchmaker’s art. Literally, shadchan translates as connector, a "stapler). Delicate shuttle diplomacy is needed to satisfy the potential bride and groom, not to mention their families.

Romantic love ranks low among Jewish priorities for marriage. Marriages require compatibility and compromise to last. Infatuation, flowers and poetic outpourings are not the best indicators of a long-lasting relationship.

The shadchan puts pragmatism before romance, and is evidence of how deeply Jewish communities mistrust the sureness of Cupid’s bow. However, the bible gives us an account of love at first site in the story of Jacob and Rachel, their meeting and a kiss. Before this, there is an example of love growing between husband and wife after marriage in the verses which speak about the marriage of Jacob’s father Isaac to Rebecca. “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rivka, and she became his wife. And he loved her.” (Genesis 24:67) Note how the verse mentions love only after Isaac and Rivka married.

Matchmakers in Contemporary Times
If you’ve been to or any of the singles’ web sites, you’ve introduced yourself to a shadchan gone cyber. In a sense, modern dating services act as passive matchmakers, providing a medium for meeting.

Flesh and blood middlemen and middlewomen continue to be used to suggest suitable dates. For many the shadchan’s role is limited to introducing the two people and acting as a sounding board after the first few dates. Some take a more active role.

While a shadchan is quite often a friend of a friend, a cousin, a roommate, an older sibling, a neighbor, there are still those who do this professionally. A successful shadchan keeps her or his eyes open for good matches. Skipping out on a shadchan’s fee was considered a harbinger of a rocky marriage.


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