By Meir Applebaum
In the professional world, market incentives propel everyone from large corporations to private practitioners to maximize their productive talent. A doctor or lawyer hires assistants and secretaries so that they needn’t schedules appointments nor fill out paperwork. This hierarchy ensures that time and expertise isn’t wasted. This arrangement not only maximizes profits, but is also morally sound: it allows the practitioner to service the largest number of people.
This concept can be applied to Shidduchim as well.
This proposal is a simple one, but will open the gates of Shidduch-making to thousands more people, including every parent, who will each have easy access to the information and tools they need to suggest a match.
The idea is to create a user-friendly and intuitively navigable central database where parents can create an account and upload their son or daughter’s profile, which will gain them access to the site. This database will open up the Shidduch making process to thousands more, who will have quick and easy access to all singles’ profiles, enabling them to better suggest matches.
To balance privacy concerns with accessibility, the site will be multilayered in the matching process, incorporating ‘levels’ of information.
Level One asks for rudimentary facts about the person, in addition to the conventional resume that is currently standard, along with the customary “references” section to contact for further research.
When a user finds a Profile that elicits interest—and appears to vaguely, or less so, match what they are looking for—the user clicks a “suggest” button on that Profile, which automatically sends a notification to the other user that their posted Profile has been “suggested”. The user who received the notification then looks into the Profile for which they were suggested: if the user agrees that the match is worth pursuing, the user clicks on their own “agree” button, which opens up the next level, ‘level 2’, of the Profile. (If the second user doesn’t agree, the suggestion remains open until the suggestor—the first user—withdraws that suggestion.)
Level Two consists of additional mandatory fields to fill in – these more detailed and probative. If both users click a button that signifies they still wish to proceed with this potential match – then bingo! The two ‘Profiles’ are ready to meet…
Level Three would require a signed document from a licensed MD that lists all medical conditions the boy or girl has, if any. This is unlocked before the engagement, which is late enough into the process that small issues won’t pose a significant threat to the engagement, but important, ‘major’ issues, if there are any, will be revealed.
It’s beyond me why this may be controversial. In fact, the moral turpitude notwithstanding, this protocol would greatly benefit also those with serious medical conditions, even if made transparent earlier in the process. But if it will derail support for this proposal, then I digress.
Only after information for all ‘levels’ has been submitted will the account become active.
What Does this Proposal Solve?
Goal: Streamline, speed up, democratize the process
Having an army of caring parents sifting through profiles and thinking about potential matches is immensely freeing for Shadchonim. Instead of Shadchonim wasting precious time on matches that never had any hope of succeeding, they will mostly be contacted only after both sides see real potential for a match. Imagine the outstanding increase in productivity and success!
Goal: More compatible suggestions
If in the past information provided on the ‘resume’ fluctuated wildly, this website ensures that critical information about the boy or girl is standard and available. This frees up precious time and resources to research, and think, deeper—about actual, personal compatibility.
Additionally, Shadchonim and parents often spend time and resources discovering elemental facts about a person, making it easy for them to mistake that for ‘research’. Now, they will be forced to focus on deeper issues of personal compatibility.
Goal: Eliminate ‘resume’ standardization
Often, many ‘resumes’ employ identical canards of attractive descriptions. Nobody wants to stick out as a sore thumb. Now, with so many profiles to peruse, people will need to stand out as unique individuals for their Profile to have any meaning. Will weaknesses be forthcoming? Probably not; but differences? Absolutely, and honesty, if only due to a lack of creativity…
Goal: Make everyone visible
In the old days, you had to know both families or individuals to make a Shidduch. Today, Chabad communities are spread across the globe from Golders Green, UK to Córdoba, Argentina. Add to them Balei Teshuva, and simply quieter types, and we have many distinctly disadvantages for no good reason. This proposal puts everyone, equally, on the map. We have the technology to remedy such challenges, and it would be a travesty not to use it.
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By no means is this a comprehensive proposal that aims to solve the arguably deep-rooted sociological and structural issues that underlie the so-called Shidduch Crisis, and surely there exist many great ideas in the minds of wiser and more observant people.
But completely reforming our current Shidduch “system” isn’t a smart way forward for two reasons:
First, Shidduchim is first and foremost an exercise in pragmatism. For too long, rigid dogma on one side, and vindictive cynicism on the other—and who’s to say which side is which—have hampered meaningful efforts to reform the process
Second, like many, I remain a firm believer in preserving our current Shidduch “system”—an approach that respects our refined values of discreetness, modesty, and human dignity.
Instead, a slow, incremental approach to improving the process and that keeps everyone on board is the smart way forward, helping the vast majority of people for whom major changes aren’t necessary
Considering that there’s nothing radical or unconventional in it, even those skeptical won’t hesitate to try. Once the site reaches a critical mass of a few hundred, everyone not on the site will be basically invisible. Soon, everyone will join.
This parent-centered proposal will enhance the process by saving time, sparing agony, facilitating better suggestions, and increasing the likelihood of an engagement. Mazal Tov!