by Aharon Loschak
“There’s nothing that brings me greater pleasure than to match two Jewish people I know and see them lead a happy life together.”
It’s the feeling Mrs. Tzippy Friedman, who together with her husband Shmuel, co-directs Chabad Young Professionals of S. Fransisco, shared as she described her passion for helping young Jews find their match—her, along with countless other shluchim across the globe. Alas, for so many, it’s nearly impossible to do so without available resources. But that’s about to change, as Friedman, along with five others, are taking up arms to change the game.
They’re joining the shadchanim team at Met @Chabad, an innovative new program from Chabad Young Professionals International that aims to completely overhaul the dating system for young Jews around the world. A successful launch with thousands of young Jewish adults convening for a virtual speed dating session is in the books, and other components to the program have already been documented and implemented.
And at this point, CYP International is rolling out yet another critical component of its vision for a values-based dating system that will IYH bring thousands of young Jews together: the shadchan. But this isn’t any shadchan. These ambitious and seasoned shluchos are doing much more than just matching people up; they’re taking on the responsibility to educate and guide their “clients” about values-based dating.
“We sent out a ‘casting call’ for people who were interested in becoming shadchanim,” said Rabbi Beryl Frankel, director of CYP International, “and almost a hundred people responded. After an intense screening process and many interviews, we narrowed it down to six finalists.”
What motivated these six people to join rank?
“It’s important to understand that our new shadchanim aren’t professionals per se,” said Mrs. Gitty Webb, who co-directs with her husband Eitan the Chabad on Campus at Princeton University and is also the coordinator and leader of the recruits, “they are committed fellow Jews who care deeply about helping people find their shidduch, and they are filled with passion for the project.”
“I’ve been passionate about relationships for a very long time, and I’ve always taken notice of what works for different people,” said Friedman. “I’m so excited to be able to finally implement some of that passion and get to know an entire cohort of people and show them what it means to date based on real values and in a serious, marriage-minded way.”
Crisscrossing the globe, the network of new recruits are undergoing intense virtual training sessions from more seasoned shadchanim to learn how to help their singles discover what values and beliefs are meaningful to them in life so they can build a future with individuals who share those values.
Traditionally, the shadchan’s success has always been linked to the intimate relationship between the shadchan and the potential suitor, uniquely suiting them to set their “client” up with an appropriate match. To that end, after completing training and becoming officially certified, work begins in earnest: getting to know their new cohort.
From the thousands of names in the CYP Met @Chabad database, each shadchan will be assigned their cohort of singles. It will then be the shadchan’s job to personally interview each member of their group, establish a rapport, and guide them along their journey to discover themselves and their life partner.
“My husband and I have been on shlichus for eight years now,” explained Mrs. Chayi Vogel, who co-directs with her husband Moshe the CYP in Rochester, N.Y. “This entire time, one of the primary challenges has always been being able to help our community members to the end-goal: setting up a Jewish home. Rochester is a relatively small town, and the pool of young Jews is very limited, making the prospect of finding a suitable Jewish partner quite a hurdle.
“For years, my answers for help have been limited, so when I heard about Met @Chabad, I jumped at it. This is the culmination of everything we’re doing here as shluchim, and I couldn’t be more eager to finally give people resources that can practically help them in their quest.”
“Perhaps the central element of the entire Met @Chabad program is the notion that we’re shifting young people’s mindset,” explained Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky of Merkos Suite 302. “We’re bringing the Rebbe’s vision of dating for marriage based on values to a broader audience. IYH, as the relationship between shadchan and ‘client’ develops, the shadchan will be able to steer him or her along that path and help them identify those core values.”
As Friedman said, “We’re giving hope to people. It’s not just an abstract wish to get married, rather a concrete set of resources and education that we can provide. This is part of our shlichus, and we have to make it happen. Baruch Hashem, we’re now equipped to do so.”