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PARTNERING FOR POSITIVE CHANGES IN THE SHIDDUCH PROCESS

By: Ellen Kamaras



Dear Community readers: I invite you to join me in taking a fresh look at the current shidduch (matchmaking) process.

Our communities need to take more ownership of the state of affairs. We need to keep our eyes and ears open and be on a constant lookout for fitting matches for our loved ones and friends.

I’m proposing “The No Single Left Behind in Our Community Act similar to the popular ‘No Child Left Behind’ commitment.  I’m talking about an investment in the future leaders of Klal Yisrael.

Before I describe possible enhancements, I would like to share my story.

I grew up in Boro Park in the 60’s, a child of Holocaust survivors.  I attended Yeshivot through high school and graduated from Brooklyn and Baruch College with a Bachelors Degree and an MBA. I launched my career as a CPA in 1977.

I began to date at the age of 20 and got married right before my 28th birthday.   I was one of the last in my circle of friends  to wed and my search for Mr. Right was challenging.  I experienced pressure from my parents, relatives, friends, and colleagues.  The assumption was that I was “picky”. The most hurtful remarks were the warnings about “my biological clock ticking.” When I did marry, I promised myself that I wouldn’t forget my single days. Partnering with singles to find their bashert is my way of saying thank you to Hashem for blessing me with a loving husband and wonderful children.

I believe that every person has a different journey and we need to avoid judging our singles by their marital status or the age at which they marry. Singles deserve our complete respect and support.  As one lovely single told me  - “being single is one aspect of a person’s life and doesn’t define them.”

I was an unofficial matchmaker for over 30 years before I signed up to make matches online on sawyouatsinai.com (SYAS).  I made two shidduchim on my own before I hit the age of 40 and the last two I arranged were on SYAS four years ago.  Hashem gave me the honor of facilitating my son’s match with his lovely wife, Megan.

I Googled the words “Shidduch” and was amazed at the number of resources and websites that exist to support singles.This begs the question – if there is so much support, then why is there still a Shidduch Crisis?And why does finding one’s bashert (soul mate) appear to be so easy for some and such a struggle for others? Making a match is considered to be as formidable as Moshe’s splitting of the Red Sea and it often is.

The bottom line is that we need to roll up our sleeves and take responsibility for the process.

Below are some suggestions for the community - both the matchmakers, and the singles - to consider.Many ideas and thoughts are based on conversations I have had with singles myself:

For Our Community

Take ownership and responsibility for helping our singles find their bashert - Jews are responsible for one another - Klal Yisrael arevim zeh la zeh.

Connect with our singles- The next time you are in shul, or at a wedding and you see a single person you know, take an interest in that person. Engage them in a conversation.  After a short talk, ask permission to contact the individual if you know someone who may be a suitable match for them. Asking permission shows that you respect the person’s privacy and boundaries and helps you avoid making judgments or assumptions.

As a life coach, I often start a question with “May I?” Here is what I say: “I’m not sure if you are dating anyone, but I love setting people up. I appreciated it when people did it for me when I was single.  If I think of somebody who you might enjoy meeting, may I contact you?”  If you get the green light, ask the person what he or she is looking for in a life partner and then really listen.  Singles get burned out from inappropriate blind dates and may not trust that person to set them up again if the match was totally off base.

I  recently met a lovely 35-year-old woman (“Sarah”) at a Bar Mitzvah kiddush.  Sarah and I connected and she mentioned that she had grown up with the Rabbi’s wife, the Rebettzin.  I casually inquired if the Rebettzin had ever set her up and she said no. I explained that I was a relationship coach and asked if I could make a recommendation. Sarah agreed and I suggested she consider reaching out to her friends (including the Rebettzin) and family and requesting that they keep her in mind when they meet suitable men her age.  I further explained that what’s key is being able to articulate her requirements, needs, and wants (“RNW”) regarding a husband to her family, friends and community.

For Our Matchmakers

·         Please try to learn about your client’s values, strengths, and needs.  Do more asking and listening -  and less telling.

·         Avoid judging your clients – please don’t call them picky or make them feel that they don’t have many choices due to their age.

·         Be sensitive and empathetic.

·         Consider taking training in relationship coaching.

For Our Singles

Get Clear on What you are Looking for in a Spouse, So That You Can Communicate it to Others.

My relationship coaching professor, the expert David Steele uses the following cake analogy.

Requirements - ( nonnegotiables /deal breakers) are the basic ingredients - the flour, sugar, and eggs. If any are missing, you won’t have a cake (or a relationship). An example might be sharing similar values and religious beliefs.

Needs - are the baking pan, utensils, bowls, oven, and temperature you need to bake the cake. Juat as you can bake a cake in a round or square pan, needs can be modified –but requirements cannot.  Needs and requrements may also overlap – for example that somebody be both financially responsibility and empathetic.

Wants - are like the icing on the cake –  you can eat the cake without icing, but it may be dry.  Wants are the “nice to have” - activities that give you pleasure or joy such as eating at a restaurant on a Sunday.

Be the Best You – Being single and a certain age is not a disease, but many feel stigmatized by it. You don’t have to put your life on hold while waiting for your bashert. You can feel free to pursue other life goals until the right one comes along.

David Steele states it perfectly, “Being single is an opportunity to seize, not a disease or problem to solve”.  It’s an invitation to grow and become ready for the partner you want.For example, if you want to meet and attract a happy and positive partner, work on being a happy and positive single.

 Create a Supportive Community or Network – Singles can greatly benefit from creating a supportive community that can meet their emotional and social needs while they are single, and also help them find their life partner. Studies have shown that the most common way to meet one’s soulmate is through friends.  As Michael Rosenfeld explains, …”friends are the people we are closest to, the people we spend the most time with as adults, and therefore the people most likely to introduce us to others that we might be interested in."

 Enhance your Shidduch Resume – Make sure your resume includes who you are as a person  (what’s responsible for your inner spark), your values and goals.  Can you think of three defining things about yourself that you would want a potential partner to know?

Adopt a Socially Generous Mindset – Dating Coach Bela Gandhi advises her clients to become socially generous – a fancy way of saying to be nice to people. She believes if you put on a socially generous lens and look for the good in people, you will bring love and connection into your life.

And Remember, Don’t Forget to Smile :)

Ellen Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach (ACC).  Her coaching specialties include life, career and relationship coaching for singles.  Ellen coaches individuals who want to find their purpose/passion or re-invent themselves and make positive changes in their lives.  She also helps singles get clear on their vision and values where a lifetime partner is concerned.  Ellen can be contacted at ellen@ellenkamaras-lifecoach.com.