On Sunday evening, July 28, community members gathered at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills to learn about and to strengthen a new shidduch initiative. Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, Operations Manager of Chazaq, welcomed everyone.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, rav of the Young Israel of KGH, shared that “the main idea of the shidduch initiative is to involve the shuls, because the shul is the center of Jewish life and it is the place where things happen in Orthodox life.” The hope is that Jewish organizations will connect us from coast to coast to make it a unit of one, from New York to California, and to involve communities and rabbanim. The shidduch situation is something we need to address seriously. He thanked Mrs. Odelia Jacobs and Chazaq for organizing this initiative.
The founder of Partners in Shidduchim, Mrs. Baila Yaniv, pointed out: “Everyone says they don’t have time to help shidduchim. Ultimately it is our responsibility. We have to do something different. We have to get up and take action.”
She explained that Partners in Shidduchim is a free tool to empower people to make shidduchim. Singles can search online or have others search on their behalf. “On this sight, every person can become a shadchan.” She urged everyone to search the sight for ten minutes, once a week, to look for ideas for singles they know. The site is updated weekly. “We need to be proactive and make things happen.” Partners in Shidduchim has over one thousand singles and over 80 professional shadchanim. The website is www.partnershidduchim.org.
The next speaker, Mrs. Lisa Elefant, spoke about Adopt-a-Shadchan, and she also explained about the new shidduch initiative. She spoke about pooling names with the combined efforts of shuls. Everyone in shul would donate to help find a shadchan for singles in the shul. Adopt-a-Shadchan has over 1500 singles and over 120 shadchanim from all over. The Adopt-a-Shadchan idea is that a shadchan gets to know more singles in her group and offers coaching and mentoring for singles free of charge. “All members of the shul should contribute, as we are all in this together.” She stated their motto, which is, “No single should be left behind.” The website is www.adoptashadchan.com.
The next speaker, Mr. Mark Goldman, CEO of SawYouAtSinai, shared the history of creating his successful website and explained how it can be involved in the shidduch initiative. This database has over 300 shadchanim and 35,000 singles. Over 3,200 people have found their spouse through this venue.
He noted that SawYouAtSinai is a system of choice for many seminaries, Chabad, YU, Nefesh to Nefesh, and others. “We want to offer our initiative to individual synagogues. Shul shadchanim have their own database of singles. The goal is to help every person find his or her match.” Their website is www.SawYouAtSinai.com.
Following this, Mrs. Margie Glatt, Coordinator of YU Connects, spoke about YU Connects’ work. Their database is a subsidiary of SawYouAtSinai. Everyone receives a personal matchmaker. She noted, “We run unique social events 10-12 times a year.” They try to host comfortable unique events, and they hold seminars for singles and parents. They ran a medical and halachic seminar. They also help to train matchmakers. “We are a professional operation that maintains a friendly office,” she stated. Their website is www.yuconnects.com.
After this, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, well-known mohel, speaker, and author, imparted, “Tonight is an historic initiative. Tonight, Queens will change the world.” He taught that making shidduchim is not a private matter. “It’s the future of klal Yisrael. What can be more important than building klal Yisrael?”
Rav Aharon Kotler, Rosh HaYeshivah of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, taught that the world exists only because of those who feel responsibility for each other. The world cannot exist by saying let someone else do it. Rabbi Krohn stressed that “we, every single one of us, has to feel responsibility for the tzibur.” So, whether or not our children are in shidduchim, or whether or not we are married, we have to get involved in making shidduchim.
The son of Rav Chaim Volozhin, Rav Itzeleh Volozhiner, shared that his father used to give him musar that we must involve ourselves in the problems of others. “That is what Hashem created us for – to care for others.”
Every one of us has to feel the pain of those who have not merited to find their shidduch or who are widowed or divorced. “Everyone needs a partner.” He explained that the Torah begins with the letter beis, which in g’matria equals two. It didn’t start with alef, the first letter of the alphabet, which in g’matria is one, because only Hashem can exist alone. The word shidduch means peace and tranquility. This is what people hope for in marriage. Rabbi Krohn taught that the parshah of shidduchim has three c’s: Concern in the beginning to find the shidduch, Challenge if it doesn’t happen, and then it becomes a Crisis.
Rabbi Krohn pointed out that we can make a change in shidduchim just as various movements in klal Yisrael have made a difference. The whole sh’miras ha’lashon movement has changed how people speak. The Daf Yomi has enabled so many to learn and to celebrate their accomplishments. There are 95,000 people who will participate, b’ezras Hashem, in the Siyum HaShas in 2020.
He noted that the baal t’shuvah movement has brought so many to Yiddishkeit. “Anything can change if you put your mind to it.”
He then spoke about the fact that the wife of Rabbi Shamshon Raphael Hirsch was four years older than him. There is no problem marrying a girl who is older. There have been a thousand shidduchim with girls older than their chasan. Rabbi Krohn stated, “There’s nothing that can’t be changed!”
Rabbi Krohn quoted the Gemara that teaches that the Mashiach will not come until all the neshamos of the guf are expelled. According to Rashi, Hashem created all the neshamos and put them in storage. All of them have to be born. So, Rabbi Krohn taught that we have to redt shidduchim because every child born brings us one step closer to Mashiach.
One of the questions Hashem will ask us after 120 years is: Were you involved in P’ru u’R’vu? The question is worded with the word “involved,” because we are being asked if we were involved in redting shidduchim.
He also mentioned that young people may need coaching, and there are many wonderful dating coaches out there. He then detailed how the shidduch initiative works. Rabbi Krohn suggested an acronym for helping singles: PAL, which stands for Promote, Advocate, and Liaison. “Everyone has to become a PAL for singles. Each shul needs two volunteers to become PALs. The four organizations that presented in the beginning of the program will share their information with Chazaq, and Mrs. Jacobs will send it to all the PALs to help facilitate shidduchim. Monthly information will be sent to every shul around the world. Everyone should make sure that by Rosh Chodesh Elul every shul has two PALs to help with shidduchim.
Rabbi Krohn noted that Queens is the greatest neighborhood, so it’s starting here. “We are going to be role models for the whole world.”
Rabbi Krohn shared that when one of his children was in shidduchim, whenever he made a call for his daughter, he would also make a call for another single person. When we help someone who needs what we need, then Hashem takes care of us.
The final speaker, HaRav Yitzchok Kolodetsky, son-in-law of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, spoke in Hebrew and Rabbi Yaniv Meirov translated. He shared some important s’gulos for finding a shidduch. The fact that our community came together creates an eis ratzon, and this opens the gates, he imparted. This is the first powerful s’gulah. Another s’gulah is to start Shabbos ten minutes early because Shabbos is a kallah. Also, learn halachos of Shabbos at the Shabbos table. He also suggested that singles help families with special needs children and families with children in general who can use help. Just as Yocheved and Miriam helped the Jewish babies and they were blessed with houses, so too – midah k’neged midah – just as you help with Hashem’s children, you will merit to have children. He also mentioned the Gemara that it is important to be involved in helping others with shidduchim. Daven for others who need shidduchim, and men and women should daven three times a day.
The program ended with heartfelt t’filos led by Rav Kolodetsky.
By Susie Garber