By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Shidduch resumes are now in widespread usage in the English-speaking American Yeshiva world. No one denies that. But how do they really work and help the Shidduch (dating) seekers because there are many people sitting around with their Shidduch Resumes Emailed far and wide yet they are still stuck and a sad statistic in the proverbial Shidduch (singles) Crisis.
One has to understand how Shidduch Resumes originated and who pushed for them the most. It is the Shadchanim (matchmakers) themselves who have created this need and market for Shidduch Resumes in the English-speaking American Yeshiva world. No one even denies that, and now every boy or girl of dating age in that world who needs and wants a Shidduch and Date must have a Shidduch Resume even if they are not dealing exclusively with professional Shadchanim it is now required and requested by families searching for spouses for their marriage-age children.
To understand a Shidduch Resume and its context one must therefore also understand the world of modern-day job hunting and the way that system works in the USA. Most English-speaking American graduates of Yeshivos (Talmudical academies for boys) and Bais Yaakovs (girls schools) when they go out to work know that in today’s world you must have a professional work resume. This has been true for a very long time, certainly in our own lifetimes. Our parents and grandparents found work, built businesses, and found their own spouses without resumes of any sort. But in America today, we are dependent or think we are dependent on resumes to “find a job” and now also “to find a husband or wife” in the Frum (Jewish religious) world!
Now, if you have ever used a resume as part of your job search you know that no matter how many times you mail out, or fax or Email your resume to prospective employers and headhunters, the most important thing to do is to network and not to just rely on your resume no matter how fantastic you think you or your resume are.
What is always true more than anything, is that old saying: “It is not what you know, it is who you know”! And this holds true in both job hunting and Shidduch hunting. Nothing can take the place of family and friends and constant networking, never stopping, in both finding a job or finding your Bashert (soul-mate)!
Let me illustrate this from our own experiences over the last ten years. Of course as the times changed and more resumes were demanded at various stages we always complied. I am a great believer and practitioner of abiding by what I call “the protocols of dating” and not fighting them. Too many people get fed up, frustrated and angry with the system of dating in the Frum world and the only ones they hurt are themselves.
For example, just as there are rules for applying for a passport: you must fill out a detailed form giving private information; answer questions from an official; submit a good current photo of yourself; and pay a hefty fee, that is if you want a passport, then you must comply with these protocols or official rules of the game. It is useless and pointless to fight it.
Likewise, you must know what the rules of dating are happening in the time and place you live in, and never ever fight them, because then the Shadchanim and people you need will just walk away from you because they have plenty of other “customers” who will listen to them.
So rule number one is to always live by the given rules, no matter how foolish or redundant they may seem to you, no one is asking you, you are on a “long line” and don’t cause trouble for yourself or your children, and if you are required to cough up a resume with a picture of your child, to answer questions, and even pay a fee, then you must do that, with a smile and with Derech Eretz (manners), always.
Fine, so we have that down. Now, you are able to join the “playing field” so you start to Email resumes to Shadchanim and ask all your friends and relatives to help, just as if you would be looking for a job because your livelihood and future depends on it, so it is serious, it is not a game because it is “the game of life” about you or your child’s chance to find a spouse.
But it’s not enough to play by the so-called rules, because as human beings and as Jews we must always be on the lookout and “expect the unexpected” and trust that “yeshuas HaShem keheref ayin” i.e. that God can “save” you in the blink of an eye, suddenly, and in one second, you are in a place and with someone you hadn’t expected, but this is where the Hashgocha Elyona (Divine Providence) has brought you, and suddenly an idea is presented to you from an unlikely source by an unlikely person, and oh yeah they ask if you have a resume, and you say “sure, what did you have in mind?” And you remain open to any and all suggestions because you just don’t know where the right person and the winning suggestion will come from.
In our case, when our oldest child was dating over ten years ago, the idea of Shidduch resumes did not yet catch on and would have made no difference because they were introduced by mutual friends who were also neighbors of our ours. Our next two children were from people we knew closely at work and of course they asked for Shidduch resumes but that was a formality once the offers were known to be serious. And the next two came about from our children’s friends who knew them and wanted to set them up on dates, but of course even though they wanted to go out, as since everyone now has a Shidduch Resume, theirs’ was sent to the other families so that they could get more details, and of course we requested Shidduch Resumes of them because we wanted to check the references and family and rabbis and rebbetzins that knew the other sides.
And can you believe it, as we looked back, at no point did professional Shadchanim have anything to with all the successful Shidduchim of all our children, and I am sure that is true for many other people as well.
Some words of advice: Most importantly, do not forget to be happy and always have a good attitude if you want the process and the system to work for you and kick in, in the first place. Do not be afraid to seek advice and to discuss with others who have been through this and who can therefore help you improve your techniques, methods and strategies. People get job coaches to help them in their job search and smart people have their own adopted “Shidduch coaches” to guide them and advise them with the complicated Shidduch process with all its often labyrinthine rituals and rules. Nobody likes to deal with cranky ungrateful or rude people. Always have Derech Eretz! Thank Shadchanim. Learn to always say and use the words “please” and “thank you” a lot! And never forget that it is HKB”H (The Holy One Blessed Be He) that is guiding you, and all of us, every step of the way, our job is not to get lost and to never give up!
To be continued…
Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin lives in Flatbush and is the Director of the Jewish Professionals Institute www.jpi.org and his wife Zahava, although they are not Shadchanim, have counseled many in the area of Shidduchim and dating. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718 382 5610 and 718 382 8058.