July 13, 2023
Got married? Redt a Shidduch.
Shadchan Meir Levi proposes a brilliantly simple strategy to shidduchim
Photos by Simcha Weinman
Newlyweds love to make shidduchim. The contagious joy they recently discovered gives them the impetus to share it.
“You have single friends and he has single friends,” they’re told in the weeks and months following the wedding. “Find them a shidduch!”
And so, the young couple dutifully sit at their kitchen table and compare notes.
You think this friend is a good idea for your roommate? What about that one who spoke to at our sheva brachos? I think it might work my parents’ neighbor.
They discuss and they ponder and then, when they hit on a solid suggestion, one of two scenarios almost inevitably occurs:
Option 1: The couple doesn’t have the courage to call and suggest it. I’m too shy to call, they don’t know who I am, why would they listen to me? they think.Anticipating the likely rejection, they don’t even bother making the call. They second-guess themselves, and the suggestion hibernates until it is no longer applicable. Eventually, the idea gets thrown out with the leftovers of the shanah rishonah dessert.
Option 2: One spouse eagerly calls up the mother of the prospective date and is received with polite indifference, or worse, a voice mail and no call back ever forthcoming.
Parents are often slow to follow up on ideas redt by young couples. Reasons range from worry that the inexperience of the shadchan will be detrimental to the shidduch to the disinterest that is born of unfamiliarity.
Research shows that the majority of shidduchim are made by friends or relatives of the young couple. But many valuable ideas never even reach first base, and numerous would-be shadchanim give up before they even start.
And it’s not only newlyweds who find that their ideas have difficulty gaining traction; anyone who lacks experience or doesn’t know the parents of the boy well is likely to find that their suggestion is met with hesitation, cutting out a large portion of relevant suggestions.
Introducing Newly Reds
There is a plan in place to change that, due to launch this Rosh Chodesh Elul.
Indefatigable BMG shadchan Meir Levy is spearheading a new initiative and is the brainchild behind many of its marketing ideas.
The idea is so simple, so practical, so brilliant that hearing it makes you wonder, Why didn’t I think of that? Why doesn’t such a concept exist yet?
The program combines the newlyweds’ suggestion with an incentive and shadchanim’s experience, and it promises to be a game changer.
“A friend of mine, Yossi Gelbman, approached me with this idea,” Meir relates. “He had seen the plight of singles and he came up with this brainchild. He suggested setting up a system where young couples can send their suggestions to experienced shadchanim who can then redt them.”
The beauty of this idea is that it combines the ideas of people who know the prospective couple with the experience and know-how of a professional shadchan.
“A shadchan knows how to deal with the parents better, knows how to answer questions. There’s more of a likelihood the shidduch will work that way.,” Meir explains.
When Meir told colleague Shloimy Lewenstein about the program, he said, “I haven’t heard of a better idea in years.”
Meir got his start in shidduchim 28 years ago in an unexpected way.
“When I was in BMG, a yungerman named Ezzy Munk approached me. ‘I think you’d make a good shadchan,’ he said and brought me into the brand-new group of BMG shadchanim.
“I remember calling someone that day and saying, ‘Hi, I just became a shadchan today and I met your son in yeshivah and I have an idea for him.’”
His first shidduch? His sister’s.
“I always told my sister she should marry my best friend, and she did.”
Today, nearly 30 years later, Meir is one of the go-to shadchanim in Lakewood both for his ideas and for advice.
Getting it off the ground
Meir immediately fell in love with the idea. The problem? The same one that rears its head in every noble organization: lack of funds. Advertising is expensive, and an undertaking like this doesn’t just need advertising—it needs major buzz.
“I sat with this idea for a few months until Shloimy Horowitz from Atlantic Site Construction reached out to me. He felt the pain of shidduchim and told me he wanted to do something different on behalf of shidduchim.
“‘Different?’ I asked him. ‘How about this?’
“He was enthralled by the idea.”
With Shoimy taking the project under his wing, the plans for the program swung into action.
“I reached out to Mrs. Esther Ottensossor of Esther O fame, and she directed us to major marketing expert Mrs. Yael Miller from Miller Creative, who volunteered her time. The two of them, along with some other volunteers, are creating a professional platform to make it as simple as possible to redt shidduchim using our program.”
How it will work
The program is almost genius for its simplicity.
When a young couple (or anyone, really) comes up with an idea, all they need to do is send the idea, the relevant résumés, and some more information to a specific email address. A full-time secretary working on this project will bring all ideas to the Kesher office once a week or every two weeks.
What is Kesher?
Kesher is a shidduch center that was established 15 years ago by Lakewood residents Mrs. Frommer, Mrs. Kaluszyner, and Mrs. Karfiol to help make and advance shidduchim. The organization hosts monthly meetings in Madison Title where girls can come and meet with 25– 30 shadchanim on any given evening. Every day, shadchanim come into the office to brainstorm together. They also host meeting every five or six weeks where the boys can come and meet the shadchanim.
The life of a shadchan isn’t easy, and two years ago, someone stepped in to empower shadchanim to make more shidduchim.
“Rabbi Moishy Bender, who has a heart as big as Alabama, undertook to raise money to pay the Kesher shadchanim salaries to enable to them to continue doing the work that they do. Why shouldn’t shadchanim,who give their free time, their family time, all their time, any time, be taken care of?” Meir says.
Shadchanim often have streaks and then dry spells. There’s no guarantee that a shadchan will make any shidduchim in a month, leaving them with an unstable parnassah. A full-time shadchan starts a year not knowing if they will make a penny.
“Rabbi Bender raises hundreds of thousands of dollars, enabling shadchanim to think about making shidduchim as a job.”
This has enabled many capable would-be shadchanim to look at making shidduchim as a beautiful parnassah to be involved in instead of something that they wish they could do but is unrealistic for them.
The shadchanim will look at the ideas, and one might catch their eye and they’ll think, What a cute idea, I’ll suggest it.
Besides the likelihood of more shidduchim being made due to this method, the couples whose ideas make headway will be rewarded.
“The local stores have been exceedingly generous in offering rewards for to those who suggest a shidduch. If your shidduch suggestion results in a date, you will receive an email informing you and you will get to choose a prize. This program is open to anyone, which is why prizes range from gift cards to restaurants to free denture cleaning.”
Can a couple suggest an out-of-town shidduch?
“For now, this program is taking place in Lakewood simply because Kesher is based in Lakewood and our shadchanim are not likely to be familiar with a girl from San Diego and a boy from Minneapolis. But as the program grows and becomes more successful, we would like to expand across the United States to all shidduch organizations. Most out-of-town communities have their own shidduch organizations, and by utilizing this method, they can gain as well.”
Redting a shidduch requires courage, commitment, and effort. If you’re unsure, you’re less likely to make the call. With this new system, all you have to do is send a simple email, and who knows what can happen?
“What I love about the system is how easy it is for the one who is suggesting,” Meir says.
In addition to the likelihood of successful shidduchim increasing through this initiative, Meir foresees another benefit: the marketing of the Newly Red program promises to inject a note of humor and fun into the weighty world of shidduchim.
“There’s a lot of fear today when it comes to shidduchim,” Meir points out.
“I have so many friends married already,” “No one’s called with a suggestion for months,” “Everyone says that shidduchim are impossible,” and “Will I ever get married?” are common sentiments.
It’s not surprising. People quote grim statistics about the percentage of girls who are struggling. Magazines decry the ongoing shidduch crisis. And although we try to comfort ourselves with messages of bitachon, the reality is that many girls and their parents are afraid.
The lighthearted branding of Newly Red will hopefully change that. Instead of people frowning at the pessimistic pronouncements in shidduch ads, they will smile at the Newly Red logo.
“We were looking for a really great catchy title for this initiative when I bumped into my neighbor R’ Shaul Dov Miller. I explained the idea to him, and without batting an eyelash he said, ‘Newly Red.’ It was perfect. In the last few months, whoever I’ve explained the idea to has been nodding along until they heard the name. When they did, their face broke out in a huge smile and they were sold.”
Meir envisions Atlantic Site construction trucks boasting four-foot magnets with the Newly Red logo and taglines of how shidduchim are run. A generous benefactor plans to donate red oven mitts to give out to all kallah teachers that say, “Lend a hand with shidduchim.” When newly married girls pull their steaming lasagna out of the oven, they’ll remember their friends who are not so blessed.
“Maybe we’ll even create a card game out of it,” Meir says wryly. “Who knows? We are open to people’s ideas of how to spread the word. The more creativity, the more humor, the more lightheartedness, the better.”
Is there a concern that some singles won’t be interested in the program since it will mean that their résumé will be sent to a bunch of shadchanim at once as opposed to just one at a time and their privacy will be compromised?
You can always ask before you send the email, but the reality is that 99 percent of people are not going to care. It’s often like that in shidduchim. There are a few people who will say,” Oh, we don’t give out résumés,” but everyone else is thrilled that you’re sending their name in.
Who can send in an idea? Is it only for newlyweds?
Not at all! Don’t let the name mislead you. People aged 19–99 can send in ideas. Bubbies, zeidies…the more the merrier. We plan to have a range of prizes to accommodate various ages and stages.
Is there a concern that the program will discourage newlyweds from redting shidduchim on their own?
Newlyweds should definitely keep redting shidduchim; we want them to suggest ideas themselves. Be brave and call those parents! The goal of Newly Red is to accommodate those who have ideas but for whatever reason are unable or unwilling to suggest them.
Is the program limited to Lakewood/the tristate area? Can I suggest shidduchim for out-of-towners through this program? What if only one side is from out of town?
You can absolutely suggest shidduchim with out-of-towners. It’s only the office that is Lakewood based. The Lakewood shadchanim know most of the boys that learn in the Lakewood yeshivos, and if the girl is from out of town, there’s a strong possibility the shadchanim know her, too. As the program expands, if an out-of-town idea is not picked up, we will be more than happy to share it with organizations across the country.
What if more than one couple or person suggests the same shidduch? Do they both get rewarded for each date?
Whoever sends in the suggestion first will get the credit for it.
Where can I send in my ideas?
Keep reading your magazines. The program will be launching Rosh Chodesh Elul; stay tuned for all important information.
[Sprinkle throughout the article]
Pro tips from Meir Levy
- Don’t assume people know who you are. Make calls to shadchanim, be somewhat persistent, and let them know you have a child in shidduchim.
- Many times, the boy’s side will call back right away and will expect me to pass their answer on but I feel it’s important to wait until the next day. Often, after the second date the boy wants to sleep on it, and then the girl panics.
- Not everything you assume is a chisaron in middos necessarily is. If a boy doesn’t wait for the girl to get into the house before driving away, stops to talk to a friend in middle of the date, or doesn’t buy her a drink, the shidduch doesn’t have to be called off. It might simply be that he’s lacking guidance.
- If a girl gets two yeses at once, it’s important to call up the shadchan and be straight. Tell them the situation and say you’ll get back to the shadchan in 24 hours, after seeing which boy makes more sense for her.