He is a shadchan, a matchmaker, a marriage broker, and his function within a traditional communal setting may have been a sacred one, ensuring community survival.
(6.) On the sacred origins and function of the shadchan, see S.
In "The Magic Barrel" by Bernard Malamud, perhaps the greatest Jewish story to feature a matchmaker, the matchmaker's wife says to one of his clients, "His office is in his socks." Leo Finkle, the rabbinical student who is searching for a wife, learns that the only professional accoutrement that the Shadchan
(matchmaker) named Saltzman owns is a barrel full of pictures.
The Jewish marriage broker, called a "Shadchan
," put Jewish men in contact with Jewish women (and vice versa) for purposes of marriage.
Gateway Connections, an online service that employs many matchmakers to help Orthodox Jews meet their bashert, includes a shadchan
who specializes in matching second-time singles with others in similar situations: Fayge Rudman.
We were enormously honored when we were asked by Shofar to edit a special issue dedicated to Polish Jewry, The shadchan
(match-maker) between Shofar and us was our dear friend Harold Kasimow, who is the embodiment of the best features of Polish Jewry.
That morning I met Howard Lesnick, who would later help me give birth to the book I only imagined that I might write, and Carolyn Coates, who proved to be an even more gifted shadchan
(matchmaker) than she could ever have envisioned.
And in the end, she falls in love with the smart college boy and trades her social climbing for do-goodingthough, inevitably, with a bit of shadchan
meddling on the side.
Mencken's mammoth study American Language, which documented the differences between American and British English, included a number of Yiddish terms and even Yiddish grammar within its taxonomy of American English: "In New York City, the high density of Eastern Jews in the population has made almost every New Yorker familiar with a long list of Yiddish words, e.g., kosher, shadchan
, matzoth, mazuma, yom kippur, meshugga and gefilte-fisch....
Elizabeth Jameson, the historian who wrote the afterword to Calof's memoir, told me that arranging for a mail-order bride is just "a long-distance extension" of the matchmaker's, or shadchan
's, traditional services.
Gittel's parents fear that the shadchan
, the matchmaker, will never find their daughter a husband if she doesn't shush, and the entire family will be shunned.
But rather than play virtual shadchan
to young Jewish professionals in the hopes that they end up on the New York Times wedding page (and later have circumcised baby boys), JData, a project funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and developed by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, is trying to make the collection and analysis of data from Jewish day schools, supplementary programs (i.e., Hebrew schools), overnight and day camps, and campus Hillel houses more transparent and readily available to Jewish institutions, large and small (access to the database is free).