Finding the Right Words : How to Field Shidduch Calls and Conduct Effective Research

jewish dating

Last month, we primarily discussed how crucial it is to be sure that when one is presented with a shidduch idea for feedback one’s response is substantive and thoughtful, and never purely reactionary. We concluded by noting that the most proper way to make decisions about a shidduch is via meaningful information that comes as a result of appropriate shidduch research.

Fair Warning and Keeping Current

Now that we have reached the topic of shidduch research, there are a number of items I would like to share regarding how to do so successfully. The first items pertain to the single young men and women themselves and their parents. From there, we will move into a number of matters concerning those receiving shidduch calls, including how to best respond to the questions one has been asked and how to properly present the information one is asked about. This series will continue in the upcoming issue of the Where What When, where we will conclude with a discussion relating to those making shidduch research calls, and how to do so most productively.

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Why Worry?

amoliker yid

Worrying is part and parcel of the Jewish mother’s psyche. We worry about ISIS taking over the world, and we worry that the sanitation workers will forget to take our recycling. If Moshe gets a tooth at the early age of three months, we worry if that tooth will be healthy. If Shloimy has no teeth at eight months, we worry once again.

Esty is so busy socializing with her many friends, she won’t do well in school. On the other hand, Baila has so few friends that we worry about her social standing. We worry that Chaim is working too hard, putting in overtime at his new job, and we worry about Yitzchak, who only has a part-time job and a family to support.

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Mekubal or Con Artist? Don’t Get Fooled


What would you say if I told you a “holy man” had promised me I was set to win the lottery as long as I gave $25,000 to tzedaka? Not convinced? Well, what if I told you that this “mekubal” also happens to know some very deserving people I could give my money to? And not only that, he’d even distribute the funds for me! So what do you say? Are you ready to chip in with me? After all, what’s $25,000 when we’re set to win $1.5 million?

While you and I greet these claims with a healthy dose of skepticism, many people, unfortunately, take the bait and are conned out of their life’s savings — or worse! What is it about these frauds masquerading as “mekubalim” that enables them to hoodwink rational, intelligent people? Is it possible for ordinary people to discern the difference between a bona fide mekubal and a con artist?

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Who Has Time to Retire?


Lucky me that we had that ice storm back in March! Otherwise it would have been a real challenge to catch up with any one of my very active interviewees before my article deadline. Most likely, they wouldn’t have been home; not because they work – since some of them are retired – but because their days are now, perhaps, fuller than ever. What are all those baby boomers and traditionalists so busy with? Here is a sampling of just some of our friends and neighbors and what they are up to.

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Ask the Shadchan


To the Shadchan:

I’m in yeshiva, recently started in shidduchim, and I have had a few disappointing experiences. A couple of times, when I picked up the girl at her home and saw her for the first time, I immediately knew she was not for me. I was certainly gracious and tried to find common ground with her on the date. Once, I even gave it another chance with a second date. But in my heart, I realized that my first reaction was correct and I would not be able to continue. This happened after a long process of checking her out, taking off time from yeshiva, possible travel, and expenses, such as renting a car.

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Dreams Come True: Journey to Nachlaot: The Aliyah of the Deutsch Family


Meandering the quaint, winding alleyways of Nachlaot, I feel transported to an earlier era. This intriguing enclave in central Jerusalem is sandwiched between the busy thoroughfare of Rechov Yaffo, Machane Yehuda shuk, the quieter residential neighborhood of Sha’arei Chesed, and the expansive, grassy Sacher Park. Nachlaot’s various neighborhoods date back to the late 1870s, when overcrowding in the Old City caused a notable portion of its population to relocate. Many artists as well as colorful residents of all types and stripes live here create a mystique and vibe of diversity and inclusion. My curiosity is piqued. I want to know more about Nachlaot and meet its residents.

I head toward the home of Tzvi and Shaindel Deutsch and chat with Shaindel about her aliyah journey over a cup of tea. Shaindel Siskind Deutsch was born and raised in Baltimore until age 12, when she relocated to Israel with her parents and two brothers. The year was 2001, and Shaindel’s parents, Mark and Paula Siskind, had been contemplating aliyah for several years before deciding on the right time to make a go for it. The Siskind children did not make official aliyah together with their parents, so that they would be able to get their own aliyah benefits later on in life if they chose to remain in Israel.

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A Pesach Wine Primer


As many are beginning to discover, the image of kosher wine has evolved past the syrupy-sweet Concords of shul kiddush and your Zaidy’s Seder to one of burgeoning possibilities. Today, there are over 3,000 kosher wines on the open market, and that number is growing. Almost all of the great wine regions in the world are producing kosher wines, including France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, California, and, yes, Israel.

Israel’s Mediterranean climate is perfectly suited for winemaking, with hundreds of wineries now putting Israel on the map as an important wine region. We find in Parshas Devarim that the fruit of the vine was one of the shiva minim, the seven species, of Eretz Yisrael. Tanach is peppered with references to wine and winemaking. So, viticulture is nothing new in Israel. In fact, archaeological digs consistently find ancient wine presses. Some have even been resuscitated into modern wineries. The story of the return of winemaking to the Land mirrors the story of the mass return of the Jewish people to Israel. But that’s another story for another time.

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All About Chutzpa


Is there a Yiddle who does not know the meaning of the word “chutzpa”? Is there even a nochri (non-Jew) who doesn’t? The closest translation of the word may be “a lot of nerve.” From this you see that a single Yiddish word has more impact than several English ones. No wonder chutzpa has become part of the American lingo.

As we all know, an early lesson that parents should teach their children is to be a mentch and to avoid chutzpa. But while we’ve all heard many maises (stories) regarding how to be a mentch, we’ve not heard as many about chutzpa. (Of course, being a mentch includes avoiding chutzpa.) With that understood, here are a few examples of chutzpa, past and present, that illuminate the word and its meaning.

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Turkish Air and the Ma Nishtana

turkish airlines

Ma Nishtana halaila hazeh….? On all other nights we eat chometz or matza, but on this night we eat only matza….”

Those of us who live in Israel but have children and grandchildren living in chutz la’aretz, or vice versa, will certainly identify with my predicament. My daughter, who lives in New Jersey, was expecting right before Pesach, with the probability of a bris on erev Yom Tov or on Yom Tov itself. With Pesach coming on Sunday night, it meant that, should she have a boy, it would be impossible or at least very difficult for me to attend the bris. I admit to a lot of disappointment; up to that time, I had not missed a single bris of any of my (at the time, nine) grandsons, two of which involved my spending Shabbos in Flatbush, where my son lives with his family. But the timing of this baby’s arrival, two weeks before Pesach, complicated matters, particularly since I was scheduled to give a Shabbos Hagadol drasha in our neighborhood in Yerushalayim.

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Costa Rica: The Tiny Paradise

costa rica

The first time I gave thought to Costa Rica was after viewing Jurassic Park, a 1993 science-fiction adventure film about a wildlife park of cloned dinosaurs. The setting of Steven Spielberg’s movie seemed so balmy, so pristine, so lush with greenery, that it was only natural that dinosaurs could survive there. It was supposedly on an island off Costa Rica, although I found out only while writing this article that it was actually filmed in Hawaii! Wherever it was filmed, the impression created was of a paradise of totally unspoiled nature.

* * *

Winter hit Israel, and I was catching every new virus floating in the air. I shivered from the cold and wet that seemed to penetrate the walls of my old apartment in Rechavia. One day, an email from a kosher tour company caught my eye. They were going to Costa Rica, of all places! I checked out the itinerary: volcanos, waterfalls, and parks with abundant wildlife, birds, and exotic plants. Costa Rica lies in the tropics, between 8 and 11 degrees north of the equator (about 880 miles), and I learned that the weather in January – the driest month (it rains a lot) – was in the seventies and eighties. It was tantalizing to think about taking off my heavy winter coat and walking around in short sleeves, wading through a thick jungle with screeching monkeys swinging on vines from tree to tree over my head, and watching the sun set in magnificent colors over the ocean.

Costa Rica is part of Central America. It is bounded by Nicaragua on the north and Panama on the south, and stretches between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It has four million residents, with one million living in San Jose, its capital. There are another one million illegal immigrants who fled from corrupt, war-torn Nicaragua. They do all the hard manual work in the country. Costa Rica has no army! That allows it to sponsor free compulsory education, which stabilizes the country and its democracy.

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