Are Jewish Marriages Arranged?


Rabbi reading holy scripture to Jewish couple

An arranged marriage is where a bride and groom are selected by other individuals and not themselves to enter into a union. In most cultures across the world, arranged marriages were mostly done by the parents of the prospective bride and groom. In some cultures, family members or single people would use the services of a professional matchmaker. However, in the modern world, there is a decline in arranged marriages due to individualism.

So are Jewish marriages arranged? Not all Jewish marriages are arranged, but some families and Jewish movements will arrange a marriage for some of their relatives or members, respectively. Arranged marriages have been a part of Judaism for a long time, and the practice is still going on to this day. However, Jewish weddings have never been forced. The prospective bride and groom will always have the final decision, whether they will marry each other or not.

Finding a person with great qualities to marry has become a difficult task today; hence, sometimes Jewish singles prefer arranged marriage. Read on to find more information about arranged marriages in Judaism and the Jewish matchmaker.

Are Jewish Marriages Arranged?

The practice of arranged marriages in the Jewish community has been going on for a long time. In some of the movements like orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jewish, arranged marriages are the norm. The parents prefer their children to marry within their religion.

In Judaism, the practice of arranging marriages is known as shidduchim. The parents of the single individuals will take it upon themselves to find a spouse for their children. It is important to note that the person the parents pick is not the only option; the single individual can decide whether they want to date that person or not.

The prospective bride and groom are introduced to each other by a close relative or a professional matchmaker. They will meet a few times and talk, knowing more about each other. Throughout the meeting, they will share important information and exchange their best qualities with one another. After a few sessions, the two will decide whether they want to proceed with the relationship or meet other people.

Sometimes, the parents will seek a professional matchmaker’s services to find a potential spouse for their child. A professional matchmaker is known as a shadchan. A shadchan will use their notes to arrange a meeting between a single person with their most compatible match. They do not just make random people meet; they compare the qualities the single people are looking for and see who matches best with the other.

The main objective of introducing two single individuals is to talk. The two will go on several dates with prepared questions to ask their potential spouse. Sometimes they can meet for three dates and decide to start a relationship; other times, they can even go for more than ten dates before entering into a relationship. A shadchan will guide the potential spouses through all their dates to make sure everything goes on well.

Modern single Jewish are also looking for shadchan services to find future spouses. Their services are more reliable than those of an internet dating website. Therefore, a shadchan communicates with the individuals, making their matches more realistic than merely relying on an algorithm. To reach more young Jewish singles, several websites offer shadchan services.

Both parties using a shadchan service have to be truthful. You have to present all information about you to the shadchan whether it paints you positively or negatively. It is prohibited to present false information or withholding crucial information to the shadchan or the potential spouse. Both parties rely on the information given to enter into a relationship; hence, deceiving someone with non-existent good qualities is highly discouraged.

If it is the first marriage, the single person’s parents usually arrange the meetings with potential spouses or contact a professional shadchan. If it is not their first marriage, the single individual can contact a shadchan on their own if their parents are not around.

The Jewish Matchmaker

A shadchan is a matchmaker who suggests a marriage between a prospective bride and groom and coaches them through the dating process. Anyone can be a shadchan as long as they can provide insightful information on marriage to the future bride and groom. A matchmaker can be a male or a female; a female matchmaker is known as shadchante.

A shadchan can choose to ask for payment for their matchmaking services. For those who seek the services of a professional shadchan, they have to pay a fee known as shadchonus gelt. The fees charged by a shadchan is more of a token of appreciation. If the matchmaking is successful, the couple will want to show appreciation for the shadchan’s services.

The essential skill a shadchan should have is creativity. Different couples will require different ways of guidance. Having only one way to guide couples into marriage could lead to unsuccessful matchmaking. Different forms of coaching prospective spouses will increase their success rate of finding their clients good marriages.

A shadchan should be determined. Not all dates will lead to marriage. Sometimes they can encounter a losing streak where their matches do not lead to marriage. The shadchan should not give up; they should continue finding matches and hope that their guidance can help singles find their life partners.

A shadchan should never overrepresent a person’s good qualities or suppress their bad qualities. The potential spouses need to know all about their partner before they decide to get married. A shadchan should find a way to present the good and bad qualities and make sure that the potential spouses make their decisions on their own.

One criticism of arranged marriages is that it takes away the romance. The spouses’ stage falls in love with each other and is replaced by asking each other tailored questions. There is no romantic pursuit by either of the potential spouses.

Another criticism is that the services offered by a shadchan keep marriage away from disadvantaged people. People with fewer qualities get overlooked by the shadchan as they find matches for people with good qualities only. Arranged marriages seem to be reserved for individuals with good qualities only.

An arranged marriage takes a short time compared to regular dating. After introducing two single individuals, some will go on a few dates and get engaged and married within two or three months. In normal dating, individuals can go out for even a few years before getting married; hence, a longer period to get to know a person better.

The services of shadchan may fail to protect some people from self-esteem issues. Matchmaking comes with rejections; the more a person gets rejected, the more their self-esteem suffers. If a person gets rejected by many suitors, they can give up on getting married entirely. 

Lastly

Arranged marriages seem to work for the Jewish community, and many parents opt for arranging their children’s marriage rather than allowing them to find their own spouses. The vital ingredient in the arranged marriages is the consent of the single individuals. The parents or shadchan role is to suggest the match and guide them through the dating process. The decision to get married is left to potential spouses.

Some people seem to disagree with the practice of arranging marriages for single people. Some want the romantic part back into the dating process rather than asking each other questions given to them by the shadchan. But as long as the marriage lasts long, some people will continue using shadchan services to get their spouses.

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