Last chance to make a STAR-K Shidduch
Six years ago, STAR-K undertook the goal of trying to solve the Baltimore singles situation, typical of many
Orthodox communities throughout the U.S. Offering a cash incentive for a period of one year to anyone who
successfully arranged a shidduch for a woman in Baltimore’s Orthodox community, STAR-K hoped that its gift would
act as a dual incentive: first, for professional shadchanim worldwide in order to put Baltimore women on the top
of their singles lists, and second for “would-be shadchanim” and acquaintances to keep Baltimore women in mind.
STAR-K has since renewed this Shidduch Incentive Program annually, raising the initial gift from $2,000 to $2,500. We are pleased to announce that this program has been a great success, as well as an inspiration for other cities to help their singles. To date (no pun intended!), STAR-K has paid out $320,000 for a total of 134 matches.
Regretfully, STAR-K will no longer be able to fund this program. However, all shidduchim made before Purim 5771
(March 20, 2011) will be honored.
STAR-K’S SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM LIGHTS UP THE SHIDDUCH WORLD
Mrs. Margie Pensak
Long before the news of the first official “Star-K engagement” circulated, Baltimore’s Star-K headquarters tasted success. The actual distribution of the $2,500 cash “gift” incentive, on top of the customary shadchanus for the successful matches made for Baltimore’s Orthodox women, was not the sole measure of accomplishment.
Star-K’s novel attempt at remedying the universal singles problem locally was made with the twin hope of inspiring the launching of similar programs by organizations and individuals in other “out-of-town” communities. As soon as the news hit the press, Star-K was flooded with telephone calls, letters and e-mails from around the world.
“Do you have someone for my son/daughter who lives here in Switzerland (Australia, England, etc.)?” “Who in Baltimore knows the single women of your community so we can make shidduchim for them?”
After we established the fact that Star-K’s primary function is that of a kashrus agency, rather than a shidduch agency, we provided those who contacted us with a list of Baltimore shadchanim. We had lit a fire in the matchmaking world! It suddenly seemed as though the whole world was making shidduchim - professional and lay person alike.
We definitely were getting attention! News got back to us that a Rav of a shul in Far Rockaway, during his Shabbos drasha, spoke about our offer, and how it should inspire his congregants to make shidduchim. The next thing we knew, at least two other communities were emulating us, jumping on the bandwagon to help their local women. Shortly after, something ironic happened.
The Gemara says, whoever davens for a fellow yid concerning something which he needs himself will be answered first. Just one month after the incentive was offered in Baltimore, two young women who were employed by the Star-K became engaged. Just eleven days later, the daughter of a Star-K employee became engaged. Although none of the shadchanim of these three young women qualified for the $2,500 cash gift, since the kallahs were all under the qualifying age of 22 years and 2 months, they were amongst the first to be answered, as everyone in the office davened for the program’s success.
Within hours of our third “internal” Star-K shidduch, the qualifying Star-K shidduchim started to roll in - ten of them, within seven months of the initiation of the program.
How did some of these shadchanim think of their ideas? In one case, it was a matter of setting up a former classmate with a brother’s friend. In another, a local woman matched up her friend’s daughter with her son’s best friend. And in yet another case, the shadchan paired her friend’s daughter with her son’s chavrusa--a young man she had never personally met until the engagement party!
Equally as amazing, was the shidduch inspired by a long distance telephone conversation between cousins in Silver Spring, Maryland and Yerushalayim. It was not a coincidence that the call was placed from the States at the exact time her cousin’s single British guest was visiting from London. After speaking with him, the shadchan immediately thought of the idea and suggested it to the 40-year-old single woman she had in mind for him who lived half way around the world, in Baltimore.
Perhaps these Star-K shidduchim would have been made in any case, despite the Star-K incentive. Who knows? One thing is for sure. Klal Yisroel can only stand to gain when we have the welfare of our fellow yidden in mind, by putting forth the effort to help our singles - wherever they live - build a bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel!
Striking Matches: Star-K Partnering with Shadchanim
The newest member of the Star-K “family” will not bear the familiar Star-K logo - not on a label, not on a plumba. In fact, this reflects the uniqueness of our non-profit lay organization, and, perhaps, explains our essence. Yes, milk and meat matters are only a part of Star-K’s commitment in serving the kosher consumer the world over. However, research and education of all “non-edible” mitzvos, from shatnes to Sabbath mode appliances, is a priority at Star-K, as well.
The mitzvah of marriage, sparking a “kosher match”, and providing an incentive for shadchanim, is the newest focus of Star-K. Attempting to do its part to alleviate the universal singles “crisis” the American Orthodox community is experiencing, Star-K is offering a $2,500 cash “gift” for the successful shidduchim of women in Baltimore’s Orthodox community - Star-K’s hometown. This is an additional incentive, on top of the customary shadchanus from the parents of the choson and kallah. According to Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Rabbinic Administrator of the Star-K, “The concept of offering monetary incentives to promote shidduchim is sanctioned by Chazal” (See Rosh, Kedushin 30b, paragraph 43).
If you are a single woman, or the parents of daughters, chances are you, better than anyone, understand the problem. The eligible bachelor seems to have a long list of potential marriage partners. The eligible young lady sits patiently by the telephone, hoping that it will ring with a suggestion of a possible suitor. As the telltale saying goes in shadchanus: “A boy needs a secretary, a girl needs an agent.”
There are various theories as to why this problem exists. Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that the singles population is getting larger and older. Thousands of single Jewish women, of all ages, who are shomrei Torah and mitzvos, are finding it difficult to find a suitable match. There are many single observant Jewish women in Baltimore, whose numbers are on the increase. A significant number of divorcees and widows, contribute to these statistics, as well.
National organizations, such as the Agudath Israel of America and the National Council of Young Israel, have long recognized the worsening problem, which is contributing to the emotional pain of our singles. Agudath Israel of America, together with N’Shei Agudath Israel, addressed this issue at the annual National Agudah Convention, in establishing the New York based shidduch agency, Invei Hagefen. Similarly, since 2001, the National Council of Young Israel initiated an annual Shidduchim conference for singles, marrieds, parents, and, matchmakers to help tackle the challenge. Other Orthodox organizations have recognized the crisis and are doing their part by introducing programs that facilitate the matchmaking process.
The Star-K is attempting to help remedy the Baltimore singles situation, which is typical of that in Orthodox communities throughout the United States. It is offering the $2,500 cash incentive (for a period of one year), to anyone who successfully arranges a shidduch for a woman in Baltimore’s Orthodox community. Please note: Effective January 1, 2010, the STAR-K award will only be paid to shadchanim who have received a minimum shadchanus fee of $1500 paid by the choson and kallah or their families. Star-K hopes that b’ezras Hashem, its gift will act as a dual incentive: for professional shadchanim, worldwide, to put Baltimore women on the top of their singles lists, and for “would-be shadchanim” and acquaintances to keep Baltimore women in mind.
According to Dr. Avrom Pollak, President of Star-K, “What we are hoping to accomplish is to get anyone--living in any community--who knows a Baltimore single woman, to make that extra effort in arranging an introduction with a suitable eligible man.”
For the shadchan of a successful shidduch to qualify for this gift, the following conditions apply:
- The single woman must be at least 22-years and 2-months old at the time the engagement is announced. There is no upper age limit.
- Widows and divorcees are included.
- The couple must be committed to observing the laws of kashrus, Shabbos, and taharas hamishpacha.
- Parents, grandparents, children, siblings, sibling-in-laws, and aunts and uncles of the single woman or man are not eligible for the gift. Cousins and other relatives who arrange a shidduch are eligible.
- A Baltimore woman is defined as:
- Her parents must have lived in Baltimore for one year and have purchased a house there, or have rented a dwelling there for two years. If she lives in Baltimore alone, without family, she must have lived in Baltimore for two years (student years do not count).
- A Baltimorean living in New York or elsewhere, for less than two years, whose parents are presently living in Baltimore, is eligible.
- Note: Effective January 1, 2010, the STAR-K award will only be paid to shadchanim who have received a minimum shadchanus fee of $1500 paid by the choson and kallah or their families. All qualifications must be met before the chasana.
- Requests for payment of the Star-K gift must be made, in writing, by the shadchan to Star-K (122 Slade Avenue, Suite 300, Baltimore, MD, 21208), within 30 days of the engagement. Both sets of parents, or both the choson and kallah, must confirm who the shadchan or shadchanim are.
- If more than one person was involved in the introduction of the couple, the $2,500 award will be divided amongst the parties according to traditional guidelines. For example, if one person thought of the idea and asked a professional to arrange it, the one who thought of it gets 1/3 of the shadchanus and the professional gets 2/3 of the shadchanus.
- If the shidduch breaks up, chas v’shalom, before the wedding, Star-K is exempt from paying the gift.
- Payment of the gift will be made by Star-K within 30 days after the chasana.
- The initial introduction of the couple (i.e., the first meeting of the couple) must not have been made prior to, the first night of Chanukah, 5770 (December 11, 2009).
- All disputes, e.g., who is the shadchan, questions regarding eligibility, etc., will be settled by Star-K Rabbinic Administrator, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita, whose decision will be final.
“We hope that Star-K will serve as an inspiration for organizations or individuals in other “out-of-town” communities to launch similar programs.”
Questions regarding this program should be forwarded to:
Star-K Shidduch Incentive Program
122 Slade Avenue, Suite 300, Baltimore, Maryland 21208
Telephone: (410) 484-4110, Fax: (410) 653-9294