An impressive group of over 40 shadchanim, Rabbanim and askanim gathered together last week in London, under the auspices of Hagefen, to discuss the shidduch crisis. The meeting was held in the home of Harav Baruch Leib Rabinowitz, the Biala Rebbe, who is well known for his great efforts in the field of building homes and his special approach to older unmarried people.
The guest of honor was Harav Chaim Schmerler, Rosh Yeshivah, Yeshivas Oraisa in Yerushalayim, who was accompanied by Rabbi Tuvia Freund, one of the heads of Hagefen. Rabbi Freund, as well as his other public roles, is one of the key volunteers in this holy and important organization and chaired the conference.
The Mara d’Asra, Harav Ephraim Padwa, shlita, delivered divrei brachah at the event, saying that the first mitzvah, and one of the greatest, in the Torah is to build families, by being involved in shidduchim. The Biala Rebbe said that it is necessary to assist shadchanim both with emotional and financial support. Harav Schmerler seconded the Rebbe’s point, raising the important issue that for every shidduch which comes to fruition, there are many which were suggested but which come to nothing, despite the huge amounts of effort and time invested by the shadchan. Rabbi Shemaya Lev, Dayan in Satmar, added that the mere fact that parents receive a phone call with a suggested shidduch is enough to merit Olam Haba.
Participants in the conference came from all over London and included Dayan Shmuel Simons of Golders Green. Rabbi Freund described the many activities of Hagefen and enumerated some of the many shidduchim that have come into being since the organization began. He spoke about the cooperation between all the shadchanim, with the whole kehillah in London working together in this project, mentioning particularly Rabbi Moshe Yitzchok Eckstein and Reb Sruli Korn, who also organized the conference.
Hagefen was founded in Eretz Yisrael, dealing with shidduchim for bachurim and seminary graduates in their twenties. The organization was so successful in Eretz Yisrael that an office was set up in London. This is good news for both singles and their families and it is hoped that Hagefen will be zocheh to bring many more Jewish homes into being.
Harav Schmerler is one of the creators and leaders of Lev l’Lev, which offers support and financial incentives to shadchanim who work with slightly older bachurim and seminary graduates. The organization has had great success in this area.