A novel idea is spreading through the Jewish matchmaking (shidduch) world: programs that pay cash rewards to successful matchmakers. The idea appears to be developing into a world network of volunteer shidduch programs in different Jewish communities that can communicate with each others' databases.
A similar service called Yashfeh is already in operation in Israel, for members of the religious Zionist community, but without cash rewards.
The latest development of the idea is the Toronto Shadchan Incentive Program, or Shidduch Round Table (SRT). The SRT is offering a $2,000 gift to the matchmaker (shadchan) who is able to connect a Toronto woman aged 23 or over with her life mate. However, the SRT website encourages similar initiatives worldwide, and could become the main hub for such a network.
The founders of SRT were inspired by two similar programs - the original initiative in Baltimore, operated by kashrus organization Star-K, and the Queens Shidduch Initiative. The Star-K program operated for six years and was recently discontinued, but only after it paid matchmakers (shadchanim) $320,000 for a whopping 134 matches (shidduchim). These matches may have lit a global fire; SRT is taking the idea a step further, as its website explains:
The main feature of SRT is the powerful combination of interested Shadchanim and a controlled database. Ideas are generated in the monthly meetings and upon receipt of the pertinent information, entered into a secure database. All names in the database can only be submitted by an SRT group member that personally knows the single or their family, and with the single’s permission. All names in the database can only be viewed by SRT members. SRT members can search the database to find profiles that fit their criteria. If necessary, more detailed information about those individuals can then be obtained from the member that entered the name into the SRT database.
Anyone can volunteer to form a new group in the SRT network, but a committee approves every new group before giving out a username and password.
STAR-K explained on its website that it undertook the project in order to try to solve "the Baltimore singles situation, typical of many Orthodox communities throughout the U.S." It is typical of Israeli Orthodox communities as well.
"As soon as the news hit the press, Star-K was flooded with telephone calls, letters and e-mails from around the world... 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."