Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Shidduchim XIII - A Shadchan's Customer's Wish List - Part 6: Resumes 103 – If You’ve Got it, Flaunt it


Most of us know the Mishna in Taanis (26b) that states:

There were no better days for the Jewish nation than the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur. For on those days the daughters of Jerusalem would go out wearing white dresses that were borrowed so as not to shame those who did not have their own dresses… And what would they say? Young man, raise your eyes and look at what you can choose… Do not look at beauty but rather look at family pedigree…

Later on, the gemara elaborates (31a – Ein Yaakov version):
The pretty ones would say, “Set your eyes on beauty for a woman is only for beauty.” The pedigreed ones would say, “Set your eyes on pedigree for a woman is only for children.” The affluent ones would say, “Set your eyes on those who are wealthy (for a woman is only for Kollel – YH).” The simple (poor) ones would say, “Make your acquisition for the sake of Heaven but you must adorn us with jewels.”

Who said there is no place for speed dating in our tradition?

In any case, there is something a bit odd about this gemara. Initially it tells us that the girls must only wear dresses borrowed from another girl so as not to shame one who is lacking. In other words, the gemara seems concerned that there should be a level playing field. Yet, immediately after this, the gemara is encouraging each girl to flaunt their unique strong points. They would specifically compete for a husband by declaring what benefits that they have and that the next girl doesn’t. No more concerns about shaming those who are lacking!

What gives?

One easy answer is that without anything decent to wear, the impoverished girls would not show up at all. We at least would like all eligible candidates to show up. But, perhaps, we can say something more. Anybody can masquerade. We can all dress up as a doctor or soldier or policeman but this does not mean that we are one. Clothes can be deceptive and give false impressions, and they may distract the suitors from the true attributes of the candidates. With this edict, the boys play the market in full knowledge that whatever each girl is wearing is not hers and they must look deeper into her true essence.

Still and all, we learn from this gemara that as far as personal character traits as well as wealth and yichus are concerned, there are no holds barred. Each girl is expected to make the most of their positive attributes and be competititve. All is fair in love and war.

In short, the message is: If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Let’s see another gemara. This one is in Sota 10a. The gemara is discussing the adventures of Shimshon the Gibor and a place called Timna. The gemara notes that, regarding Shimshon, the pasuk tells us, “And Shimshon went down to Timna…” Regarding Yehuda and his daughter-in-law, Tamar, many years earlier, the pasuk says, “Behold your father-in-law has gone up to Timna…”

The gemara is puzzled, does one go down to Timna or go up to Timna? Among the various explanations, the third of which – the one quoted by Rashi in Chumash – is that Timna was located on a sloping plane. One who is originating from the higher side is going down to Timna. One who originates from the lower side is going up to Timna.

We learn from here that it is not always enough just to know where somebody is. To get the complete picture, we must also know where this person has been. Has he come up from a lower place or gone down from a higher place.

I noted in an earlier post that shidduch resumes are very similar to employment resumes. An employer wants to see from the resume a number of things. One of which is: What makes you more suitable for my purposes than the next person? What can you bring to the table that somebody else cannot?

Another is: I am not only interested in where you are. I am interested in where you’ve been. Why? Because it is only by way of comparing where you are now against where you have previously been that I can make a judgement about where you are headed!

This is the basis of my personal philosophy about shidduch resumes.

(1) The resumes should be selfishly ruthless about highlighting your unique selling points and don’t feel sorry for anybody else.

(2) The resume should present as complete a background of the individual as is safely possible.

With this in mind, we can now delve further into the secrets of a shidduch resume.  Until now, we analyzed how to present the basic information that applies to everybody – Name, address, age, height, position. We can now discuss family and education where some people have “assets” that other people don’t.

Note – It goes without saying that all of the ground rules and notes of the previous resume posts (see them HERE) are still in effect. Also, you are urged to refer to the sample shidduch resume that was provided in the previous posts. Click HERE for the sample.



Education

This topic is relatively straight forward. Just list the schools that you’ve attended in chronological order. I have seen a few resumes where the writer added the year of graduation after each school. I have not done this for my children but it is still a very good idea.

Here again, it is best to give a complete picture so start at the beginning - elementary/primary school. Obviously, the reader is mainly interested in the hashkafic status of the schools and he wants to see which hashkafos the schools adhere to and if the trend of schools is consistent. Has the family or girl/boy gone from modern to strict or strict to modern? Chassidish to Litvish or vice versa? Was the day school Chabad? Was there a change in communities or neighborhoods along the way?

Quite obviously, the earlier schools indicate the hashkafic views of the parents. The later schools indicate the hashkafic views of the girl/boy.



Camps

Many resumes list camps and, frankly, this is meaningless to me. Firstly, from where I am at, I don’t know one camp from another. Besides that, it doesn’t say much about the girl unless the hashkafa of the camp is a clear departure from the hashkafos of the schools that she went to. It does say that the parents either had the money or scrounged up the money to send the kids to camp. But since many resumes leave it out and there can be so many reasons for one not to have gone to camp, I think this topic is expendable.



Work

If you are currently working this really belongs in the next topic. What I want to discuss here is even if you are not working now, it is a good idea to list any past work experience that you may have, such as if you had summer jobs or worked in a camp as a counselor or lifeguard or whatever, or if you are a school substitute. Firstly, it gives the impression that you are not spoiled, that you capitalize on your spare time, and that you may have a few bucks salted away.

These may all be false impressions, but false impressions count in this game!



Currently

Of course, after all of your history, the reader wants to know what you are doing now. Are you still in school? Are you working? Both? Neither? Are you career oriented or just doing something to look respectable while you await Prince Charming (or Moshiach)? Are you in the middle of a higher education program which will need to be either carried on after marriage or else wastefully scuttled? Are you doing something that can easily be transferred to another location? And, most important, what kind of earning power do you have?

Since these are what the reader wants to know, it is best to present this in its best light. Also, it is vitally important that your resume be as up-to-date as possible. I received one resume in late 2015 where the most recent activity of the girl was 2012-2013. It wasn’t merely that this was an old resume, it was more than two full years out of date. In truth, the shadchan did tell us it was an old resume, but she never came up with an updated one.

This girl did not get a date!



Special Interests

Almost no resumes had a field for this. But why not? If you are talented in music or graphics or can sew or bake, it is only going to make you more desirable. I wrote the foreword to this post to exclaim that there is no room for humility in shidduchim. If you’ve got something special, flaunt it!



Parents

Honor thy father and thy mother – no less, when you are preparing a resume. So I ask: Why are so many resumes skimpy on details concerning the parents?

The answer is simple. Most of the time it is one of the parents who is preparing the resume. And they do not have the presence of mind to honor themselves! And, all too often, they don’t have the presence of mind to honor their own parents, either. We will discuss grandparents a bit later.

Most of the resumes that I have seen do not tell us much about the girl’s – or boy’s – parents. This is sad because, if the apple does not fall far from the tree, you really want to have a good look at the tree. Personally, I want to get a look at the entire orchard but this seems to be asking a bit much. The sample resume that I have dutifully provided will tell you the minimum that I think a resume should divulge about the parents. Here goes.



Name

In this department I have more or less the same expectations and complaints as I wrote in the last post about the girl’s name. For all of the same reasons: Derech eretz, hakpados, tefillos, and mazal. So the parents’ names should be formal and complete. One important thing is that we are currently discussing resumes for the chareidi/yeshivish/Torah-oriented tzibbur. The least you can do is look Jewish!

I have seen far too many resumes where the parents are listed as Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty, Ralph and Alice, Sheldon and Amy, and Max and 99! Secular names indicate that the parents are secular people. I am not sure why people are not hesitant to project this kind of image. One recent resume where the mother was named “Ellen” prompted me to insist on checking four doros of mothers. It took a few emails to the shadchan to find out her name is Chava. Why couldn’t the resume just tell me that??

It doesn’t really bother me or disqualify the shidduch if the father’s name is Ira or Jeff (got both of those), especially if they’re loaded; but, come on – put the cards on the table. I couldn’t start to guess what the Jewish names are (for “Ira”, I never found out). If “everyone calls him Mitch” then put “Mitch” in parentheses.



Born In

I suppose we cannot expect a complete profile on the parents (although I would love it), but at least if we know where they started off, and we know where they are now, we can get an idea of where they’ve been in between. Of course, we definitely want to know if either parent is Israeli or European or from Mexico or South America which may indicate, among other cultural issues, that the girl’s mother tongue may not be English.

This also can be a good tipoff if either parent was not raised religious (How many frum Jews were there in Albuquerque in 1970?)



Mother’s Maiden Name

Certainly, 90% of the resumes are thoughtful enough to indicate the mother’s family name. What bugs me is the other 10%. We all like to play Jewish Geography and Name Association especially with shidduch suggestions. We may just find a link. The father’s family name only tells us half the story. What about the other side? Was the mother conceived in a test tube?



Yeshiva (for Father) and Schooling (for Mother)

Just because I used the analogy of “apple not falling far from the tree”, this does not mean that I think a girl’s parents should be presented as if they are planks of wood. Every scarecrow has a brain and, if not, this shidduch is not for us. I want my son to marry a bas Talmid Chacham (as a preference) so a resume that gives me an idea that the father is a Talmid Chacham will trump one that doesn’t. Did the father have a strong Torah education? Did the mother go to a Bais Yaakov type school or something more to the “left”?

I am not interested if the parents are college educated because if they have professional careers, it means they are and if they don’t, it means that a college education wasn’t a factor for them anyway.

I understand that if your parents went to public school you may not want to put that in. But if your parents went to prominent yeshivos and girls’ schools, it will help you, so why leave it out?

In addition, knowing what schools your parents went to makes it much easier to find common acquaintances (Oh, my chavrusa went to that Yeshiva. He probably knows the father!) This will always give a shidduch suggestion a running start.



Occupation

Every resume is good on this and this is self-explanatory.



Where Father Davens

This is likewise a standard for resumes, but there are some that let it slip. Be sure not to let it slip, and if your father has no shul, then “build” one!



Assarah Yuchsin

For those who do not understand what this means, this is a term adopted from the gemara in Kiddushin that indicates the family status in the Jewish “Caste” system. Is the father a Kohen, Levi, or Yirsroel (or Ger, Mamzer, Slave, Democrat or whatever)?

I have never seen this in a resume but I think it is a must. Especially on a boy’s resume. I suppose it is often overlooked because the default is a regular Yisroel and many Kohanim or Leviim have surnames that give them away. Still it is definitely vital to indicate if a boy is a Kohen for Halachic reasons that I hope to discuss in the final installment of this series. It is a good idea to indicate if one is a Levi as well. I am a bit perturbed that the best of the Jewish people really live with the mindset that moshiach will never come in their lifetime. It will happen in some far off generation.

Well, many chashuva people, weirdos, autistics, NDEs and bloggers are convinced that the big day is right around the corner and the Assara Yuchsin will really mean something. Kohanim will have to live like true Kohanim (in addition to what they need to observe today) as well as Leviim. Every girl who marries one needs to know that this is for real and they need to be up to the task.

Once we understand this, even a boy (Yisroel) should be aware if he is marrying into a family of Kohanim or Leviim, because, even though the geula will not have a direct impact on him (he won’t change), but his in-laws will become different people and he also has to be prepared.

One more thing. If your name is Cohen or Cohn or Kohn or Kaplan or something like that and you are not a Kohen, it is a very good idea to make this clear. (This is for Halachic reasons which I will not discuss here. However, it may even be an obligation to do so to avoid gneivas daas.)



Siblings

You may notice in my resume that this is the department where I chose to cut corners (and save some space). Obviously, this has to do with the fact that my children have, Bli ayin Hara, a very long list of siblings.

Of course, it is best to list each sibling one by one and to state what he or she is currently doing. I am also a big fan of posting ages, even though I did not go through the trouble. This tells us the precise order and spacing of the siblings. For those who do so, it is better to just write the Year of Birth for each sibling than the current age. This is because ages change and YOBs do not. You don't want to have to update your resume every time a sibling has a birthday. 

It is important to be specific about the older siblings because we definitely need to know who is already married (hopefully all the sisters are) and to whom. The younger siblings are not so much of a factor but we certainly want to know how they are being educated. In my resume, I saved a few lines by bunching the younger ones together.



Grandparents

This topic inspired the title of this post: If You’ve Got ‘Em, Flaunt ‘Em. And it is probably the most contentious topic. This is because this is where the playing field goes multi-level and one can be light years ahead of the competition.

If you are fortunate enough to have two sets of living grandparents who are religious (and have always been) and who jointly sired your parents forty or fifty or however many years ago, and who are still married to each other today, you have a gold mine of assets.

Tell the world about your grandparents! You won’t be sorry!

What signals are you broadcasting if you have such grandparents and you include them?

First and foremost, just including them indicates that they are a part of your life. There is a chain of filial attachment in your background and there is no reason why you will not continue it. It shows that there is a history of family pride, Jewish tradition, continuity, and stability. Secondly, it indicates health and longevity. Thirdly, it indicates a tradition of shalom bayis. And, finally, it indicates an additional layer of parenting benefits including moral and financial support and challahs and cookies!

Trust me, these are what every decent person wants the most in a shidduch and these “signals” will be read. You will be a catch!

Even if the grandparents are infirm and no longer active and totally destitute, if they are alive, make a point of their existence! You do not need to mention that they are infirm and penniless and have bickered with each other their whole lives. Just their being there is going to send all these wonderful signals whether they are true or not, and it will put you ahead of the pack.

Unfortunately, for many people, some or all of the grandparents are no longer with us. In many cases, the grandparents did not have good health or shalom bayis (were divorced). Likewise, many sets of grandparents are not or were not religious. The longevity isn’t there, the stability and continuity isn’t there. The Jewish tradition isn’t there. The moral and financial support isn’t there. And, the challahs and cookies aren’t there.

All this is very unfortunate and it is nobody’s fault. These families are clearly at a disadvantage. So the question is, do we say: Let’s leave out the grandparents שלא לבייש את מי שאין להם?

As I have said numerous times, my position is: Take no prisoners. Put your best foot forward. When you have something as valuable as grandparents, put them on full display!

Indeed, aside from my children’s resumes, from all of those in my dataset, only four other resumes listed the grandparents. As you would guess, they all came from well-established FFB families. In two cases, the grandfathers on one side were no longer alive but were prominent people. And all of them potentially interested us. (Two we had to turn down for other reasons but the other two we gave a green light. One turned us down flat and the other nixed the shidduch simply because the father’s name was the same as my son’s first name.)

After all this, even if some or all of the grandparents are no longer with us, it sends some very good signals to still refer to them. Aside from this, the information of family origin (grandparents originally from Poland or Russia or Iran and they came before the war or after the war or during the war or before the American Revolution, or whatever) is also useful information. You can refer to the sample resume to see how I presented the details about the grandparents.

Sof davar, good grandparents are a rare commodity and, as always, squeeze them for all they’ve got!



Special Yichus

Even though this might come across as a bit boastful, I really do not see any harm in mentioning in a note that you are a Tzanzer Einikle or your family comes from the GR”A or Chasam Sofer or the Maharal or, as is our case, from the Golem of Prague. It’s okay if a shidduch resume is a little bit self-aggrandizing.

Although I have not really ever seen special yichus in a resume itself, I have gotten it as a follow up on some shidduch prospects.



References

This topic, as well, is a standard. Every resume has references - the usual suspects. But even this topic should have a few tips.

·         Don’t overload it. One resume that really turned me off was a one page resume that was almost nothing but references. It had phone numbers for everybody except for the girl herself. The message I read into it was: “I am not going to tell you much about me. Here, go call these folks and find out for yourself.” We didn’t bother.

·         Make sure the references are not hard to reach. If people are hard to reach, have limited hours, or only take messages, say so in the resume.

·         Don’t forget to include Mechutanim! – The first people that I want to contact when looking into a shidduch are the Mechutanim. Why? Because if this shidduch works, this is what I am going to be.  Another mechutan! So I want to know from existing Mechutanim what it’s like. How well do they get along with these people and how smoothly the wedding arrangements came off? Also, it is the best way of finding out if this family is financially supportive of the previous young couple(s) and to what extent. Lastly, since the Mechutanim are usually not lifelong friends of the family in question, there is a better likelihood that they won’t sugar-coat the “sordid” details and I may get a more realistic report.

Of course a typical resume includes the number of the family Rav (although in some cases, the head of the family is the Rav). I usually do not call the family Rav unless I have a specific concern such as yichus (for Baalei teshuva parents) or a suspicion of health. Otherwise, there is no point since all I will hear is a mi-shebeirach.



Extras

By now, we have covered all of the standard features of a decent resume and we threw in a few extras such as Special Interests and Special Yichus. As you can see, I am a firm believer in padding a resume with whatever extras you have reasonable space for. I have seen some unique features on some resumes and these features always make this resume call for attention.

What other extras will help a resume?

Support

Well, one girl unabashedly put on her resume:

We are prepared BS”D to help with support


Let me tell you that this called our attention and actually went for three dates! I highly recommend it.



Dor Yesharim

One girl only (I think) put her Dor Yesharim number on her resume. I don’t do it with ours but I do like the idea.



Languages

If you speak multiple languages, you may want to mention it. Of course, this may intimidate a potential one-language suitor, so you may not want to.



Location Preference

If you have a strong preference to live in a certain place or not to live there, and especially if you have a strong preference to live in Eretz Yisroel, you may want to make a note of it.



Weight and Dress Size

Just kidding!



What I am Looking For

Although I haven’t seen it so much in the “Yeshivish” resumes, the more open ones like to put a “What I am Looking For” paragraph. I personally think this should be more in vogue in Yeshivish resumes, and I wonder why it is not. I suppose that many girls (and boys) are reluctant to be too descriptive about what they want for fear it will cost them some opportunities. Also, it could be that lots of people don’t really know what they want. All told, I personally don’t see how it could be anything but helpful. Your call.



As I stated in my previous post, the most interesting and unique resume that I have yet to receive came from the Israeli based girl “Devorah Nechama”. It was full of unusual extras. She wrote all of the following (mildly edited):

Personality/Appearance:  Very kind, giving, fun loving, strong sense of emuna and emunas chachamim.  Dresses fashionably with a sensitivity to being tzanua.

Plans for the Future: I am presently learning in a course…  I am also learning in a course to become a medical secretary, while simultaneously working...

Geographical Preference:  Eretz Yisrael.

Health: Good, BH

Family Health: Good, BH

Dor Yesharim:  Yes



What I am Looking For in Marriage:

  • To build a bayis ne'eman B'Yisrael, to grow with my spouse in middos, chesed and Avodas H-shem. 
  • I would like my husband to learn full time for the first few years of our marriage…
  • It is important to me that my husband is sensitive and caring with a fun and upbeat spirit.
  • I am looking for a litvish boy who will feel comfortable with my family’s connection to chassidut.
  • I am fine with doing litvish minhagim(e.g. Pesach, etc)



Spare Time:  Listen to Jewish music, help with our family organization for helping kallas from needy families, help around the house, and help sisters with their children, exercise

Strongest Midda: A good heart:  Giving and able to be מוותר for others. Eager to help.

Parent's impression: Very considerate of and sensitive to other people’s feelings, emotional and caring. Fun loving with a good sense of humor. Strong emunah.



Even though for whatever reasons, this girl was not a priority match for Yossi, I was very impressed with this resume. She didn’t just throw information on a sheet of paper. She sat down and thought about what the person who is receiving this resume would want to know. And she delivered. She is telling the reader, among other things, that she means business. It was certainly a one-of-a-kind resume and it screams loud and clear that she is a one-of-a-kind girl.

Incidentally, I wrote earlier that this was one of only two girls who had a 2-page resume. By now it should be abundantly clear that any well-written resume will require more than one page (unless you have very few siblings and no grandparents and not much education). Of course, it is not a wise thing to go beyond two pages. 

If all resumes were similar to this it would make a shadchan’s life much easier and help get shidduchim off the ground a lot quicker. I believe if there would be more resumes like this then there would ultimately be less resumes like this because more people would be married and the resumes could be permanently archived.

So, as a customer of a shadchan, if I could get my wish, perhaps many others could also get theirs.

No comments: