Jose Webers clientele is international and with no particular profile even though the majority of the clients are between 25 and 65 and their religious sensibility is toward the ‘traditional-liberal » end of the spectrum. With a few exceptions, the ultra-Orthodox do not use his services. « I am not kosher enough for them, » but mostly because shidduch is that milieu is subject to other rules: kids get married younger and it is the parents who meet the shadchan and arrange the marriage. » A good sport, Jose Weber acknowledges how successful those old fashioned schidduchim are: « Generally these couples work well because the notion of respect due to parents, the kavod, is very important and these young people believe their parents have made the best choice for them. As for the rest, the feelings, everything is built later. »
That is why I lead 80% of my clients to a long-term relationship
And what about him? Does he get requests from parents? « Every day, Abrahams and Sarahs come to my door looking for a Rivkah for their Yitzhak or vice-versa, » he says, amused. Often they do it secretly and swear their children would never forgive them if they knew. What he observes is that, behind an embarrassed rebellion, the kids later seem rather relieved that their parents made that first appointment with the schadchan.
But he is looking for a solution to create a similar structure which would also help homosexuals find partners: « Dont those Jews have the right to a happy life?
How does the schadchan know or feel that it is going to work? « With time and experience, my instinct is becoming sharper. It often takes several unsuccessful introductions for me to be able to discern the unspoken desires of the clients and also the little shortcomings they dont want to show me. » Jose Weber explains, all the while stating that the process is « rather inexplicable. » « When I listen to people talk, images of potential partners come to my mind and sometimes it works. » Sometimes, it doesnt. And then the clients become impatient, they get angry: « Solitude is terrible. It makes people sad. It makes them lose confidence and courage. » And it is precisely this solitude and this impatience that he is mostly confronted with: when a match works, the client disappears with his newfound happiness, which Jose Weber claims gives him intense pleasure and satisfaction.
Sometimes, it is more complicated. Once a 79 year old lady registered. Jose Weber warned her that there was no suitable candidate for her at that time. But she insisted: « Knowing that maybe it could be possible, that someone was searching with her, made her happy. » And he found the rare pearl: a 91 year old, four time-widowed Jewish gentleman from Berlin. For now, Jose Weber doesnt take care of them, for fear of being blacklisted by the rabbis. Should they be condemned to solitude? As far as I am concerned, I would rather see them with Jewish partners: I want Jews to build homes with other Jews. »
The internet has expanded his village. Skype constitutes his « big shtetl, » as he calls it. He just married a Siberian lady to a Parisian man. He doesnt criticize online services, but thinks he is not playing in the same league: « On JDate everybody registers and makes his or her selection alone. Here I coach people, I accompany them, I comfort them, I help them look for what they really want. » Even more than long-term, he says, because a marriage arranged by a schadchan is a ong the couples he fixed up, he knows of only 2 divorces. Why? « Because you see the person with your local dating app brain, and the feelings only come later. Shidduch is the opposite of love at first sight. It is less romantic but more solid. »
Married to a young Israeli girl, Jose Weber experienced love at first sight. Eleven years of marriage and two children: « no one can say that the marriage was a failure, » he says. But it didnt last either. In the 80s, settled in Frankfurt, he turned to a Jewish dating agency from Strasbourg. There he found his new wife and his future profession. Several years later, he took the keys and the files and relocated the agency to his home. Shidduch became the daily task of the former financial consultant. After over a quarter century of running the business, he thinks he has helped 250 couples and speaks proudly of the children born of these unions whose births were often announced to him in beautiful letters full of gratitude.