| Street Smarts |

The Shadchan

My driver thought for a minute, then pulled out his phone and called a boy from Los Angeles and announced that he had a girl for him

As told to Sandy Eller by Shiya Zeitman

T

he moral of the story is, when you’re the father of a child who’s dating, always carry a picture with you. And be sure to ask everyone you meet if they might know someone suitable, because you just never know who the right shaliach will be.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A few years ago, I took a trip to the Far East. I’d usually travel to China with my boss, and we would spend Shabbos together, eating in our rooms at Kowloon’s Shangri-La Hotel after minyan was over. But on this particular trip, my boss had to cancel at the last minute, and I went solo. Not wanting to spend Shabbos alone, I arranged to have my seudos next door at Rabbi Netanel Meoded’s Kehilat Zion shul. I found myself seated across from two lovely gentlemen with whom I shared a beautiful meal, spirited conversation, and leibidig zemiros.

Six months later, I headed overseas again, this time to visit my children in Eretz Yisrael. When I landed in Tel Aviv, I chose the biggest, burliest nahag I could find to drive me and all the stuff I shlepped from New York to Yerushalayim. He threw my heavy suitcases on top of his taxi like they weighed nothing. I don’t speak Hebrew, so I expected the ride from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim to be pretty quiet and uneventful, but I soon discovered that Adi Benatar, my muscular driver, was fluent in English. He told me proudly that he was a favorite at the Mir, taking the bochurim wherever they needed to go, and that he knew them and even their parents quite well.

 

As the father of a daughter in the parshah, my ears perked up and I did what any parent of a girl in shidduchim would do — I pulled out a picture of my daughter and showed it to him, asking if maybe he knew a nice boy for her. I know, it was a long shot… but when your daughter is of age, you take advantage of any opportunity.

My driver thought for a minute, then pulled out his phone and called a boy from Los Angeles and announced that he had a girl for him. I don’t think either of us were surprised when the young man hung up on him — after all, when you think shadchanim, a tattooed taxi driver isn’t what you usually picture. But this guy was persistent and he kept calling back, refusing to give up. The bochur finally relented and said that he was traveling to New York in two weeks, and if everything checked out, maybe he would go out with my daughter.

Both sides got to work making inquiries, and two weeks later, we were all in. The yeshivah bochur walked in, and the minute he saw my daughter, I knew this was it. I mouthed the words mazel tov to my wife, who pantomimed back, you’re crazy. But that date led to another and then another and another, and before we knew it, our daughter was a kallah, thanks to the efforts of a persistent Israeli taxi driver. Adi was stunned when we called him to share the good news, and we made sure he got his well-earned shadchanus.

It was only later that we found out that when our mechutanim were researching the shidduch, they heard that I often made trips to Hong Kong. They contacted a friend of theirs who also travels to the Far East and asked if he knew me. Their friend was one of the two men I met that Shabbos when I was alone in Hong Kong, and he gave them a glowing report.

And that’s the story of how a boy from Los Angeles who was learning in Yerushalayim met a girl from Boro Park, and they got married, thanks to a Shabbos meal in China. Because when it comes to Israeli taxi drivers, they really know how to go the distance.

Shiya Zeitman, who worked in electronics for many decades, is the director of product development at a spice company. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

 

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 830)

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