PARTNERS IN SHIDDUCHIIM IS CREATING A GLOBAL SHIDDUCH REVOLUTION – A FREE GLOBAL SHIDDUCH DATABASE IN EVERY JEWISH HOME. READ SHIRA JACOBSON’S ARTICLE TO HEAR WHAT SHE HAS TO SAY ABOUT THE “NEW NORM
Imagine a society in which people’s livelihood is determined by brokers. In this society, if a person is seeking a job, he must do so by means of a broker. These brokers are in charge of matching up all of the people seeking jobs with all of the jobs that exist. Every available job is controlled by these brokers, who are entrusted to find the best candidates to fill it.
When meeting with the broker, the job seeker is assessed and assigned a points value in the brokers head, largely based on external criteria such as family pedigree and how much money the candidates family has. The protocol in this society is that when the broker makes a suitable job offer, both the candidate and the employer will give a token amount to the broker based on what they can afford. Those who are likely to pay a higher fee to the broker naturally have a higher value to the broker .
Since there are far fewer jobs than job seeking candidates, the brokers will assign the best and highest paying jobs to the candidates who have scored the highest on their assessment. All other candidates are either ignored and do not even get a courtesy call back, or are offered the lowest paying most undesirable jobs.
By default, masses of people become dependent on brokers’ good graces. The thousands of job seekers, even if they are very qualified, may sit waiting for months with no calls of job offers because unbeknownst to them they have been assigned a low net worth by the brokers due to bad family history or lack of money. The brokers, meanwhile, are emboldened and empowered by this system. Only a minority of high scorers land jobs, while the numbers of unemployed keep growing.
Now, most people reading this narrative of a fictional society will scratch their heads and say to themselves that something is very wrong with this society because it would be unfathomable for people, thousands of people, who rely on much smaller group of people, who barely know anything about them, and in many cases don’t have any vested interest in them, to ensure their livelihood. In fact, most people would think it ludicrous that such a society would even exist because it is a system that promotes unemployment and would not be able to sustain itself. It is a society that would eventually produce a mass revolt: to remove the brokers and have the masses determine their own destinies.
As crazy as it sounds, this is exactly the kind of society we, the frum community of 2018, have created in recent years except that it is not job seekers at the mercy of brokers, but singles at the mercy of shadchanim that is the problem.
In recent years, we have created a system where the destinies of thousands of singles are in the hands of the few shadchanim. Many of the shadchanim are well meaning, but because of the large amount of singles, compared to the small number of shadchanim, they do not know the singles well, and have no vested interest other than the fee to be collected once a match is made.
Many singles wait for the phone to ring with a suggestion, but the calls do not come. In this system we have created, it is mainly the wealthiest and most prestigious who get worthy suggestions. All others are simply ignored or offered matches that are not suitable at all. The number of singles continues to grow and there are many older singles whose prospects of getting married get slimmer each year. Furthermore, because this has become the “norm” in our frum world, our singles have no choice but to subject themselves to this unfair system.
The problem has become so widespread that we have coined the term “Shidduch Crisis” and indeed it is a crisis of epic proportions. What I am saying is not news. It has been lamented and analyzed and reanalyzed for years now. Various suggestions have been made as to how best to deal with the problem, mostly by maintaining the current status quo but slightly changing the “rules” of this twisted system.
This has been a futile effort. The Shidduch Crisis still exists, and continues to loom even larger. A drastic change needs to take place very soon and if it does not the future of Am Yisrael is at stake. Power must be removed from the shadchanim to determine the destiny of single people, and the singles themselves must be given the right and the power to determine their own destinies by meeting each other in dignified ways.
Parties, events, and lectures where singles can mingle and meet each other naturally must become the new norm even for ALL singles INCLUDING yeshiva students. The only way for this to happen is for the leaders of our generation to take up this cry — both Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshiva. This is the only way to change a system that is only working for a small minority.
You may say that this is not kosher or frum; it is not the tradition or the Torah way. But this is incorrect. Yes, there is historical precedent in the Torah for a shadchan system, but in the Talmud, but there is also mention of singles meeting each other.
The Torah values marriage and family, and whatever method works to accomplish this is what the frum society should adopt. The advent of the shadchan as we know it today is a relatively modern invention, and it is clearly not working in our generation. We must implement a system that works for the Hamon Am, not just for the elite few.
Please do not say that we can have it both ways — we all know that if we say the elite will still go with the shadchan system but the others should go with whatever methods will work for them, then we will simply propagate the status quo.
Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshiva must make the new norm the norm for EVERYONE including the “elite”.
I know this may sound very radical, but it is no more radical than Sarah Schenirer’s plan in the early 1900s to create a religious educational framework for girls. Sora Schenirer was one of the few who recognized there was a crisis brewing whereby many Jewish young women were in danger of assimilation because they had no religious education. She realized it was an es laasos — a time to take radical action and went against the tide and fought against the backlash to for the radical solution to the crisis that was to change the Jewish future.
Many vehemently opposed her including rabbanim and leaders, yet she persevered, slowly gained support and managed to create a new societal norm which ultimately saved the Jewish people.
We are facing a similar crisis today. The future of Am Yisrael is in danger. We must act NOW. We must change the norm of shidduchim. Rabbanim must take a stand and encourage singles to meet and mingle on their own. This method of meeting must be encouraged and endorsed by our leaders for ALL singles. It should become the norm to have singles seated together at a wedding.
If our leaders will take a stand and change the norms to a system of mingling and meeting that worked very well for making shidduchim both in the days of the Talmud, as well as for our parents and grandparents we can avoid the disastrous direction in which we are headed, and we will ensure a better and brighter future for future generations.
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Open Your Mind
The letter below was not written by me, as you will see, but I, along with many others, feel that it is a very important one. This letter paints an accurate picture of much of what’s going on regarding shidduchim and why there are so many singles still looking. Maybe, if enough people see this, it will make more of an impression.
The wording and descriptions that people use in their resumes are analyzed, and ideas are vetoed even before checking things out. If there is a picture, the shidduch is often passed up because “it’s not my look,” without even giving it a first thought. Whether it is parents or mentors or singles themselves, a change in mindset from intolerant to tolerant and unrealistic to realistic is greatly needed.
It Took 6 Years for Me to Say Yes to Meeting My Bashert!
Interview with Dina
Written by Sholom & Sarah Leah Blatter
Edited by Rachel Segal
Growing up in a family of nine with several married siblings, I couldn’t wait to start my own shidduch journey. But my journey was delayed until I was 25 years old, because I had an older, unmarried sister still in shidduchim and I was waiting for her to get married before I started.
To be honest, in those early years out of seminary, I was okay with being single. I kept busy, running programs as a madricha and counselor, going to shiurim, seizing chesed opportunities, and learning about marriage and parenting in anticipation of the next chapter.
They were years of spiritual and personal growth.
When I finally did start dating at 25, I felt ready. I had worked on developing myself and knew who I was.
I immediately got to work, doing my hishtadlus to show Hakadosh Boruch Hu I was certain that I was committed to finding my basherte:
I networked and met shadchanim in the US and in Israel, and dated bochurim in both countries.
I went to the Kosel and kevorim in Israel to daven.
I pushed myself to join a shidduch site, even though I felt a little uneasy about putting myself – and my photo – “out there.” I was grateful that I did, as the networking and dating I did on that site ultimately motivated me to go out with my husband.
I wore out the pages in my siddur and joined Tehillim groups.
Although I went out, and went out some more, I couldn’t find what I was looking for: someone I both respected and had chemistry with.
On top of that, I wanted my future husband to be a kind, worldly man who learned regularly but was a professional with some financial security and came from a similar type of family as mine.
Friends and shadchanim who redd him to me insisted that it could be a match, but I thought they were clueless.
I was certain Dovid was in a very particular box that couldn’t possibly mesh with mine. There was nothing to talk about.
So, I kept searching… and the years passed.
When I turned 31, I reached a point where I was so determined to get married, I even considered adding a name to my own name, which some people struggling in shidduchim do as a segulah for marriage. Ultimately, I decided against it.
So, when a friend called me up to redd – you guessed it – Dovid, I finally relented.
“After all,” I told myself, “what have you got to lose?”
I knew from my experience on the dating website I had joined how limited the pool of great guys was. If everyone kept insisting on how great Dovid was, it was time to see for myself.
Meeting Dovid changed everything. By the end of our first date, it was obvious: I had totally misread him.
While Dovid dressed differently and came from a different family background, he was the very definition of worldly. He was incredibly well read, articulate, had varied interests, followed the news, etc.
Clearly, Dovid didn’t have a narrow, closed-minded worldview. I was the one who had been closed-minded.
More importantly, Dovid was a mentch who shared my core values.
I respected Dovid – and I liked him.
Though there was still more to learn about him, I felt comfortable enough to move forward.
We got engaged after six weeks of dating.
Having been married to Dovid for eight years now, I can tell you that he has surpassed every expectation. He is a fantastic human being.
Had I not finally listened to this idea that people had been redding me for six years, I never would have had the privilege of being his wife. He’s my anchor, grounding me and always being there for me.
So, what’s the takeaway here?
Don’t be so quick to rule someone out based on an impression. Challenge yourself to be open-minded.
If a suggestion keeps coming up, consider the possibility that there may be something there worth exploring, even if you feel fairly certain that it’s not for you.
Try to be open to the possibility that someone may be different than you perceive them to be.
Ask yourself: “How well do I really know this person?” Could you be misreading them? Maybe they aren’t so different from what you’ve been searching for, after all.
And even if a person is a little different than you, those differences tend to matter very little if you discover that you share important values and have a meaningful connection.
I learned firsthand that sometimes the person you’re absolutely certain isn’t for you turns out to be exactly what you want and need in a spouse.
Had I not finally been open to meeting Dovid, I wouldn’t have found my anchor. So, have a little courage and be open to a date. At worst, you’ll part ways after a few hours. And at best, you’ll find your basherte.
*Names have been changed for anonymity.
A Shadchan Who Cares (Excerpted from the Yated Ne’eman, February 15, 778, Maggid, pages 38-40).