Responses to the Shidduch Proposal

Besides abandoning CC for two weeks while running the Tikvah Program for Yeshiva Men (reaction coming later) and a few days of decompression at Mammoth, I waited to see if readers of Mishpacha would pick up on the flaws I spotted in the original piece. They didn’t – at least the ones that the magazine agreed to publish. So here are my own quibbles:

1) No one is to blame, but the accolades to Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz understated just how much good he does. It could be that Angelenos, closer to the action, have a better understanding of just how generous he is, how hard he (and his wife) try to help other Jews, and how unassuming he is in the terrific work he does. Readers should know that the description in Mishpacha was not exaggerated.
2) I think that the proposed solution runs the risk of ameliorating one crisis by adding to a different one – one that Mishpacha is less likely to write about. As it is, those encouraged to defer even thinking about parnasah plans during their years of learning often wake up to the cruel realization that they have positioned themselves out of range to do anything in life that is suitable to their personalities and interests. By the time they begin to explore parnasah, the education many need is beyond achieving, because it requires time and money, and they have several children to support. This has led to desperation, friction with spouses, and general unhappiness for too many people waking up to realize that they just cannot make ends meet.

If yeshiva men marry at younger ages as proposed, they will likely have even larger families by the time they consider employment, and even fewer of them will have the flexibility to seek academic or vocational training while someone else is supporting the family. More of them will be trapped as permanently undereducated and underemployed.

I have my doubts about the marriage readiness of twenty-year old men, but even if I can be pleasantly surprised, I can’t see how it can work without allowing and encouraging them to at least think of hatching a game plan for future employment, and understanding what will be necessary to enter the market.

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38 Responses

  1. Yehoshua D says:

    You are exactly correct, which is why the real solution to the problem is having the girls start shidduchim later, not having the boys start earlier. This would have the additional benefit of the girls being further along in their education/earning power than the current situation. Rechnitz considers this in his article, but notes (correctly) that it is too much to ask of girls to pass up shidduch opportunities at ages 18-19 for the greater good. However, he does not raise an apparently simple solution. Instead of requiring that the entire yeshiva education system be changed, the Roshei Yeshiva could give a directive that their bachurim not go out with girls beneath a certain age. Lakewood’s “freezer” is effective and enforced; there is no reason why a directive to this effect could not be enforced as well. It is certainly more reasonable to expect this to work than to expect the yeshiva system to fully re-adjust.

  2. ben dov says:

    If the goal is to close the age gap, the men do not need to marry when they are 20. if at 23 they are willing to marry women who are 23, the goal is accomplished.

  3. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Adulthood isn’t just a function of age, but experience at being independent. A sixteen year old in Biblical times was probably more mature than most people in their early twenties today. Dropping the marriage age requires better maturity preparation, including (as you said) parnassah plans.

  4. Dr. E says:

    I too applaud Reb Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz for bringing the issue to the forefront of conversation. I have no doubt that he cares about the plight of the many singles out there.

    That being said, I believe that he is not only missing many core issues within the system (taking the safe road of not wanting to rock the boat), but he is off-base on many aspects of the phenomenon too.

    In truth, the current situation is merely a consequence of something else, which is a place to which Reb S.Y. does not go. While some might focus on easy sound bites like a “numbers game” or “age gap”, let’s look at some reality as it relates to the Yeshiva educational system, with its goals and messages. What we really have is a “Chinuch Crisis”.

    We all know that the ratio of males to females is 50-50. That has always been the case and will always be true. But, the BY system has done a far better job in not only educating its students, but also keeping them on the straight and narrow and within the context of conformity. On the boys’ side, while the goal has unfortunately been the same, but with results being far from effective. The intertia has been to to fill the rosters of all the Yeshivos, and open more and more. The Holy Grail has been to create new Gedolim, replenish what was supposedly existed in Europe (a premise whose efficacy and accuracy are dubious). But, inasmuch as HKBH has obviously infused the male chromosome with more of an anti-conformist nature, this has not worked. The result is in some cases spiritually catastrophic, with guys realizing that they can never live up to the expectations placed on them. But, perhaps more commonly there are guys who have limited acumen for learning and are merely going through the motions for either social reasons or in order to evade the personal accountability that the outside world will impose on them. Yet, there are some guys who are in Yeshiva for remedial purposes, to compensate for an underwhelming Mesivta experience and need to “catch up” post HS and even post marriage. While the addition of these guys into the pool of eligible suitors might potentially open up the playing field a bit, savvy young women who can see through that façade might very well disqualify them on that basis. Using this formulation, for every 100 BY graduates, there might only be about 15 who are by any objective criteria, the “real deal”. The elevated divorce rate has in part been due to young women having woken up and smelled the coffee and realized that their “catch” is not whom they thought he was. The real solution lies in: (1) nurturing the other 85 in a way that they can become Shomrei Torah U’Mitzvos and feel about themselves even if they have a plan and are not in learning indefinitely; and (2) letting the girls know that marrying such a baalabus is something that would be a priori acceptable–prior to their reaching age 35.

    So, the Chinuch Crisis on the male side is the failure to having developed multiple l’chatchila points of entry into adulthood. In theory, that would include more serious secular studies beginning at younger ages. This would expose and enrich young people to reading, writing, math, and science in a serious way–and allowing meaningful tracks of building on those foundations at age 21, not 31. Effective change might also mean that even the 21 year old “ilui” would be allowed to or encouraged to become a professional and a baalabus who will be able to contribute to the community more so that if convinced to stay within the Yeshiva. And for most others, they not only need the tools to be successful, but also be made to feel good about fulfilling that mandate. They should be able to do so without being stigmatized that because they have and are implementing a “plan”, for all intents and purposes, they are OTD. Of course, we always need Klai Kodesh and those with potential to be good ones (e.g., 15%) should certainly be encouraged and trained to go in that direction.

    One unfortunate tone of the original article in Mishpacha is that by quantifying the young women into numbers and percentages, it treats them as commodities. The fact that it deindividuates them from having their own personalities and sense of self, is unfortunate on various fronts. It is either in fact untrue or perhaps it merely shows that the BY system has indeed been successful in creating a pool of young women who are interchangeable parts. Furthermore, by monetizing the solution through incentives to Shadchanim merely reinforces this notion. It is so sad to read from the letters that the self-esteem of many “older singles” has been reduced to a point indicative of having internalized this message. It is also sad to read and hear the desperation of their parents who feel that the system has failed their daughters.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    Does any Gadol or group of Gedolim now have the actual influence to work a major, rapid change in the shidduch system?

  6. Dovi A says:

    Much of what is broken in our current system results from the confluence of three factors:(i) boys getting married relatively young (albiet not as young as suggested by SYR), (ii) boys wanting to learn full-time for a few years after high school before considering going to school to learn a trade or profession, and (iii) it being unacceptable (socially and arguably Halachikly) to use birth control when first married.

    The result is that much of post-high school learning coincides with the first years of marriage and kids 1 through 3. Thus, if and when boys are ready to leave Kollel and seek a parnasah, they often already have children and cannot afford to take time to “off” to go to school, as they’d have no way to support their families in the interim. Such boys end up perpetually underemployed and often later feel cheated by the system that pushed them into perpetual borderline poverty. Change any one of those three factors and much of the financial problem is solved(e.g., learn after high school but wait to get married and go to school when first married, keep getting married relatively young and having children immediately but go straight to school once married, or keep getting married young and learning but wait to start having children until later, when in or partially finished with school) .

    Having boys get married even younger while continuing to sit and learn and have children, as suggested by SYR, would just further exacerbate the crisis of a frum lifestyle being unaffordable for many.

  7. Toby Katz says:

    Having all the boys marry young would help alleviate the shidduch crisis in this way: a lot of those early marriages would fail, and the husbands would be available for re-cycling. Every girl would get to be a wife for at least a few years, either a first wife or a second wife.

    Goodbye old crisis, hello new crisis. Hordes of young divorcees with kids, hordes of kids with part-time fathers. Oh brave new world.

  8. g says:

    I agree that the proposed solution has significant shortcomings, but I don’t think the scenario presented will necessarily unfold quite that way. Though some men seek parnassah as their sipuk in learning wanes, and some seek parnassah as they grow older, most look for income when family size dictates that the wife and/or parents can no longer support it. When young families hit that point, it doesn’t matter whether the man in question is 24 or 28.

  9. Shani in the sky says:

    The shidduch crisis may not be real once we chance our minds about some things.
    Just as everyone cannot find a job right when they want one, nor find the exact job they want, a shidduch doesn’t come when you want it nor can you get exactly what you want.

    Because the communal message is “Hurry or you’ll never get married”, girls feel pressured to begin dating at 19-20 (or even 18!) before they are ready, sometimes accept flawed men as spouses out of fear, get depressed/burned out by 22-24 which sometimes makes them a less pleasant person to date and less attractive to guys as dating partners and spouses…in short, a better message is, Some sooner, some later. Most people find someone.

    As a young woman looking for a specific kind of guy, there will be few men to meet each year, and it may take a few years to find someone – maybe even 5-6 years. That’s OK. And you do have to be open to compromise – maybe you want someone who is planning to learn for a long time, but when you are 23, you marry someone who isn’t exactly that. That’s OK.

  10. Berel says:

    While much has been said about the “age gap” another gap which should be addressed is the “effort requirement gap”.Meaning that since it requires so much less effort to be considered a good girl then a good boy there will always be a major gap between “good girls” and “good boys”.This gap also causes problems later on in life.Being that at the time of marriage it took less effort and actual tests of commitment for a girl then a boy,later on, when it isn’t always easier for the wife then the husband to remain commited to long term kollel, there seems to be far more women then men who wish they wouldn’t of signed up for it (based on various unscientific sources)

  11. Shani in the sky says:

    Another thought: I am coming at this as an ex-single yeshivish girl. I – and all my friends, except the ones from very wealthy families – sat home for many weeks and months without shidduch dates. We’d go out with a guy for a couple of weeks, then go 3, 6, or 8 months without a date. There were always lists of guys my friends and I wanted to meet, but only 1 out of every 10 would agree to the match. In contrast, when our brothers wanted to meet a young lady, the other side agreed 9 out of 10 times.

    This is the part that is very painful and makes people feel hopeless. You can’t get married if you sit home in your living room, and you can’t meet the kind of guys you want to meet if the kind of guys you want to meet don’t do meetings outside of shidduchim.

    Even if you expect finding a life partner to take a while – and I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to find someone right away – going years in this state where you can’t even feel like you are actually dating is painful. For all those who say there’s an even number of men and women, I challenge you to explain why all the yeshivish women and men I know had experiences that mirrored what I described above – with rare exceptions (i.e. very short guys had trouble getting dates)…and I am talking about men and women who rated equal as far as looks, religion, accomplishments, etc.

    In the end all my friends did get married, although it is hard to say who “compromised” in order to do so, but that doesn’t change the fact that the process itself was very humiliating. My brothers had people calling, chasing, and begging for the privilege of meeting them, while I sat home sad. Even though I married now – and am certain my husband was worth waiting for! – I am sorry that I had to go through that and i am pained to watch many others go through this, year after year.

  12. Bob Miller says:

    Toby Katz wrote on August 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm:
    “Having all the boys marry young would help alleviate the shidduch crisis in this way: a lot of those early marriages would fail, and the husbands would be available for re-cycling. Every girl would get to be a wife for at least a few years, either a first wife or a second wife.”

    This comment alludes to two issues:
    1. The young chassan may be financially unable to support a wife and family, unless he, atypically, is already bringing in enough income.
    2. The young chassan may not be as mature in his outlook as his kallah is.

    The first can be addressed in part by making education to be a breadwinner a part of young mens’ curriculum (those who will actually become the kollel elite could still benefit from knowing mundane subject matter that could touch on their later understanding and application of Halacha). Few Jewish women are really cut out to be both primary breadwinner and parent/homemaker and do justice to both.

    The second can be addressed in part by instituting the first.

  13. dave says:

    I much agree with Dr. E above, but try to make those types of comments on the more chareidi sites and you will be edited down to nothing or not shown at all. (Been there already…)

    I admire SYR very much, and he has earned his shem tov well. He is looking for solutions that tie in to the opinions of the gedolim with whom he has warm and close relationships. Therefore, his starting point is always going to be that the problem is extraneous to our chinuch system, because those same gedolim will not countenance any changes to the hashkafa of chinuch. I am not judging – only stating a fact.

    As such, the solution offered takes as a given that all BY girls must marry kollel guys (with the upshot that “settling” for a working guy is shameful) and that all yeshiva boys must learn in kollel. And all parents of such kids must support them for x number of years. All these “musts” may work well for the very wealthy who can afford and for the very poor, who can’t afford it anyway and will be living on some kind of outside assistance, assuming they can actually be considered seriously as a shidduch prospect without money.

    For the middle class, this presents a deep problem, because many of them cannot really afford to maintain two and three and four households, pay for their grandchildren’s tuition, do this without any plan or end-game in sight, and do it in the years of their life where their energy is waning, their earning power is less secure (go find a new job at 45 or 55)and their savings are being depleted such that their ability to retire ever is in doubt. And shnorring is anathema.

    We are destroying ourselves from within by advocating an idealistic world to everyone, when it is only suitable for a minority. The age gap is not the issue, and the idea that yeshiva guys at 20 or 21 are as ready to get married as later is only testament that they aren’t going to be any more prepared by that same yeshiva world by the age of 23 to get married either. Is that chinuch? Since when were we a people that everyone had to do things in exactly the same way? Clearly, I’m not getting it.

  14. Arnie Lustiger says:

    Let me float this as a possible solution. If all girls stay “in the freezer” until age 23, the demographic-statistical problem will be solved immediately. In order to implement this solution, however, the desperation behind the “hurry of you’ll never get married” impulse must be suppressed and those who leave the freezer too early somehow sanctioned. Now we come to Bob Miller’s question…Does any Gadol or group of Gedolim now have the actual influence to work a major, rapid change in the shidduch system?

  15. YM Goldstein says:

    It is hard to remember exactly what the article said, but if I remember correctly, it was about shidduch issues, not parnosah issues, so why do you (both RYA and commentators) need to mix the issues? I applaud this man for trying to make a positive contribution. Of course early marriage is preferable to later marriage, it should not be normative for people in their late teens and early twenties to have to struggle with celibacy.

  16. Sass says:

    Regarding th comment from “Shani in the Sky” – my impression is that this kind of experience is not unique among typical Bais Yaacov graduates, and there was a letter in this week’s Mishpacha to that effect.

    I don’t believe that this phenomenon can be explained by the Age Gap theory. If this is truly the case, then it seems to imply that the Age Gap is not the (only) problem and that the Shidduch Crisis would exist even if the Age Gap did not.

  17. David Z says:

    @YMGoldstein: The post answers your question. You just don’t agree–but why?

    Regardless, those who discuss khinukh are correct. But it’s more than that. It seems much of the problem is self-imposed (as my wife, a BY graduate, says, she sheds crocodile tears). The girls aren’t willing to date great guys who don’t fit into their bizarre conceptions of what a tora-man should look like. On the one hand, the guys deserve better. And they get better–they’ll go to the “right-wing Modern Orthodox” girls and find someone exemplary. And maybe that’s why there’s less or no problem in the M.O. camp–everyone’s more flexible and “excess” girls are snatched up by ex-Yeshivish guys. But it would obviously be better for the girls, who we care about in the end, even if they have mess-up attitudes, not to be taught those attitudes. The girls who do well open their horizons see that someone who devotes time to learning, or community khesed, as well as (!) earning money, is the ideal tora-man. However, maybe we could help the other girls who aren’t as blessed with wisdom at a tender age (as someone earlier posted, girls are more conformist by nature) by not teaching them nonsense to begin with? Just a thought. I will do my best to teach my daughters about what the tora and khaza”l really say. Hopefully I’l have more influence than BY. But I know I might not–peer pressure and the lure of rebellion against parents is great.

    (As a side note, Dr. E writes well above, but I wold add that I don’t think that the flexibility of boys comes solely from nonconformism and lack of sitzfleisch. I think it also comes from Talmud study. By the time you’re of marriageable age you can read most of the texts yourself and know very well that nearly all of khaza”l, rishonim, akharonim, had professions, you know all the texts about the role of men and women in marriage, and you know that none of the modern system conforms to that. And then of course you have places like Chofetz Chaim which don’t even pretend to be Yeshivish, but who would ideally marry BY girls. And finally, you have BTs into Yeshivishness–many of the girls are considered eligible, but no BY girl will touch a BT guy with a 10-foot pole.)

  18. Bob Miller says:

    YM Goldstein,

    Do you hold that shidduchim successful over the long run have nothing to do with parnossah?

  19. SA says:

    YM Goldstein — Do you think it should be normative for people in their late 40s and early 50s to have to struggle with supporting several households other than their own? If not, then perhaps you understand why the issues need to be mixed.

  20. Dr. E says:

    Also missing from RSYR’s suggestion of marrying younger is how it can Halachically be reconciled with the father’s obligation to teach his son a trade. The Gemara in Kiddushin cites no dissenting opinions and I challenge anyone to “pilpul” out of that one. It is a basic tenet in the Jewish tradition. So much so that we recently saw from Gemara in Moed Kattan which posited the possibility of concocting a job for a destitute person to perform on Chol Hamoed in order to earn income and buy food for his family. Note that the Gemara did not even suggest a handout as a possibility. Yet, by fathers and Yeshivos not cultivating a Plan, such handouts have become part of the normative vernacular (i.e., “support”) which has become an acceptable term of negotiation.

    Finally, also absent was the possibility that the new tendency towards extreme gender separation may not be good for the Jews. Hearing the plight of singles waiting for the phone to ring is sad. But, there are many appropriate contexts which are available for either first or second degree meeting opportunities through chessed, organizational involvement, or simply regularly attending shul on Shabbos. I would surmise that many have not availed themselves to those contexts. Until such exposure and appropriate hishtadlus is accepted and encouraged, I’m afraid that the interval between phone calls will continue to remain great. It is ironic that while most in yeshivish circles will stipulate that the concept of hashgacha pratis is operational, only a small percentage will allow it to happen.

    Some quick comments:

    Toby Katz- You obviously meant the proposal in cynical jest. But, in fact, the phenomenon is happening more and more. And unfortunately, within the Yeshiva world, the objective is immediate re-marriage without the counseling that is really necessary. And the already born children also become victims.

    Dave- Of course. That is why I posted here. We can handle the truth.

    Arnie- No parent would accept that deal, as it comes with an 85% risk.

  21. dr. bill says:

    I do not believe that all problems are solvable in general. Beyond that, if Z is the consequence of A and B, then trying to solve Z without addressing A and B may not be feasible.

  22. lacosta says:

    agreeing with rebetzin katz , and seconding her motion, the genre that is the litvishe Parsha is biased against females and the non-wealthy ones moreso [ these, in keeping with the biblical mandate ‘ki yikach ish isha ‘ , with kicha being a financial endeavour [maybe for some boys the only business deal they will ever make]; and in keeping with the talmudic dictum ‘Oni nechshav kemes’] . the reason that there is here a conflation of the two issues is because the inherent uneven playing field caused by the lack-of-lucre Problem , helps drive the dregs [relatively speaking] to the bottom. and when a ‘good boy’ has literally hundreds to choose from , there will always be a segment that is too off the mark [ wrong gelt, wrong looks, wrong background etc ] to get something…

    i also am not convinced that the frum community ratio of male to females is 1:1 . i think there is probably a statistical excess of XX in the range of 54:46..
    but of course , like most things frum, there is no data….
    and why was this not a problem in the alter heim ? —because most EVERYONE was poor , almost no one sat [and learned] , and singlehood was so precarious that a girl had to marry anything that had a heartbeat….

  23. YM Goldstein says:

    Reply to Bob Miller: Parnossah issues will be there regardless of what age boys and girls get married. They seem to me to be irrelevant to the issue that Rechnitz was addressing in his article. SA, it is up to the adults in their 40s and 50s to decide whom and how much to support. Some people gladly support their children after they get married. Life is full of decisions. Meanwhile, if you assert that the parnossah system has to be fixed before the shidduch system, chances are you won’t do anything about either issue.

  24. YM Goldstein says:

    David Z, Rechnitz was addressing one issue, the age gap. The issues you bring up are all real and need to be dealt with on a family by family basis. My point is that trying to fix multiple problems at the same time usually doesn’t work.

  25. Sarah Lerner says:

    A few people asked why we are mixing chinuch, parnossa, and shidduchim.
    These issues are linked already. Chinuch teaches girls to marry learners and boys to learn. Somebody needs parnossa to support this – hence money because more of a deal-breaker in shidduchim, leading to a lot of girls with no money being rejected in favor of those who have money. A wealthy girl will have 10 guys to go out with in 6 months – if not more, while a middle class girl will get 5 guys to date, and a poor girl 1.
    As for the gap between available men and women, it is not a simple age gap. Ultimately, there is one for one and we all see that the vast majority – 99% in my experience – of both men and women have gotten married by their late 30s, some earlier than others.

    The problem is that during the process – as described by Shani above – the boys have more dating partners and feel like kings while the girls feel like desperate losers. This is, I think, because there are fewer yeshiva guys — more female BTs, more yeshiva guys OTD, males having more issues that remove them from the pool (i.e. mental illness) — and the girls want to date seriously, guy after guy, and get married, while serious yeshiva boys are content to take dating breaks.
    If there are 10 yeshiva men and 11 similar women dating, all 10 won’t date all 11 in a year. Instead, three guys will be content to date 4-5 women in a year, so the women have far less dates than they want. The more women see it is harder to get dates, the more they fear sitting home and not getting married. The more they see that dates are easy to come by, the less likely guys are to hurry or rush from one dating partner to the next…see the problem? Ask some yeshiva guys how many women they meet in 6 months by choice – that’s the root of the problem. I know many guys who will automatically take a month’s break from dating following a serious relationship – which may be a wise emotional choice – but few women who will ever dare to say no to a potential shidduch.

  26. Dr. E says:

    YM Goldstein

    You wrote. “Meanwhile, if you assert that the parnossah system has to be fixed before the shidduch system, chances are you won’t do anything about either issue.”

    I disagree with that formulation because the foundations of the Parnassah system occur way before the “Shidduch Parsha” is in play. At least initially, they are totally separate issues, even though they eventually converge in one’s early Twenties. And they set the stage for future education, earnings potential and (very practically) how much parents, in-laws and the community will be on the hook to support. In theory, these foundations of Parnassah are supposed to be nurtured starting in Elementary School and go through High School. However, many of the Chedarim and Mesivtas are not adequately educating their students in the basics of math, reading, technology, and science–to prepare for the current and emerging Parnassah realities. I can come up with 6+ reasons for this trend, which are that: (1) Secular Studies emphases take away time and focus from learning; (2a) social competition within the Yeshiva World to be perceived as “elite” in emulation of the Israeli Chareidi model; (2b) not wanting to be cast as “modern”; (3) lack of resources such as facilities, books, and equipment; (4) untrained teachers; (5) the notion that “so and so (i.e., the exception) has done very well for himself in Parnassah despite not having any real education”; and (6) the myth that these young men are bright and will ultimately “figure it out” as adults.

    So while the two issues are indeed intertwined, they are by no means impossible to address separately. Parents need to look at what lies ahead for them and evaluate whether the above points can continue to remain unchallenged.

  27. Proud KG'er says:

    If the Roshei Yeshiva would tell his talmidim “I will not be mesader kiddushin at your wedding if you marry someone more than 1 year younger”, we will prod a whole lot of guys into dating closer to their age.

    And that’s not an unreasonable request of the Roshei Yeshiva, nor of the talmidim.

  28. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    I have no idea why people insist there was no problem in the “alte heim”.

    There is nothing at all to suggest that there was not in fact a greater percentage of women who never married. But there was quite a bit of abject poverty and this was just one component.

    However now most Beis Yaakov girls have more going for them and this is probably the largest concern. It is not a part of a whole litany of other tzaros they were suffering. (Besides that there were quite a few women who died in childbirth, thus opening another pool of eligible suitors).

  29. cvmay says:

    Kudos to R. Rechnitz for focusing on the Shidduch Crisis EXCEPT the Mishpacha article (& Rechnitz) was delving into one geographic area of Shidduchim: LAKEWOOD!!!!!!

    As one who dabbles in shidduchim, I can attest to the fact, when redding a shidduch of a fine young ben Torah to a lovely young lady, and she is informed that he is learning in Baltimore, Waterbury, Queens, 5 towns, LA, Chicago, Cincinnati, South Fallsburg, Upper West Side, etc. there is a long pause of silence……..and then the same dialogue is heard over & over, “My sister, brother, best friends live in Lakewood”, or “I’ve been looking forward to move to Lakewood”, or those who are candid/honest say, “Why would I want to live in Queens or Baltimore”?

    IOW the shidduch crisis has a strong component called VENUE!!! This adds to the problem of parnassah, since jobs/school/college/training programs are limited in Lakewood. Wives can find jobs in the Queens/New York area and earn a respectable salary which mitigates the help needed from parents. Kollel husbands can find after/before seder or Shabbos jobs as youth directors, chevrai kadisha, mashgichim, one or two periods of teaching in area Yeshivas/Bais Yaakovs or alternative possibilities. There are amazing opportunities to join out-of-town kollels and make a major difference in building new kehillos and the foundation for this mentality begins at home, in schools and with peers. Change the mindset and the dilemma decreases!!

  30. too tired says:

    I’m not aware of a litvishe yeshiva in Cincinnati. And where is there a paying chevra kadisha?

  31. DF says:

    A local shidduch here in town just broke up – the day after the vort – when it became apparent that one side was expecting the other to support the chassan in kollel for a couple of years after marriage. These things happen, all the time. Sometimes after engagement, more often just before engagement. The shidduch crisis and the kollel crisis are very much inter-twined.

    Intressante side note the father commented to me. When he was young, he broke up with a girl he had been seeing a long time, and was heartbroken for a year. [Possible exaggeration, but I know what he meant.] Whereas his son who just broke up would simply date another girl the next week as if nothing ever happened. Likewise, the girl would also immediately begin seeing boys again. I think the father was accurately stating the facts, and I have seen from others that this is typical. A young couple’s lifelong commitment – to be married – vanishes in a moment, with no aftereffects, as if it never happened. Draw your own conclusions.

  32. Dr. E says:


    I would not restrict the issue to Lakewood. Nor would I see Lakewood per se as the direct culprit (inasmuch as it might be perceived as the utopian Yeshiva and Jewish community of America). While you might be describing the parochialism of a subset of young women, many young women would be and are open to living in some of the communities which you list. And in fact, young women from other communities will often move to those communities to be closer to dating prospects in the local Yeshivos.

    What RSYR was speaking to is a function of the dynamics which reside within the narrow-minded mindset of the Yeshiva and Bais Yaakov system. There are very tight (and therefore unrealistic) definitions of what those institutions have defined as “successes” within each gender. Consequently, there is is an imbalance of males and females who are therefore eligible. And I alluded to this initially as in reality being the result of a “chinuch crisis”.

  33. cvmay says:

    too tired: Cincinnati is always looking for Kollel couples to join their in-town kollel.

    Paying chevra kadisha offer payments for Shmira, taharahs, etc. Check with the one in your area.

  34. Esther says:

    Many years ago when my 9th grader was “messing around” and not up to par in his learning I was called in by the menahel (who was a real tzaddik, in fact did not want to be in his position but just wanted to teach) to discuss our mutual frustrations. When I told him at that time that not everyone can excel in learning and no doubt self-esteem and other areas in a bochur’s life would suffer, I suggested that maybe a “chessed program” could be developed, just like the girls had, so that each boy could find his niche in a different way. To which the menahel responded, and I quote, “But Mrs. L., if we begin a chessed program then I’m concerned that the good boys will also want to do chessed.” I don’t believe the menahel heard how that statement came out. But after all these years where we’ve seen so many problems emerging from this total emphasis on learning only (ranging from OTD kids to the shidduch crisis), why haven’t the powers that be grabbed the bull by the horns and begin to make minute changes so that everyone’s best interests might be served. I found it interesting that you delicately said: “I think that the proposed solution runs the risk of ameliorating one crisis by adding to a different one – one that Mishpacha is less likely to write about.” I couldn’t understand why when in all the letters that have been printed in Mishpocha week after week, every angle seemed to be pursued (older singles, mothers, systemic, etc.) yet not one letter addressed what appeared to me to be perfectly obvious, which was doing a little reality testing by investing in other alternatives, like college education. Only one letter writer came close, it was from a woman who praised her seminary teacher for stressing that being a kollel life is not something many girls would be able to do for various reasons, and they needed to keep an open mind to other alternatives. Kudos to that seminary teacher. Ironically, several weeks ago, Ami Magazine, or was it Mishpocha, or both, wrote about the absence in young askanim coming up the pike. Letters from young married men spoke of their time constraints and exhaustion from handling life as it is, without becoming involved in community activities. Surely, the pursuit of kollel lifestyles only will not create askanim.

  35. Heshy Bulman says:

    I find it literally stupefying that there is so little attempt to address the Shidduch crisis that has arisen under the very noses of Shadchanim, Askanim, and Roshei Yeshiva of untold numbers of Bachurim who are simply dating and dating and dating into their late twenties and thirties, seemingly in a desparate attempt to find the perfect wife from amongst the myriad girls suggested to them. This is so terribly wrong on several levels – it is, without doubt, K’neged HaTorah, as during these years it does violence to the Neshama, living as these Bachurim are, in an immoral and debauched secular world – it is so tragically unfair to so many B’nos Yisroel who are subjected to what can best be described as “Drive-by” dating. Where is the clarion call within the Olam HaTorah for the vital imperative for older Bachurim TO GET MARRIED, to make every effort to get to know each and every girl they date, with the understanding that, with even the most basic Emunah, they should find their Zivug without dating 150 girls?
    Nearly every suggestion made, including that made most recently by Rabbi Rechnitz, focuses on starting over, albeit with incentives to redt shidduchim to older girls. And what of those great numbers of unmarried older girls (AND BOYS)?Should not the absolute, exclusive focus be upon them now? What’s to become of us all in a world bereft of Seichel HaYashar, bereft of Leadership?

  36. Dr. E says:


    That vignette depicts what is the real “Chinuch Crisis”, on a variety of levels. First, was the inference that the Menahel was neither trained, suited, nor wanted the position of leadership into which he was placed. Secondly, was the clear indication of “Mechanech whiplash”, resulting from constantly looking over one’s shoulder. He is merely representative of many such Mechanchim who possess a skewed view of who the “good boys” are, what it takes to attract them, and what is needed to keep them that way. (It would be fair to say that even within his formulation of the good boys would benefit from each of the Three Pillars on which the World stands).

    The same phenomenon exists with regard to Secular Studies and the fear that exposure to them might actually lead to the good boys being interested in subjects that could potentially be assets to their ultimate Parnassah. But, everything is about a zero-sum-game of limited hours in the day, wanting to keep up with the “elite” and not wanting to be branded as “modern”. But in the end, catering to the “good boys club” merely contributes to constricting the pool of suitable suitors for the young women–while at the same time nurturing a generation of male underachievement.

    I would add that the learning-only curriculum does not always lead to OTD per se. In this system, many will never reach their potential and will end up as simply mediocre. There is no normative path for Bnei Torah professionals, for others who feel good about themselves, or for the Askanim that that the Ami article claims to be in dwindling supply.

  37. Avigail says:

    Dr. E wrote, “We all know that the ratio of males to females is 50-50. That has always been the case and will always be true.” But, of course, this is not true. Although more males are born than females, by the end of the first year, females already outnumber males. Much of the shidduch crisis comes down to numbers – there are simply not enough Jewish men! The men who don’t go OTD are granted so many choices that they enter a sort of mental stasis, unable to make any choice at all, much as Heshy Bulman describes above. The parnassah issue, as important as it may be, does not transcend the numbers problem. Learning or working, he can have 150 dates, while she has 1 or 2 (or 0, as she gets older).

    It makes me sick to realize so many young girls will end up like me, praying uselessly for a husband, alone and without children, ultimately invisible. Clearly, without great beauty or wealth or force of personality to overcome what I lack, I pray for a miracle – but for many of us, the answer to those prayers will be, “No.” You try to take all the advice you are given: the make-overs (apparently, even plastic surgery should not be beyond the pale), the online dating (little more than havens of predation with very low success rates, maybe 10%), the relocations, the shadchanim, the classes, etc., etc. At the end of the day, you’re broke and broken from the advice, yet still the eternal fifth wheel and there are even fewer Jewish men available. Some say that we’re being too picky, but I disagree. There is simply no one to pick, and personally, I’m down to only one request – that he not enjoy cruelty outright. This is painful in a way that I cannot even articulate. The shidduch crisis is one of numbers, yes, but it is also one of attitude in the way we judge other human beings. How will we change this?

  38. Toby Katz says:

    There are plenty of girls who want to date “normal” yeshivish learner-earners, serious guys who can learn, who have been to college, who have jobs, who are kovea itim, Ner Yisrael types. Believe me, those good boys are in very short supply. Black hatters who want to support their families are very scarce.

    And to the person up there who said it’s “easy to be a good girl” — that is how it used to be in a bygone era. Today, to be a good girl in the shidduch market, the girl has to be male and female rolled into one, she has to have a degree or two, she has to be making a good living, she also has to be slim, pretty and put-together, and if she isn’t all of these things she will be lucky to have any dates at all.

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