Marriage in the Religious Zionist Community II: Meeting the One

Wedding in IsraelThis is the second part of a series on marriage in the religious-Zionist community in Israel.

I: Dating Readiness

III: Genetic Testing

IV: Dating Venues

V: Shidduch Crisis

VI: Internet Dating

VII: Paying the Shadchan, or Not

VIII: Wedding Costs

IX: Planning Tips

Today’s topic:

Meeting Your Match

Many young couples meet naturally in high school or afterward, in youth groups or university. But how are the others finding their partners? What is the role of parents, friends, teachers, rabbis, dating websites and traditional matchmakers? Which method works best today and what are the pros and cons of each approach?

One mother told me her son was set up by friends or rabbis from his yeshiva, and she was only vaguely aware that he was dating.

How did your child (or you) meet his or her spouse?

What questions  are asked by matchmakers or the young people themselves about potential marriage partners?

Please share your experience in the comments or on your own blog.

Ariela left a comment on this topic on the last post:

My brother-in-law is chardal (charedi leumi) although he might describe himself as dati leumi (religious Zionist). Anyway, that should give you a good idea of his religious standing. He has 6 married kids. This is how some of them met:

His daughter was introduced to her husband by a friend of the family when she was 18. The friend was a counselor in the local youth movement (Ariel) who sometimes ate shabbat meals at their house .
The next daughter was introduced to her
chatan (groom) by a girl friend from high school. The chatan is a brother-in-law of the friend from high school.
The oldest son was never officially introduced to his wife on a date. She went to nursing school with his sister and they got to know each other when the sister brought her home to study.
The last son to be married was set up by his brother-in-law (sister’s husband). The Kallah did her national service (
sherut leumi) at the sister’s yishuv. The sister’s husband thought it might work out so he gave him her number.
I think the common theme here is being set up by friends and relatives.

Photo credit: Batya of Me-Ander and Shiloh Musings

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Comments

  1. Of my 3 who are married, the first married at age 19 after meeting in b’nei akiva and knowing each other for a number of years prior, the 2nd was introduced via a friend who had a “list” and the 3rd met her husband online through one of the religious dating services. I was careful to check into both “boys” before I allowed them to meet. B”H they are all happily married. My 18 yr old daughter would like to start meeting boys even though she says herself that she is not ready for marriage yet. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the way things go and if you start dating it is assumed that you are ready for marriage too! Its a shame that there isn’t something like bnei akiva for the older kids, just to meet mixed friends and possibly their bershert without the help of others.

    • Thanks, Sheinpt, for your response. I was talking in shul with a mother whose daughter also met her fiance on a religious online dating site. She mentioned how careful they were to check him out. But I don’t think that is any different than it used to be, if anything it’s easier nowadays to check people out. My father was a refugee, a survivor with no immediate family and met my mother on a bus (or subway, accounts vary). He invited her to the home of the rabbi he was living with. You’re right that after high school it is hard for young people to meet, and now so many of the educational programs are also separate.

  2. Aviva_Hadas says:

    My husband & I met online. The only question I remember from his mother was wether or not my family was gebrochts or non-gebrochts. My husband & father are now “best” friends, so they must have had a great conversation on my behalf as well.

    • Aviva, that’s a very important question (relating to Passover food customs). I wonder if his family checked you out before hand? It’s great when everyone gets along.

  3. I’ll repost part of my comment (no. 14) on the previous marriage thread:

    Just for background we are a dati-leumi (Ezra/Bnei Akiva) family.

    My elder daughter met her husband via an introduction from a friend and she met a few other boys beforehand in a similar manner. We didn’t’ get to check out her husband till they were more or less engaged because she wouldn’t tell us anything about him, and I was pretty upset about it at the time. She said “what’s the point of telling you all about the boy if nothing comes of it in the end?”. I explained to her that if they were ready to get engaged and only then we discovered something “bad” in his background, how would she feel about calling it all off at that stage? Or going against our wishes. She had the good grace to admit we were right. B”H or son-in-law is a wonderful person and he has a great family too.

    Our elder son met assorted dates via introductions from mutual friends, but in the he met his wife quite by accident by literally bumping into her in Gush Katif during the disengagement/expulsion. We did a LOT of checking out on her because she was divorced with a child. B”H that has turned out very well indeed too. (They have since had 2 children).

    Our #2 son went out with a few girls who he was introduced to by friends, but he met his present steady girlfriend by accident too (seems to be a habit in our family!). He met her when he was out with a bunch of friends, and she was too, and one person from each crowd knew each other and stopped to talk in the street. The rest of the crowd hung about, and then started talking and…

    It seems beshert can happen in the strangest of places 🙂

    Our youngest daughter, age 17, has been on one date whom she met on Facebook. I’m a bit leery of internet dating only because anyone can pose as anyone on the ‘net. On the other hand, especially with Facebook, one can see who that person’s friends are so they’re not quite as anonymous as real dating sites.

  4. Mom in Israel, you asked what is the role of parents, rabbis, educators etc. I’m always in awe of parents who manage to fix up their children with marriage partners. I would never in a million years have picked either of my in-law children, and yet now I can see how perfect they are for my children. And I thought I knew my own children!

    Rabbis and teachers might be a good source for introductions, but they are also an excellent source for getting background information on potential partners. They will probably know something about their student’s personality etc. that might be helpful.

    As for what the young people ask of their potential marriage partners, with my married children I know they discussed education, political views re settlements etc., religious outlook, and the same sense of humour was very important too. I’m sure there was more though.

  5. On the gebrokts thing, why do you think it is so important? I come from a Yekke and Litvak background. People from these places had a tradition of eating gebrokts on Pesach. It is only the strong influence of the Chassidic movement that has people thinking avoiding gebrokts is somehow more kosher. But I would hardly make that an issue to make or break a shidduch. It could feel more awkward for an Ashkenazic person to cross over to having kitniyos on Pesach. But, again, these are not issues that should be considered central when deciding whether or not to marry a person.

  6. Ariella, my comment was tongue-in-cheek.

  7. Annie, I know someone who goes on actual “dates” with potential matches for her son (charedi). I would not want that responsibility!

  8. Very interesting subject. As you said, for children who socialize in groups, they could meet naturally, in a group setting.

    My kids met their bashertes on their own, except for my younger son (who had a little help from his eema).

    My eldest, a girl, met her husband when she was at Bar-Ilan year program in Israel. They’ve been married since 1994.

    My older son almost gave up on finding someone. He had dated Israeli girls a few times-not often-and thought they were superficial and knew little if nothing about Judaism (he is traditional, not dati). Then a mutual friend introduced him to a friend of hers from work (she thought they might be ‘mat’im), and they ‘hit it off.’ They were married in 2008!

    My younger son’s story was a bit of an anomaly; I met his Israeli kallah when she was here in our town for an extended visit before he did. I liked her and introduced her to my son when he came home (to the U.S.) for Pesach (he was reluctant; he didn’t trust my judgement and said that ‘he can find his own girlfriends’), and they liked each other immediately.
    They were married in June, 2007!

    I have two unmarried daughters left: 23 and 20 (the youngest still serving in the IDF), neither of whom are seeing anyone.
    As they say, “three down and two to go,” but they have made it quite clear they don’t want my help. We shall see…

  9. My daughter has started meeting boys
    She does not want to give us many details and although my husband would like to “check them out” she does not want to.

    Did anyone mention dor Yesharim?
    The girls did this test at school, and the boy she is currently seeing asked for her code so he can check that they are “compatible” (even though out family are not ashkenazi and dor Yehsarim does not cover everything)

    She was introduced to the boys she met by her friends.

  10. My previous comment talks about when I started dating. In Israel I dated a lot. I was very proactive telling friends and sometimes even people I’d only met once or twice that I was looking to get married and keep an eye out for me. A guy I dated mention someone in his year in Yeshiva, still not married at the old age of 26! I enquired about him several times, but he was always ‘busy’. The next year a friend of mine married to an old chevruta of his set me up with the same guy. We dated for seven weeks (!) and got engaged. We just celebrated our five year anniversary.

    When I made aliya I felt like there was a unique challenge for olim, a lot of Israelis meet through Bnei Akiva or through a strong family friend network here but Olim didn’t do Bnei Akiva in Israel and their family friend network, if it exists at all is much weaker. My husband was in the same hesder yeshiva for over 10 years and I’m just a people person, and more importantly I CARE so over the past few years we’ve been involved in shidduchim. So far we’ve had 2 successes. My husband is in the chinuch world (although now he teaches 6th grade – no potential there) and I’m a biologist, but I think shidduchim are something that everyone can be involved in. If you know of a single and you are not confidant about setting them up you probably know of someone else who might be. Or invite them for a shabbat meal with a member of the opposite sex (if its accepted in your community to do so).

    I keep index cards and an excel sheet of all the people I’m looking out for. I always ask what they are looking for and about them. I try and let people define what’s important. My pet peeve is when men talk to me about dress sizes or when a 50 yr old man wants a woman under 30. I think people caring about other people is what is really important. People at work know that they can talk to me about people in their life looking for shidduchim.

    About the second shidduch we made: I met the woman when pregnant with my first. She was really sweet mid thirties and I couldn’t think of anyone. Every so often I thought of her, and nothing came to mind. We moved last year and I met a man who was really serious about shidduchim. She came to mind. It was 4 years later. They got married, I’m sure she thought I forgot about her. Shlach lachmecha, you never know from which direction your beshert will come.

  11. Yael, my friend was telling me today how she does PR for her kids. This is my son, 24, and he’s looking. . .Her kids don’t like it so much but it is effective. It is definitely harder for olim, baalei teshuva and others without a network. Kol hakavod to you for making the effort.

  12. Regular Anonymous says:

    Stay close to home! My next door neighbor’s daughter just got engaged to my downstairs neighbor’s son!

  13. RA, great, fewer arguments about where they are spending Pesach! How old are they?

  14. One son’s best friend and room-mate from the 10th grade through several years of Hesder Yeshiva (believe me knew him better than anyone!) got married. He and his wife suggested two of the wife’s friends to my son (but would not let him say no, he had to go out with one of them, and they did not let up – I heard one end of several of these conversations). He was no youngster (24) but had not yet gone out with anyone. He agreed to see one and she is now the mother of several of my grandchildren.
    This same son ‘found’ his sister a match from their Hesder Yeshiva. The match was also a room-mate of another son of mine and he tries to take some of the credit. But the one who actually “redt’ the shidduch is the older one. They hit it off immediately. (The shadchan is still slightly in shock even if it is several years later.)
    Another son was interested in the sister of a good friend of his from high school. That son had spent a lot of time at this friend’s house and liked the whole family. It seems it was generally agreed between him and the friend that when this sister started dating he would be notified. It took a bit because he was dating someone else and she went on a few dates with otheres but when the stars aligned themselves it all worked out.
    The best story is my son who was at ‘hakafot shniyot’ at a well known Chardal yeshiva in Jerusalem. As things were winding down in the wee hours of the morning he saw a lovely face in the window (where the girls look out at the guys) and was smitten. He went outside and saw her getting into a car. He ran over to the car and asked her where the car was going and she told him there was no more room. He asked her what her name was and she told him, but that there was no more room. Fortunately her name is not very common and someone told him the area where they thought the car was going. Also he thought he recognized her from Gush Katif but wasn’t sure. He went to the shidduch rebbitzen at his yeshiva (not the one where he saw her in JM) and told her what he knew about her and asked her to see of she could identify this person. It took a bit of time but in the end it was narrowed down to two possibilities. One was a neighbor of someone close to us so he asked about her. It turned out to be the princess he was looking for. The rest, as they say is history! (It is amazing what a really great match this is. Truth, as they say, is sometimes stranger than fiction.)

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