Is There a Shidduch Crisis in the Religious Zionist World?

This is the fifth in a series on dating and marriage in the religious Zionist community in Israel.

Previous posts in the series:

Part I: Dating Readiness

Part II: Meeting the One

Part III: Genetic Testing

Part IV: Dating Venues

VI: Internet Dating

VII: Paying the Shadchan, or Not

VIII: Wedding Costs

IX: Planning Tips

In charedi circles there has been a lot of talk about the “tragedy” of older single women not finding their mates. I put tragedy in quotes not to make light of the problem, but to emphasize the word’s emotional weight.

While it may not be seen as a tragedy, the religious-Zionist community does seem to have a problem. Many families in our synagogue has several single children approaching thirty or older. A television drama series, Srugim, focuses on older religious Zionist singles.

So what do you think? How serious is this problem? And more important, what is the solution? One article I read claims that boys and girls are learning different approaches. The boys are taught that their wives will be responsible for the home and kids while they work and/or study Torah. The girls are prepared for careers. Other factors include the absence of formal matchmaking. Commenters have also mentioned the lack of opportunity for young people to meet each other outside of mixed youth groups.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject. Shabbat shalom.

Photo credit: Batya

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Comments

  1. Aviva_Hadas says:

    In my community (YI) there have been quite a few Jewish men who married converts or non-Jews.

    I am not sure how much that is an influence elsewhere.

    My husband & I married in our mid-30’s – very much over the hill & my mother reminded me of that fact “daily” for a decade.

  2. not sure, but a friend just got married at 30, and I suspect that she wasn’t really ready until quite recently.

    I know that I certainly ended up marrying (at 27) outside of the sphere of what I would have considered a few years earlier, but I’m very happy with what I got. Maybe the crisis is that what we’re looking for is too limited.

  3. Ms. Krieger says:

    In the observant Jewish community of Washington, DC (not all that congruent to religious Zionists, but some similarities) there are many, many women and men in their late 20s and 30s who are trying very hard to find a match.

    The problem here seems to be that the young people who live/migrate here have very high expectations (for both love and career) and keep thinking that there must be someone “better” out there. Eventually, the ones who settle down realize that there comes a point when there is no “better”, just “different”.

  4. I am a Jew who married a non-Jew but I do understand about marrying in ones faith. I wonder if the online matchmaking places would work within the Zionist community. I know a few people here in California who has met that way since even here it is hard to go out and really connect with someone. It kind of puts everyone in the same spot without physically needing to be in the same spot. Shabbat Shalom.

    • Hi Erin,
      Thanks for your visit. Yes, there are online sites in this community as well. My friend said it’s good for a shy child who does not make a good impression on the first date.

  5. MII: I’ve seen men with blah jobs who aren’t good looking and aren’t well-educated and really don’t have much by way of personality say “well, I can’t date HER…She’s ___” fat, unattractive, doesn’t come from a good enough family, baal tshuva, divorced, went to the “wrong school” (pick one of the above, not all)
    And vice versa.

    For the record, my own brother told me that he wouldn’t set me up with his friends because I was overweight. Makes a fellow proud to be a … well something or other.

    I do some matchmaking.
    I had a woman tell me that she wouldn’t go out with a guy because he “looked too much like someone else she had dated.”

  6. “looked too much like someone else she had dated.”
    good one!

  7. Kayza Zajac says:

    triLcat:
    I do some matchmaking.
    I had a woman tell me that she wouldn’t go out with a guy because he “looked too much like someone else she had dated.”
    =============================================================

    I think you have one of the causes of the problem right there. When people start looking all sorts of really irrelevant criteria, it turns the process into a nightmare.

  8. I’m glad you like the pic.

    I know the “unmarried scene” too well from my kids.

    Expectations and demands have been terribly high, also the pressures. When my kids were doing the shidduch scene, they felt like they were on job interviews and fled from it. It breaks my heart.

  9. Internet Timer says:

    What is mind boggling is that I see frequently, several times a year, on good charedi families they meet a few times, out of the blue, just to find out, AFTER chupa, that the mate has some psychological problem. Even more common when it has a baal tshuva involved (either side). While in the bnei akiva community since they met more than let’s say 3 or 4 times, I see it happening far, far less.

  10. Actually, a problem I have with the modern trends, is davka the push to get married early. I sense the hardal yeshivot are looking out for the boys’ “needs”–and urging them to get the cow with the milk, as quickly as possible. I am afraid these young girls–who may like the attention and think it’s fun to play house, now–will wake up in their 30s and 40s, and then society will pay the price, as will they.

  11. Re TrilCat’s comment #9.I can so identify with that. I tried my hand at matchmaking for my niece’s 30-something brother-in-law. He’s a nice boy, ordinary looking, not very tall, but good job and extremely nice family. But this boy thinks he’s G-d’s gift to womankind. When I suggested what I thought was a very suitable shidduch, he first asked a thousand questions (many irrelevant) about her, then asked for a photo, and then topped it all by saying he would ask his friends if they knew her so he could get their impressions of her first (!!!). At that point my niece herself told me to forget the whole thing. We both had had enough. He is still single.

    My younger brother (who married finally at 32) wouldn’t go out with a girl because “she sounded fat” on the phone. You couldn’t make it up!

    I think this is symptomatic of a lot of the religious dating scene, especially with the older singles. They are too demanding before they even agree to meet the date. They don’t realize that someone’s description can never match the reality.

    • Annie, good for you for trying. I have heard of a lot of young people who insist that the matchmaker know both people. I was involved in a shidduch where a person knew them both had to be found to make the actual connection–and then took credit. (My part was to recommend a relative to an amateur shadchanit.)

  12. …he would ask his friends if they knew her so he could get their impressions of her first

    We knew someone who was 30 but would only jump at suggestions to date girls solidly still in their early 20’s. Years later he explained that he was finally over that, that at the time he was worried that at the wedding others might discuss how close to “over the hill” the girl he was marrying was. I don’t know if he’s married yet.

    Maybe kids don’t realize what an oasis marriage can be – that the two of you become such a strong unit, that all the peer pressure of the past can actually disappear if you let it (sometimes I guess it could require moving away from the chevreh if the pressure really overshadows the benefits). So why put all the other people’s expectations into the partner with whom you’re building your own oasis?

  13. “Actually, a problem I have with the modern trends, is davka the push to get married early….I am afraid these young girls –who may like the attention and think it’s fun to play house, now– will wake up…..”

    Something like this idea crossed my mind also. Someone from a RZ yishuv mentioned some extreme statistic, that 9 girls from his 22 year old sister’s class were **already**divorced** (How big can the class be – an ulpana of 60 per grade?)

    Seems this would fit into the Dating Readiness topic (part 1) – you can’t make absolute rules based on actual ages, but what attitudes, experiences, maturities, etc. indicate that a “young” child is nonetheless ready or that an “older” child should still proceed more slowly?

    • Anon: My daughter has over 200 in her grade but there are not many high schools that size. I have also heard statistics like that about certain schools, but I have not heard of so many divorces among people I know.
      Yes, many parts of this series overlap. 🙂 You ask good questions.

  14. In my experience there is a certain drift in men’s religiousity over the years. Many guys who went to Yeshivat Hesder from religious homes simply don’t maintain that level in their older single years (into their 30s). For a girl to be considered seriously frum in the dati leumi world maybe she has to wear a skirt, but a man has to daven in a minyan and keep up with learning. They often drift which makes a gap between older men and older women. I have many older women to set up and many older men but their religious levels don’t match up.

  15. In my experience there is a certain drift in men’s religiousity over the years.

    This is SO true. And I know it firsthand. When I was in my early 20’s, I would only date frum (honestly frum) girls, then in my later 20’s and beyond, I began to date some less frum girls, basically to widen the pool of eligible women. Finally, I dated one girl who wasn’t frum … and married her.

    Now she is frummer than I am 🙂

  16. My husband pointed out the following to me: on the one hand, education is usually separate (girls/boys). On the other hand, people are, mostly, expected to pave their way on their own, unlike in the Charedi world. For my husband and his brothers, there weren’t too many offers. My husband was 27 when we got married and he was the youngest. His brothers were 36 and 30.

    Add high standards and unwillingness to compromise, and the desire to pursue education and/or fun before marriage, and that’s what you get. There are both religious and secular inhibitions preventing couples from getting together. That’s where our big problem, vs. the Charedi world, lies (imho).

  17. I am really enjoying the series. I am also spellbound by the srugim show that you mention. I lived in Katamon – exclusively – for almost 6 years, and only the last one as a married woman. I got married just before turning 27 but had been frightened by friends that if I was there and reached 28, it would just all be over for me.

    I honestly am shocked at the number of women friends I have who are accomplished, kind, religious, wise — and over 35 and single. Many of them were dating for marriage before I was. And I encountered the men who complained about the situation but had too many choices and simply didn’t want to make up their mind. Or had it too easy to bother settling down.

    Even at 26 I married someone 30 and divorced. At least I knew he knew how to commit. : ) While some at the time thought I was crazy to take on a divorcee, a stepson – and a crazy ex-wife – I married a man who was serious, committed, and knew (and knows) what it means to be a husband.

    I really feel for young women out there and I do think it is a “tragedy.”

  18. A 28 year old bochur once came to the Steipler, and asked him when he would meet his intended mate (It says in Sota 2b that 40 days before a child is born the daughter of ploni will marry ploni). And he is still waiting.

    The Steipler told him “You met her already, but rejected her”.

    So the bochur started to cry and asked – what should he do now.

    The Steipler said: “find someone more or less compatible, and make a good Jewish family together”.

    Obviously his advice included properly checking out that the prospective mate. Certainly a wise Chacham, or Rov/Rebbitzen should be consulted to help decide in each case what needs to be checked out, and which are the silly attitudes that caused the tragedy (of not finding one’s mate yet) in the first place.

  19. I am single 29 year old in the diaspora, so I can speak from personal experience on this topic. While I am religiously stable, and happy to be so, this is a real challenge. There is an enormous religious drift among my single friends towards not being religious at all.

    Im not sure why we all feel the need to play the blame game. When some-one tells me the reason women in their late 20’s or 30’s are single is because they are too picky I always wonder which things we should drop for our mythical checklists. Kind to strangers? Do I not deserve this? Ability to talk about their feelings? Are these values/options reserved for women who marry in their early 20’s?

    I think there are as many self-centered, ugly, unstable, immature, overweight (or whatever other negative term you can think of) women who have married in their early 20’s as there are attractive, stable, mature, happy, easy going, slim women in their 30’s who are not married. I feel that it is as much luck as anything else – you have to be open to meeting someone and settling down at the right time.

    I also feel that people often equate being married/settling in a relationship with the statement “I must be a valuable person because I have found one person in the world who loves me enough to marry/settle down with me”. In particular within the religious community being married equates being a participating member of the community which is a heavy burden to carry. At least in the orthodox community that I live there is very little room or understanding for single people > age 25.

    In the meantime I am going to continue studying, developing myself as a person and be the best person I can be.

    • Thank you, AYS. We should be careful not to judge singles or anyone else. And I often wonder how certain people found a mate! As you say it doesn’t mean they’re a better person. I wish you the best in finding a life partner, at the right time.

  20. Tzivia Esther says:

    Dear Mother In Israel,

    I am very concerned about someone I know who is Chardal, single, and in her early 50’s. She is exceptionally bright, and she has a good job. Where might she go to find someone who is appropriate for her. I don’t want her to marry just so she has a pair of pants in her closet.

    • I linked onto this site after researching Dor Yesharim prior to dating. I am a young man early mid twenties.

      I know a few really decent older men, who care about G-d, and will make great husbands.

      They are in their 30s. Would your Chardal marry so young? Would she want to step up certain aspects of her dedication to G-d?

      JJ

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