Important News On the Shidduch Crisis As Gedolim Sign Letter Urging Close-in-Age Shidduchim


age-gap-small[Letters below.] This week, a letter signed by over 60 roshei yeshivos in the United States, as well as Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman and Rav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg, has been made public. The letter points out that the primary cause of the difficult shidduch situation is the fact that boys typically marry girls who are a few years younger than they are. Since every year the community grows, bli ayin harah, there are not enough boys for the more numerous younger girls. Those extra girls are left out, Rachmana litzlan. The only way to prevent this from continuing is to have boys marry girls who are close to their age. Then, everyone will have a chance, as the number of boys and girls would be equal. (It is interesting to note that in the Chassidishe world, there seems to be no such problem of hundreds of older single girls, because their shidduchim are usually close in age, so there are enough boys available.)

Thus, the roshei yeshivos are calling on all members of the community to give preference to shidduchim in which the ages are close to each other, i.e., the age of the girl should be within a year or two of the boy’s, or the girl can be even older. Similarly, they urge those who are considering shidduchim to give preference to a girl who is age twenty and above. The roshei yeshivos also ask of shadchanim, and all others involved in shidduchim, to see to it, as much as possible, that the ages of the boy and girl are close. The letter states that shadchanim should work primarily for girls who are age twenty and above, and that shadchanim who go further and assist older girls will merit double s’char.


Approximately five years ago, a handful of people came to the realization of the core issue that was causing the shidduch crisis, a concept now popularly referred to as “the age gap.” The problem was brought to the attention of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum zt”l, rosh yeshiva of the Mirrer Yeshiva, who immediately declared, “Mir tor nisht shveigin” (We cannot be silent). With the help of ybl”c Rav Meir Hershkowitz shlit”a, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Bais Binyomin of Stamford, he assembled an emergency meeting of roshei yeshivos. On the 13th of Kislev 5766, an asifa of approximately 30 roshei yeshivos from the New York Metropolitan area, as well as Scranton and Baltimore, converged at the home of Rav Shmuel. Although the asifa yielded no consensus on how to solve the issue, a clear commitment was made to tackle it with the seriousness that it deserved.

age-gap-largeFast forward two years to Erev Yom Kippur 5768. Rav Ephraim Wachsman shlit”a, in a teshuvah drasha that was broadcast to thousands of people, brought the issue to light and strongly encouraged bochurim to consider shidduchim with girls close to their own age. That Sukkos, the first ads promoting the NASI Project, a highly successful initiative which is committed to actively encouraging close-in-age shidduchim, were published in newspapers.

The present letter is a follow-up to a letter from rabbonim published in Kislev 5768 which encouraged shidduchim with older girls and shidduchim that are close in age. In that letter, Rav Aharon Feldman shlit”a, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel, reported the words of the posek hador, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlit”a, that someone who marries an older girl has the merit of “ruach chachomim noche heimenu.” Gedolim in America, including Rav Shmuel Berenbaum zt”l and Rav Zelik Epstein zt”l, added to this encouragement for any shidduch that is close in age. This current letter is an effort to continue in this vein.

Boruch Hashem, the various efforts are yielding tremendous results and it is the hope of the roshei yeshivos that this letter will further the cause and continue to help each and every bas Yisroel find her appropriate zivug.


To view the letter in English, click here.

 {Elisha Newscenter}

To view the letter in Hebrew, click here.


  1. yasher coach to all the askonim that helped arrange this letter. iy”h with your help all our children will find their zivugim! yehi chelkecha baruch!

  2. Glad to see the rabbanim on hand for this one.

    My question is: We knew this long ago, and all our shidduchim are close in age or females are older than the males. Is it a necesity for every episode in life to get a haskama for?

  3. Yasher Koach to MP and all the others who are not just sitting around and crying about the crisis but rather acting on behalf of Klal yisroel.
    In their zechus of caring for others we should merit to see Moshiach very soon.

  4. It never made sense, whenever there were births reported in the newspaper of dofferent hospitals, when counted ,were always exactly equal. But I was told for years , it’s a known thing , that there are more girls born than boys. Now it all makes sense .

  5. I am grateful to the Nasi Organization, and particularly to Moishe Pogrow, for his untiring efforts on behalf of the “singles crisis”.
    Whereas, previously, as a girl got older, her chances for new names and dates dwindled, todays single girls continuously have new names to consider as boys are entering shidduchim.
    Credit should also be given to the mothers of boys, the boys, and the girls for accepting the concept of close in age shidduchim, thereby alleviating their plight and facilitating many happy marriages.
    May the organizers and publicizers of this program be gebentched with everything good.

  6. With all due respect, perhaps the issue is not that bochurim prefer younger girls, but WHY they do. Is it possible that they (as many have admitted to me, a shadchan), are intimidated by girls the same age or older? If so, why would that be…?

  7. rav chaim epstein had a personal reason for not signing but wasvery very encouraging and was mechazeik the askonim to get many chasimas. his absence should not be understood as arguing on the other rabbonim. go ask him.

  8. When will ppl we that a letter is not going to change the overall problem. We have a serious problem and need change to the underlying factors causing the problem. That being said boys and girls would have yo go into shidduchim at about the same age,which can be made possible by either having girls start school later or boys getting married earlier. The fact is in my opinion that as long as boys (22-23)have 19-20 yr old girls available EVEN if they give them zero preference due to their younger age there is still a 50-50 chance that they will go out with the younger girls. Or a different solution if someone has one. A letter is not a solution rather just pushing off the problem.

  9. This will never help until boys start getting married at 20 . As long as boys dont start till 22 (and most at 23 today and even 24 ) and girls start at 18 to 19 ,the problem will only get worse .

    By chasidim both boys and girls start at approximately the same age

  10. Very wonderful. However, no one said that it is assur to marry a 19 year old. No one should ever criticize on those 19 year olds who want to marry young.
    Some very choshuve people in our society are having their daughters marry young, so obviously they don’t see it as an aveirah, but rather are trying to push it the other way.

    I got married at 19 and at the time Rav Avigdor Miller z’l said to marry off the girls ‘young and dumb’. Although the situation is different now, there is still truth to his philosophy.

  11. Deena #5
    That is not what the statistics are; for every 100 births there are 53 boys and 47 girls.
    (Infant and childhood accidents are more likely to cause male fatalities)

  12. Boys getting married earlier is not the best idea IMO. It will involve even MORE support because they need to get some uninterrupted learning time under their belts. Better they start going out LATER, leaving aside demographics, but for shalom bayis, then they’ll be able to assume the responsibilities of life.

    And girls being put in the freezer? Not good either. Will redefine freezer burn. The boys are being osek in their tachlis of learning those years. True, the girls can polish themselves professionally and get involved in chessed but once they’re ready, they should start, whenever that is for the particular child.

    i don’t advocate social engineering when there are SO many important sociological issues (like the learning gap) to address first.

  13. To UC: Could be “older girls” get tough and intimidating, and could be guys can’t handle when a girl has some backbone and intelligence of her own, and won’t just defer to everything he says and thinks.

  14. To #9 and #11 (and some others as well)
    There is some truth that the best learning boys are typically beginning the dating scene at 22/23 while the girls begin at 18/19. Therefore both groups are fresh and eager to date, which is why they get attracted to each other.
    You can’t tell the 19 year olds to wait since they were already scared off by the older ones telling them it’s a crisis, so they want a head start. They only have the 22/23 to date since those are the youngest around (generally).
    My daughter got married at 19 boruch Hashem, and she had wanted it badly. However, if girls could be told that they could use these years to save up for kollel life, and to get a good degree before marriage and babies (IY”H) and feel good about it, then terrific!
    But why make her wait when her friends are not? The older girls get very lonely, especially out of town, when their classmates are getting married and they lose their social circles.
    So it is true that the boys coming back at 22/23 from Brisk and Mirer does contribute to it. (BUT, I don’t have big enough shoulders to say the boys should do otherwise. Those are very productive years)

  15. Don’t tell the boys – tell their parents. I am continually seeing my friends’ sons not going out until 23 or so. Then, of course they want younger girls because the parents are afraid that marrying an older girl is “settling” and indicates that there might be something wrong with the boy/family.

    The only solution is to stop treating shidduchim like a bargaining session in the shuk to try to get the most prestigious match. Money and looks, or learning and yichus, are not the guarantee of a happy marriage. Middos and compatibility are what count, and until the parents stop worrying about impressing their friends with their children’s great “catch,” we will continue to have problems.

    Materialism takes many forms – some of them not so obvious, and this turning of match-making into a consumer process is another version to which we are not, unfortunately, immune.

  16. tzipi: i am very happy you dont advocate what our gedolim clearly do. its a pity you werent asked your opinion. maybe no one (who matters) cares

  17. To Sam (20): I did read the letter and I have to thank you for prompting me to do it. As the gedolim have said that this IS the major issue, I have to bow to that, so I will rethink my disappointment that other issues aren’t being addressed as emphatically and publicly.

    HOWEVER, I was also writing about my legitimate concerns about boys going out younger. I’ve also read calls to abolish the Lakewood freezer. If that happens, I hope that boys who truly want to give themselves time to acclimate without distractions won’t find themselves pressured to go out prematurely.
    When a boy gets married, his focus has to be on what he needs to do to build his bayis neeman. Obviously Torah is THE cornerstone and center, and pervades every aspect of the home. But if it means having to shoulder the financial burden early on then let him do so proudly, and know that he had enough uninterrupted years of learning to be able to guide him through.

    Apparently also there is now going to be an unofficial freezer till 20, i.e. a year after sem for most girls (though what of the girls who didn’t go to day sem? who already have their certification in whatever they choose to do early on?). But if this freezer is going to be extended to 22 we’re going to have a lot of girls who are freezer burnt, bitter, jaded, have become career women, or any combination thereof.

    I think it’s fine to promote TRYING to do shidduchim within the age limit, but there is no way to MANDATE such shidduchim. I don’t think our dor is on the madregah for social engineering of that sort. Let me emphasize, I mean the hamon av. I have perfect respect for the gedolim. But if we, uniformly, can be mekabel something like that, then we can also uniformly be mekabel abolishing lashon hara and a host of ills.

    I hope that the gedolim will start giving us the kind of chizuk we need to be able to make this work. Because there are so many more issues than just the age gap at play here. It may be THE major issue, but say it earned its majority by being 55%. What of the other 45% of the issues???

  18. Tzippy: please reread number #20. Next time I’m sure they’ll come to you first……

    bytw There is nothing in the letter about the lakewood freezer and there is noting in the letter about a freezer for girls….

  19. 25, did you submit that before or after post 24 appeared?

    I guess I didn’t make it clear, I was referring to the freezer, both for boys and girls (separate ones, obviously) in response to other posters, NOT the letter.

  20. Also want to make clear how I am being mevatel to the gedolim. I will, bli neder, not disparage such efforts by using the phrase New Age, even though when I did before it was because some of the proponents of this idea were not acquitting themselves well and I was fed up.

    But question based on the letter. I have a daughter who was one of the youngest, back from sem, will be 19 at Chanukah. Is she to wait another 15 months before starting shidduchim? Aren’t these girls de facto being put in the freezer?

    And please don’t say, good, she’ll have the time to grow. Unless you can cogently answer this: what are we doing for our boys’ growth?

  21. You have no doubt heard people say, “it’s easier to be a good girl than to be a good boy” and, “the Bais Yaakovs are doing a better job than the Yeshivos.” This is not a new problem, but it may be getting worse…

    If you have high school aged children or above, you know that the hasmadah of the girls is rarely matched by the boys…so, yes, it’s going to be very hard to find a boy for a girl who has “horva’d” over her Rambans etc. for the past 5-6 years or more, and been given so many responsibilities in academics, chesed, at home.

    Is it possible that the girls’ schools should turn down the pressure cooker? And perhaps the boys’ schools need to teach them to be more responsible & serious…maybe give them tests…

    Nevertheless, I also strongly feel it’s important to encourage girls (and their parents) to get whatever schooling they decide that they need BEFORE they are in shidduchim – whether it’s a sheitel or graphics course, or a Master’s in Special Ed or Speech – or, a year of experience teaching.

    Then they are in the position to support a learning husband – if that is what they want.

    I feel it is not healthy that many girls are in school full-time (or in school and working) once othey are mothers … so I personally do delay shidduchim for my girls while they obtain some qualifications.

    However, I can understand those who are frightened by the words “Shidduch Crisis” into looking frantically for shidduchim before the girl gets off the plane from seminary. Perhaps the hype about the crisis is pushing the girls into shidduchim at a younger age than if they were calm and full of bitochon that there was a bas kol?

    And how many broken engagements (or worse) have you heard about that were caused by “Shidduch Crisis” – by the panicky feeling that pushes them into a shidduch before they’re ready?

    So let’s all calm down, speak to our own personal Moreh Hora’ah (what? you don’t have one? Now, that’s a crisis!), and learn some Emunah & Bitochon!

  22. Dear Bubbie:

    “it’s easier to be a good girl than to be a good boy”

    WHO ARE THE “not” good boys MARRYING. because they are getting married…….

    ““it’s easier to be a good girl than to be a good boy””

    Please see post #20 it applies to you as well

  23. To UC and Girl,
    Nowhere in this article does it state that boys prefer younger girls. It simply states that the boys are generally older than the girls they marry. Nowhere does it attribute a reason for this trend.
    You interject you’re opinion that it’s because the boys prefer it. Please cite the evidence upon which you base that claim. I doubt there is any.
    There could be numerous reasons for this trend. Your hypothesis could be correct. Or it could be the very opposite of the reason you’ve stated- perhaps girls prefer older boys.
    Please leave baseless (and in the case of Girl’s comments, negative/hateful) speculation out of the equation.

  24. Is it just me or does this NOT solve the problem?

    This solution assumes that the “Shidduch Crisis” only applies to girls and that only girls are having trouble finding mates. Guys are ALSO having trouble finding mates. Can one claim that girls who are only 2 years younger have preferred much older guys and haven’t, until this time, given these other guys a chance? No. This solution would further decrease the number of options that guys have and, also, decrease the number of options that girls have!

    I have a much better solution. Relative to other guys, I’m relatively short. Most girls seem to be taller than me. I don’t like it that girls who are shorter than me prefer to date guys who are taller than me. The pool of short girls is quite limited and the pool of tall guys is also limited. Why not limit girls to dating men who are only 2 inches taller than them? This would give all the taller girls a chance to date the tall guys, leaving the shorter ones for me!

    I have found it that it’s very difficult to find a girl that’s compatible with me, not to mention ALSO close to me in age… Do these Rabbis have a compatible match for me that they feel that it’s appropriate to tell me not to date much younger girls?

    While this “letter from the Rabbis” was merely directed at Shadchanim, the reality is that the cultural influence may spread so that girls will stop dating guys who are much older than them and limit their options to the few guys who fall within the specified age range.

    The fact is, there are guys who, if they can’t find a compatible mate within their specified age range and no religious girl more than 2 years younger than them will date them, they’ll likely prefer to look elsewhere… even if you likely won’t hear many of them say that out loud in a forum where they can be identified.

    The issue here is about solving the “Shidduch Crisis”, not about questioning people’s “commitment to Judaism”. However, you can’t expect to solve the “Shidduch Crisis” in this way and expect not to add to the “Assimilation Crisis”.

    Sorry… this is not a solution. It doesn’t actually make sense in reality and may actually make the problem worse. Not every guy who wants to date much younger girls is merely looking to have fun or merely looking to marry a “trophy wife”. The underlying assumptions of the proposed solution can be taken quite offensively by those of us who do sometimes date much younger girls.