By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
I was recently visiting someone to be Menachem Ovel (comforting mourners) and was asked if the proverbial “Shidduch [match-making/dating] Crisis” effected me since I have recently been Zocheh (merited) to marry off all my children. I said no, not really, because I consider the so-called Shidduch Crisis to be an artificial crisis created by people. It’s not like a catastrophe that happens in nature in the world like a flood or earthquake or the outbreak of a major war that ordinary people have no control over and it is after all HaShem who is running the world and makes things happen.
There are other crisis that people create, like popular trends that are negative or against Yiddishkeit or falling into the trap of “keeping up with the Joneses” and its Jewish or Frum equivalents.
My listeners seemed somewhat surprised at my words and waited for me to explain myself. I said that I was speaking from own dating days when I was a Talmid (student) in Yeshiva in the 1970s and 1980s and from later years when my own sons and daughters went on Shidduchim (dating) and Baruch HaShem found and married good Frum (religious) spouses.
Things change of course and it’s different in many societies. My experiences are in the Brooklyn Yeshiva world and it’s not like what is going on in the Chasidisha or the Modern Orthodox worlds.
Things have obviously changed a lot in the last 50 years.
When I was dating during my own Yeshiva days, the basic method was very simple. Someone, anyone, thought of an idea to introduce an eligible boy to an eligible girl, the person who thought of the idea would call up either parents of either side or the boy and girl directly and ask them if they were interested, and if both said yes, then the boy was given the phone number of the girl and a time when he could call her, and he did that, and spoke with the girl directly on the phone for anywhere from a few minutes to a bit longer and they agreed on a time when he would pick her up, and they would then go out. After the first date they would get back to the middle party if they were interested to go out another time, if both said yes, then the boy called the girl again and they went out again, and if it went well and they both wanted to keep on seeing each other the middle party was dropped and the boy was free to call the girl at any time, talk on the phone with her for as long as was comfortable for them and set up any and all future dates, until they hopefully got engaged.
It was that simple and basically everyone found their Bashert and got married and lived happily ever after, hopefully! If anyone had other experiences until about ten years ago, please let us know!
Anyhow, it seems that over the last ten years especially things changed drastically. I should know, because our children all dated and got married between 2005 and 2015 and boy, was there a big difference from 2005 to 2015!
In 2005 the idea of the so-called “Shidduch Resume” basically didn’t exist. Young people in the American Yeshiva world were still being introduced the “old-fashioned way.” Then as the years closed in, by about 2010 (again, feel free to correct me) it was “100% REQUIRED” that every girl have a Shidduch Resume, and for many people that was not enough they started asking that every girl’s Shidduch Resume come with a photo of the girl as well. By the time 2015 came around it had evolved to the point that now every boy “MUST ABSOLUTELY HAVE” a Shidduch Resume as well.
So much paper work, not to mention that the dating protocols had changed and quite honestly I must admit that I relied on my wife who mercifully is a trained social worker to keep track and “halt kop” of the all the ins and outs and nuances of who must get called first, who has to give a yes or no first, what to ask every Shadchan, read resumes that have become vaguer and vaguer as people put less and less real information on them and to try to decipher the code of the words on every resume as if it was encrypted information that only the smartest people could derive any real sense and meaning, never mind the facts and the truth, of what the boy or girl was really like.
If this sounds confusing, it is, just as any parent who is dealing with this knows.
Not only do you have to now become a master writer to say just enough but not too much and to make the resume appealing to just the right people, but you also have to become an intelligence analyst to figure out what is, or more accurately was is NOT being said on a resume, not to mention trying to weed out the relative truth, from partial truths, to spot significant information versus the unfortunately outright non-truths (aka: lies) that are woven in ever-so innocuously into these resumes that at the end of the day become just generic “calling cards” with just the name and phone number of the girl or boy, which could just as easily been given over by word of mouth as we did in “the olden days” which was only about a decade or two ago.
This is something not created by “cruel nature” or by some evil government that has decided to create an international conflict. This is something that is purely 100% man and woman made by us.
So the question is why? Why have people complicated their lives so much that only makes it harder and not easier for boys and girls to find and date and eventually, hopefully marry each other? Who says we all have to live by such a complicated artificial set-up? The age of the Internet has actually made things worse because now resumes must all be Emailed and become part of so many strangers’ data basis.
Dealing with Shadchanim and exploring Shidduch options has become like dealing with a vast artificial labyrinthine bureaucracy and you have to be good at that and have the patience to navigate all the ins and outs with all sorts of long waits like at any civil service government office. If you are not up to this or have no time or patience for it, then you are at an automatic disadvantage, and at the end of the day it just keeps boys and girls single for much longer than they need to be.
To be continued…
Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin lives in Flatbush and is the Director of the Jewish Professionals Institute www.jpi.org and his wife Zahava, although they are not Shadchanim, have counseled many in the area of Shidduchim and dating. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718 382 5610 and 718 382 8058.