Opinion: The Shidduch Crisis Was Created by Humans

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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 rudomin@jpi.org or 718 382 5610 and 718 382 8058.

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  1. Well, enrolling your kid in school also became less friendly and more bureaucratic – it’s because the Jewish world got bigger b”h while technology made everything “faster”… taking info on the phone is just too tedious for our world in general. For better or for worse – that’s the world we live in.

    I believe this ‘crisis’ is to a large degree Shadchan made. I hear it also from a lot of people (even from parents of boys!). The boys are all grouped up in Yeshivos, primarily the big BMG, and shadchanim and ‘friends’ pump them up taking all humanity and family friendship out of the process. As soon as the freezer opens they each get a ‘price tag’ which will get them looking far beyond their communities and close circles. The unknown is always greener than the known, especially when a ‘professional’ shadchan told you so, regardless of how little he knows them.

    This hurts the boys as well, since they feel they ‘have to’ say no and have the girl chase them, otherwise they will ‘look cheap’. They ‘have to’ make believe they’re busy, etc. – This is what the ‘shadchanus reid’ dictates. – I’ve heard this from many many people.

    And after being on the market for about a year, as the new crop comes in, these boys get pushed down the priority list of the shadchan – not to mention girls… Boys 23-24 years old, who were so loyal to the ‘shidduch system’ are now being rewarded for that with a downgrade – not ח”ו in peoples eyes, but the few individuals whom are trusted to give them applicable names will now give a colder shoulder. Of course outwardly they must continue being the boys on the high horses, otherwise…

    Therefore there are many boys and many girls out there, who are just over a year on the market, but there’s not much matchmaking done with them outside their close circles, and they’ve by now grown to look down on the ones in their backyards… etc. etc.

  2. Well thank you Rabbi. Of course you didn’t have problems marrying off your kids. You’re a well know and respected community leader. Not all of are zocheh to have such parents. Some of us have pashuteh yichus.

    • I am not famous or choshuv and I am just as poshut as anyone else and we had to face all the challenges and problems, and try to face and solve them, just like everyone else. So your comment is unfair.

  3. Well thank you Rabbi. Of course you didn’t have problems marrying off your kids. You’re a well know and respected community leader. Not all of are zocheh to have such parents. Some of us have pashuteh yichus.

  4. The writer is correct that the shidduch crisis is completely man made… but he it totally missing the point of unequal numbers of dating boys vs dating girls (Age Gap see here http://www.solvetheshidduchcrisis.com)….. and THEREFORE we have resume, picture, protocol and many other issue…..

    Just curious.. it seems so odd…. the explanation given above and yet only the girls need these perfect resumes….

    • You say “the explanation given above and yet only the girls need these perfect resumes”

      That is not true, today by 2016, both girls and boys need to have the best resumes, and pics for both as well as required by many Shadchanim.

  5. Although the Rabbi brought up a lot of good points I think that he is missing one fact, which is that there are many many more older single girls than single boys. Clearly there are more girls in shidduchim than there are boys. Because this is true, we can try to correct anything you want the the fact is that that only 1 boy can marry one girl. We will end up with the same amount of single girls once again. The first thing we must do in if we are going to help is to create a situation where there are the same amount of boys and girls in Shidduchim. The way to do that is to close the “AGE GAP”. I know that this point is boring already but its the truth.

    • The kind of “social engineering” you are advocating for can never be enforced so it is unrealistic talk to start with.

      Even in the most structured Chasidic circles they cannot enforce strict age requirements in shidduchim because that is something that is done by HaShem Himself who is running this world and the best we can do is to adapt ourselves to what is happening in HaShem’s big wide world.

      Similarly it is a total waste of time complaining about the weather and how you wish that the temperatures and climate can be “controlled” and presto “the world will be fixed and problems will go away” and we will enjoy endless sunny days and never need heating or air conditioning in our homes! These things only happen in the imagination or in fiction but not in the real world where we have to adapt to the situation and fit in with reality and make it work for us and not try to make the impossible happen.

      HaShem decides on our genders, we even have a Brocha in Shacharis to thank Him for that, and HaShem decides how many boys and girls and males and females there are in the world. Our job is to use what HaShem places in this world before us and use it to the best of our abilities.

      There are always good boys and girls all around us to choose from, they may be a year or two or more older or younger than each other, so what, just make up your mind that you want to get and be married and then go for it, you wouldn’t wait if you were starving to find the “perfect” meal, even if it was day old bread or dry bread, if you were starving you would eat it!

      My mother was in Auschwitz during the Holocaust and she told me they were so starved that they loved to eat the potato peels (!!!) that the Nazis threw out! And if they could find a little bit of salt to sprinkle on the potato peels that was “ta’am gan eden” — so many people have put themselves on “starvation diets” in shidduchim and when they are offered girls or boys who are a lot better than potato peels they turn up their noses and turn down the wonderful opportunities that are all around them and come knocking at their doors, and they then label it a mythological “crisis” as if they had nothing to do with what has befallen them!

  6. Gotta agree with you. 100% correct. Much easier years ago no resume etc. You were set up went out and if things were going okay you set up your own dates till either yes or no.

  7. Yes the numbers are glaring, but it isn’t the only factor. Many people marry the same age as them, and many boys marry even older girls, especially once desperation sets in.

    And as I said, there are many good solid boys who also complain about the process. See above in 1st comment.

  8. I think that resumes really messed things up. It also became a “bragging point” for boys’ mothers. Also, the whole “checking out” is really farkrumpt…. Used to be, you trusted your shadchan who was probably a friend or relative.

    • because 25 year old guys weren’t dating 19 year old girls. Look at couples Ka”h in their 70s and up- rarely is there more of a 2-year difference in age, and sometimes (many times) the woman is older.

      Chassidic communities, where the men start dating around the same age as the women, don’t have an age gap issue.

  9. Ok
    Having read the write up, he’s absolutely correct. Now who will be the first to break this stupid system that we’ve created?
    I whole heartedly agree, and I’m sure there are others that the system is broken, aside that the shadchonim are overwhelmed. It’s time to go back to reality, single events, etc. give the boys and girls a chance to meet and make their own decisions instead of the Mommys protecting their future gedoilei hador and rosh yeshivas.
    This resume and CIA and at FBI background
    checks business means absolutely nothing, just look at the newly wed divorces going on. What happened to the little bitochen in the eibishter? Life support, long term learned, and lifetime contracts, million dollar escrow funds etc. This is pure nuts.

    For those of you that remember the ad by a famous Wall St. firm “Past results are not a guarantee of future returns”.

    Enough of this baloney!!

    • “single events” are not acceptable in the Frum Yeshiva world and they never will be! So please do not bark up the wrong tree. Singles events are for a different crowd and maybe for much, much older singles who are already working and living on their own, but it’s not for regular yeshiva guys and bais yaakov type girls!

    • Frum girls get plenty of excellent Chinuch in their twelve years of formal schooling in the wonderful Bais Yaakovs that cater to them to the hilt, add to that a few more years from kindergarten and Pre 1-A!

      If anything the opposite should happen, that we have now reached a point that we should cut back and not let our daughters go overseas to seminaries in Yerushalayim and let them stay closer to home where their parents can keep an eye on them, and again I will cite the example of Chasidim in both the USA and Israel and all Frum people from Eretz Yisroel who do not send their daughters overseas to far-away seminaries where the girls do not get the best kind of Shemira which is what proper parental supervision is all about.

      Having the girls away in post-high school seminaries in Israel takes them out of the Shidduch market at their most prime ages of 18 and 19 and it then takes them time to re-acclimate so they only start dating after they get back and they turn about 20 or 21 which makes them lose their best years of 18 and 19 to spending time in a seminary that busts their parents bank accounts and teaches them redundant information what they should already have been taught in their 12 years of excellent and expensive Bais Yaakov Chinuch!

      I hope to look deeper into that subject in the future, IY”H.

  10. Park rangers have more success in staying away from Bears than some of our people have in making a good shidduch today.

    Can you imagine how screwed up this gets if the negativity has a painful experience designed to keep our people from marriage.

    G-d is to be blessed. The shidduch crisis is destroying the potential of the jewish family one year after another non-married year.

    This is so bad that even the simple who are happy can be very annoyed in all of their later bachelor days.

    Sad and if there is any hope, we must pray that Torah can indeed keep making this world better.

    Maybe it gets better.

    Time is an essence.

  11. The same information that the shadchan had to take down over the phone, read to the other side, and wait while the other side took dictation, is what’s called a “resume” now. It’s just a more efficient way of communicating the basics.

    • Not really, the Shadchanim are free to use any system they like for their own records, but they have no right to impose a new “minhag” (is it a De’Oraisa or a De’Rabanan or a just a “Minhag”?) on Klal Yisroel that now “everyone” “must” have a Shidduch Resume. It just adds layers of PAPER WORK and RED TAPE to an already complicated and overburdened system of Frum life.

      It’s just another sign of the breakdown in MENTSCLICHKEIT.

      For example, there is no “formal way” to do your Pesach shopping which can be very overwhelming. Lemoshul, there is no such thing that the thousands of stores selling all the types of Kosher LePesach foods and supplies will “demand” a “Pesach Shopping List ” from anyone! They need you, and you need them to provide and sell the food and the products and they do not create layers of red tape and running around for you to get what you need to have a Chag Kosher VeSameach.

      So why then have we allowed a system to develop that does not do the same for our even more urgent needs for KOSHER Shidduchim for our children so that we can all have a “Chag Sameach” at their Chasunas?

      Seems that we are quite mindlessly ready to inflict cruelty and suffering on ourselves, our children, and our fellow Frum Jews to jump through hoops of fire before we let our kids date others or before others let their kids date our kids, people are inflicting this one ach other ona daily basis (if this was done to us by an enemy we shout “antisemitism” like in the times of the Yevanim when the “Hegmon” would interfere with Shidduchim by making evil demands of the new Jewish Kallas, Rachmana Litzlan) and who would think that it’s “normal’ to create so much mismanagement and confusion, and damage, while we would NEVER tolerate such a complicated system for our Pesach and regular Kosher food supplies! We would be much nicer to our pets!

      Think about it, it’s a very serious matter, that’s why we do really have this and many types of “crises” in our Frum Velt which B”H is growing but also facing its challenges!

      Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin.

  12. A phone call between shadchan and parent gave the shadchan an opportunity to discuss the single in a positive light (sort of a pre reference call), a paper cant transmit the same information. It also makes it ridiculously easy to reject someone off hand when the resume doesn’t “look right”, especially when someone has multiple resumes too go through. Comment #1 is correct, plenty of boys are having a hard time, but everyone is afraid to talk about it.

  13. To Yossie, and anyone else who is skeptical about the age gap. I understand that many people do not understand the age gap, but NO ONE has come up with an explanation other than the age gap, as to why there are HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS MORE older girls than there are older boys. We do not have an “older singles” problem, we have a SHORTAGE of BOYS problem. Even if you fixed every annoyance from pickiness to dating issues, it will not fix the SHORTAGE of BOY problem. So tell me, why do you think we have a huge surplus of older girls if equal amounts of girls and boys are born each year? Please enlighten us.

    • Understanding the age gap is simple. Since the community is growing exponentially there are always many more students (boys and girls) in the 7th grade than the 12th grade. You can look it up in Marvin Schick’s Census (which he takes every five years).

      However, they will not begin dating simultaneously. This year’s (any year’s) 7th grade girls will be dating this year’s 12th grade boys (six years from now when they are 19 and 24, respectively). As this happens every year, more and more girls are left behind.

      It really is simple math, and I am flummoxed that so many don’t get it.

      • Thanks for your insightful comments CJ Srullowitz!

        Yup, just proves my point that the so-called “Shidduch Crisis” is manufactured by us humans.

        It reminds me of the stories one reads of so-called fires that are actually set up by bored firemen, who then they get to “put of the fires” that they created all by themselves!

        That’s us, we create a “crisis” with our own blunders and then we get all panicked and we scream “chai vekayam” when if we only stopped to take a look and we would do just a little Cheshbon HaNefesh, we could easily identify all the problems as coming from our own failures!

        Now that takes true honesty!

        Thanks again for your insightful comments CJ Srullowitz!

        Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin







    • While the issues you raise (minus the nasty swipe at MO) do contribute to the problem, the reason why the age gap was not as pronounced back in “our day” was that women did not necessarily date men so much older back then. Also it was a smaller community. The growth was not exponential, where you had a huge difference in grade size between (lemoshol) 7th grade and 12th grade. Back in the 1970’s, even the frummest families weren’t routinely having 10-12 kids.

      All this took off in the mid-80s, when Kollel became the default option (instead of working), When the yeshivos experienced EXPONENTIAL growth, the Age Gap widened to the point it was noticeable.

  15. To Yossie- Your point about support/work/chassidim who work/fathers who can’t afford to support… all fall into the catagory of “pickiness”. The boys are being picky. You say they are picky because they demand support, others complain they are picky about looks/yichus/weight etc. Pickiness is extremely annoying, and yes, shidduchim would be easier if no one would be so picky, but it is NOT the reason for a huge surplus of girls.
    Although as you say, if the picky boys would “run out” of wealthy girls from their age, and ONLY choose the girls one or two years younger, that probably would not cause a huge surplus of ONLY girls. It would, though, eventually cause a surplus of boys too- since when new girls enter the “market”, new boys enter as well. If there would be an equal surplus of boys as there are of girls, eventually everyone would come to their senses, and the boys would settle and choose from the “rejected” girls, which is what happens by the chassidim.
    The problem is, that MOST (though not all) boys are choosing from a group of girls 4 years younger. That group 4 years younger is a larger group. The reasons why the “4 year younger” group is a larger group– is purely mathematical, and some people don’t understand it if they aren’t good at numbers, but it is a fact. There are more 19 year olds than there are 23 year olds, and it is like that every year. Every time the 19 year old girls start shidduchim, there are more of them than the 23 year old boys. It is this that creates a surplus.
    Now as to why it wasn’t like that 30 years ago– It is also a math related issue (and my comment is long enough for now). I totally understand that many people just aren’t good with numbers. A lot of the population doesn’t fully comprehend the concept of percentages, growth, exponential growth- even compounded interest. But if you don’t understand it, then please don’t make it sound like it is nonsense. Math is numbers, and numbers aren’t a matter of opinion, or feelings or emotions. The huge surplus of girls is a fact. Everyone knows they exist. Pickiness is annoying, but it is not what’s causing there to be a shortage of boys.

  16. Rabbi:

    What happens when you are matched by a shadchan and the boy or girl is at a different level of observance than you, but otherwise it is a good shidduch? The girl has good midos and yichus (comes from a good family) and the boy (young man) has a parnasah so that they can have a life together. Or, what happens when the couple is now married and after a period of time one partner becomes more/less frum and the couple still love each other and do not want a get? Can shalom bayis prevail? Please advise


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