In last week’s issue, a young lady wrote of her frustration and her opinions as to why “The Shidduch System” is ruining shidduchim. She feels that today, just about anyone who has the urge to do so can be a shadchan, and although in theory it might be great, as she states, “so was Communism.” Singles events do not seem to work in her favor and she cites a number of reasons for that.
Her frustrations are further increased as a result of the method involving the girl’s information being presented to the guy first. She also feels that shadchanim are encouraging guys to become picky as a result of bombarding them with long lists of names. In addition, she claims that shadchanim expect every girl to say “yes” to any guy who agrees to date her. To solve the problem, this young lady feels that shadchanim should give the information to both parties at the same time.
As someone who is in the same situation and agrees with her perspective, I would like to know your opinion about this.
By Baila Sebrow
I feel your pain. In today’s day and age, it is most certainly not easy being single, especially a frum single girl. Please understand that all systems have their flaws, and so too does the shidduch system. Although I agree that changes have to be made, I cannot agree with analogizing the shidduch system to Communism.
There are shadchanim who have vast experience in their field and who possess a robust database. On the other hand, a shadchan can be, as the article states, “anyone with the urge to be a matchmaker.” I sense that you feel the latter is a negative aspect, but it does not have to be.
The mature shadchan with a long client list and years of experience under his or her belt is usually a person with a strong track record in making shidduchim. As great as their reputations are, the reality is that this type of shadchan is usually very busy and physically does not have the energy to give a single boy or girl their undivided attention—if that is what one craves.
The aspiring shadchan or one who does the work as a result of an inner calling tends to be very dedicated to the cause. Her phone is not yet ringing off the hook and she is not overwhelmed with e‑mails. This type of shadchan deserves the credit for thinking of you and selflessly giving of her personal time in assisting with your quest to finding a shidduch.
Are boys picky? Yes, some are. But so are some girls. As a shadchan I have heard of all sorts of reasons as to why a girl would say “no” to a boy who possesses the same fine qualities as his female counterparts—with regard to family, education, and physical appearance. Yet the girl feels quite confident in rejecting that boy, even though she doesn’t have that long list of names as some boys do.
A shidduch is a personal decision that comes packaged with lifelong consequences that will affect future generations. Each person has the right to reject a shidduch that does not feel right to him or her, no matter how ridiculous it might seem to an outsider.
Boys are approached with names, more so than girls. And yes, sadly, there are no shadchanim knocking on the doors of girls offering them lists of boys’ names to choose from.
You are right that girls are constantly advised to do their hishtadlus in pursuing shadchanim, to join dating sites and attend singles events. I understand how that does not seem fair to you. By the same token, it is also not fair to state, as the author of the article does, that at least “90 percent” of men who currently attend singles events are those who are “socially awkward,” “don’t have any women on their lists,” and are divorced or in their forties.
There are many young, personable, handsome, and educated guys who attend singles events. Some have been previously married and some not. The same holds true for the females who attend events. Many fine eligible boys have attended my events and other people’s events even though they do not fall into any of the categories described in the article.
You agree that the solution for the current faulty shidduch system would be for shadchanim to stop giving names to the boys first. You believe that would eliminate any inflated sense of self and that no one would feel desperate again.
In theory it might make sense. But the end result will still be the same. A rejection is still a rejection, and it hurts—no matter who does the rejecting first.
There are dating sites that offer females the option of being suggested with male names first. And yet these females who opt to date in this manner are still single in the same way as those who are first suggested to the males. If this theory would be taken one step further, by bringing such a method to private shadchanim, I do not believe that it will transport couples to the chuppah sooner. Maybe it would deflate the egos of boys, I will give you that. But that is not the way to solve the crisis. Shadchanim should not have to be placed in a position to bring anyone’s ego down in order to get them married off. The point is to help singles get married, not to bring anyone down.
I agree with you that more boys should attend singles events, as should more girls who don’t now attend.
The solution to the current system is for people to go back to the old method in dating. Let’s abolish the résumé. Résumés are the number-one killers of shidduchim. Back in the good old days when the term “shidduch crisis” did not exist, most people who wanted to get married, did so. The shadchan would make the appropriate phone call; whether it was to the boy first really didn’t matter. Results were usually positive. In today’s world, boys and girls alike examine the résumé sent to them as a doctor microscopically examines body tissue. Each word on the résumé is further psychoanalyzed, and the single boy or girl potentially comes up with various commentaries as to what it might mean, when in actuality it may be nothing of the sort.
Sure, the old method was harder. But that will eliminate the wrong shadchan for the job. Step one will therefore be accomplished. Sincerely dedicated shadchanim will be the only ones working on behalf of singles, as in previous years. Step two will be that more singles will ultimately date. That first foot in the door is most crucial. Singles cannot get married if they do not have that opportunity to date.
It’s a long road ahead in getting the shidduch résumés abolished. But if most shadchanim would be in unison and re-create the old method, I believe the faulty shidduch system would ultimately become obsolete.
Please don’t lose hope, as your zivug longs to unite with you, and with Hashem’s help this will occur very soon.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
Questions and comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.