I grew up in a Modern Orthodox home and attended Modern Orthodox schools and camps. During my seminary year in Israel, my hashkafic outlook and dress code changed to the “right.” I am what people refer to as a “flip-out.”
Although I look like a yeshivish type of girl, at 26 years of age I find myself being rejected because of my Modern Orthodox background. Even when I do get a date with a yeshivish guy—the type I hope to marry—as soon as he meets my parents I can see the look of disappointment on the guy’s face. My parents are very normal-looking and I live in a beautiful home. But my mother does not cover her hair and my father still wears his old Bnei Akiva-style yarmulke.
Shadchanim have tried to set me up with guys who also come from a similar situation and have since become more frum, but it seems that these types of guys are looking for a girl who comes from a Bais Yaakov background.
Please advise and tell me what I can do to help me find my bashert under these circumstances.
The Panelists Respond
The generational gap of today is very different from that of yesteryear, when adult children were more modern-looking than their parents. With the accepted pattern of students spending a year or two in Israel following high school, hashkafic changes to the “right” are immediately visible upon return.
In some situations, things level off, where the differences between parents and child are not as in-your-face to the outsider looking in. In other situations, it appears as though there is a religious collision between parents and their children. The latter circumstances are where shidduch problems commonly arise; hence, the look of disappointment on a guy’s face when he meets your parents.
The realities of life are that when you get married, you are not just marrying that person—you are also marrying into the family. Your parents and in-laws will be sharing the same grandchildren and their simchas. Within personal comfort zones, people find that it makes life that much easier when they are on the same hashkafic page. Of course, there are many situations where the two sets of parents are different from one another in style of dress and even levels of religiosity. However, in most of these cases there are differences of opinions in terms of wedding minhagim and in the choices of where the future grandchildren will attend school, etc.
You are going to find this surprising, but boys who come from a Modern Orthodox background such as yours and have become more frum often go through the same dilemma. Therefore, it is interesting that you find boys who come from a similar background as you to be seeking a girl who is from a Bais Yaakov upbringing.
You convey the image of a refined girl, which is a credit to your parents. I have no doubt that you come from a happy, loving, and supportive home. In addition, it is clear that you possess and proudly display strong kibbud av v’eim middos.
When you meet a shadchan or anyone who is involved in shidduchim, you need to be completely up-front. Explain that although your parents appear modern, they did choose to send you to a more frum seminary than their hashkafic values. Emphasize that your parents are supportive and proud of the fact that you are more frum than they, and that they would like for you to marry a boy who is just as yeshivish as you. The reason you need to verbally focus on these aspects is for people to understand that there are no conflicts within the family to be concerned about. You deserve to marry the type of boy you desire, and I believe you will.
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.
In my view, what has been happening is that you haven’t yet met the young man who is worthy of the extra-fine qualities you possess. You’re not just as good as a typical Bais Yaakov girl (not that there is, ch’v, anything wrong with them); you outshine many of them by leaps and bounds in a unique way. You, unlike many of them, have come to your level of dedication to Torah and mitzvos by your own bootstraps, so to speak. It didn’t come naturally to you, as it does to so many others who, for all intents and purposes, fall into Torah-observance almost as if by default. You have had to overcome odds and go against the tide, as it were.
Evidently you possess a clarity of vision that carries you self-determinedly to a higher plateau. It pulsates from within and infuses you with insight that ought to be the envy of the world. And it makes you far stronger than your more conventional peers. To be frank, I think that many a prospective yeshivishe shidduch is intimidated by you, at least somewhat. Deep down, in the innermost recesses of his consciousness, he feels a little threatened by your elevated level of Yiddishkeit. He feels he pales in comparison with you, and that gets in the way of his ability to feel a connection and accept you as his match. In all humility, what I think you might want to do is to insist on a shidduch prospect who has more depth than that and is capable of appreciating someone like you, as you deserve to be appreciated. Don’t, ch’v, lower your standards; on the contrary, demand someone who is at least your equal in dedication and commitment. May you meet with hatzlachah very soon.
Yehuda Koppler has written articles for various publications and is actively involved in shidduchim. He can be reached at email@example.com.
When my former students find themselves in situations similar to the one you describe, the first thing I advise is to be open and forthcoming with the boys they are dating, despite the strong temptation not to be. This may seem obvious in theory, but it is more difficult in practice. You should not be embarrassed of your upbringing, nor should you pretend to be something that you are not. Be proud of the path you have traveled and the decisions you have made, especially since you feel they are correct ones.
At the same time, your background cannot become a sticking point during your marriage. Your family and upbringing are an integral part of who you are and who you have become. Your future spouse must embrace you and your background. If the boys you are dating cannot accept this critical part of you, you ought to consider whether you are dating the right type of boy. The right boy for you, “yeshivish” though he may be, will be far more focused on the characteristics that will make you a great wife, mother, and life partner, than on what is perched (or not perched) atop your parents’ heads.
Bottom line? A person’s specific background and placement on the yeshivish–modern spectrum are trivial when compared to the person’s inner qualities—their middos, character, and hashkafah. You seem to recognize that. Wouldn’t you prefer to find a boy that does too?
Deena Kobre is a senior-class advisor, Israel guidance counselor, and teacher at SKA High School for Girls. She mentors former students and others through the dating process, and teaches kallah classes. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. v