I have been in the shidduch parashah for a long time. I get set up a lot, but things do not go very far. My friends started convincing me to go to singles events, though it is not really my thing, because I am shy. I am not familiar with all events that go on, but even the ones whose posts I see and whose mailing lists I am on are making it difficult for me to get accepted into them.
As soon as I get an e-mail about an event, I sign up if it is shayach to my age and hashkafah. I am careful to do so before the deadline. Most times, I get rejected. Meanwhile, I find out after the event is over that there were people who were older than me, or not professional, as the e-mail originally wanted, who actually did get in. When I call and complain, I am told that it is an “exclusive” event. What does that mean?
I spoke to other singles about this, and it seems that this is the norm nowadays. Why do the people who run these events have to make it so difficult to meet someone? Isn’t the purpose of an event to enable people to meet and possibly get married? How can I make myself a more desirable candidate for an event? I am ready and serious about marriage.
By Baila Sebrow
Let me assure you that those singles who are being accepted are no more “exclusive” than you. There is a 100-percent guarantee that you are just as wonderful a person as anyone who has been accepted into these events. Do not allow anyone to make you feel otherwise.
I will give you an insider’s secret as to what this situation is really all about. In many cases, it is about the organizer getting “power happy.” This might be the only opportunity where these people get to enjoy a little power in their lives. Those who do this repeatedly demonstrate to one and all the thrill they get out of rejecting accomplished people. Perhaps they, too, have experienced some sort of rejection in an area of their lives, and this makes them feel vindicated in some twisted way.
Most people who organize events do so because they have an understanding of the plight singles endure. They understand that for the singles who need events, the usual mode of shadchanim finding them a compatible shidduch has not worked. And let’s face it—résumés, according to many opinions, are the number-one shidduch killer. Résumés often impede eligible singles from even getting to that first date.
Many happily married couples who met at events would otherwise never have found each other. As a shadchan, I have seen firsthand how singles who initially rejected one another based on a résumé later met at an event (whether mine or someone else’s) and found that they were compatible. There is plenty of proof of the success of events in helping alleviate the shidduch crisis. But as with everything else in life, there are always a few bad apples in the barrel.
Your complaint has merit. I have personally witnessed unfair and baseless discrimination in the selection process of some events I have been asked to facilitate, and the exact scenario that you illustrated has happened over and over to many singles. Singles who fit the criteria for the venue with regard to age, hashkafah, and status, and who registered before the deadline, were still rejected. I have never been shy in asking the organizer why the singles who were eligible and seemingly just right for the event were rejected.
I never received a straight answer to my questions on behalf of those singles. “I just didn’t think the person is right for the event,” “It’s just one of those things that happen,” and “So-and-so does not like him/her” were some of the ludicrous copout responses I heard.
The grief that some of these singles suffer from such cruelty is heartbreaking. Those who commit such wrongdoing do not realize that they are playing a dangerous game. They do not understand that they could be responsible for deliberately withholding the opportunity for zivugim to meet one another.
As a shadchan, I distance myself from programming when I become aware of similar shenanigans. And so should every single guy or girl who sees a publicly posted singles’ event indicating or even hinting that there is a selection process. There was a time in our history when selections regularly took place. That tragic epoch cost Bnei Yisrael the loss of six million lives. Have we not learned anything from that?
Before anyone decides to lynch me for what I am saying, I will state what I suggest to organizers as an alternative. There is absolutely nothing wrong in running a private singles’ event where the singles are handpicked. That would not be much different from someone inviting guests of their choice to a meal in their home. They can contact specific singles with a phone call, text, or private e-mail informing them that they have been personally invited to attend a small gathering of like-minded singles. Many such events have been successful.
However, that is different from the posted and published singles events you are talking about. Countless singles have been, and unfortunately may continue to be, in your position. As if singles do not suffer enough rejection in their dating lives. As if singles do not suffer enough humiliation brought upon them by insensitive remarks and comments. This is a classic example of kicking someone while he’s down.
You ask how you can make yourself a more desirable candidate. The answer is that you already are desirable. You had the courage to write to this publication, daring to call out an atrocity that goes not only against halachah but against basic human decency. Most frum singles are terrified of complaining, because they fear retaliation. This is another problem we have in the shidduch world, where even if someone feels abused they are afraid to call it out.
You need to accept that such things will likely continue. No one can force people to alter their behavior, especially when they see nothing wrong with it. However, you can help change your own destiny. There is no reason for you or anyone else who is single to sit home and be depressed about being rejected from an event. If you feel that you received an unfair rejection, make your own event. That’s right—organize your own singles event!
Utilizing the extensive reach of social media, you and a few friends can put together an informal gathering for singles. Who knows? You might even be successful in starting a powerful group. Remember, many organizations, from corporate to nonprofit, were formed in reaction to a snubbing.
Do not be overly concerned about the flak you will likely receive from other organizers and shadchanim. You have the right—as does every single guy and girl—to be in the position of meeting your bashert. No human being should ever exercise control and prevent this from happening.
One of the positive aspects in being proactive and taking control of your situation is that it will result in your developing a healthy and constructive approach towards rejection. The upshot of what you endured and the consequence of your achievements will likely generate a productive attitude, which in turn will likely benefit many singles.
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.
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