It’s been a while since we discussed what is going on in the dating world. Interestingly, it is not only in the Jewish world that singles appear to have such difficulty finding their soulmate. It seems as though the crisis is in all communities. Our concern, quite honestly, is why the craziness exists and what we as individuals can do about it.
Few parents are not concerned about the methods that their offspring are using in finding partners. In the Modern Orthodox world, in many cases, responsibility seems to be on the person himself to find someone through his friends. Meeting in camps, on college campuses or at various social gatherings seems to work for the many who allow themselves to mingle in co-ed groups. Partaking in a group such as NCSY, Bnei Akiva or on-campus Hillel, or working as a counselor in a co-ed camp certainly enhances the chances of meeting someone.
If that is the case, then what happens years down the line when we look at the “swinging singles” scene on the Upper West Side and other similar communities? Every Shabbat, single hosts and hostesses oversee many guests at their Shabbat tables. Men and women in their late 20s, 30s, 40s and more meet and greet and often walk away alone. Then, of course, there are the exceptions of men and women who are “good friends.” In fact, some of them are best of friends, yet with all that they have in common and the many dozens of times they have spoken with each other and gone to various speakers, parties and meals together, they are positively sure they are not right for each other. How often have we heard the term “there is no chemistry”? So 10, 15 and 20 years will pass and the same platonic friendships still exist, and there still remains this chemistry mystique. We are not science majors, but common sense seems to tell us that this chemistry thing is totally absurd.
“She’s very nice, in fact she is lovely, but...” But what? The singles communities grow larger, the programming for them increases and nowhere does there seem to be a cure for this phenomenon. Do we as a community have a responsibility to the many individuals who claim to really want to get married but just cannot find anyone? Yes, we do. Granted, many singles do not make it easy to assist them. Usually, the first question asked is, “What does he/she look like?” “How old?” “What do they do?”
We have found that one can be sincerely devoted to the cause of helping in this shidduch crisis but there are times when we are made to feel as though the people we are trying to help are doing us a favor by even listening to our suggestions. If a woman is one year older than a man, he decides he is not interested. If he is not a professional (i.e., doctor, lawyer, banker, etc.), his persona would probably not fit hers. Does anyone know a tradesperson (i.e., plumber, electrician, contractor) whose bill, when you receive it, makes you question your spouse’s chosen profession? A reminder to all men out there: Golda Meir, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Barbara Streisand never got famous for their looks, but for their unique and special attributes. Beauty is skin deep, as the saying goes.
If one asked a shadchan to name the most difficult task in matchmaking, undoubtedly it would be convincing someone to take a chance on a person who may not have met their initial superficial requirements. If only people would be willing to take that initial step, they might find themselves in the company of a person who is surprisingly charming in ways they did not anticipate.
We each need to encourage our brothers, sisters, children, friends and acquaintances to look outside the box in deciding who they are prepared to date. We can no longer accept some of the ridiculous answers that are thrown at us in response to our suggestions. We know there will be many singles who will accuse us of not understanding their plight. We know they are tired. We too are tired. We are tired of making the effort to help people who say they are sincerely interested in getting married but are not willing to consider all their options.
We are working on introductions and are more than happy to hear suggestions from our readers of people they know who would be willing to speak with us. We may feel that a particular person should be married; however, if the person doesn’t make the effort to reach out to us, we would find it difficult to find someone for them. We cannot in good faith make an arrangement for a couple to meet without knowing the people involved. In many cases, professional shadchanim find the necessary data on paper, which they feel is sufficient. In real life we don’t think it works that way. We cannot suggest someone unless we have met them.
Comments are welcome at any time.
By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick
Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick are living in Bergenfield after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Rabbi Glick was the rav of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel as well as a practicing clinical psychologist in private practice. He also taught at Champlain Regional College. The Glicks were frequent speakers at the OU marriage retreats. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for young adults with special needs. They can be reached at [email protected]