June 20, 2024
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June 20, 2024
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What a Difference an Inch Makes

Most of us are used to the refrain “What a difference a day makes,” but I have found that in the world of shadchanus (matchmaking)—while sincerely and earnestly trying to help people find their soulmate, just one little inch can define whether or not a person might be an appropriate candidate for them.

Imagine the following scenario: She is a young woman of 24 anxious to meet her very special someone. A suggestion is made to her of a man who seems to meet many of the qualities that she has mentioned in her resume (a resume, not for a job but similarly for the job of being a wife). From reading both of their requests this couple seems like it might have real potential.

Whoops, there is just one little problem, so she says. “Yes, I really like the chesed he does, the schools he attended, and he seems to have a lovely family. BUT, it’s just that he needs at least another inch—maybe two inches.” He is shorter than she is, or perhaps he isn’t shorter, but when she needs to wear heels on Shabbat, or if they have a wedding to attend, it would be too embarrassing if it appeared that she is the taller one.

Result: It’s a “no.” Sorry—yes it’s true that he has everything that she has ever been looking for, but that one inch is a deal breaker. Fast forward 10 years and that same not-as-young woman is still looking, and believe it or not, still has the same requirement. Whoever he is must be taller.

Sensible, perhaps, to some. However, when you see the number of singles who are anxious to meet someone, it is appalling to hear some of the reasons that prevent them from even trying to connect.

I kid you not when I tell you that I had a young woman who I was training years ago who had met her Prince Charming, even though he lived in Europe. They were engaged and had a most upscale reception in Brussels at a hotel. Shortly after she returned to Montreal, she told me that she was having doubts, and finally decided to break the engagement. Her reason: She could not stand his nose. It is now at least 20 years later and she is still not married. Regrets? I have never spoken with her about it.

In no way do I deny that physical attraction has an important role in making a decision with regard to a future partner. I have silently thought to myself upon seeing a less attractive woman married to a very good-looking man, “Kol hakavod.” Or in the opposite, an outstandingly beautiful woman happily married to a man who unfortunately limps.

Who is to blame for these tragedies? How many parents have not allowed their children to go out with someone because of a doubt that they had in their mind about some obscure characteristic of the potential date or of his or her family? How many older singles get along with each other as best “buddies” for years, but could not consider each other as partners because they “know each other too well?” Perhaps I’m dumb, but isn’t it great to be, in some cases, best friends, and yet puzzling not to find each other suitable as lifetime partners?

There was a couple in Boston who married. She was a neurosurgeon and he a caterer. How? What did they find to talk about? What was the common thread? Obviously they found it and many years and children later they are still talking.

Then again is the issue for younger singles: parents expecting that their children will marry someone local. An out-of-towner means the possibility of moving away from family. Similar to that one inch. Not everyone lives in the New York metropolitan area and, once again, we need to be reminded that the goal for our single children is to become independent adults—not to be attached to any apron strings, and especially not to be attached by a checkbook. Parents: Wake up and do what might be best for your child instead of for yourself.

Who is at fault in this crisis, which will continue until the world becomes more open and accepting? To teach our children that they are so special that there is no one in the world created for them, even as a joke, is not healthy. To negate a nose, an inch, a profession, a yeshiva, only prolongs this terrible epidemic.

Is it really so terrible that your daughter might decide to wear a longer or shorter skirt depending upon whom she chooses? Would you really not welcome a young man who has decided to wear a gartle each time he davens, or on the other hand, would prefer to wear a black hat or a blue shirt with khakis on Shabbat?

In fact, a case was just brought to my attention of a girl and guy who are thinking of getting married. He is in a serious yeshiva where brown shoes on Shabbat are as acceptable as black. She is not accustomed to such a diversion from the norm. His request on their last date was that she please not wear so much makeup on her eyes, so that he could really see them and her face as well.

Look where we are. An inch, a shoe color, a skirt length, an out-of-towner: Is that really what finding a mate has become? “I can’t marry him because we are friends.” Help! There must be something wrong with me.

Perhaps it would be more healthy to each step one inch backward and look at each other differently and honestly. Both parents and singles are hurting. When our children are of eligible age, it seems exciting for a short time, but if they miss that early window of opportunity it becomes more and more painful.

Encouraging our older children to perhaps reconsider a former possibility that was just “missing” that one thing, welcoming singles into our homes as much as possible (after COVID) and encouraging more and more people to throw out resumes and accept word of mouth might be worth a try—because what we have now is disastrous.

Nina Glick lives in Bergenfield with her husband, Rabbi Mordechai Glick, after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for special needs young adults. She can be reached at [email protected].

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