Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Shidduch crisis is not a result of the age gap or numbers.

  Many factors and reasons are given for the so called "shidduch crisis" its blamed on the age gap between boys and girls when they enter the shidduch market.  An article in the Yated Ne'eman by Reb Shaya Ostrov  L.C.S.W. says, the problem is not caused by data as in numbers or an age gap. It is a direct result of the western culture which has impacted the thoughts, feelings and values of our society especially the frum singles. The failure of so many singles to find their bashert is not because there is a shidduch crisis the reality is every young unmarried man or woman carries this crisis within. 

 Many Singles today are spending their time dating for years with no results, starting new relationships and ending them to start new ones. As an example a single girl who was recently about to get engaged wanted to postpone her engagement in order to see if "there was someone else out there for her". This is why the numbers of  Frum singles are not diminishing and is occurring in every major frum population. The Golus of today has impacted us, we are in a galus that has undermined sacred trust in a marriage and family life,and this has, in one form or another impacted on all our lives. The crisis is there are so many single frum boys and girls who continuously get stuck on doubts,fears,anxieties, and unrealistic demands for perfection. As individuals they are healthy, normal people, but because we live in this culture they are held captive and stuck like no previous generation has ever been.

The article points out, that the challenge in shidduchim in previous generations was that young men and women did not know where they would find their basherteh. However once the shidduch was in motion powerful forces were activated within them(or their parents) that more frequently than not led to engagement. Today because of the influence of Western culture dating has become mundane and uneventful and over before it starts. The real test is not how to help them meet but how to go from meeting to the Chupah without being continuously blown off course.  Rabbi Ostrov lays out a 5 point plan how to help the crisis by  training mentors who will be dedicated and available to help singles break free of their fears, anxieties and unrealistic expectations.

These are very true points, however the NASI project has data to back up their claim that no matter what, there still is a age gap resulting in more single girls than boys. Secondly, there are many yeshiva bochurim who get engaged with the first girl they meet after returning from Eretz yisrael or whenever they enter the parsha. Dont know the numbers, but a high percentage of yeshivishe couples marry the first girl they meet. Its the ones, that for whatever reason become "experienced" daters and takes them a longer time to find their bashert at no fault of their own, that's where there is a risk for the influence of western culture to come in. May all the singles find their zivugim, Bimehera.

For a list of Shadchanim  and shidduch blogs and info, click HERE


  1. don't blame secular culture -- most middle class white folks marry. the exception is NYC, where there is a higher number of singles.

    But very nearly every one from my NYC public high school is married now.

    Find another reason I think.


    1. You are conflating two separate and large, adolescents and teens from observant households have significantly less contact between genders than unobservant Jews or non-Jews...By the time a vast majority of observant Jews start dating for the first time, their secular Jewish and non-Jewish peers have already been dating for several the past shidduchim were more "business-like" (i.e. in order fulfill Mitzvos) and people weren't so "picky" as opposed to the this generation where there seem to be more people concerned about notions and perhaps even delusions of reality, which originate in the media and popular culture, especially Hollywood...."knight-in-shining armor" or "model" types being elusive pinnacles of desire...whereas traditional Judaism holds character, scholarship, and good deeds as the most desirable traits...

      Therefore the concept of holding out for multiple dates for an extended period of time before deciding to "settle down" is a concept foreign to traditional Judaism and has more in commonality with Western civilization.

  2. denying reality won't change it. twisting the situation to fit your warped agenda won't change it either. bad form by ostrow. having a few letters after your name doesn't make you smart or expert at anything.

  3. He doesn't know what he's talking about. There are many more single girls around than single boys.

  4. He's both right and wrong... As Anonymous mentions, don't blame "secular culture", but it's true that there are unreasonable expectations. I do 'volunteer shadchan' in my spare time, and see the kind of expectation and superficial requirements our supposedly "frum children of good middot" have.
    The NASI age gap problem is nothing but an extension of this higher issue - one of the baseless requirements is for the age of the match to be 3,4, sometimes 8 years younger than the man.

    1. Fotheringay-PhippsAugust 22, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      I would make 2 points.

      1. Unreasonable expectations is a problem in and of itself, and is broader than shiduchim.

      I know a guy who used to do placement for BMG, and he told me his #1 problem was the unreasonable expectations of the guys he was dealing with. As he put it, he'd be speaking to guys whose attitude was "really I want to give a bais medrash shiur in Slomowitz, but bidieved I would take mesivta at Mendel" and his job was to convince the guy that "uh ... actually you'd be lucky to get 5th grade in the Cheder".

      Point being that unreasonable expectations is not something that has to do with shiduchim specifically, and it's not something absorbed from secular culture.

      2. What he's right about is that the specific manifestation of unreasonable expectations in shiduchim is influenced by secular culture. And a lot of that has to do with the change in the nature of dating. 100 years ago, there was not all this dating, and not an expectation that personalities would click. That doesn't mean there couldn't be unreasonable expectations. But the unreasonable expectations would have been befoe the dating process, as one or the other would have held out for unreasonable expectations about money or yichus or whatever else. Now, people are more likely to be holding out for someone who "clicks".

      Now that's a difference, and you can certainly argue that the world was better off back then. But that's not to say that there's been a rise in the level of unrealistic expectations, or that this is related to secular culture.

      [I once saw an intriguing theory from a certain writer about a certain well known odom godol who got divorced. His shadchan was a certain mashgiach and godol who was particularly known as a shrewd judge of human nature. This writer speculated that this mashgiach knew human nature but failed to appreciate that the world had changed, and that shiduchim that worked in the old days wouldn't work anymore. (Specifically, the man was a tremendous genius and intellectual, and the girl was a fine bas yisroel but not at all inellectual. The idea being that the world had changed to a point where people were looking for intellectual companionship from their spouses, far more so than had traditionally been the case. So a shiduch that would have been a huge success a few decades back was much less successful now.)]

  5. Fotheringay-PhippsAugust 22, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Big yesod in this and so many other things like this: "to the man with only a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

    I once had problems with my teeth and every type of specialist I went to felt that the real problem was related to his specific type of specialty.

    This guy is a social worker so his view of the problem is comething that will be solved by training people how to interact. Not a coincidence.

  6. I'm annoyed at all the comments against Ostrov. He specializes in coaching daters through their anxiety. He has live experience in these matters not based on theories and anecdotal evidence. I'm really amazed that people just disagree because they don't like what he says and because for whatever reason they want to believe in the age gap theory which until can be proven remains an unproven theory.

  7. The shidduch crises is caused because the expectation of boys is too high. I constantly hear "there are just not enough quality boys." Well, what makes a "quality girl?" In my opinion, it's much easier to be a "quality" girl than a "quality" guy. Do you as a girl have to wake up early even on Shabbos and Sunday? Do you have to make minyan three times a day? Do you have to have many sedarim every day and never get a break, cause if you need down time, you won't be considered "quality." All you have to do is dress tznius and do some chesed once a week and you're a "quality girl". I can't really say that being a "quality" girl is all that difficult or takes nearly as much energy and effort as being a "quality" boy. I only wish these girls would have the same pressures and then they might step down some of the "he's not frum enough for me," "he's to bummy," "not the quality I'm looking for" retoric.

  8. To repond to this last post - if what you are saying was true, then there would be a reverse shidduch crisis for guys who aren't "quality guys" because no girls want to date them. I have not heard of such a thing, which indicates that your theory is incorrect.

  9. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned a very obvious reason. I have seen this reason manifest in many sad situations.

    The reason is that the boys hold all the power and are looking for girls whose parents can support the couple while he is in long-term learning. Such girls have no problems - no matter what their 'quality' is - and marry early. There are not overlooked. If her parents agree to support the couple while he sits in kollel, she will not have any difficult time getting married early.

    On the other hand, girls whose parents are unable to provide long-term financial support, are usually the ones who are on the bottom of the list. No matter their 'quality', they will not be considered a first choice option and will only be considered if the other girls are unavailable.

    If you want to fix the shidduch crisis, you have to recognize and accept this yeshiveshe dirty secret. We have to do away with the support system and the long-term-kollel-learning-for -everyone.

  10. Sass,

    The answer to your question about the guys who aren't "quality guys" is that they can date girls from more modern backgrounds (and many do). That is why this ties into the kollel system. The number of girls in the yeshivish community looking for "quality guys" exceeds the number of guys looking for "quality girls". The age gap exacerbates the problem but is not the cause in and of itself. In the modern community you have a similar issue except that the "quality guy" is not someone sitting in learning rather someone who davens in a minyan and learns.

  11. Quite often the problem is the PARENTS. No one is good enough for their Sarala, or their Moishe. Finally years go by and the parents are now aged and the children are middle aged themselves. The parents that can never be satisfied have now ruined their children's lives.