Opinion: Solve The Crisis, Now l Avi Gutfreund

As the carriers of the degel hatorah, the Orthodox Jewish community will often react to tragedies that are seemingly unrelated to them. When something terrible occurs anywhere across the globe, we hold gatherings and attend speeches where we are told that we have a global responsibility and if there is mayhem we must respond and better our ways regardless of whether it is affecting us or not.

So why is it that when we have crises in our own community we barely bat an eyelash? There are so many issues with which people in Lakewood struggle with, yet we look away, blaming it on some reason or another. Why do we hold such a double standard? If when there’s a tsunami in Japan we hold asifos where we are told to look at our tznius standards and our overall spiritual health, why don’t we have the same when there are hundreds of Lakewood families that are completely bereft of money, barely able to feed themselves and their children?

The area in which I find this to be most egregious is regarding the shidduch crisis, which is seemingly getting progressively worse. We have thousands of girls who are rightfully concerned that they will never get a shidduch and the most we can do is essentially say “too bad”? It took years, but most are at least on board with the fact that a shidduch crisis does exist – the reality can’t be ignored anymore. But now the goalposts have been moved. Now many say either that the learning our boys do is more important than solving the crisis, or that there is simply nothing to do, so we just have to deal with it. What is wrong is us?

Of course, there are wonderful organizations and people who are doing their very best to mitigate the effects of the shidduch crisis and to make as many shidduchim as possible. There are also many who are trying to enact positive changes to address the root of the issue, which is the age disparity between boys and girls “on the market”. But those individuals and organizations have only had limited success and the reason is because we as a community have yet to act cohesively.

There needs to be a public conversation about actually attacking this issue. It’s time we stopped looking for excuses and explanations that solve nothing. If you aren’t here to solve the crisis, stay out of the discussion. We need serious people with real ideas to stand up and push this conversation forward. To let this crisis go on and on is a complete and utter abdication of our basic duties as a community to look out for one another.

Let us join as one and agree to tackle the shidduch crisis. Our girls are suffering and we can help them. As difficult a problem as it is to resolve, we can figure it out if we can all commit to ending the problem. Because together we can do anything.

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  1. It’s easier to say u wanna marry a learning guy than it is to be a learning guy so u end up with to many girls looking in the wrong place…

  2. From personal experience I can tell you one Improvement that helps a lot which needs to be implemented.
    When someone does get a call from either a professional shadchan or someone not a professional shadchanin but nevertheless redting a shiduch?
    Looks assume that the shidduch being redt to you is in fact being looked into (that alone many times isn’t even done)
    If after the boy/girl/parents do their work they decide that it’s not something for them what’s the next move??
    Do you have the decency and the courtesy to at least call back the shadchan and say thank you but we don’t think it’s for us? Or do you figure ahh if I don’t call back they’ll understand that its a no??
    Speak to people that have children in shidduchim and in fact do get calls from shodchanim over & over. Did you ever stop to think why those that family get calls and my family does not get them so much?
    The reason is because those people have the decency to always call back the person redting the shidduch to say thank you for thinking of us.
    That’s the kind of people that are shadchan doesn’t forget about and will call back again and again as different ideas come into his mind.
    It’s time to stop focusing on the so-called crisis and coming up with all these ideas it’s time to start becoming a mentch. That will solve the problem.
    If you doubt the truthfulness of this just ask any person who’s involved in redting shidduchim

  3. This author is great at finding problems and directing other people to fix them. I just like to know how many problems this author has gotten himself involved in to try and solve.

  4. Too many top girls, not enough top boys. Indecently @avi how many have you tried to setup (not suspecting you of being a yenta, but want to verify that)

  5. I am pretty sure this new fad of requesting pictures is contributing drastically to the crisis. How can one tell from a picture if a girl or even a boy isn’t their “style”. Pictures should be prohibited.

    • locally perhaps…why should someone travel acroos the country to meet girl/boy if one look would have told them it’s not for them

      and if the boy/mother requests a pic then the boy should send one also

      • We all managed to go out on dates years ago without pictures, even cross country. And how many guys show the picture around to see what his friends think of the girl before he says yes?.

  6. Its true that there is a shidduch crisis but to say the root of the problem is the age disparity is a huge mistake. That’s only a small part of the problem. The bigger problem is, the percentage of girls who want a “good learner” , whether short or long term, is, in our circles,
    around 80% while boys that actually are good learners is about 50%. Theres ur drastic shortage. Not the age gap.

  7. A bigger problem, more than age, is the nature or tendencies of boys to be mischievous and, lets say go smoke, gasp!!, & the quick punishment of their hanhalla, resylting in suspensions or, ch”v, expulsions as opposed to girls, for the most part, who behave nicely and are successes in schools. So, by the time they’re 19 and finished seminary and their school career, the majority of girls want a “top” boy but only a small amount of boys make it to “top” status.
    So, even if all boys started dating at 19, same age as the girls, you would STILL have a shidduch crisis of epic proportions. Chasiddim dontbhave a crisis because they have a whole different value system, which I will not discuss here, for many reasons.

  8. So a boy who is mischievous and chops a smoke should be ok. What about a girl who is mischievous and chops a smoke? And why would I allow my daughter to go out with an ashtray who will leave her to raise 6+ kids on her own when he dies on cancer?

  9. We all managed to go out on dates years ago without pictures, even cross country. And how many guys show the picture around to see what his friends think of the girl before he says yes?.

  10. There are plenty of good working boys who are having a hard time in Shidduchim as well, the real problem is girls are looking for something that doesn’t make sense for a lot of them……

  11. hard to discuss
    but part of the problem is money
    how many shidduchim do not get off the ground because the girls family can not offer the amount of money the boys are requesting. it is easier to discuss age difference and blame on something like that than to address how to deal with the money issue. i was told by some in EY that their rav told them they must offer $100,000 to get a “good shidduch”
    who can do that the rich or those that collect.
    how should that majority of families do that .
    in america it may be less $1000 per month for five years (or more per month or more years)
    if one can not offer that then the shidduch usually does not go ahead.
    (btw generally i think the end result is that there are not more older poor singles it is just that they get less dates)
    for many reasons the money issue must be discussed among the rabbanim

  12. @smokehater – thanx for your passionate feedback. I was using smoking as an example. Change the scenario to a bochur going to a Kunzitz, gasp !!, and you still have the same problem. The point remains the same. Our yeshivos eagerness to discipline is, in some cases, turning our Yeshiva boys into ex-Yeshiva boys. So the girls have a much smaller selection to choose from.
    Hatzlocha Rabbah to all those in the parsha.

  13. If parents would seriously look into shidduchim that are redt and and stop saying “it’s not shayach “ or “I can’t see it” – many more shidduchim would happen
    Similarly girls should never discuss their shidduchim with their friends as they in many cases will kill the shidduch (she went out with him and got rejected- she will kill that shidduch)
    Another problem is that parents should never ask siblings about a shidduch as they have their own agendas and will also kill shidduchim

  14. I am reading these comments in utter bewilderment. Since the age gap is causing this problem without any mathematical doubt- the only way to resolve the problem is to market to boys, mothers, shadchonim, roshei yeshiva, and everyone else involved to begin to date younger. Middos, smoking, learning and every other point mentioned here have absolutely zero relevance if there are different amounts of boys and girls and girls in the game. Conversely if there were equal numbers of boys and girls- all the other issues would resolve themselves naturally as both boys and girly would equally have to compromise or feel the heat equally. I propose offering incentives not to boys that marry girls of a certain age but for going on a date or multiple dates at the age of 20 or 21 Hopefully once they start dating they won’t then stop and they will actually get married earlier as well but we need to get them dating earlier.Also massive marketing campaigns do change perceptions and change behaviors as we have seen in other areas.

  15. I’m a single guy who’s in my 30s. I’m well of the opinion that theres a big need for dating coaches to deal mainly with single girls. The girls in my opinion need to realize that they are not 19 anymore and no matter how amazing they are, they are just getting older and they cant expect the same things that they could have gotten when they were 19. Since theres a lot more single girls than there are guys, older girls especially will not be getting as many shidduch calls. I’ve been on many dates where girls have said they haven’t been on a date in months. Now I understand there has to be an attraction and you have to like the person to marry them no matter the age. As some previous posters have mentioned, the need for pics is beyond ridiculous and believe it or not, girls and their mothers wants pics just as bad as guys do. I have never asked for a pic and I never provide one. You will always have 1 side say no because if the pic since no matter how many professional pics you take, it’s very hard to come out looking good or perfect and that mixes the shidduch. I’m a big believer in getting rid of all the pics and people going out and dating and worst case, you both spent 3 hours on a enjoyable date that ends with a no. The excuses that I’ve heard for why they need a pic is unbelievable. 1 time I was told because the girl (she was 27) was burned out because she went out with some guys that weren’t attractive so she wants a pic before going out with someone. The world is full of people who want what they want and they want it now and they will not settle for anything less. There was no shidduch crisis before pics started being sent around so what does that tell you. I was 29 and 5 ft 7 and a girl that was 26 and 5 ft 3 said no to me because I was to old and to talk for her. I live in lakewood and I have girls mothers in lakewood who say they dont allow their daughters to go out without seeing a pic of the guy first. Get rid of this demand for pics. Make girls especially older ones understand that theres no such thing as a perfect guy and make sure they understand they are only getting older and the phone is not ringing as much and perhaps the shidduch crisis will disappear.

  16. I just want to add that although I’m not saying guys are perfect and we have our own share of the blame and wanting things that arent realistic, as any dating coach and people involved can tell you, girls are the one ones that are way more picky and looking fir things that are unrealistic. I’m sorry if the parents of single girls or the single girls themselves cant accept the fact or face reality but it is the case!!!

  17. There has to be more approved by local Rabbanim Shidduch single events. This provides an opportunity for singles to meet each other in a non-pressured environment and see a person for who they are, and not a sheet of paper. I know of three Bais Yaakov girls in their 30’s who met their bashert this way who otherwise would’ve rejected the boy on paper. Secondly, I don’t see why Bais Yaakov’s and Yeshiva shouldn’t have a shadchan working exclusively for their students. Much power is left in the hands of well meaning shadchanim who barely know each side and usually push the Shidduch when it shouldn’t hence causing burn out in the boy and girl. Yes, I definitely believe in dating coaches, however since many singles will view this just as an added expense to their dating expenses, I think this has to be offered and subsided and accessible from dating mentors in the community. There recently opened a house in Passaic where prospective daters can stay in from out of town for short or long term stays. There should be similar accommodations in other towns like they have Hachnosas Orchim apartments in order to make dating distance easier. Dating classes and interpersonal and relationship skills should be taught in Bais Yaakov and Yeshiva before young girls and bochurim enter the Parsha and “learn on the job” or not. One more point: when someone is zoche to marry off their child, let them try to help someone else in their Shidduch quest, whether it’s a classmate or friend of their child. Don’t just focus on yourselves, think about others at the time of your Simcha, the same way you want other to think of you and join in your Simcha. Much more can be said. It takes one who has been there to understand the whole picture.

  18. I don’t believe there is any other problem facing frum members of klal yisroel today that as many people are affected by as this crisis. The only real solution though is to market to the boys to date younger. There must be a relentless push to change this mindset and this will even the playing field to how it used to be years ago before the crisis started. No other factor discussed above, as true as they may be, has any bearing on the solution unless the numbers of boys and girls in the parsha are equalized. Once you have equal numbers you can begin discussing having better listening skills, middos, shadchonim, open mindedness etc…

  19. There is no one answer to this problem. However, like the author writes “together we can do anything” if we all focus on one solution which you feel can work then just do that. We are all telling each other what to do and not doing anything. How about everyone work on their own solution and together we will build many beautiful Batei Yisroel.

  20. Here’s an idea- instead of lowering the shidduch age, why don’t they raise it to 25 for everyone? Let the kollel boys continue to learn, and be closer to the point they can provide for their family. The girls can go to school, get a degree, and have a solid income by the time they marry and have children. This gives both sides time to mature and realize that looks aren’t as important. This eliminates a lot of the poverty/ tuition crisis as well.

    Up until 200 years ago, people only lived into their 30-40’s. We needed to have children young. With modern medicine this is no longer an issue. Girls who are single at 23 need to realize that they’re not doomed to settle or walk away. This isn’t the popular opinion (I’m curious if it will be printed), but it is a reasonable solution.

    • That would work technically but unfortunately it is not what g-d had in mind. As you can see from statement in pirkei avos for example the recommended age for boys to go out is less than what people are accustomed to do these days and what we have seen is that actually when people get older they tend to get more picky and set in their ways making it even more difficult. so the ideal is still for both to marry young. Also not sure how pushing the boys age to 25 would make them closer to being able to provide.

  21. An Idea might be, to have an incentive program set up, for young newly married couples, that often think of an Idea for a shidduch, but have no one willing or able to redt the idea.

    Imagine a number they can call, and give the information over to, and that someone redts the shidduch. If a date happens from the idea, the originator can get a gift certificate just for the idea. If the shidduch actually happens, then a portion of the shadchunis would go to that young couple.( 1/3 of the Shadchunis should usually be at least $500-$1000) Their are plenty of young couples that can use the extra income. When they see how easy the process was, they will pass on the word to their friends and encourage others to do the same.

    As was mentioned earlier, the numbers are staggering. B”H, klall Yisroel is growing and the challenge is, the Shaddchonim are overwhelmed. We need the fresh newlyweds, who the Chassanim, know the boys and the Kallahs, know the girls, to step up and think of ideas.All we need is a simple phone number to call, and a responsible person on the line, that will get the idea redt.

    This number can posted right here, on the TLS and advertised in the jewish news papers and magazines!

  22. also, I think people need to consider options that are not EXACTLY on their wish list. For example, i really wanted a 6 foot husband with a good voice and my husband is 5′ 9″ and cannot sing. but I married him anyway. Also he had really thick payos behind his ears, which was not at all my speed, but I overlooked all these details.
    Recently I heard of a 25 year old girl who was redt a boy who is good and solid, from a good and solid home, no family problems whatsoever, and she said NO to him because his hat brim points in the wrong direction. If only she would have been willing to meet with him, she might have seen a wonderful boy with good middos who will make an excellent husband and father. can this type of thing be part of the crisis?

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