A Solution To The Shidduch Crisis
When I was the rabbi of the Shenk Shul, I always made it my business to have as many guests for Shabbat as possible. I will never forget the time we had a group of women join our table for lunch. One of them, an attractive 28 year old finishing her medical school at Columbia University, told me she had not been on a date for six months. I told her she was picky. She said
“No, my shadchan hasn’t offered me a shidduch in six months!”
I wish this was just a one-off, anecdotal tale, the exception to the rule, but I have heard this story too many times before. And it is not like there are no single men above the age of 28 either. Being the rabbi of a largely singles shul in Washington Heights gave me my own perspective on what many people call the “shidduch crisis”
“Be the change you wish to see,” or as New Yorkers say, “see something, say something.”
Before solving the long-standing shidduch crisis, it is first important to identify exactly what issues we face.
In short, the shadchan is often the problem in shidduchim (hold on, let me explain). First, they only know who they know. If your beshert is not in their portfolio of resumes there is no hope to find your spouse with them. Secondly, if they are not thinking of you (even if they have your beshert in their portfolio) then you won’t be matched. Thirdly, I believe the number one important aspect in a marriage is direct communication. Everyone has their own way of expressing themselves and relating to others, and if you are unable to do that in a marriage, many other issues arise. With a shadchan, though, we are already starting off communicating indirectly.
I want to be very clear, I think shadchanim are great. They are a positive force for the Jewish world. So many marriages would never exist without the time, effort and care shadchanim give to the Jewish people. In general, shadchanim are given a bad rap, and as far as communication, they are often a necessary go between. But we live in a global world. I was born in California and my wife in Brooklyn and we met in Israel. With this being said, we need to rethink how a shadchan can be used to attain the best outcome for everyone.
Another problem with the current system is the tendency to put people in a box. With many questionnaires and dating intake forms, people are forced to check off the boxes that neglect much nuance. If you are “Black-hat Yeshivish,'' then you are not really modern. If you are “Modern-Orthodox Center” then you do not have an appreciation for chassidish spirituality. We often constrict ourselves through labels, and it is time we get beyond this.
Finally, the time it takes to go on a date is frustrating. First, simply getting ready, traveling to the date, spending another couple hours on the date itself, and then returning from the date, the whole process becomes a significant time commitment. Perhaps the most ironic thing of all is that AFTER FIFTEEN MINUTES of the date YOU KNOW THERE IS NO CHEMISTRY! If I want to be really frum, that is a lot of bitul Torah. If I want to be practical there is a lot of wasted time.
However, I believe that under the right system, these problems can be solved.
First, instead of a single matchmaker, there should be a network of shadchanim all tapped into one central system. Users would create profiles in a system that could “hold” everyone in mind at all times and relay matches directly to users. Instead of matchmaking, Shadchanim would transition to the role of facilitator, helping the match develop, instead of introducing the match initially.
Second, no one wants to be put into a box as if that completely describes you. A questionnaire should encourage you to be real and express what is important to you in terms of values and personality. Questions that do not ask about your siblings’ jobs and more about your relationship to Judaism.
Third, and this is a no brainer, instead of a two hour date, let's just meet up for a fifteen minute video-chat. Now that we are post Covid and everything is moving towards remote interactions, zoom away. Fifteen minutes is a coffee meeting, more than a speed date without the commitment of a date.
For these reasons, I helped create GamZuli.com. We aim to fix the current lack of control and efficiency and get a real sense of who our users are and what is important to them. We are a platform to empower singles to meet and date. Check it out.We would love to see you there.
Photo Caption: Gamzuli.com Logo
Photo Credit: Gamzuli.com