Out of genuine concern for the numerous girls I know who are in their upper twenties and even thirties and do not seem to be finding their bashertes, I am writing this with frustration and disbelief. We have heard so much about the shidduch crisis and have written so many articles, yet very little concrete action has been taken so far. Boys are still starting shidduchim at 23, girls are still entering the market at 19, and so many girls are getting terribly hurt and falling by the wayside. What will it take to get an individual to stand up and say, “I will take this upon myself to fix this and not stop until it is over?”
We’ve had organizations that have originally met with resistance, such as Dor Yeshorim, yet the individuals behind them have persevered and achieved amazing results, saving the lives of many.
I am willing to say that this falls under the category of hatzolas nefashos, saving actual lives. Is there someone who can take it upon himself to do something?
While I sincerely believe your concern and hergesh to be honest and genuine, there are some statements and underlying themes within your narrative which are disconcerting to me, and which I feel are important to address.
To begin with, you have expressed a clear concern for the feelings of the bnos Yisroel, and the importance of doing everything we can not to hurt them in any way. One of the most significant areas of pain for our women who are still single, and one which, unfortunately, is often underestimated and overlooked, are the words we use when speaking about them. In your question, you refer to boys as “starting shidduchim” but refer to young women as “entering the market.” It may seem small, but that very terminology itself is hurtful to our women. Do we really need to use terminology which implies that the bnos Yisroel entering shidduchim are walking into a market place to be bought and sold? In keeping consistent with our concern for the feelings of our single women, we need to always be prudent in how we address and speak about them. This is especially true when, in the same sentence, the exact same concept – only instead applied to the young men – is expressed in far more tasteful terms.
Additionally, the perpetuation of such terms, particularly when sent to a globally distributed publication for all to see, only reinforces the marginalization of our young women and propagates their having the lower hand in shidduchim. The more considerate and thoughtful we are when it comes to the way we speak about, and think about, our young women, the more successful we can be in preventing them from experiencing any more pain than they are already feeling just from being unmarried as it is.
Secondly, it concerns me to see someone assert that no one has stood up and said, “I will not stop until this is over.” Though it is true that the present shidduch climate for young women in their mid to late twenties and beyond is causing immeasurable stress and heartache to many, it is a fallacy to claim that no one has taken it upon themselves to address this issue. On the contrary, in speaking with those involved in shidduchim for their communities, throughout the US and Canada, it is clear that many people are wracking their brains and offering all means of new programming and initiatives to help single young women of all ages.
There are existing efforts which are getting more traction than others, and new ideas are being worked upon constantly, as other ideas which did not prove to have the efficacy we would have hoped for, are being set aside; but to deduce by definition that because the difficulty has not been solved to date, this must mean there is no one yet who cares enough to take a stand, is both mistaken and unfair. Such declarations lack the due appreciation for those who are expending time, effort and resources to address this issue. It is by no means an easy problem to solve, and I would posit that the more salient reason for the persistence of this problem is its inherent complexity and the multi-layered nature of its causes, not a lack of trying.
Lastly, b’makom she’ein eish, hishtadeil lihiyos eish. If there is anyone who truly and deeply believes that no one else has taken a stand, or not enough of a stand, I encourage you to stand up yourself. I can assure you that neither I nor anyone else would stand in the way and protest such efforts being taken. Quite the opposite, those involved in shidduch efforts are always looking for fresh ideas and new volunteers to step up to the plate and offer new ideas and new energy. There is little value in identifying a problem that is already well known, labeling it a matter of hatzalos nifashos, and then asking why isn’t someone else fixing it. However, there is great value in anyone who feels for the Klal stepping forward pro-actively to join the cause.
There are a great many people who care and great many people who are doing something. If there is apprehension that change will not be seen, due to insufficient efforts, by all means, anyone is warmly invited to take the reins or illuminate a new derech. The door is open and all are invited to work hard and assist our single women through this difficult period; all that anyone needs to do is walk in.
May the Boirei Oilam be m’vorach all those who are involved in efforts for shidduchim with the strength and wisdom to be matzliach in their goals of being m’siyaiah in His work of m’zaveig zivugim yachdav.