If you look around, the current shidduch process is obviously not cutting it. There is practically not a family in Klal Yisroel that doesn’t have a single boy or girl who is in the parsha and struggling with the current system. As a result, we are left with a large population of single people that seems to be growing.
One of the main issues is that we are flooding the boys with so many résumés that they are so confused and are therefore looking mostly to eliminate names instead of approving them, as it is impossible to give a “yes” to every single one. As a result, the chances of a regular girl’s name being noticed with the current résumé system is small. At the end of the day, we end up with many singles, as only those résumés that “stick out” manage to get attention. If a boy is in the parsha too long, then, at some point, they are simply burnt out of the system and not excited to meet new people.
As a parent of both boys and girls in the shidduch parsha, I have a few suggestions that perhaps will solve some of these issues. Hopefully, with Hashem’s help, this will speed up some of the marriages and decrease the single population, saving lots of agmas nefesh.
1) Have résumés sent to the girl’s side first as well, instead of only the boy’s side first. By doing this, if the boy hears that the girl already gave a yes, then there is a better chance of them going out. In the event that the boy gives a no, the only one who has to deal with it is the girl’s parents, not the girl herself. Additionally, I have spoken to one of the elder roshei yeshivain America, who told me that there is nothing wrong with implementing this idea. It is up to the shadchanim to start it. Perhaps half of the year should be boys (Rosh Hashana-Purim) first, and during the other half (Purim-Rosh Hashana) girls would get the résumés first.
2) Shadchanim should not send more than two résumés to a boy or a girl, as this just confuses the individual.
3) There should be a vaad of shadchanim of each city that shadchanim should belong to. It should have rules and regulations of how to redd shidduchim and how to go about the process. This will make it simpler, so that people do not have to run around to multiple shadchanim and send out multiple résumés. This will also allow shadchanim to network better with each other.
4) Shadchanim should not redd a shidduch unless they pick up the phone and make a phone call. Although we live in a digital age, it is important that it is initially started with a phone call, and only afterwards should the résumé be sent. Otherwise, it makes it confusing, annoying, and overwhelming to the parties involved.
I would appreciate the feedback of the shadchanim on all of these matters.
First things first, kol hakavod to you for not simply vilifying the shidduch system without offering any kind of suggested solution. The more thought that goes into practical approaches which may improve upon the current way of doing things, the more likely we are to actualize meaningful change.
With that in mind, I would like to address a number of your points, analyze them for accuracy and practicality of implementation, and provide an explanation as to why some of the areas which you would like to see changed might be best off left as they are.
1. While I would agree that in many respects, and for many singles and their families, the current system is not cutting it, and I have never been one to discourage change simply to protect outdated status quos, it is also vital not to alarm for alarmist’s sake.
For many mishpachos, the system works, and I believe it may be a dangerous exaggeration to assert that practically every family is struggling with it in one way or another. Most singles get married within a reasonable timeframe, and without any more difficulty than is inherent in finding one’s zivug.
2. Although there are certainly those who find themselves suffocated under heaps of shidduch profiles – as was discussed in a previous issue of The Yated Shidduch Forum – I would be hard-pressed to consider it a primary issue facing those in shidduchim.
Whether the primary challenge is the geographical distance between most eligible young men and any young woman not living in the NY/NJ area; or the disparity in numbers between dating young men and their counterparts; or the fact that the starting point of finding a spouse is limited to the information that can fit on a single sheet of computer paper; or the fanciful notion that one should expect to find a spouse who checks off every box on one’s laundry list of wants; or the fact that many daters are removed from deciding whom they will date by parents who are more concerned with externalities, or their own interests, rather than giving priority to what their child actually needs in a spouse; or the completely artificial and inorganic manner through which daters are expected to meet; or the speed at which they feel pressured to make a life-altering decision about someone they have spent a collective total of 15 hours of their life with, the issue of young men being inundated with profiles – which is a real issue – is a symptom of a much larger issue, and not the root cause of the challenge, in my opinion.
To be frank, I do not know that there even exists a “system” free of issues, that could address the entirety of frum yidden. We see this clearly in chinuch, and I do not think shidduchim are any different. We can, and should, address the issues, and find ways to alleviate them for those who aren’t finding hatzlacha within the current system, but to imagine that there is an alternate “system” to be created that will work for everyone, without a hitch, is, by my estimation, erroneously optimistic.
Again, this is not to say we are doomed. The issues are real, and should be looked at deeply, but there are still a great many who do just fine in shidduchim.
3. Regarding solution #1: I do not personally have any objection to proffering a shidduch to the young woman’s side first. However, I do not feel it should be done as a matter of policy. If it is to be done in that order, it would only be because the person redding the shidduch feels it appropriate in that specific situation.
It is for good reason that shidduch suggestions begin on the bachur’s side. As painful as it is to sit by a silent phone for months on end, receiving no after no would be far more painful to endure. Even if a young woman knows that shadchanim are working on ideas for her, and can put two and two together to figure out that the phone isn’t ringing because she isn’t getting yeses, as opposed to a lack of effort on her behalf, it is still far more painful to have to hear that “no” time and time again.
As far as shielding the young woman by having the “no’s” go through her parents, I do not believe it is realistic to think that the young woman herself, who is surely going to be the most invested in the goings-on of her dating, could be entirely removed from the knowledge that she isn’t getting yeses.
Additionally, even if a young woman could be shielded, we must not underestimate the toll those “no’s” would take on her parents. Transference of pain from one party to another is not an achievement gained.
4. Regarding solutions #2-4: As I have written in the past, the job of professional shadchan is tireless, fraught with frustration, generally misunderstood and misrepresented, and all too often thankless. If a shadchan were to write in with a list of demands as to best practices for doctors, lawyers, accountants, real estate developers, or business people, the roar of outrage would be deafening, and rightly so.
And, yet, there is no shortage of lay people who believe they know best when it comes to redding shidduchim – so much so that shadchanim are often expected to heed the call of the hamoin am every time a new way of doing things is proposed, regardless of how superficial the benefit actually is.
Provided that nothing objectively objectionable is being done, it is my firm belief that shadchanim should be given the appropriate leeway to conduct themselves in the manner which they find leads to the maximum amount of dates and engagements.
This is all aside from the fact that there is not really any practical way to dictate what shadchanim can or cannot do. They are a group of individuals who have taken it upon themselves to do work that few people are interested in, and attempting to corral them with more do’s and don’ts is not only an exercise in futility, but one that may backfire and result in shadchanim throwing up their hands in despair, and giving up entirely.
5. It strikes me as a bit ironic that the suggested path to remedying a system which is so hampered by unnecessary rules, regulations, and formalities would be to suffuse it with even more constraints. Generally speaking, the constant infusion of uniformity into the way the frum world operates has come with significant cost, and I would be rather reluctant to introduce even more of it into our lives. If anything, I believe we need to take a collective step back, and look at mediums for broadening the way we go about doing things, not narrowing them.
To be clear, I do commend you for bringing concrete ideas to the table, and as far as one’s own family is concerned, parents have every right to inform the shadchanim they are working with of the parameters within which they will work, and how they will or will not accept ideas. However, on a Klal level, I do not believe that these ideas presented will ultimately have the positive effect which you rightfully desire.
May Melech Tamim Darchoi bestow upon us the wisdom to follow in his ways, and pave the way to a path which will successfully bring about greater menuchas hanefesh for all those in shidduchim.