Monday, August 15, 2011

Shidduch Tumult

The photos in Hamodia intrigued me, and I scanned them carefully, hoping to see my son. I found the concept of chavrusa tumult fascinating. The photos show thousands of boys milling about outside of the yeshiva, and somehow, by the end of the week, most of those boys are paired up with a chavrusa.

The system is pretty simple. Anyone in need of a chavrusa participates. If Chaim needs a chavrusa, he would talk to several people and describe what he's looking for. Someone he approaches might have a suggestion for him. So if, say, Shimon was suggested, he'd seek him out, they'd talk for a bit, and decide if they are right for each other. If they are, a match is made. If not, Chaim would move on and try again, until he finds the right match.

Kind of like speed dating.

I'm sure others before me have suggested shidduch tumults. But, of course, that can never happen. We can't have the boys and girls milling about on the streets of Lakewood now, can we?

There's another way to go about this, though. We can have the thousands of boys and thousands of girls in need of shidduchim milling about - separately. And then the parents would be the ones asking the questions, listening to suggestions and talking to any potential matches. Give me five minutes with a boy, and I can tell whether he's a good possibility - or not even in the ballpark.

I'm not sure what would happen when we find one, or even several, good possibilities. Realistically, we can't get the boy and the girl to talk for a few minutes, although I like that idea. We'd probably have to give the names we have to a shadchan and then go the regular route.

So what do we gain? For the boys and their parents, probably not very much. But for the girls, a lot.

Anyone with sons in shidduchim knows how often the phone rings. They know about the lists of girls. They don't need any changes in the system. The system will work for them.

But for anyone with daughters in shidduchim, the experience is usually very different. The phone doesn't ring as often, and when it does, you can't imagine how anyone could have come up with something so wrong. When an appropriate suggestion finally does come up, your daughter becomes a name on someone's list.

And that's the problem.

A shadchan once called me with a name that sounded promising. I asked her to talk to the boy's parents first, and I will do my research if they are interested. They were not. There was some issue they couldn't get past.

Several weeks later, the shadchan called me back. They changed their minds. They're interested now.

I was confused, and wondered about the issue.

Apparently, it was no longer an issue for them. The mother had seen my daughter somewhere and she liked what she saw. My daughter went from being a name on the list - on paper - to being a real, live person. And suddenly, those minor "issues" didn't matter anymore.

And that is why a shidduch tumult seems like such a good idea.

It would be kind of like the cattle sales, where a mother comes to a wedding to check out a girl, only this would be like some mass cattle sale, with hundreds of mothers participating.

Can this actually work? Probably not.

Would I want it to work?

I don't know.

Just a short while ago, I objected to sending a picture of my daughter to a shadchan. I caved on that one. And then I even allowed the cattle sale. Now this?

I guess I'm not desperate enough yet...


  1. So true that meeting girls would upgrade them from "name" to "Person."

    Btw, you are desperate enough if you're doing everything you said you wouldn't and are coming up with shidduch tumult ideas :-).

  2. I don't have a girl in shidduchim (yet), so I appreciate your perspective. Our "system" is so fundamentally flawed, so blatantly unfair, and so far from true "Jewish" values. Your idea is so creative! It does level the playing field and brings out the "person" rather than the name on a list. But we all know it's all fantasy. I wonder why we live in such an "emperor has no clothes" culture, where we all see the problems clearly (not just in shidduchim, but also in hypocrisy with yeshivos, money, machlokes), and we are all on the assembly line, going through life and nobody has the guts to take the bull by the horns and risk being labeled as a non conformist.

  3. SIR... maybe I am :).


    Of course it's a fantasy. It can never really happen. And truthfully, if I'd see an ad somewhere for a shidduch tumult type of thing, I'm not sure I'd have my daughter participate. Does that make me a hypocrite?

  4. Cattle sales doesn't seem quite so flattering, either.

    In the end, I go with the premise that currently things are at an extreme. With time, the pendulum evens out and hits the middle. It won't happen because someone gets on their soapbox and says, "I have a solution!" It happens as each and every individual gradually realizes that it isn't working. Specifically, calling the FBI before letting children go on a date.

  5. I agree that change won't come through "I have a solution". That's been tried. The age gap theory, for example. But I don't think we will get to a place any time soon where every individual realizes the system isn't working. For boys in shidduchim...and the parents of those boys...the system is working just fine. Why mess with something that works so well for them?

    As for calling the FBI, I think you and I might have some disagreements there :).

  6. You're so right. Seeing a picture of someone is just not the same as meeting them in real life. A picture is lifeless, no matter how big the smile. In real life, a person is alive and you can get a feel for their personality on a whole different level. (How would I know?! :-D)

    I see your post came just in time for Tu B'av and I'm a little late in commenting but...better late than never! It's a good idea. I wish it could work. If it works for the guys who need to find a chavrusa, why can't it work for shidduchim?!
    Oh well...certain things cannot be changed.

  7. Devorah...

    You and I both know it can't work. Who am I kidding?

  8. I'm not sure it is a given that the system is working for boys just because they are male. True, they may get more suggestions but that is not necessarily an effective way to meet one's spouse. There are enough "older" guys still floundering around. More suggestions doesn't mean better off.

    As for the FBI, CIA, what have you - when guys pull that on me, I get really annoyed. More numbers you need? Am I on American's Most Wanted? No? Then you can spare an hour or two.

  9. Princess Lea...

    I'm only basing it on having had one son in the shidduch system - and now one daughter. When the phone didn't stop ringing with suggestions for my son, I remember thinking...I don't need all these suggestions! I don't want them! I just need one. But I changed my mind now that the phone is silent much of the time.

  10. actually I think it SHOULD be the girls and boys and not the parents. my daughter in shidduchim believes a big part of the problem are the mothers of the boys. take them out of the picture. the girls will all dress tzanua, there will be space between the boys and girls so negia isn't the problem... so why should there be an issue?
    Go for it! I volunteer to send someone

  11. dip-it's very nice in theory but we all know it's not gonna work. Who would come to an 'event' such as this one?

    It would be nice if it could work but reality says it just wont.

  12. daughtersintheparsha...

    I agree with your daughter. The mothers are definitely the problem. Once you get past them, you're ok.
    But unfortunately, Devorah's right. It can't work.

  13. Can't you just let your daughter find her own husband? She could meet someone who enjoys being with her instead of someone whose mother likes her style.

  14. oh, anonymous, how quaint and naive. chuckle chuckle. sob ;(

    and it seems like everything bochurim/boys do is in some way interesting, accepted, funny, sweet, fine. most of what girls do is analyzed, discussed, judged, sentenced