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Monday, May 10, 2010

Guest Post: The Age Gap Theory

Ask and a guest poster shall deliver. Thank you again to another guest poster who delivered when readers asked for a dissection of the Age Gap Theory in Shidduchim. The post follows:

The “Age-Gap” Theory and the Shidduch Crisis:

There are a variety of approaches to defining precisely what the shidduch crisis is, and there are those who will claim that there is no crisis. For our purposes, however, I’m going to presume the following definition:

The “shidduch crisis” (SC for short) is the perception within what I will call the “east-coast-right-wing-and-right-center-yeshivish world”, that more young people than ever - especially girls - are having an increasingly difficult time finding a shidduch and that, consequently, there are more older singles - especially girls - lingering “on the market” than ever before.

Over the last few years a number of clever members of the affected community claimed to have identified the root cause of the problem. The problem, they say, is the “age-gap”.

The age gap theory (AGT) goes like this:

1) There is a tendency for boys to start dating at a slightly older age than girls and that consequently they tend to date (and marry) girls that are 2-4years younger than themselves.

2) The frum community’s birth rates have been consistently growing over the years.

3) If a community is consistently growing, then each year it will produce a slightly larger number of young people newly entering shidduch age.

So for example if in 2007 it produced 1000 new 19 year old boys and girls, then in 2010 it might produce, say, 1050 new 19 year old boys and girls Now here comes the clever part: If boys start dating at age 22 and girls at age 19, then in our example above, in 2010 the 1000 boys who turned 19 in 2007, and are now 22, will start dating the 1050 girls who turned 19 in 2010 and are starting to date. (Their 1050 counterpart boys won’t start dating for another 3 years.)

See the problem? 1000 boys, 1050 girls. Thus the AGT claims that the arbitrary tendency for boys to date younger girls dooms a certain number of “excess” girls to simply not have enough boys to date and marry. The problem, according to the theory, is relentless because the trend continues unabated each year with the “girl excess” continuing to grow and is exacerbated by the fact that social norms are such that boys can continue (within limits) to date younger girls each year while the girls are limited to continue to look for boys their own age or older.

And while the proponents of the AGT don’t claim to have any magic solutions, they do claim that at least in theory, if the relative dating ages of boys and girls were leveled, we would see some mitigation of the problem. Indeed, it seems reasonable to assume that if were somehow able to unleash all the boys between the ages of 19 and 21 into the shidduch market that there would have to be some leveling effect for the girls.

Simple, elegant, and…undoubtedly true.

However, in evaluating the adequacy of a proposed explanation for the SC crisis, we need to ask several questions:

1) How exactly does the crisis manifest itself?
2) When did the perception of a crisis first emerge?
3) Does the proposed explanation adequately explain the answers to the above questions?

Let’s look at the first question: I think if you talk to women above the age of 45, i.e. those who did their dating primarily before the mid-80’s, you will find that most will report that when they entered the parsha, shidduchim were mentioned to them fairly regularly and that they dated with a reasonable amount of frequency. While, of course, some remained single at older ages, this was not perceived as a crisis, so much as an inevitable and painful reality that was always present.

Today however, if you talk to young girls entering the parsha (and their parents) I think you will hear that it is not uncommon for a young girl without any obvious impairment to go months without a date. This is important. It is not just that some “left over” girls remain single past 30, or later. The SC manifests itself currently in that even 19, 20, and 21 years old girls – the youngest girls in the parsha - can experience extreme difficulty just getting a date.

As to the second question, we sort of touched on it already. The SC didn’t really get crisis-level attention until approximately 15 to 20 years ago.

Now let’s look at the AGT.

Point 1: Boys have been starting to date later and dating girls 2 - 4 years younger than themselves, as far back as anyone can remember. Not only that, but this tendency exists across all ethnic groups, if not to quite the same extent as within the frum community. (In fact a quick Google search will find you US Census Bureau data on showing that in 2007 the average age of men at first marriage was 27.7 while women were 26.0. And the gap used to be larger.) There is absolutely nothing new about this trend. If anything, with fewer frum boys going to college and waiting to obtain a degree and a job before dating, and with more girls spending a year in EY before even beginning to date, I suspect that the frum age gap is actually smaller on average than it was in decades past. (Just look around at your parents, and aunts and uncles and take a casual survey of their age gaps.) I don’t think we can explain this very recent and extreme phenomenon with a decades, if not centuries, old trend.

Point 2: OK so each year the pool is increased by say, a few percentage points more girls than boys. So what would I expect to happen? I would expect that when the 1000 new boys on the market go out on a date next motzoai shabbos, they will be accompanied by 1000 girls while extra 50 girls don’t have a date. What about the next motzoai shabbos? Or the one after that? I realize that I have simplified the equation, but even after all the adjustments, I would think, if the boys and girls are dating with a reasonable amount of flexibility and open-mindedness and make their way around the shidduch pool evenly, that most girls should have a reasonable number of dates even if the fact that they outnumber the boys means that they remain dateless a little more often than their male counterparts. So for example, if the average boy can have a date every week, then shouldn’t there at least be enough dating going on so that the average girl can have a date every other week? Every third week? Indeed, pre-1985, that is exactly what went on, The age-gap existed then too and it was recognized that boys had it a little easier, but by and large girls had their fair share of dates and so no one perceived a “crisis.”

But this is not what is happening today. Today, even the youngest girls on the market who have virtually no lower-age limitations holding them back,can often go weeks and months without so much as a single date or even a shidduch mentioned. This cannot possibly be explained by the relatively small amount of excess generated by the AGT. A few additional weeks as compared to their male counterparts yes, but four, six, or eight months waiting a date because their dating age cohort is 5 or even 10 percent larger than the boys? That is insulting to the intelligence.

I do believe that the AGT is, in fact, a real phenomenon that is contributing to the problem. But it is downright naive to believe that the stark change in reality experienced by today’s 19 and 20 year old girls as compared with the experience of their own mothers just 20 or 30 years ago can be explained solely by the subtle build up of a demographic trend that has been going on for many decades. I recently attended a workshop on shidduchim where a very-well-respected and widely-known public figure enthusiastically touted the significance of the AGT and how combating it (by making shidduchim of boys and girls closer in age) would solve our the SC. While I did not have the chance to question him personally, I did have a moment to share my skepticism with a noted shadchan also in attendance. After expressing my belief that the significance of the AGT in the shidduch crisis is being exaggerated, she quickly agreed and added “you’re right, but the AGT is politically correct.”

If we want to honestly evaluate the causes for the 10 – 15 year old shidduch crisis, we need to candidly ask what aspects of the shidduch scene are unique to the last 10 – 15 years. There are other factors at work here, that are behavioral rather than demographic, but that is a topic for a different post.


harry-er than them all said...

I always thought the AGT was too cozy, too easily explained, and too easily solved.

I think the authors conclusion is right: its a behavioral thing rather than a biological/mathematical thing

tesyaa said...

You state: there is a tendency for boys to start dating at a slightly older age than girls and that consequently they tend to date (and marry) girls that are 2-4years younger than themselves.

This is true, but it is not caused by a tendency. A tendency implies that some people tend to do this, but not all do, and certainly none are forced to do so. But the shidduch dating "rules" do not allow for a "tendency". Boys are put in the "freezer", girls are universally sent off to seminary as a sort of "finishing school", and the only way to get boys to date girls the same age or older than them is by instituting more rules. Things are certainly more rigid than they were in the 1980s. And as you hinted, this is the real source of the "crisis".

saras said...

Let's see:
-Men (I hate when people call them 'boys') who want to 'learn' (either permanently or for a set number of years)and thus need to by 'supported'
(I have known at least 3 gentlemen whose daughters were going out on dates and they have each been asked AT LEAST once 'how long are you able to support me?')

- No opportunity to meet the opposite sex ANYWHERE at ANY TIME

- Unrealistic expectations for both parties (does it really matter whether the kallah's mother uses plasic on Shabbat?-- apparently it does)

- My hashkafa vs. your hashkafa, my yichus vs. your yichus, my finances vs. your finances
I'm an FFB and you are a BT

And this is just for starters.

megapixel said...

i believe that it is at most, a contributing factor. not a cause.
as is:

Miami Al said...

It's not pickiness, it's stupid divisions. People are reasonable to want to hold out for someone that they are comfortable spending their life with... I mean, you're EXPECTING to spend 50-60 years with this person, it's reasonable to hold out for someone that you are compatible with.

What is NOT reasonable is creating artificial and stupid barriers. The Jewish community as a whole is trying to get Jews to find other Jews to marry, and we're not content with Orthodox Jews (9% of the Jewish population), but they have to be in the 10% that matches an artificial Hashkafa line (accepting that MO, Chassidim, and Chareidi Jews are far enough apart in lifestyle as to basically be different religions), and on the stupidest area.

Finding someone you want to spend your life with is hard. Being limited to the 2% of the population that is Jewish makes it VERY hard. Focusing on the 0.2% that is Orthodox requires a miracle. Making it the 0.01% of the population that are Orthodox Jews and have mothers that share table cloth strategies is the height of insanity.

Of all the things that go into my wonderful marriage working, neither my mother nor mother-in-laws table settings play a significant role in it.

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree--here is another thing that completely baffles me--DISHONESTY.
I have known women who are getting ready to emerge onto the 'shidduch scene' and they have been told by people (rebbitzens, school administrators, shadchans, well meaning buttinskis, etc.) that they should not disclose physical ailments (hereditary disorders, etc), abuse, eating preferences (apparently being a vegetarian is a major turnoff in the RW world), etc. as this could ruin their chances. There are so many things wrong with this picture that one cannot even begin to approach it from one angle. Wasn't there a post a while back that suggested secret meetings in vineyards? I think it's time to go back to that.

rosie said...

I wonder if there were some under the table deals in the vineyard days. It sounds like a fairy tale to say that boys watched the girls dance and then made a lifetime decision on the info that they got then and there. I would bet that some of them knew who they were going to pick before they got there. Their mothers may have told them who to pick. Jewish mothers were the same back then as they are today.
And the girls--did they have a choice at all? If some boy with a bad complexion who was shy and immature picked them, did they have to agree to marry the kid? There had to be a bit more to it besides girls dancing and boys picking for solid marriages to occur.
Were the girls as desperate then as they appear to be today? Yisro told off his daughters when he heard that they left an eligible bachelor at the well and made them go back and find him. The girls in the vineyard sang out what their qualities were such as beauty or yichus. Sounds like they needed to advertise almost like in the market place hearing vendors sing out what they were selling.
Vineyard matchmaking has not withstood the test of time so it must have had plenty of drawbacks.

Miami Al said...


Even taken literally, remember a few major factors:

1. The male suitors were independent, or as independent as they were going to be, seeking women that caught their eye.
2. Lifetimes were shorter, leading cause of death for women was childbirth at some point, life for women was much shorter -- women were more likely to survive to adulthood, but a man might lost multiple wives in childbirth
3. The male suitors weren't necessarily single, just looking for a wife/additional wife

Further, marriage as romantic partnership is a modern invention, marriage as contractual relationship is much older.

Polygamous cultures definitely have many anti-female traits, but in terms of a woman's ability to find a suitable mate, a monogamous culture will result in a less desirable pairing for women then a polygamous one.

ProfK said...

The problem with statistics is just that: they are statistics. They are numbers that may be manipulated at will to "prove" whatever it is that you want to prove. The same numbers can be used to "prove" two opposites. Is the cup half full or half empty? Those same four ounces can be used to prove both conclusions. (See the excellent works written by Dr. Joel Best in the "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics" series of books.)

The AGT as causative for the supposed shidduch crisis? Perhaps a factor in some cases but a single, identifiable cause? No. Second, the comparison numbers that would tell us precisely how many unmarried people there are in every age cohort, both male and female, are not available--they are apocryphal at best. There are assumptions being made that common sense, if nothing else, would tell us aren't true.

Nor are any other factors that affect shidduchim given any play. The fact that people are not given opportunities to meet/see each other in situations outside of a shidduch date certainly is a factor. The strict adherence to a "numbers" game in age matchup is a factor. The ability or lack thereof of supporting a family is a factor (male, female and parental). And yes, personal preferences in a future mate are also factors.

You want to play the numbers game? Try it this way. There are 1000 males and 1037 females born in a particular year. When they come to dating age (whatever that might be) there are 480 females size 6 or smaller, 480 females size 8-12, and the rest above a size 12. According to today's wisdom, smaller is "better," so those first 480 females are going to be the first married. Of the second group, the size 8's are going to be next, but there are only 137 of them. So far 617 females married. A few of those 10-12s will get married--let's say 100 of them. That's now 717 out of the original cohort of 1037 females. A few of those who are over a size 12 will get married (daddy has mega bucks) so from our original group of 1037 we have a grand total of 787 married females. That leaves not 50 unmarried, as the AGT posits, but 250. And that also leaves over 200 males with no one to marry in their cohort. Ridiculous on the face of it, but no more so than assuming the AGT is true.

Still not convinced? Look at a different set of statistics. According to the government the height of females is growing at a faster rate than the height of males. Now look at your cohort of 1000 males and 1037 females. (Why 1037? Why not? Since there are no real numbers my number is just as "true" as the AGT numbers.) Here's what we know: males as a general rule want to marry females shorter than they are and females want to marry males taller than they are. And just what would happen if in that particular cohort there were 400 males at 5'5" and under while there were only 204 females at under 5'5"? 196 males couldn't marry females in their cohort because there were not enough females of the "right" size.

Playing the AGT numbers game allows some to believe that they have pinned down the problem with shidduchim and can solve the crisis, while leaving the underpinning causative factors untouched.

Please note that the original authors of the AGT theory pointed out that the shidduch crisis does not exist in the Chasidishe world. Males there routinely marry females their own age or older and, more importantly, if they cannot find a mate in their own cohort they look outside of it--they look for mates among the females of the other groups such as the yeshivishe/litvishe crowd and yes, even among the right wing MO. They aren't limited by their "religion" to looking at only one group.

Just what we don't need--more number mumbo jumbo to explain what may or may not be a crisis and which likely has other, more important causes that will get no airtime because the AGT numbers say it all--NOT.

rosie said...

Of the girls that I know who are in crisis mode (meaning that they are old enough that the pickins are slim) most have issues not related to weight but possibly are related to height.
A certain percentage of men and women are afraid of commitments, relationships, and intimacy. They may have had prior bad experiences.
Singles from dysfunctional homes are likely to be matched with others from such families and if they can't accept that, then they sit.
Then there are those who do have medical or emotional issues, either in themselves or in their families. They may not be willing to marry others with those same circumstances.

Not there yet but worried said...

Interesting post - and the comments show that few believe that AGT is "the" answer.

So why do so many girls wait around for a date? I can think of three reasons:
1) Money
2) Kesef
3) Gelt

With so many boys (sorry, they are definitely NOT 'men') looking to be supported, girls from middle-class families are much lower on the totem pole than those from rich ones. For some, yichus might help them get some dates with young men (not boys in this case)who are not as intersted in money.

My own in-laws who married their daughters off to working guys (e.g., me) stopped my wife's brother from dating a girl when they found out ther girls perents would not support him very well.
And that alone can lead to a crisis - where parents of females don't want to support but expect their male offspring to be supported.

Anonymous said...

Prof K.

I'm the post author

Thanks for your very well reasoned comment. If I understand you correctly, you are in essential agreement with me that the AGT is being thrown around irresponsibly as a solution to the problem without any disucssion of any number of other factors at play.

I would however like to reiterate a key point of my post, not because it is at odds with your comment but because it is left unadressed by your comment.

I agree wholehartedly with the full range of factors described in your cohort example. But again, here's my question. Were any of the factors you mention not already in play 30 years ago? (Size 6 vs. size 8?, money vs. no-money?) And if they were, why hadn't the "crisis" been identified decades earlier. I had intended to devote a separate post to my answer to the question, but in a nutshel, it goes like this: The raw materials of these factors were indeed all in place 40 years ago. But certain socio-religious developments THAT ARE UNIQUE TO THE LAST 20 YEARS have ampified these factors to the point where the overall rate of dating is simply much lower than it used to be. Put differently, there are fewer dates taking place per capita on any given "motzoai shabbos then there were 30 years ago. And I for one don't think that is a good thing.

More to come.

Anonymous said...

If you aren't marrying for love since love and romance are not part of the shidduch system, then why not marry for money? It's as easy to make a match work with a poor spouse as with a rich one.

ProfK said...

Thanks Not there yet for the money comment. I was once listening to a group of my students (males) discussing the support issue and I told them "You must really hate your sisters." They were shocked, to say the least. They asked me why I would say such a thing. I countered with a question of my own: Do your parents have the kind of money to support a couple for an extended period of time? Most agreed that their parents didn't have that kind of money. So my next question was So, who will your sisters marry if the boys they go out with are like you, requiring support money from the girls' families? To that they had not one answer, except for the old standby that God will provide.

ProfK said...

Anonymous Author:
What factors were or were not around 40 plus years ago? For one thing, the issue of support for young married couples. There have always been wealthier members of Klal but marrying into a monied family was a matter of mazel rather than necessity. And in my dating time period (60s to early 70s) it was expected that a male who was dating either already had a parnoseh in hand or was studying and close to finishing a degree that would give him parnoseh.

What has changed? The attitude of yeshivas. Back in my dating time period the boys learning in Torah VoDaas, Chaim Berlin, the Mir, Ner Yisroel etc. were also almost all going to college at the same time, and to CUNY colleges at that. They almost all expected that yeshiva would end when they got married and had to support a family. Hundreds of marriages came about because the people met at school. Kollel-type couples were the exception not the rule, even in the more right winged groups. And those few kollel couples were not living "la vida loca" but were poor, struggling and did not expect that the rest of frum society would support them.

No, the size 6-8 problem was not around in my dating days. For one thing, the general society did not look at a size 6 as normative or even desirable. Glance at an album of the women who were admired in those days, who set the standards of "beauty" and you are looking at "zaftig" rather than twig-like.

What else has changed? A definition of what constitutes a social life. Even the more right of center groups had opportunities to see and speak with the opposite sex outside of a strict shidduch date situation. Singles at a chasoneh routinely wandered into the lobbies to see and be seen, to speak with each other, to introduce one another to each other, to network among themselves. 13th and 14th Avenue in Boro Park on a Shabbos were THE places to stroll and view and yes, to sometimes stop and talk.

Another change? Micro-managing of dating by the parents/shadchanim/community. There was NOT one single rule ever being spoken about in my dating time about how long a date HAD to last, about what HAD to be discussed and on which date, about where you could or could not go on a date.

Where are the collegiate-aged social groups that existed in the 60s/70s, groups like YI Collegiates and the various other groups? Gone with the wind.

I believe that a societal shift is responsible for the problems we see today, not a birth number crisis.

Anonymous said...

Prof K.

Author here again.

NOW we're getting somewhere.

Thank you for your post.

tesyaa said...

Agree that even until the mid-to-late 80s, young men who were dating were either working or about to receive a degree that would enable them to get a job. (Sometimes medical students got married while their parents continued to help support them, as they would have done when they were single). Any the smicha students that some of my friends married became pulpit rabbis, not longtime learners.

mark said...

Fascinating discussion. I do have a question to the Guest poster and Prof K. If I understood correctly, the AGT isn't wholly to blame for the 'crisis' and much blame can be placed on societal issues you both mentioned. Fine, but then how do you explain the imbalance of girls vs boys having a tough time finding a mate. Don't both boys AND girls suffer from the same 'misugas' created in the last 15-20 years.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the reason for the "crisis" is as simple as more boys going OTD than girls. Extrapolate that over time, and account for older boys dating younger girls, and you have a "crisis". I'm not saying that this *IS* the cause, but if it is true, it would explain the phenomenon rather well.


Dan said...

Miami Al:
You're making a mistake by lumping people who marry based on general hashkafa (MO, chasidim) together with people who care about tablecloth arrangements.

Hashkafa plays a huge role in married life as it is the basis to a lot of life changing decisions.

For example, there are plenty of haredim out there (myself included) who are honest, do not accept scholarship or any form of welfare but at the same time have spent a few years in kollel and still have large families, and manage to dedicate 1:30-2 hours/day to know what the shulchan oruch and mussar seforim (as well as other seforim) say and constantly work on their character to try to keep all he mitzvos bein adam lamakom and bein adam lachaveiro properly. I'm not sure if someone who constantly makes generalizations about haredim and loathes them (have you met anyone like that, Miami Al?) could be happily married with someone like me. For the sake of shalom bais, we're better off following hashkafa lines in shiduchim (with the obvious exception of people who are not very committed to any specific hashkafa or who are in the borderline of different hashkofos).

On the other hand, I certainly agree that minor differences (such as tablecloth arrangements) should not play a role in the shiduch scene.

Anonymous said...

Mark: You may have a point. Also, given the different roles of women and men in orthodox judaism, getting married early is more important for women since they don't have other roles, whereas men can have active and public roles in communal and religious life regardless of their marital status.
Another factor may be that, statistically, more males than females are dealing with sexual orientation issues that must be kept hidden in the OJ world.

Anonymous said...

There are still young singles who like to date the old fashioned way, i.e. actually going over to a girl in a social setting and asking her out.

I guess, if someone wanted to label me, I am considered Modern Orthodox - Machmir (though I have no clue what that means). I met the girl I am currently dating on the train. We sat down together coming back from Manhattan one Friday afternoon and we started talking and it just led from there (and I know of others who have met girls that they have dated, and married, the same way).

Personally, I blame the parents, Rabbeim, but primarily the kids.

The parents shouldn't entitle their kids and agree to support them after they get married. They should help out, but not completely support. This stunts their childs growth, and they will never mature even after marriage.

Rabbeim shouldn't preach that the only way to live a Frum lifestyle is to mooch off ones parents, in-laws, and society (and look for only money, since as noted above, love doesn't factor into our dating society).

But worst of all, the singles themselves; we (yes I include myself since I am still single) shouldn't have agreed let this happen. We have let ourselves become lazy and spoiled. If we had half a backbone, we would go and fix this "crisis" on our own. As my father always said, if you want something done right, you better do it yourself.

So to all those parents out there who yearn for the "good old days" of dating (and don't mind their daughters/sons marrying another working individual), push your kids (yes, kids, because if they were mature enough, they should be able to buck the peer pressure and do things that they think are right, even if others think it is wrong) and MAKE them socialize.

Therefore, the women, shouldn't sit around waiting by the phone hoping that a shadchan calls, they should go out and SOCIALIZE.

And the men should have the guts to go up to a lady and ask her out. And if you get shot down, then that is life, pick yourself and go find another.

It is time to stop blaming others and start blaming ourselves.

ProfK said...

One possible answer to "how do you explain the imbalance of girls vs boys having a tough time finding a mate" is to look at the parents of the girls. If parental support of a young married couple is a factor, and it is, then look at the finances available to the parents of girls.

We can take as a given that not every family in Klal is wealthy or even well to do. Even take a "comfortable" family and you can see the problem. Let's give the family 2-3 daughters. If the family will be required to offer support to all of the daughters just how is that going to be possible? What would it cost to give even the bare minimum to sustain life(as some expect it to be lived) to each of these daughters? Given the cost of living in the NY area alone, $20K a year will barely make it and probably won't. Let's make that $25K per daughter. We already know via yeshiva tuitions that a $45K bill a year for 3 kids is beyond many parents. Just how do you think they will manage a $60-75K bill for couple support, on top of having made the weddings and providing the household furnishings? They can't.

The grapevine works quite efficiently in Klal and you can bet that it is easy to figure out which parents might not be able to support a boy "in style." The daughters of those families are going to come lower on the dating totem pole and will sit home for long periods because their parents can't provide the "necessary" support.

Thinking said...

I have absolutely no statistics to back this up but I do think the biggest issue facing RW girls today is Hashkafa.
Look at it this way 1000 boys and 1000 girls go to Israel for a year. 95% of the girls (made up stat) come back and go to college. The rest become teachers. 75% of the boys come back and go to college. The rest come back to learn.

I have had so many wonderful girls come through my home that I can honestly say I don't know any boys for. I wish I did, but all my well educated + learned, sincere friends are married. I am sure there are plenty of wonderful boys learning out there, but these girls are not looking for that.

In fact, many of the girls who originally were looking for learning boys now tell me they no longer are. They want someone who is working and koveah itim. I suspect that once they have reached some professional success in their personal lives they need someone with similar goals.

In the RW world the discrepancy is not in the overall numbers, it is in the number similarly hashkafic boys for similarly hashkafic girls.

Miami Al said...

Dan, selection bias, pure and simple.

Positive Chareidi Jews of good character, I'm certain that they exist, I just obviously don't encounter them because that's not my life. The ones we encounter are the poorly behaved ones that show up in our upper middle class MO neighborhood and start making demands. I'm sure that 90% of the Chareidi world are of good character, but the 10% that suck are the ones we encounter. Further tainting the perspective is that not only do we encounter the 10% that suck, but because they are right-wing, they hold themselves up a "Torah True Jews," so we get a bad impression.

A friend that moved back to Israel asked my wife and I why Americans had such a low opinion of Israelis. She and her husband had graduate degrees, a wonderful family, and were kind and considerate, all her friends were like that, but that wasn't the stereotype. We explained that the wonderful, caring Israelis, Datim and Chilonim, were in Israel, and the ones that "washed out" (couldn't make a living) in Israel were the ones we encountered, so we only encountered the dregs of Israeli society, hence the stereotype. Same as the "ugly American" stereotype, the American tourists that Europeans encounter are the rude spoiled brats of upper middle class suburbia, because those are the kids sent on expensive trips with their parent's credit cards.

Further, I accept that Chareidi, Hassidic, and Orthodox Jews mostly need to date within their pool, as the differences are extremely stark.

What I object to is the artificial lines, where the focus is entirely on the superficial. Does her mom wear pants and/or not cover her hair? Who cares. If it is important to you that your wife not wear pants and covers her hair, discuss that with the girl while dating, not worry about her mother.

Compatible world views is important. Compatible table settings is not. My in-laws are informal people, I am a mixture, certain areas of formality are important to me, but I'm mostly casual. When my wife learned that I thought it was important that one set for formal table properly (American style formal settings), the Shabbat table, or any other, she started doing that. It didn't matter that her mom was super informal, it was important to her husband that there be a separate salad fork, fish fork (if applicable), and a fork for the main course, so she puts out an extra fork.

Table settings played no role in our dating. Likewise, if it is important to you that your wife not wear pants, disclose that, and work it out. It should NOT be important to you that your mother-in-law not wear pants, she's your mother-in-law, not your wife.

rosie said...

Miami Al,
If the new couple is going to spend significant periods of time with the in-laws it would be very awkward if there was a glaring difference in hashkafa. Most people want easy situations; not situations where there may be conflicts from the get-go.
The 2 sets of parents (mechutanim) also will be thrown together at every bris, baby naming, bar/bat mitzvah and so on. It's great if they can respect each other and get along and even cooperate such as in coordinating who gives which baby gift etc.
Not everyone can have the luxury of an easy situation and some young people will have to learn how to deal with difficult or different thinking in-laws but people don't set out looking for difficulties.

Anonymous said...


Respectfully I disagree and believe we just can't work that way. I get along fine with my in-laws but there is great tension between my wife and my family. Still I wouldn't trade it because my wife and I both know we chose each other, not the other's family.

The greater issue with that is what then do you do with a Baal Tshuva or a ger? Yes geirim are no longer considered part of their original family, but rarely have I been to a ger's wedding where the parents weren't happily in attendance. I refuse to cast aside all the wonderful BTs and Geirim that we have just to avoid "difficulties".

LifeAct said...

Thank you for this well thought-out post. I have been bothered by the widespread acceptance of AGT as "the answer" since its inception. I was also worried that AGT would be used to further manipulate the young peoples of RW OJ. Thankfully, it has not been overly successful in manipulating people's dating choices, though the theory itself is regarded as sound by too many people.

I agree that the issues are more behavioral, but I disagree with the author and ProfK that the problematic behavioral issues are the lack of casual intereaction between the two sexes. That sounds more like an agenda and not at all like a valid explanation for why so many girls are lucky to get one datable suggestion per month while boys have so many suggestions that they need a secretary (my past self as case-in-point).

I came up with the idea a while back that the problem may be more game theory, than statistics, related. I don't know much about game theory so I've been trying to get an expert to help me see if it works. The idea is kind of like the epiphany Nash had in 'A Beautiful Mind' reversed:

Most RWOJ girls end up in seminary. Most seminary teachers are kollel wives (or the type), hence these girls emerge thinking that only a kollel boy is a good enough jew. They begin to date, but only half of the available boys meet the qualifications. At this point, game theory kicks in. Obviously not all the seminary girls can marry the qualified boys, unless each boy marries two girls. However, instead of looking for an equilibrium all the girls throw themselves at these boys and compete ferociously. This is why the boys are able to make such shocking demands.

The 'sem qualified' boys are innundated with dating possibilities, and naturally choose the ones who sound most appealing to them. By most appealing, I mean any criteria, including dress size, money, yichus - you name it. DON'T BLAME THEM - they are reacting to market incentives as anyone would. Eventually they settle down and drop out of the market.

At some point the other half of the sem girls realizes that they need to broaden their horizons - if their 'ideal' guy didn't choose them when they were new to the market (which seems to be universally ideal to the guys), the next generation isn't going to choose them as they age. So they start to look for someone who is a good jew but doesn't quite 'qualify' as 'ideal'. Unfortunately, they are not welcomed for three reasons: 1) No guy in his right mind would want to marry someone who thinks he is less than she deserves. 2) These guys they are now considering are the same ones they rejected one, two, or three years ago - and the guys may not be interested in being second choice and 3) This type of guy is probably not interested in a 'sem girl' in any case.

Ridiculous said...

Rosie: your argument doesn't make a lot of sense. Should a young lady who is more to the right of her parents plan NOT to spend time with them after getting married? Should she agree to spend less time with them in order to find a compatible right wing husband? Remember, she is STILL their child and she might not be willing to distance herself from them even if there are hashkafic differences. You have doomed her to a life of singlehood, because any parents of a boy she would feel comfortable wouldn't feel comfortable with her parents! Wow, great middos, great fulfillment of kibud av v'em.

Anonymous said...

ProfK: Why is it that the girl's parents are supposed to bear the expense (or the lion's share of the expense) of the wedding and supporting the young couple if the boy can't. If the boy's parents haven't produced a child willing and able to support a famiy, then perhaps they are the ones who should pay up. Perhaps the teachers and rebbes who taught them that secular education and work is bad should pay to support these couples.

Free said...

I do feel shameful for using this as a setting for "advertising" but I think it's relevant and important.

I'm currently working on a site called to do my part to combat the "shidduch crisis". While there are many reasons for the site, at the very least I hope to eliminate some of the more inconsequential questions many shadchanim ask as well as simply to widen the prospective shidduch population. IYH the site will open this summer and hopefully at that time Orthonomics will allow me to make a guest post introducing the site.

I welcome your feedback and comments.

rosie said...

We are not talking about what people "should" do but what they actually do. BTs usually marry other BTs. Sometimes BTs marry FFBs but of course the FFB spouse needs to learn to deal with the non-frum parents.
BTs, their children, and gerim, unfortunately sometimes have challenges in shidduchim because other people don't want the family situation. Is it fair? NO! But it is often the reality. In shidduch dating people pick and choose what they will and won't take and often they won't budge from that. If they were to meet their bashertes at school, they would just have to deal with the package at home but shidduch dating means that the dater can try to stipulate his or her terms. Of course, he or she may have to open his or her mind if nothing is happening.

tesyaa said...

LifeAct: very interesting analysis. Let's take it a step further and ask WHY most RWOJ girls want to be kollel wives. Because that's what they're taught is the way to be a "good girl".

In a general population of Jewish womean, without severe indoctrination, some would want to be career women, some would want to be supported comfortable by a professional husband, and some would want to support Torah.

I recently heard of a local woman who cried out of jealousy of a neighbor, because her neighbor's husband learned in kollel; this woman was jealous of her friend's olam haba. This is not natural.

If we don't accept people's differences and encourage them to develop their own strengths, the current sad situation is one of the results.

Unfortunately for most young Jewish woman, individuality is shunned, not prized.

Miami Al said...


My wife and my families couldn't be more different in lifestyle, worldview, or religion.

However, my wife and I were adults when we married (early 20s, but we had jobs and careers), and we set the ground rules for our events. Financial support for things like Brit Milah are certainly appreciated, but they don't come with control, they are gifts. Gifts that come with control are politely turned down.

Extended family members that can't behave at events don't get invited. Close family members that don't know how to behave get steered away from guests until they learn to behave.

My wife and I live in our home with our wonderful children. Neither my parents nor my in-laws live in our home, nor make the decisions.

Adults get to choose how they live their lives, children do not. I don't care if you are 16 or 40, if your parents/in-laws are picking up the tab, you're not an adult. Perpetual childhood appears to be the problem of Klal, the baby boomer parents stood by as their children never grew up, with adulthood discouraged by Rabbeim and the community as "risky behavior," and now you are stuck.

rosie said...

Miami Al,
We are talking about shidduchim where people create a virtual model of what they want to marry and look for that person.
I realize that in the MO world, non-frum world, and non-Jewish world, most adults have to contend with families that are different from their own.
In shidduchim, we are looking for a made to order family.

ProfK said...

Life Act,
Re "I disagree with the author and ProfK that the problematic behavioral issues are the lack of casual intereaction between the two sexes. That sounds more like an agenda and not at all like a valid explanation" let me answer this way.

1)Casual interaction allows younger people to see what is really "out there" as opposed to sitting and constructing a list of perfect qualities that must be present and that simply are not possible. They can learn to see people as people rather than paper proposals.
2)Casual interaction avoids the problem of having to make a snap decision based on a piece of paper or a short phone call. There are no artificial time limits. In a casual situation there is no one telling you "Okay, your 15 minutes are up, now is this going to be a marriage or not?"
3)Casual social interactions can expand the pool of dating possibilities through networking and exposure to larger numbers of people than are possible in a shadchan system.
4)Human interaction in a social setting can cause personal growth as one is exposed to different ideas and modes of thinking and acting. Social interaction can expandour horizons. We may be more aware of ourselves and what we really want, or of what we really are through such interaction. When you are a piece of paper in a file you become immutable.
5)Social interaction also takes everyone out of the shidduch equation except for the person looking to get married. Don't ever remember seeing a mom tag along to a social affair for singles. It helps to put the responsibility for getting married back with those who aren't married--they aren't just pawns in a weird chess game being moved around.

There's more, but these should do to start off with.

gavra@work said...

LifeAct: Agreed, with a caveat.

The girls, seeing the Sem wives and their husbands, are looking for finished product, when most boys are at best, diamonds in the rough. The girls also don't see the hard work that goes into being in kollel, or the collecting of funds that goes on behind the scenes.

Sem makes girls unrealistic. Once they mature, they are "over the hill (of 23!) and will not settle for what they can have now (what they rejected previously), and as you pointed out, boys aren't interested in girls that think they (the boys) are second class (and it shows).

Anon 10:11 TG for the LIRR!

Anonymous said...

Miami Al: Older children being supported by parents can be adults. My parents paid for most of my college and law school and helped with living expenses during that period. They treated me like an adult throughout and never told me what to do. I did ask for advice from time to time, just like I still, 30 years later, ask friends, family and collegues for advice. My parents knew that I was working my tuches off in school and that I lived frugally like one would expect a student to do and I didn't start a family yet and always had jobs during the summers and vacations. Also, even though the money was not a loan, as soon as I could, I paid them back. The point is you can be an adult and get support from parents, but its less likely if you are also a parent and if the support is not temporary. If parents want to support kids for a few years in kollel, its not much different than supporting kids in college. The key is wanting to. If its blackmailing parents of daughters, then that is not the adult thing to do.

gavra@work said...


So if I understand you, your point is that social interaction between young men and women can negate the harmful affects of Seminary?

The Seminary culture disallows any social interaction between the sexes. If they are willing to meet outside the rigid definitions of "the shidduch date", then they are ahead of the curve as is. Many girls (and boys) are not willing to go out of the system due to fear of losing the possibility of marrying the "Kollel Bochur" (love that term), or fear that the girl will reject them for being to forward.

As 10:11 pointed out, if that's a reason for rejection, she's probably not for you anyway.

tesyaa said...

In shidduchim, we are looking for a made to order family.

Yes. That is your perfect right to do so. It is also highly likely that some people will get left out in the cold, since there aren't enough "made to order" in-laws to go around, or to meet specific nonnegotiable desires. So my advice is, if you're looking for a made-to-order family, stop kvetching about the shidduch crisis.

As I have stated before about the "shidduch system", most people like the system, UNTIL IT DOESN'T WORK FOR THEM. Then they complain. The people complaining wouldn't have any complaints if they, personally, weren't negatively affected.

Anonymous said...

Life Act,
Re "I disagree with the author and ProfK that the problematic behavioral issues are the lack of casual intereaction between the two sexes. That sounds more like an agenda and not at all like a valid explanation" let me answer this way"

Author here again. Just for the record, while I have no problem with prof K's ideas about freer casual interaction, I don't perosnally consider that to be a major contributor to the crisis as is the "money" issue becasue it doesn't fit as well with my "unique to the last 15 years criteria".

By my observations, there were always many many singles of the prior generation who never went out on anything but conventional shidduch dates. I believe the system CAN work on a shidduch-date-only basis as long as the process is allowed to generate a high volume of dating activity which it once did.

To me the main obstacle is that the last 15 years introduced hyper-focus on money and status and otehr miscellaneous nonsense which has resulted in far fewer shidduch dates ever getting off the ground.

rosie said...

Tesyaa, I did say that somewhere, that when the made to order family does not materialize then it is time to see if that is a realistic priority.
While I never cared about anyone's tablecloths, I do understand that those who do are looking for families similar to theirs.
If one family spends a fortune on yomtov food, are they going to be happy with mechutanim who serve hamburgers and fries for yomtov? If (and only if) they have a choice, would they pick the casual type?
Can't you see some husband complaining about eating at the wife's house if Shabbos lunch is served on flimsy paper plates and a weekday tablecloth if his own parents serve on fine china and linen? I realize that there are bigger things in life than table settings and it is sad that trivial issues can be issues in a marriage but can't you see why people would try to avoid those issues if they can?

gavra@work said...


Money is only an issue because it's needed to support the Kollel lifestyle. And the mass Kollel lifestyle we see is only possible because of the shift in attitude of the girls (and their parents) from "how will you support my daughter" to the daugter telling the parents "I need to marry a Kollel Boy".

Given incentives like that, what boy doesn't want to learn full time?

tesyaa said...

I realize that there are bigger things in life than table settings and it is sad that trivial issues can be issues in a marriage but can't you see why people would try to avoid those issues if they can?

Rosie, I will preface my response by saying I admire your willingness to say what you really think, even though you know others will get on your case. I admire people who call it the way they see it. And let's face it, if you think this way, probably a lot of other people do too.


No, I can't see why people would want to avoid THOSE issues. I can't see why dealing with people who are slightly different from us is so bad. I think diversity is good ; I can be flexible and change to accommodate someone who is important to me and my child. Hamburgers and fries on yomtov? Heaven forfend!

rosie said...

Tesyaa, diversity is great for people who respect diversity. I think that you may already realize that frum kids are not raised with a great appreciation for diversity. Sometimes it comes as a surprise when they have to deal with diversity.
People are often seeking out the familiar in marriage. Even non-Jews often want to marry someone who reminds them of their opposite gender parent.
As you said, for those who find what they are looking for, the shidduch system has not failed them. It is the other 15 or 20 percent that is clamoring for change.

LifeAct said...

ProfK and author -

I am with the author at this point in that I do see the benefits of increased social interaction between the sexes, but I do not see it as a major contributor to the crisis. I agree with ProfK's reasoning and those reasons have intrinsic value.

tesyaa -

I think it is very clear why RWOJ girls want kollel only. Seminary. Bais Yaacov. Most of their influential teachers are living the lifestyle and all of them are encouraging the girls to choose the lifestyle.

The question is how to solve the problem. I think I know the answer. The girls have to consider their options in light of the circumstances, and it is up to the brainwashers to give them this perspective (i.e. it is alright to plug the kollel life, but you have to at the same time show them how hard it is to live and how hard it will be to get married).

1) School + Seminary should explain to the girls that supply (learning boys) far outstrips demand (sem girls) and what this imbalance causes

2) Make it clear that the girls who will insist on marrying the type are risk takers. They risk never getting married.

3) Seminaries should be a "reality show" on kollel life. Make them live the reality as much as possible.

4) Encourage the girls to make a choice that they can live with. If the risk is too high (right now it is unless you are rich) then figure out what is best (probably a working koveah ittim guy)

My feeling is that if girls understood the risks involved in seeking out utopia (as defined in Sem), many would make the wise choice and demand would be reduced, restoring equilibrium. If only some regulatory body could enforce full disclosure.....

YOU CAN make a difference to someone you care about, by explaining the risks I described. I discussed this with two sisters-in-law and we'll see how they turn out. I'd hate to see anyone I care about turn into a statistic.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, the shiduch system works great for 85% of cases.
Those who find themselves in the 15% need to compromise and in many many cases they will also find a shiduch pretty soon.
My wife's friend is 25 and still refuses to go out with a BT and only wants a long term learner despite having no money. Hellooo?

mlevin said...

Rosie - let me burst your bubble, your husband will complain about your parents even if they use the fancy table clothe and you will complain about his parents, too regardless of how great his family looks on paper. The only way to avoid these types of complain is to marry an orphan.

Now, let me make another point, not everyone wants to marry someone exactly like him/her. Many people are attracted to the opposite. But you will not discover that unless you go on a date with someone who is the opposite of you.

And the third point, lets say you marry someone who serves shabbos meal on flimsy plates and overtime you find that you actually like the idea. With flimsy plates you have less work, don't have to worry about breakage, your guests are more relaxed...

Open your eyes, that's all I want to say.

tesyaa said...

LifeAct - I am also a LifeAct. Anyway ... maybe it is hard for me to understand because I don't play the lottery. But most people do play the lottery, if not literally, then figuratively. After all: all it takes is a dollar and a dream. And most girls may KNOW about the odds, but they believe they'll be the one to buck the odds.

rosie said...

mlevin, it is not my eyes that are closed. I have also been married for 33 years so I do have some idea of what marriage entails.
Mr Levin, I see that you are savvy about the value of diversity but will Sasha and Malya Obama marry boys from Hazard, KY? That mining country where there are few cultural and educational opportunities and country music blares from each and every radio.
Of course paper plates are great unless you are a rugged environmentalist in which case you probably also wouldn't fit into the shidduch scene.
Look Mr Levin, to coin a phrase that probably arose in a jail somewhere, "it is what it is". Most kids who grew up eating chicken soup on Fri nites are not looking forward to a married life of mac and cheese on Fri nite. That does not mean that they can't get used to it if the have to, but who says that they have to?

David said...

This is an interesting discussion.

One data nitpick: in the USA, there are more male live births than female live births (by about half a percent), but there are more adult women than men. Why? Because a higher percentage of boys than girls die during childhood. The precise age at which the ratio flattens and reverses is a subject for argument by statisticians, but a good example is from the CIA World Fact Book:

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Now, on to other issues - I do think that the increased rigidity with which the dating rules and expectations are enforced has led to much of the SC, and I think that the right answer is to quit doing that. A good example: 60 years ago, Young Israel held mixed dances (in fact, I know several people whose parents *met* there), 30 years ago, separate seating at a wedding meal was uncommon. I don't see our current approach as an improvement, and rather, it's a self-inflicted wound.

Anonymous said...


Author here:

The point I have been trying to make is that the "yeshivishe" shidduch dating scene worked extremely well for the overwhelming majority of its participants for decades until as recently as the the early or mid-80's. I don't think we need to make comparisons to 1940's era YI mixed dances to make the point. Most members of our community will not be able to relate to that. For me, comparison's to 1960's, 70's, and early 80's era dating - which was of a perfectly "right wing acceptable" nature is sufficient to make a more powerful and "acceptable" point about how dramatically and quickly the system went off the deep end.

For me it's not about asking how our grandparents dated. It's about asking how the parents of today's dating singles dated and asking whether we really think we've cultivated a "frummer" society or whether we created a monster in a misguided effort to solve problems that never really existed.

LifeAct said...


The difference is obvious. In the lottery you gamble $1. In the stock market you might risk $100,000 or some other amount of money. In shidduchim you gamble your life.

The difference is that the odds and the risks are undisclosed.

G*3 said...

ProfK said...
> Glance at an album of the women who were admired in those days, who set the standards of "beauty" and you are looking at "zaftig" rather than twig-like.

True (though wasn’t Twiggy’s hey-day in the 60s?), but unrealistic body-image is a problem of Western society in general. Girls aspire to look like the models in magazines, and don’t realize that even the models don’t look like that. It takes hours of work by top makeup artists and hairdressers before photo shoots and manipulation with Photoshop afterwards to produce the flawless beauty that graces magazine covers.

I wonder though, if in the strictly gender-segregated yeshivish world, the effect on guys’ expectations caused by misleading images in the media is exacerbated by guys’ limited interaction with real girls.

> They can learn to see people as people rather than paper proposals.

More than that, they can learn to see members of the opposite sex as people, period. When I was in yeshiva, the absolute worst thing a guy could do is talk to a girl. Girls were succubae or holy creatures depending on the context (more often the former), but they certainly weren’t people.

> Human interaction in a social setting can cause personal growth as one is exposed to different ideas and modes of thinking and acting. Social interaction can expandour horizons

Many in the yeshivish world would consider this a Very Bad Thing, especially for impressionable young men and women.

Miami Al said...
> with adulthood discouraged by Rabbeim and the community as "risky behavior,"

That’s a great line. I have to remember that.

Miami Al said...


If the husband grew up eating on fine china on Shabbat, and the wife grew up eating on paper plates, why is that a problem?

If the husband wants to eat on fine china and the wife wants to eat on paper plates, that is a problem.

I just don't see why the in-laws matter so much. My family would never serve a nice meal on paper plates, my wife's family would always entertain on paper plates. We always use nice plates on Shabbat/Yom Tov, because that is important to me.

If we visit the in-laws, we eat on paper if company is there, if it's just our family, my mother-in-law brings out the nice stuff, because she knows we prefer to eat Shabbat on real plates. In fact, in our home, weekday meals are on real plates, we don't use paper unless it's a weekday and we're eating outside (obviously, more of an issue in suburban South Florida than urban NYC).

I fail to see why I should care about how my in-laws live, I don't live with them.

I understand that you are just explaining, "what is," and I appreciate that, I'm just not understanding why the question isn't,
"Would you like to set a formal Shabbat table every week?" instead of "does your mother set a formal Shabbat table every week?"

You're marrying the daughter, NOT the mother.

Miami Al said...


If I may offer a blessing to your children and their friends: May your biggest challenges in life and marriage because table settings on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

If that is the source of conflict in your marriage, than you will truly have a wonderful marriage and life.

rosie said...

Miami Al,
I think that there is an assumption that people will continue to do what they were raised to do. That is not always a valid assumption but that is the modus operendi of the shidduch scene.
I guess that there is also the idea that in-law relations are precarious enough without bringing in added differences.
Obviously someone who marries someone who was brought up differently can tell his or her spouse what they want to do in their own marriage.
When marrying off children in the frum context, it is, as I have said repeatedly on this blog, a two family affair that gives rise to a third family. While it is not impossible for very different types of families to pull together, it may be challenging and stressful.
People are usually not looking for stress and challenge because there is enough of it without deliberately creating it.
I personally know a family whose daughter went OTD and is now marrying her boyfriend whose parents are not religious at all. It is a real challenge and they are trying to meet that challenge. Of course the son-in-law will have to respect their religious choices but he may choose to limit his visits. That will be sad if it happens (chas v'sholem) because the children will not have the opportunity to really have a relationship with their grandparents. There are families who rarely get together because there are so many differences and the kids end up losing out on beautiful relationships that they could have had.

rosie said...

Miami Al,
Thank you for your blessings. Amen and may they come to pass.

Miami Al said...


It is all about respect. My parents were less than respectful about my religious choices, and there was a period of strain in our relationship. They wanted a relationship with their grandchildren, I wanted my children to have a relationship with their grandparents, and accommodations were reached pretty easily.

Admittedly, it's easier on the secular->religious spectrum, simply because secular parents have fewer grandchildren than religious parents have. My parents were happy to jump through whatever hoops for their grandchildren. I'd imagine that parents with 5 children and 22 grandchildren are going to be less accommodating of the one OTD child and their two children when they have 20 religious grandchildren, but that's okay.

My kids obviously can't spent Shabbat at the non-observant grandparents house, but there are 6 days of the week that aren't Shabbat, and they take full advantage of that time.

I really take issue with the assumption that people will do "what they were raised to do," especially over trivial matters, since there are no numbers that bare that out.

That's all.

rosie said...

Miami Al,
Although there are no numbers to back up the assumption that people do what they are raised to do, if you think about all of the things that you do, from how you salt your soup to how you sort your laundry, you will realize that at least some of your behavior was learned from your upbringing.
When we bring up our kids, try as we might to avoid making our parents mistakes, we usually end up making some of their mistakes as well as a few of our own.
I have seen with my own in-law children that even when they disagreed with their parents approach, they ended up clinging to it at times.
Sometimes there were expectation such as roast beef on yomtov because that was what they grew up with. One son-in-law brought roasts for Pesach in case we had planned to skimp on it because it was important to him. Would he have survived without it? Of course, but it was a part of yomtov to him and he was raised to believe that we don't economize on yomtov.

Anonymous said...

Here is my theory as to why boys have many more shidduch offers than girls. To the best of my knowledge, the way the shidduch system works (in right wing circles), one first asks the boy, and only if he agrees, one asks the girls.

To see why this is bad, take the following example. Suppose there is a boy B and a girl G and someone wants to set them up. There are another 4 girls who people want to set up with B and another 4 boys who people want to set up with G. So, B has 5 shidduch offers. Most likely there is some girl who sounds "on paper" better than G - she is richer/skinnier/etc. So, it is more than likely that B will not want to go out with G since he has better offers. This brings us to the situation where any girl who does not sound "perfect on paper" has a small chance of getting a date.

Also, since B constantly has many offers, he is less willing to "settle" when going out, which makes the whole dating process longer. Another thing. Even if the "ideal" girl that B wanted to go out with decided not to go out with B he still will not go out with G, since he will know that he has other great offers.

I would imagine that if girls were asked first, before boys, one might see more boys waiting at home for a date instead of girls.

So, how about having the shadchan flip a coin before making a shidduch? Heads - call the guy first. Tails - call the girl first.

No - I do not think that this will solve the whole "shidduch crisis". But I think it could definately be a step in the right direction.

LifeAct said...

To all those who say you are marrying the person and not marrying the family: You are obviously not married.

Marriage does involve to some degree a familial connection with your in-laws (unless your spouse has severed ties for some reason). As long as your spouse talks to his/her family about their life, you will get input from his/her parents, sisters, brothers, etc. How much their input affects you is up to you (most of the time I successfully ignore it). If you have kids, your MIL will definitely put in her two cents. Again, it's up to you to ignore it. Then there's family get togethers, celebrations, events, sicknesses, fundraisers, etc, etc, etc.

Bottom line is you are marrying the family. That doesn't mean that silly differences, such as tablecloth customs, should matter a whit.

Ahavah Gayle said...

I don't think the age gap is nearly as big as the money gap. We have been working on a match for our oldest son who is 22 and it now appears it's going to fail because of...drum roll, insurance. Our son is covered by our policy as long as he's studying until he's 23, which will be this September. His place of employment does not offer insurance except to very upper level management - everyone else is kept under 40 hours a week so they don't have to offer it to them (this is typical of current market conditions, it seems - many people have complained to me about the same thing). So he will lose his insurance under us this fall and has no prospects for getting any, and our policy can't cover her at all.

They neglected to mention up front the girl has an insulin pump and can't go without insurance. Right now, I am at a loss as to what to do. Even if she went on medicaid (which I strongly disapprove) she's from out of state. It would be six months of residency until she qualified. I doubt anyone can go without insulin that long.

(Nor have I asked what her parents were planning to do when SHE turns 23 - I presume they would also turn to a medicaid card. What other choice would they have? And quitting his job and changing schools then trying to find another decent job is a bad idea in this economy - sad, but true.)

So the match is dead in the water, pretty much. There are other medical issues out there - young people more and more need prescriptions of some kind or another - yet how many young men have jobs now that provide health insurance? Fewer and fewer. And the US is nowhere near joining the rest of the civilized world in adopting single-payer non-profit healthcare.

This girl is going to go a long time without any possibility of marriage because she has a fairly common medical problem and the insurance rules, as they now stand, won't let her in-laws cover her.

This is just one example of many such money issues that are preventing young people from getting married in a timely manner, if at all.

ProfK said...

Yes and no re "By my observations, there were always many many singles of the prior generation who never went out on anything but conventional shidduch dates." You are assuming that today's conventional shidduch date is identical to that conventional shidduch date that was around in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Bad assumption.

I have family across the spectrum from left to right. Some of those cousins used the shidduch date model rather than meeting the boy somewhere/somehow and then going out. (And some did both.) I myself went out on a few of those types of dates. BUT, the idea of a shidduch resume/questionnaire did not exist. If yichus was important to both families the shadchan might have been able to give you some of that info. What was answered if you asked about hashkafah? Frum, one word, plain and simple. In general, however, the amount of information known was far, far less than is required today, and the amount of checking was also far, far less and informal rather than the formalized approach taken today. There was no specific timetable set up for how long you could date before you had to say either yes or no. No one set out a schedule for those shidduch dates of what should be discussed when, nor for how long down to the nano second a date could last. Oh, and yes, even with those shadchan generated dates the boy called the girl before the date, asked her out and even spoke to her for a few minutes.

So yes, there is a huge difference as to how those arranged shidduch dates are generated and handled between my time and now. There is far more involvement on the part of the shadchan. There is an attempt today to match up two people using far more points of reference than were thought about in my day.

By the by, I did not say that casual social interaction was THE factor in dating in prior times nor is it THE causative factor for the problems in shidduchim making today, but it is one of the factors. Gavra wanted to know if casual social interaction could overcome the influence of seminary teachers. Here's a shocker--in my day the number of girls going to seminary was exceedingly small, and virtually no girls went to Israel to seminary. Bais Yaakov Boro Park had a seminary but it wasn't "mandatory" and--gasp--they even had a half-day program for girls who were going to college. Yup, you read that right. Brooklyn College and Hunter and Queens were chock full of Bais Yaakov girls and Esther Shoenfeld girls. And golly gee, some of those girls met their future husbands in those very same colleges. So, what influence of seminary teachers?

rosie said...

Personally, I am for phasing out sem. I would like to see it be a few classes at night or on weekends and a frum birthright trip for the Israel experience. I agree that many girls come home from sem, very inspired but entirely and completely unrealistic and unprepared for marriage.
This is not to say that good things do not come or have not come from seminary because many girls do come home with a clearer picture of what they want out of life but overall, it is a huge expense and there are other, cheaper, and more practical ways to get the experience.
In my mind sem has had it's day and it's moment in the hot Israeli sun and it is time to look at other options.

mlevin said...

Ahavah Gayle - the fact that they neglected to say that their daughter is using an insulin pump is more than just a health insurance problem.

This is an outright withholding of information or deception. Diabetes is a serious condition which has affect on person's diet, personal habits, child baring, life expectancy, quality of life and it is also hereditary.

I have a big problem with you siting health insurance as an only issue.

Cynic said...

Two problems with phasing out Sem:
1) You will unemploy so many highly paid educators and leave their families without income or prospects
2) What would all the rich American families do with the extra $20,000 not spent?

rosie said...

cynic, I don't have answers to everything.

Anonymous said...

Ahavah Gayle - I don't think a girl with diabetes is a first choice if your son is healthy and only 22. I know a family with two children who have diabetes who were married, but they were totally upfront about it and the parents were willing to consider less impressive credentials in order to give their children a chance. All other things being equal: Do not marry someone with an illness! There, I've said it.

Miami Al said...

LifeAct -- Funny, my dad gave me the same advice about marrying the family when I was a teenager, definitely something that stuck with me and is real, but it depends on the definition.

Families with domestic abuse, drug use, alcoholism, chronic disputes, that's a real "marrying the family" issue. If you see in-laws really fighting with each other, that's a concern, because that is what the spouse will think is normal communication.

Table cloths, table settings, etc., that's NOT marrying the family.

And no, I don't think a "favorite food" OR a "this is what you serve on Yom Tov" custom rises to that level.

You are marrying into a family, but you are also marrying the spouse. For day-to-day lifestyle issues, it's the spouse, not the family that matters.

A "good" family that is caring and compassionate is important, the details of day-to-day living are mutual agreement, determined by the family's preferences AND family finances.

Miami Al said...

Anon 3:56,

Depends on your criteria, some people would be much better served marrying someone with an illness like diabetes that is relatively controllable.

All is never equal... if on the dating market, you merit a 6 or 7, and you'd like a 9, you have to compromise to get a 9/10. From one I've seen, minor physical ailments make you date like you are 2-3 points lower, whereas only major emotional issues do the same...

So a shlubby guy (5/10) can get:
A) a shlubby girl (5/10)
B) a girl with a minor physical ailment (8/10)
C) a raging psychopath that will key your car and throw your stuff out the window (8/10)

So if you want a drop dead gorgeous girl, I think you're better off dealing with diabetes rather than a psychopath. :)

Ely said...

I really think this is an interesting conversation. While many of the commenters make good points, it seems obvious that we are all very biased by our own personal experience and marriage outcomes.

The one theme, it seems, throughout all these posts is the external involvement of others into a budding relationship. Some favor setting up more social scenes for singles to mingle while others favor a more structured shadchan process. All of this, however, includes more involvement.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous and corny, why can't we just let these young adults figure things out for themselves? Every person is different. Some like parties and some don't. Some like movies and some don't. Some like shiurim and some don't. Why do we have to dictate to the next generation how they should meet their spouse?

The lack of control is what scares us and some parents may be afraid that their child might date someone who they don't approve of ("She wears pants?! I have no son!"). Is that really so bad though? It's part of the maturing process that happens at that age and the majority of people I know can tell you lots of stories about Mr./Ms. wrong that helped them realize what they wanted and find Mr./Ms. right. If you have brought your child up for 20-24 years in a way that you are proud of, shouldn't you be able to trust them to make their own decisions (not just with their future spouse but with how they find and keep that future spouse)?

I'm a believer in the free market and I think the current generation is smarter than any previous generation. If they see they aren't meeting anyone, they can figure out a way to make that happen. I think the community/rabbi/shadchan/parents just get in the way. I think we should start a "figure it out for yourself" campaign. Tell our kids that everything they've been taught about what is proper in a spouse is all objective information. No one can tell them what is right for them. They've got to go out there and figure it out for themselves. That's what I'm going to tell my kids when they're old enough to date and I'm fairly certain they won't come back talking to me about a shidduch crisis.

rosie said...

Miami Al,
If your son was introduced to a girl whose family was very hung up on table settings and food traditions, would you steer your son in that direction? Or would you say that in your case, it is an issue? Maybe you would not think that a family who puts so much emphasis on those things would value people's feelings the way you would want them to. In your case, the family who was very strict about always having certain foods and table settings would make your son feel very uncomfortable. What if he could not even express to them that this is not what life is all about because they would not accept his opinion at all? In that case, would you not say that on some level, how people approach these little details of religious expression would either turn your off or turn your son off to this family?
Now, OTOH, if the girl was a total rebel and decided that if her mother felt that china was important, then she would always eat on paper plates and that proper food to her would be anything that she could get cheaply, then maybe that would be the girl to run after. The young couple could decide together how to deal with her family.

mark said...

Great idea to let the youngsters choose on their own etc.. but lets all consider that the one section of the ortho community that has NO shidduch crisis is the one where the PARENTS choose mates for their kids!

Ely said...


Well, if we take free will out of the equation then we can set up all single girls with horses and the shidduch crisis will be solved.

If free will is still in play (which you point out it's not in certain communities), than I propose the hands-off approach (women may have to try a few horses out before finding the right one to settle down with).

Ahavah Gayle said...


They obviously did not know that we wouldn't have a problem with it since diabetes actually runs heavily in my family - I don't have it so far, B"H, because I try to watch carbs and stay healthy, but that's no guarantee. I would venture a guess that in the past most prospective families wouldn't give her the time of day if they disclosed that up front. As someone else mentioned above, it is common to withhold information that makes a girl seem like a "bad deal."

To me, the insurance issue IS the only problem, because I understand the community from which her parents apparently haven't yet gotten far enough away from to still be trapped in that mindset. I get that. You don't. OK. You are probably right, in the great scheme of things, but that doesn't change the fact that the reality in many communities is different.

It could have been a lot worse - many families hide mental illnesses and worse from prospective grooms until after the marriage has already taken place. Diabetes is nothing compared to bipolar disease.

You don't seem to get that by her community's standards, she is severely damaged goods - an insulin pump means her diabetes is so bad she probably cannot have children. Our family can overlook that but most observant families simply cannot. It violates a Torah commandment to knowingly put yourself in a situation where you cannot have children. She has no future there.

But we moved away from all that stringency and warped cultural nonsense, and we like her and would be glad to have her in spite of all that. My son obviously agrees - he's not opposed to adoption later when they're older but most very observant families would never consider it.

This would be a great match for her and my son says he is genuinely interested in her, but the insurance thing is a huge problem. One hospitalization could bankrupt us all without it. It shouldn't have to be this way.

rosie said...

The usual protocol when considering a shidduch prospect with a medical issue is to have the person's doctor write a letter about what the person's childbearing capacity might be reduced to because of the illness. For example, a woman with an insulin pump might be able to have 2 children safely if the pregnancy is carefully monitored. Some couples would be OK with that. Why not ask a doctor to review her case and see if she could give birth? That is, if you can work out the insurance arrangements.

Miami Al said...

Ahavah Gayle,

I hope your son can find work that provides insurance before he has to go off yours, and is able to get into a group plan where he can pursue someone that he wants to spend his life with.

I have diabetic friends that have had children, probably could not have a brood of 10, especially since diabetes makes a C-section much more likely, but able to have children nonetheless.

Ahavah Gayle said...

We will be thrilled if she can have children, of course, but my point was that our values don't include leaving a possibly girl perpetually unmarried due to that count alone whereas unfortunately that is the reality in many communities. I would never ask for a doctor's certification. How horrible to be treated like being a baby machine is all that matters! IF she can't, we're ok with that. If she can, even better. But that is NOT how most other orthodox would react. For most orthodox, it would be a deal breaker from the get-go because even a medical opinion might be mistaken, and they aren't willing to risk their family line on it. (It wouldn't matter if they had 8 sons - if one son doesn't have kids, it's considered a tragedy.)

We just don't think that way anymore. You can bring children into the Jewish world by means other than giving birth to them. Many uo/chereidi groups consider adoption to be something like disgusting or abhorent - kids born "ben niddah," bringing some other family's sins into your home, etc. Adopted kids are worse than BTs to them - at least BTs have "genuine" Jewish souls, more or less (and some communities won't even give a BT a second glance, as someone above pointed out).

And most families would also not want their children to marry a person with any sort of serious medical condition just because they believe that such things are signs of some sin in the person's or the family's past (similar to the distaste for BTs problem). Others simply want to "spare" their children from having to deal with an illness - why should their son or daughter have such trouble when there are so many other fish in the sea without medical problems?

It's the ATTITUDES of many familes that is the problem, as someone else noted above - not just the hashkafa issue but all sorts of silly things that they imagine are important but in reality are problem not if faced with maturity and realism. They want happily-ever-after fairlyland, and real marriage is WORK even if both families have identical hashkafa and no medical problems at all.

Compatibility can't be guaranteed by a checklist of any kind. Sometimes one person's weakness or shortcomings NEED to be offset by another person's strengths and aptitudes. Everybody can't be 100% the same. But that is what they're looking for, mostly.

Anonymous said...

It breaks my heart to think that a girl with diabetes or someone with some other physical illness is considered to be unmarriable or damaged goods. Bless you Ahava for not turning this girl away.

I think any family that considers a girl with diabetes to be unmarriable or damaged to be a family to run far away from because that is the family that will desert you as soon as you g-d forbid get sick or have an accident. That's not the type of family to marry into. Will they also reject their son if he gets diabetes? Nebech. I constantly hear stories from the gentile and non-frum world of people marrying people with cancer, paralysis and diseases more dire than diabetes.

rosie said...

I don't agree that most people would view illness as divine punishment or as a blot on the family name. I do think that regardless of religion, many people would like to have biological children. Adoption in the frum world means that there is an issue of yichud with the opposite gender parent when the child becomes old enough for that to be an issue.
Most frum people ask for the doctor's letter when the shidduch is being looked into. They don't disrupt a relationship once it get's started unless the the single person him or herself is unsure of whether or not to proceed.
I have heard of people breaking engagements because they delayed checking dor yeshorim until there was an engagement and then it disclosed a genetic incompatibility. I guess they could have just used BC and adopted children but they wanted biological children. That is not a crazy thing to want.

Offwinger said...

The issue is that the supply of frum young men to frum young women who want to get married - and are viewed as available/able to do so -do not match.

This is not about marrying a few years older or younger. This is not about parents or shadchanim making decisions instead of the kids deciding. This is not even about parents of young women supporting the young men (payments to men who marry women are called doweries - this is no different).

The correct comparison here is not what has changed in the past 10-15 in the FRUM community from how the FRUM community used to do things. The comparison here is what has changed for ALL groups in America during this time.

There are some ways in which boys and men are "weaker" than women. They suffer from autism at significantly higher rates (and the incidence of autism has increased over the past 10-15 years). Men suffer from debilitating developmental delays at a higher rate than women. Men are also more likely to engage in socoipathic and criminal behavior.

No one wants to talk about these issues in the frum community, but I suspect that if anyone looked closely, they'd realize that the math is similar in the frum world to the general population:

The supply of "marriageable" young men simply can't match the demand for it in the demographic pool of young women, even accounting for AGT math.

In the frum world, one would further want to inquire if men are more likely to "go off the derech" and disappear from the demographic pool as well. But even without that, on pure statistics alone, the "gap" in available men to women is NOT surprising, and it would become clearer if more people opened their eyes to the challenges of "atypical" children and young adults in our communities.

Anonymous said...

Ahava: Wouldn't your son and this young lady have an insurance problem even if she didn't have diabetes? Doesn't she need the insurance anyhow because she might get pregnant, get hit by a bus, find a lump, etc.?

Anonymous said...

Offwinger: You may be right. So, what is the answer? Encourage some OJ women to marry non-OJ's, converts or BT's?

Anonymous said...

In the past 20 years, there has been an explosion in the frum population. In the 1960's and 1970's, the pool from which to choose was relatively limited. Everyone in the frum world knew everyone else, we were all separated by two degrees at most. Therefore "looking into" a prospective shidduch was relatively simple. Not only was there greater knowledge of who's who, but with a very limited number of possibilities eliminating shidduchim for frivolous reasons made no sense. There was a limited menu of choices. Now we have huge numbers of frum people from cities all over the country and abroad. We don't know each other as we used to. Needs checking into. Since there are so many possibilities of shidduchim, we may not feel the pressure to make a choice from a limited number of fish in the sea as we used to. There's a lot more where she came from, so keep looking. So there is greater choosiness for both these reasons. Opinions, anyone?

megapixel said...

ahava g - why cant the couple just go to an insurance agent and buy a family plan? none of the places I have ever worked at provided insurance, I paid for my own. I know it's expensive, but with her health issues she should have very good coverage.
and I dont think it's insane to want biological children. Its a very human desire regardless of religion.
your son is only 22, so he may not care now, but he may feel differently in 10 years.

re: table settings
I dont think it matters one way or another, because as miami al says if a wife wants to please her husband and she is easy going she will use the dishes. Key word: easy going. I think THAT should be a priority on everyone's shidduch wish list. (it wont hurt if he offers to wash the dishes:))
my inlaws use paper and plastic. I think it's weird but MIL says that since nobody is going to help her wash the dishes, she uses paper. and I can understand that, I guess. I use china, my husband appreciates it very much.
IT DOES NOT affect our marriage.

re: the dating. I have had long conversations with a shadchan who works with older singles, and he claims that girls are much more likely to say no to a second date, and they play games, which turns the guys off. example: I met this nice single at the DMV so I tried to set her up. The guy called for a date, and she informed him that her first dates are only 30 minutes long; that is how she operates. Needless to say, he was very turned off by her attitude.

If money was such a factor, why would there by so many wonderful hachanssas kallah organizations collecting for poor brides? how could a poor girl be getting married?

Anonymous said...

rosie - The 2 sets of parents (mechutanim) also will be thrown together at every bris, baby naming, bar/bat mitzvah and so on. It's great if they can respect each other and get along and even cooperate such as in coordinating who gives which baby gift etc.

Yes, this is also a reason for rich families children to marry children from other rich families, and for poor families children to marry similar as well. After all, we have to avoid any discomfort of differing means when it comes to making simchas and even regular shabbos meals.



Anonymous said...

Miami Al - Adults get to choose how they live their lives, children do not. I don't care if you are 16 or 40, if your parents/in-laws are picking up the tab, you're not an adult.

Absolutely correct. My wife and I were adults when we got married and I paid for our wedding, and we arranged everything ourselves as we were married 5000+ miles away from our families. Everyone arrived a few days before the wedding, and thus everyone was a guest of ours. Turns out that after the wedding, my FIL and my dad each gave us a check, but it wasn't required or expected, it was simply a gift.

Miami Al - Perpetual childhood appears to be the problem of Klal, the baby boomer parents stood by as their children never grew up, with adulthood discouraged by Rabbeim and the community as "risky behavior," and now you are stuck.

This might just be one of the BIGGEST problems we face. It is a massive sense of entitlement that is bankrupting parents and grandparents and putting their retirement and complete financial life at risk. It also entices some to "cut corners" when it comes to honesty in business affairs, and even entices some to outright criminal activity. The entitlement is a horrible thing and ought to be rooted out of our nation as quickly as possible.


KM said...

It seems that if you want to exercise common sense, you have to be prepared to swim against some serious social pressure.

We're in the situation now that we chose to send our son to a MO high school (even though we are not really MO), rather than to a sleep-away yeshiva which most of his elementary school classmates now attend. We got a lot of berating from neighbors and rabbanim about our "lack of concern" for his spiritual development. Leaving aside the fact that my husband and I feel that we can better attend to his moral development if we actually get to see him daily, we also would raise the point that he'll be well-prepared for college after attending the MO school. To which the response was generally a "You can't send him to college!" Um, yeah, we can and we will.

We're a nice upper-middle class family. We've given our children a nice home, good educations (with zero tuition assistance), and we saved for retirement so we'll never, IYH, be a burden on them, but as adults they are going to have to be self-sufficient. In the USA, today, to live an orthodox life (without accepting charity) one has to make reasonable money. That means a college degree.

I just hope when the time comes that we can find some quality girls who'll be happy with some nice professional working boys.

Lion of Zion said...


"I just hope when the time comes that we can find some quality girls who'll be happy with some nice professional working boys."

sounds to me like you've raised boys that might just go out and find those girls on their own.

Female life actuary said...

I teach in a right wing girls high school - but since we are not in Brooklyn maybe a little closer to center. Many of the girls want a husband who will learn for the first year or two and then go to work. A college degree is a plus for sure. I have never seen a "working boy" have any trouble getting dates as long as he is "normal" socially. It is a fallacy that post seminary girls only want kollel boys.

LifeAct said...

Ahava G-

I think the best suggestion by far is for the girl to get a private insurance plan. She should make herself a resident of the state they will live in immediately and buy an individual policy. It will be expensive, but only for 6 months. Then she can go on a State plan if she qualifies.

6 months of high premiums sounds like a small price to pay to overcome the "insurance hurdle". Good luck.

anon for this said...

Ahava Gayle,

You seem to assume that having an insulin pump means a person has more severe diabetes than someone who doesn't use a pump. My husband is an endocrinologist, and this is simply not the case with his patients. Type I diabetics always need injected insulin to control their blood sugar. Often patients inject the insulin themselves. A pump can allow better control of blood sugars than do injections. And better blood sugar control means significantly lowering the health risks associated with diabetes.

Regarding insurance, another poster mentioned purchasing an insurance plan for the couple. Also, some pharmaceutical companies have programs to provide medications for those who are without insurance.

Anonymous said...

Be careful when picking a plan for this girl. Not every insurer covers insulin pumps.

Anonymous said...

Prof K,

Author here:

You said:

"Yes and no re "By my observations, there were always many many singles of the prior generation who never went out on anything but conventional shidduch dates." You are assuming that today's conventional shidduch date is identical to that conventional shidduch date that was around in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Bad assumption."

I did not make that assumption. I only asserted - correctly - that even in those past decades there were many people who dated only by way of blind third party introductions and that the system worked well without those people needing venues for casual meetings.

I of course don't belive the shidduch process of today is the same as it was then and that is exactly what I have been saying. Precisely becasue the shidduch process is more regimented, controlled, and subjected to nonsensical criteria, is why it is no longer working as well.

Anonymous said...

This should be called the "Parnossa Crisis" - most boys (and girls) are holding out for a rich partner because young boys today from the Yeshiva world don't have any means of making money OR are too spoiled to live far below their standards to sacrifice for Torah. I for one have a 20 y.o. yeshiva boy who will begin college this fall and my husband and I have told him that he should not date before 23 or 24 so he'll be able to support his family. I for one would never have him marry young because of this so called shidduch crisis.

Anonymous said...

What would it take to create a forum where parents like the previous anonymous poster (with the 20 year old son) who are teaching their sons to be bnei torah and also earn a living at or near the time of marriage, could be matched up with parents like myself who are rasing their daughters to respect and value such young men as future husbands?

Ahavah Gayle said...

Anon May 11 6:53

Not as much of a problem. Diabetes is a pre-existing condition, whereas the rest would be "new" conditions which would presumably not suddenly appear before he/she found a job with insurance or within the first six months of residency in this state (if having a medical card until a job with insurance comes along should be necessary) and even if pregnancy did occur, which is wildly unlikely, a state medical card wouldn't refuse to cover it. And all companies have "open enrollment" once a year for new employees and their kids, so the most time she would have to be on the medical card would be a year. But, it's a moot point if we can't find some sort of private coverage during the time she is establishing residency, and so far it's not looking good at all.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Megapixel: Whose family, ours, hers or she&he? Private policies that don't exclude pre-existing conditions are not cheap, to say the least (presuming you can find one that won't exclude pre-existing conditions, which from what we've seen so far is pretty much impossible). If having insurance means not having enough money to do ANYTHING else, then the match probably won't work, obviously. They have to have a reasonable amount of money left over to live on.

Ahavah Gayle said...


Don't let anyone sway you, you're absolutely doing the right thing for your sons. You are simply ahead of the curve that everyone is going to have to get on - deliberately choosing a lifestyle of kollel is simply not sustainable for most people. In real life, somebody has to actually pay the bills. If everybody needs charity, it's simply impossible for the community to survive.

Anonymous said...

Ahava G-

I'm not sure why you can't find a plan. It may be expensive, but their should be something. At the very least, COBRA is portable coverage between states, and would avoid having a lapse in coverage which could lead to serious issues in the future.

It may be expensive but it's a short amount of time. Can they sacrifice fleishigs during the week for a while (wink wink).

Mr. Cohen said...

If the Age Gap is the true cause of the Shidduch Crisis, then why was it NEVER mentioned by the 33 centuries of Jews that preceded us?

ProfK said...

Mr. Cohen,
In those prior centuries there were time periods when a man could have multiple wives, so even if more women were born than men they would still find husbands. In addition, up until modern times, many women died quite young from childbirth related conditions, so it was more likely that a man would marry more than once and any excess women would still have a chance to be married. Neither of those conditions are factors today.

Soroh said...

For Ahava Gayle: There are two possibilities suggested by your original post. First, that health insurance is the only thing standing in the way of this shidduch, you have absolutely no reservations on the basis of her health, and would be happy with her marrying your son, but for the insurance.

That's one scenario, that's the pshat, Somehow, I feel there's something more going on here. I see open-minded, tolerant parents who believe they should be open-minded in their personal lives, that they should welcome a daughter in law who is perfect in every way except for (what one commentator described as) a "minor physical complaint." Ahavah Gayle, why do I think the insurance issue which you have raised as the only impediment to the marriage, is a figleaf? Why do I feel you are not at all sure about the deeper and central issue - whether your healthy young son should marry a woman with a chronic, though controlled disease, but one that could lead to blindness and even affect childbearing. Many commentators are appalled at the thought of leaving a diabetic girl "on the shelf" because frum families won't let their sons marry her. These commentators have admirable concern for this girl's future. But Ahavah Gayle, your responsibility is to your son and to your unborn grandchildren. You need to be reasonably sure your grandchildren will not suffer a chronic disease that may lead to premature blindness, poor circulation, amputation of feet, etc. This girl will have other opportunities where she is better matched with a boy who also has a disadvantage - such as divorced parents, a boy with asthma, just as examples. The reason I feel strongly about this is we married our healthy young daughter, never married, to a sick boy. We looked for information on his illness in the national society for the condition that publicizes the "facts" and encourages tolerance from the public. The brochure painted an ideal picture of how people with this disease live perfectly normal lives and can work. Unfortunately, the young man after marriage did not live a perfectly normal life. He never worked. He was left very disabled by the drugs he had to take. Each time we visited our daughter and her husband, we returned home in despair and depression. We blamed ourselves for choosing based on the American values of tolerance, and open-mindedness. We had trusted the rosy picture painted by a society whose mission was to picture its clients as perfectly capable and fully able. This young man was neither capable nor able, due to the effects of the disease and its heavy medications. So I have had experience in marrying a daughter to a person with a chronic illness. I do not believe insurance is all that is keeping you from giving your blessing to this shidduch. I think you have serious misgivings. I hope you choose with wisdom.

mlevin said...

Mr. Cohen - in the old ages 25% of women died from childbirth alone. The life span of people was very short and dying from mundane things such as a cut or a scratch or a cold were very common.

The pilgrims, who were the original founders of this great nation, were mostly in their third marriage when they landed in America. That is right, each one a husband and a wife were married twice before, and their previous marriages did not end in divorce either.

Now add war and pogroms or crusades or whatever it was called at the specific time in history and you would have an even larger death rate.

Why do you think these people married at the young age? Because they couldn't keep it in their pant? No, it's because the younger they married the higher were the chances of raising an offspring to adulthood.

Anonymous said...

After reading some of the comments on this post I have to wonder why any young man or woman with a real or perceived breeding flaw (or someone with a heart) would stay frum since so many people think your value is primarilly, if not solely, as breeding stock. By that criteria, Avraham never should have gotten involved with Sarah, or at least should have ditched her early on.

Anonymous said...

To Poster questioning why anyone would stay frum:

You need a little reality check and some context.

What is being discussed in this thread are issues that trouble a culture of people that are by and large kind, moral, spiritual, ethical etc. We are troubled by what we perceive as flaws in our system that detract from our potential and diminish us and we would like to see these flaws fixed.

That does not change the overall fact that we are by are large possessed of those many good qualities that dramatically distinguish and elevate us.

That's why someone would stay frum.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:36: Yes, of course there are many wonderful qualities, but let's also work on recognizing and improving the bad ones.

tesyaa said...

In a society where arranged dating is the norma, it is a heavy burden for a healthy young person to be matched with a person with a chronic or life-shortening illness. In a society where young people have a chance to meet people on their own, it's not unusual for two people to meet, fall in love, and get married, even when one of them is very sick. The difference is that they have been able to form an emotional connection.

No one forms an emotional connection with a person they have only heard about from a shadchan or a resume. So while it sounds harsh, it is probably very difficult for a sick person to get married in the shidduch environment, unless they take someone with another defect. But in the "real world", sick people can and do get married, although there may certainly be obstacles to overcome.

Here's a beautiful, sad, and true story that took place in the Orthodox community in the 1950s:

Anonymous said...

Tessya: Thanks for the link to that story. Heartbreaking. The husband would have been just as sad and haunted, and probably much more so, if he had not gone ahead with the marriage. By protecting our kids from falling in love, we protect them from some very difficult choices and perhaps sometimes from doing something cruel, but also from the opportunity to do something rare and beautiful.

Anonymous said...

A woman in my office recently found out that her husband, who is fit, runs 5 miles a day and is only 30, was just diagnosed with diabetes. Naturally she is going to leave him.

rosie said...

There were 2 Lubavitch stories similar to the story that tesyaa linked.
#1)Was a frum 18yr old Israeli girl who had been stricken with polio as a baby. Another baby in the family died of it but this girl was on crutches and looking to get married. Her father, who was not a Lubavitcher, nevertheless took her to the Rebbe in NY. The Rebbe told the father that he would marry her off to one of his chassidim. Shortly after, a 24yr old bocher came to see the Rebbe. The Rebbe asked him what he preferred, a piece of fruit beautiful on the outside but rotten on the inside or a piece of fruit bruised on the outside but whole and good on the inside. When the bocher said that of course he would choose the second piece, the Rebbe encouraged him in a shidduch with the girl with the girl with polio. At first both the bocher and his parents objected, but the Rebbe assured him and his parents that his life would be happy and good. The marriage took place and the wife with polio gave birth to 11 children, three of whom died of pre-term birth. The wife kept a spotless house and ran a successful pre-school in the house for added parnassa. She also got up at 4 AM each morning and recited the whole tehillim. She outlived her husband.
#2)The second story is of a kallah who was discovered with a brain tumor during the engagement. The wedding was postponed and they eventually married but she did pass away about a year later.
Illness does not have to deter marriage but there may be difficulties that the couple has to be willing to endure.

Anonymous said...

Ahava: Marrying this woman may just save your son's life someday. He (and our grandchildren) will eat far healthier than many orthodox families since sugar, soda, junk food and refined carbs will not be on the menu, and they are far more likely to get regular exercise.

Anonymous said...

meant to say "your" grandchildren, not "our"

mlevin said...

Anonymous 12:00 - First, if you read all the midrashim Avrohom could not have children either, until Hashem changed him and he had his first son.

Second - when he married Sarai he did not know that she was barren. Would he had married her had he known is the question that we can't answer.

Third - the whole point of marriage is to start a family. Even among the most not religious goyim, they avoid having children until they are in a committed relationships. Even homosexuals try to have their own biological babies. These people are not marrying for love. Their marriage is a contract to start a family and raise the next generation. Shouldn't they have a choice of business partners which prove to be the most affective in their cause.

Fourth - who is judging their worth by their breeding stock? They are judging their marriagable ability. A person can have a full life without ever getting married, especially since women are not obligated to be married in a first place.

Fifth - aside from the fact that she may not have babies, diabetes is a serious problem and anyone marrying someone with diabetes has to be willing to take upon himself/herself a lot of responsibilities. That person will have to upon himself a lot of life restrictions and be conscious of the fact that diabetics may easily become limbless and there is a big chance they will die early. Life is difficult as it is without purposely taking upon oneself additional burdens.

Sixth - diabetes is a passed down from parent to child. If you are marrying someone with that disorder, you a damning your children to a lifetime of insulin dependsy, life restrictions and etc. (I understand, having a parent with diabetes does not guarantee it will pass down to all the children, but I don't know a single young person whose parent(s) have diabetes who is not in eternal fear of developing it themselves.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we have the prospective couple undergo fertility tests as part of the shidduch process. The man's sperm count and motility and the woman's hormone levels and ultrasounds can be part of the shidduch resmume?

Anony said...

Mlevin (and a few other commentators) - there are 2 types of diabetes. I am assuming the girl in question has Type 1, because that is the one that you'd have as a child, as opposed to Type 2 which comes later in life and runs heavily in families.
There IS a risk of passing Type 1 diabetes on to the children, but it is a very small risk - and even smaller when it's the mother that has diabetes.
As for the other risks (circulation, eyes, kidneys...), for someone who is mature and responsible, and does whatever needs to be done to control her diabetes, the risk is greatly reduced. She can live a normal, long life, and function as well as anyone else. There are no guarantees, of course, but who has any guarantees? Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is much harder to control, and that's where you'd see most of the complications associated with diabetes.
This is still a serious decision, but I just wanted to put things in perspective.

Anony said...

Oh...and Type 1 diabetes does NOT affect child bearing. There is no reason she cannot have healthy children. The pregnancies will be high risk, and she should see a high risk ob/gyn (hence the need for insurance), but she can have as many children as she wants (assuming there are no other fertility issues, unrelated to her diabetes).

Anonymous said...

mlevin: I feel sorry for your wife if you think that the only purpose of marriage is to produce babies. People who are beyond child bearing age, who are infertile or who don't plan to have children marry every day.

mlevin said...

Anony 10:33 - that is why there are questions about parent's health and life span and if parents are dead, there are questions about the cause of death.

My friend lost her mother when she was around 40 years old to cancer. Because of the WWII there was no way to know any family history or defects. Well, my friend passed away from cancer at 44. Her daughters are having regular screenings because they know that these types of diseases are hereditary. Whomever they marry, will be aware of the possibility.

My other friend and her brother, both battled cancers multiple amounts of times in their lives. Her brother is married, because his wife made a decision to stay with him despite the sicknesses. They froze sperm and everything before the chemo. My friend, on the other hand, found a boyfriend and had a baby. She is a single mother and happy with it.

tesyaa said...

Life is difficult as it is without purposely taking upon oneself additional burdens.

If this is true, then no one would have more children than enough to fulfill pirya verivya, and no one would ever adopt a special needs child or take in foster children.

(I'm not suggesting that marrying someone with a chronic illness is akin to doing a "chessed" for the sick person; obviously a healthy person who wants to marry a sick person is getting benefit out of the relationship also).

mlevin said...

"mlevin: I feel sorry for your wife if you think that the only purpose of marriage is to produce babies. People who are beyond child bearing age, who are infertile or who don't plan to have children marry every day."

And all of these issued are discussed before hand. If you think that there is nothing wrong with the marriage where one partner wants a baby and another doesn't then you are delusional. They must both agree or the marriage is doomed.

Anonymous said...

Tesyaa, many thanks for posting a link to that very moving story. It resonates with me. It wasn't until I was 18 or 19 years old that I found out that my father had been married to another woman before my mother. I had actually known the family of my father's first wife since I was a boy, because they lived in my neighborhood. My father's kallah was diagnosed with lymphoma shortly before the wedding, but he married her anyway. She died less than a year later.

I only learned about it when someone in the neighborhood mentioned my father's first wife. I asked my father, and he confirmed that it was true, but we've never discussed it since. I don't want to bring back such unpleasant memories to him.

mlevin said...

"If this is true, then no one would have more children than enough to fulfill pirya verivya, and no one would ever adopt a special needs child or take in foster children."

My neighbors had one baby and then they realized that having children is not for them. So, they just stopped at that point.

Before adopting a baby with special needs one has to be trained and be ready for it. Do you know how many marriages break up because they had a special needs baby.

My cousin's husband did not want to have children. She knew it from a get go. She ended up getting pregnant by accident and he insisted on an abortion, but she did not have one. Now he loves kids so much that he wants her to have more and more.

I know a woman whos husband did not like children. That was the reason why he divorced wife number one, because living with a baby is beyond his tolerance level. She tricked him and had a baby. He moved out... moved back in... moved out... moved back in... She had a baby number two. Eventually he moved back in under one condition that she will abort all following pregnancies. She agreed and had two more abortions. Now, twenty years later they are fighting like cats and dogs and he is still perpetually moving out. Do you call that a healthy marriage?

Anonymous said...

mlevin: I did not say that people should not have shared goals with respect to whether or not to have a family and how many children, my problem was with your statement that the only purpose of marriage is children.

with respect to your other post about a wife "tricking" her husband into having children, I presume he knows the birds and bees. If you are a man and have sex without a condom or without getting your tubes tied (which presumably your friend did not do as an orthodox man), then the possibility for children comes with it. Even if the wife takes on the health risks of going on the pill, that is not failsafe.

mlevin said...

These people do not marry for love. They barely know each other. So, the marriage for them is to form a partnership and make babies.

It's easy to trick a husband into having babies. You tell him you are taking care of it, you just "neglect" to do it. Viola, there is a baby nine months later.

Miami Al said...

I am very happy that I was able to meet my wife in a normal, healthy environment. We dated, had fun, fell in love, and then freely decided to spend the rest of our lives together.

That said, given the high divorce rate in America, where 35% of first marriages end in divorce (the 50% figure is of all marriages, and is skewed by serial divorcees, over 60% of first marriages end by the death of a partner, i.e. marriage for life), and the lower historical rates of marriages failing, I see no evidence that arranged marriages failed to produce more lasting relationships.

Honestly, at 18-25, your concept of what you want in a partner is skewed by not living life yet. If you haven't had to pay the rent, expenses, etc., you don't understand what marriage is.

Marriage IS primarily a business relationship, movies aside. You have a financial partner with whom you share your life, goals, and children with. If you pick a partner that shares those goals, you will hopefully have a long life together. If you pick a partner for superficial reasons, you will not.

I realize that the Shidduch process has gotten increasingly superficial and silly, with minor issues being blown up to all proportions. Despite that, I hope that anyone whose children are in that system will do their best to make certain that their perspective spouse shares their goals, hopes, and dreams.

My wife and I share those goals, hopes, and dreams, and when things are rough, we don't fight with each other. Knowing that it's us against the world, and she is on my side at all times is critical. I see so many people always complaining about their spouse, it's tragic.

After you are married, nobody "cares" about how you met (except to ask and make small talk). Whether it's an arranged marriage (I know some second generation upper-caste Indians with ACTUAL arranged marriages), a shidduch, or falling in love, if the person shares your goals and is on your side, the world is open to you. If the marriage is filled with fights, anger, and hatred, it is much tougher.

I know people that love Torah and Judaism, and take any opportunity to learn, either via Chevruta or Shiur. I know others that seems bored when there, have no interest in actually learning, that seem to use it as an excuse to "get out of the house," and while I realize that this is a better "outlet" from a bad marriage than other less than kosher pursuits, I am saddened that their home life is so bad they find an activity that they appear to loath because it's a socially acceptable way to run away from their life.

Lion of Zion said...

i'm disgusted by the dissmisive attitude toward the prospects of diabetics for shidduchim, especially allthe comments based on ignorance of basic medicine.

i am also amazed how much many people who literally bank on "bitachon" in every aspect of their daily life suddenly become so practical.


as much as i appreciate this well-written guest post, the supposed shidduch problem doesn't affect me (at least not directly). so can we please get back to more pressing issues like the tuition crisis? :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lion. I share your disgust. I sure hope that this woman or anyone else with a similar perceived "defect" doesn't read this blog. I do however, wonder if ignorance and prejudice is a heredetary problem that should be avoided like plastic table cloths.

ProfK said...

The two--tuition and shidduchim--are actually tied together in many cases. Marry off a 21 year old to a 19 year old, neither of whom have completed any training for parnoseh, have the young man sit and learn for at least a few years after marriage, have that couple first start building any kind of parnoseh just when they start sending 1, 2, and more kids to school, have the school give them tuition reductions, have the school raise tuition for those who are paying, and you see that a shidduch crisis is one factor that can cause part of the tuition crisis.

numbers guy said...

Prof K: Intersting point. Anyone know what % of paretns pay full tuition at their local school? What % pay minimal (<50%)? What % of budget is met by tuitions?

With that info, we can try to figure out how much lower tuition would be if eeryone just paid their 'full share'.

My definition of full share =
Total budget less profit on dinner. Of course that is subject to disagreement.

Numbers anyone?

LifeAct said...

Numbers are unknown, since the books of all yeshivos are closed.

Honestly Frum said...

LOZ, what crisis? :-)

Like Al, I met my wife on my own in a social environment (HASC). If we continue this separation of the sexes at all costs what do you expect to happen. We tell these guys there whole lives that girls are assur and they can't talk to, look at or think about them and then we send them out to the "scene" and tell them to date marry and don't give them much guidance on what to do afterwards. Then we scratch our heads and beat our chests about the shidduch crisis, it is of our own making.

Anonymous said...

Shidduch crisis today = tuition crisis tomorrow = retirement savings crisis next week (not to mention all the mini 'crises'--2nd and 3rd car crisis, bar mitzvah crisis, chassuna crisis, Pesach food crisis)

This is when you need to run away for a Shabbos and weekend and simply contemplate Hashem's world.

Orthonomics said...

Her brother is married, because his wife made a decision to stay with him despite the sicknesses.

You seem to find this incredible. I think it is a matter of basic loyalty once you are married.

Anonymous said...

I find these comments about shidduchim with people who have illnesses terribly terribly sad. My husband has obsessive compulsive disorder. BH, knowing that it was controlled, we moved forward with the shidduch. Let me just say that I am the most fortunate woman in the world. He's an amazing husband and father, a good provider, and a talmid chacham. Frankly, he would have been far out of my league in the shidduch scene except for the short-sightedness of those who couldn't look past the ocd to see his many many maalos. Baruch Hashem. Their loss, my gain.

megapixel said...

you are fortunate that it is under control. I know people with OCD that are very difficult to live with.

ProfK said...

"I know people with OCD that are very difficult to live with."

And I know people without OCD who are very difficult to live with. Perhaps the point should be that there are no guarantees that come with a marriage. Sort of like a poker hand. You can start out with two "cards" that seemingly should not go together and yet they produce a "winning" hand. And you can start out with a perfect pair of aces and lose. It all depends on the skill and dedication of the players involved.

Dave said...

And people say the secular world objectifies women.

Anonymous said...

Lots of girls complain that there are not enough boys for them to marry, but how many of those girls would seriously consider marrying a Baal Teshuvah or Sephardic man? Or a "working boy"?

I know a woman whose father was 15 years older than her mother, and her mother died before her father!

Anonymous Average Man

mlevin said...

Dave - I don't think that anyone who has objections to this girl because of her insulin pump, wouldn't voice the same objections had it been the other way around and it was a boy/man with an insulin pump

Dave said...

So everyone is objectified.

I'm not sure that qualifies as an improvement.

Mr. Cohen said...

Shocking New Research about Age Differences

The New York Post of May 13, 2010, printed
an amazing article at the bottom of page 3,
which quoted an article by NewsCore. It said:

The British Daily Mail newspaper reported new research, based on the death records of almost two million Dutch men and women.

When a woman married a man younger than she was, she increased her chances of an early death, and the younger her husband was, the harder it was for her health.

The same study concluded that the effect was reversed when a man married a younger woman.
When a man married, the younger his wife was, the longer the husband lived.

See the original article at:

Ahavah Gayle said...

For those who are curious, my son boarded a plane this afternoon for NY to meet with the girl and her family for the last time. He will return home Tuesday. Either he'll be engaged, or we'll be back to square one, I don't know which. At this point all I can do is trust that whatever happens is Hashem's will and will work out for the best. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments here and private emails, too. I hope everyone has a great Shavuot.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Dear Soroh,

If I took your advice, I would never have had my four children, since diabetes runs rampant in my family and my grandmother and great-grandmother have both died of strokes related to diabetes at an old age, and my mother (who refused to cooperate with doctors and also smoked) died of heart disease related to diabetes and smoking at a young age. I had terrible gestational diabetes every time I was pregnant, making all my pregnancies high risk. And yet today I am medicine free and have four wonderful children.

I'm sorry your outcome was bad, and I am not unmindful of your point. But none of us can know the future. A perfectly healthy girl could be hit by a car crossing the street, or contract MRSA or lyme disease or fibromyalgia or cancer any number of ruthless and unexplainable diseases. Especially cancer. I was a widow at 20 - my late husband died of cancer at age 28. His family was ukrainian and I have since learned early death is a problem amoung people of eastern european descent. So should everyone refuse to marry eastern europeans? The future cannot be known - seemingly healthy people with healthy families get sick every day, and people from high risk groups do just fine.

There is no such thing as a zero-risk marriage.

Anonymous said...

Nu, Ahavah Gayle, what happened with your son?

Inquiring Minds Need To Know!

Anonymous said...

Getting back to the orginal post a nd the SC:
--I think the age gap is the single biggest contributing factor. The new aspect about this is that average family size among OJ have grown in recent decade(s). If the average family size is around 6 children, and average OJ newborn is born when their parent is 27) that means population triples every 27 years. That means the population is growing 4% per year. So a 4 year age gap is 16% population gap!! Nothing to sneeze at.
--I think this age gap turns into a crisis as follows: boys have the upper hand (by 16%) and thus they get the suggestions first (because the boys are more likely to reject the idea having the upper hand by 16%).
--The boys are then drowning in names and paralyzed by all the choices and options. The girls all sound great thus they do a months worth of research before going out.
--So "The boys are lost in a forest and the girls are lost in a desert". They are both lost.

--This excess choice increases the list of things people consider (from Money, yichus, location, tablecloths)
--Both Boys and girls are going out far less frequently than they could if the balance were closer to equilibrium.
--Mothers are taking control of and micromanaging the process not to mention introducing their own interests (families they would like to be associated with - would bring them honor to be related to).
--Mothers having experienced some of the challenges of life and being less ideal are not looking for love. They know how much financial pressures can weigh on people and focus more on money.
--Family becomes a more important criterion because the couple is now more dependant on parents for financial support. This makes couple more involved with families (visit more often) so strain with parent in-law becomes a more significant and discussed issue.

Analytical Adam said...

I think it is all nonsese as the religious world has not proven that birth rates have gone up for the last 20-30 years which would need to be the case for this problem to exist. Most birth rates are going down because of women focusing on career's and wanting to be little men and likely the same is true in Orthodoxy but Orthodox has never proven that their birth rates are going up in the last 20-30 years.

In fact if more people are unmarried that means the birth rates are going down since those that are unmarried have a birth rate of zero. In fact overall I am sure are overall birth rates are going down as more people are unmarried and the few that have large families don't make it up for the larger number unmarried.

Case in point. I went to a singles event this weekend. The Guy I roomed with. He was 45 his sister 40 both unmarried. Younger brother is married with six kids. (Why men that are usually the youngest with older sisters do better is another issue for another time but anyway.)Overall birth rate of 3 children 2.0. If you exclude the 2 unmarried of course it is a birth rate of 6 but that is a dishonest study if you only include those that are married which is what some of the studies do that claim we have high birth rates although don't talk about if they are gonig up or down in the last 20-30 years.

So I think this is all untrue since if more people are unmarried overall birth rates will be lower not higher and the Orthodox hasn't proven their birth rates have gone up just claim they do which I highly doubt to be quite frank.

In the Encyclopdia I have of a few years ago Orthodox Judaism was the only group not to release it's numbers and are numbers are a very small part of total Judaism and yes you can manipulate the statistics to pretend otherwise but if we did an overall survery are numbers are a very small percent of total Jews and Orthodoxy does not want to release it's numbers to any encyclopedia which I doubt is for modesty reason's since they brag how high their birth rates are although I don't see it and they know it. I see cases like above where one kid in a family has 6 kids and the others have zero which overall is a low birth rate unless you exclude those that are unmarried.

So I think this is all hogwash and just to promote feminism which yes most Rabbi's support feminism because they want to be the only influence on women and don't want father, husbands, or any other men to have influence as they are afraid of those men in many respects because they actually
are overall better people then some Rabbi's and Rabbi's are afraid of losing influence which much of it is through women although their profession is all men but they don't like men who aren't part of their clique.

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