In the last few days feedback has been across the spectrum (as we knew it would be) and every single unhappy person one who has bothered to call and discuss it has left with a great appreciation and understanding as well as answers to all their questions and a 180 degree shift in the attitude towards the project. See the letter “before and after” for one just such example.
In addition, a key reason why the NASI Project has been so successful is because we know that no one has all the answers. Everything we have done has been based on myriads of insight from across the spectrum. At the same we cherish and value feedback from anyone and everyone. Every program is consistently, tweaked, adjusted and we attempt to constantly improve to accomplish maximum results. We appreciate look for everyone’s input.
That being said I realize that it isn’t realistic to speak to each and everyone on the phone, and thus I reluctantly will pen this letter. It is crucial theit be read in its entirety (although it is lengthy). In it we will deal will all the issue raised in this specific letter as well as all the issue others have raised as well.
In order to understand this program in particular we need to understand the big picture. We can then explain each and every detail of this program up to and including why (as it seems shortsighted) we have consistently decided to not put the names of the “Daas Torah” in writing.
1. Let’s being with a scientific definition of the shidduch crisis.
The number of non chassidishe orthodox young women who have been dating 5-10 years exceeds the number of non chassidishe orthodox young men who have been dating 5-10 years, BY HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS IF NOT THOUSANDS. Allow that to sink in. In other words, after a certain number of dating years, the number of available young women exceeds the available pool of young men. If I need to spell it out further, unless a situation develops that 23 year old boys suddenly look to date 32 year old young women, there are simply not enough young men for the young women past a certain age.
This is a tragedy of epic proportions with colossal ramifications.
(Allow a disclaimer. Because the last thing I want to do is hurt any young woman. For each individual young woman there are some opportunities, but bderech hateva there are a staggering number of young women who will suffer the tragedy of not getting married. I wish it wasn’t so and I certainly don’t want to write this, but we can pretend all we want this is the tragic reality.)
2. What is the undeniable root cause of this travesty?
The short answer is Age Gap. This has been acknowledged by a historic letter from 70 Roshei Yeshiva.
Every single person in Klal Yisroel is collectively and individually responsible for allowing this terrible situation to develop. Hashem did NOT cause this, he simply allowed us as a community to be blind to the results of our actions and we have thus CREATED and are RESPONSIBLE for the tragic situation.
I would hope by now that this concept which has been explained in this very forum numerous times is understood by all. If we have a island and place 100 boys and 100 girls on the island. At the end of the year it is simply impossible for there to be more single girls than boys, IMPOSSIBLE. If on that island we place 150 young women and 100 young men, than there will undoubtedly be a minimum of 50 young women who don’t get married. Even if all 150 has everything “going for them” with all the silly things we give importance to in shidduchim, there will still be 50 who can’t get married. Even if all 100 young men had no interest other than getting married to a nice young woman without any other criteria, there are 50 young women who can’t get married.
In the non chassidshe community, instead of it being 100 to 100 is it the situation of 100 to 150 (this is illustrative only, it is closer to 2,000 young men, and 22,00 young women). Approximately 200 young women have no realistic marriage opportunity. Not at 19 and not at 35.
The reason is simply because we have a structure where the young women enter Shidduch Island at approximately 19 and the young men at approximately 22.5. Being that B”H our population is continuously growing rapidly the younger age groups (by both boys and girls) are consistently larger than the older age groups. Song as young women get their passport to the island and 19 and young men only get it at 22.5 we continue to have each and every a large number of more girls starting to date than boys. The next year
the same thing occurs, and the next year as well. Thus even if every single boys gets married to a girl, there will be 200 girls each year (or 300 from one year and 100 from the other year) who simply can’t get married. Fast forward 10 years and we have the tragedy we are experiencing.
3. The Solution:
B’direch Hateva, the only way to alleviate the problem going forward it to close the Age Gap. This has and continues to be the sole foucs of the NASI Project. To alleviate the shidduch crisis by closing the Age Gap. For the last four years no stone has been left unturned in trying to make this happen.
This is accomplished by
a. Educating the community as to the core problem because without this absolutely no significant progress or change could be accomplished.
(Great strides have been made)
b. Breaking the stigma that previously existed against doing a shidduch with a young woman the same age or even a bit older.
Wonderful progress has been made as attested to by shadchhanim, mothers of boys, mothers of girls and girls themselves)
c. Figuring out way to encourage boys to begin dating slightly younger.
See a bit later in the article where I will come back to this. Herein lays the real yeshua.
d. Encouraging shadchanim to keep ages in mind when redding shidduchim
e. Encouraging shadchanim to focus on the girls who didn’t just start dating instead of spending almost all the energies on 19/20 year olds.
If/when shadchanim focus on young women who didn’t just start dating inevitable more close in age shidduchim will take place. If a 23 your old boy is redd to fifteen different 19 year old and two different 22 year olds, in all likelihood he will end up marrying a 19 year old. If a
23 year old boy is redd to fifteen, 22 year olds and two 19 year olds in all likelihood he will end up marrying a 22 year old.
Let’s now focus on point E/F. A year ago March a extremely effective program was launched in Montreal. It has now spread to Toronto, Chicago, Kew Gardens, Prospect Park HS, Machon (for the graduating class of 2004, and 50 Shuls in Flatbush/Five Towns and Far Rockaway. It will imy”h be coming to Monsey and Lakewood in the near future.
When it was initially launched it met with great resistance. The concept is that Shadchanim don’t make shidduchim. That the Ribbono Shelo Olam does. Shadchanim set up dates. Enough quality dates for girls who didn’t just start dating and bderech hateva they’ll get married.
The program is simply, is a Shadchan set up a young woman (above a certain age) on date #1 then in appreciation of the time and effort that is required to and goes into redding shidduchim Shadchan receives S 100. If it’s a quality idea the Shadchan receives $400. This money does not come from the parents, they don’t even know about the program.
The initial resistance was huge, and yet B”H the results of the program has been fantastic. With a tremendous amount of shidduch attention as measured by dates gone out, date number $ gone out (and yes engagements as well although that is a poor measuring stick because that is out of the hands of a shadchan. Quality attention is what we are after.
Let’ now discuss the present program.
Let’s imagine that Eliyahu Hanavi came to town and told a 22-year-old young woman that you if you help this poor person pay his medical bills by giving 5,000k I GUARNATEE you will be married by chanuka.
What would the 22-year-old young woman do?
Suppose he said that any 30-year-old-girl who donates 11,000, would be married by Chanuka. What would a 30-year-old, young woman do?
You know and I know that every SINGLE young woman would beg, borrow, cheat or steal but she would give Eliyhu Hanavi the money...
NASI isn’t Eliyahu Hanavi. We don't promise a weeding, we don't promise a date, we don't even promise a phone call. All we say is that not a penny of your money will be spent until after you walk down the chuppah.
If you would give it to Eliyahu Hanavi then obviously
A). A young woman girl feels it’s worth that amount
B). A young woman could come up with it.
What is the risk a .025 percent interest on a savings account?
A girl could try it for a month. If nothing happens take it back. If she gets married we all agree it will be well worth it.
Now let’s deal with some specific FAQ about the program
Q: Why does it go higher each year? It’s degrading insensitive and thoughtless to let a young woman know each year she gets older it costs more.
Q: Why does it start at 22? It’s so insensitive to make the 22 years-olds to feel like they are “older” or nebach cases.
Let’s imaging the program was for all young women 25+ the shadchanus is 5,000. Nice idea. Shadchanim will tell you that generally speaking the work involved in helping to bring a 35 young woman to the chuppah is exponentially more difficult (for myriads of reasons, one significant reason is as we discussed earlier the continuously diminishing pool of boys). If the compensation was the same for a 25 year old young woman as it is for a 35 year old young woman, then many many people would choose to put their kochso into a 25 year old young woman. The exact people who are upset about part of the program, are precisely the ones who will helped by it, no one else.
Let’s explain why it absolutely must start at 22. It’s not because they are Nebach’s. The vast majority of shadchanim (both fully time/part time and everything in between) probably well over 80% barely spend any time on the young women 25 and up. This is because the the larger pool of dating young men
are 22-24. The shadchanim spend their time on compatible matches for boys in that age range. As a result of a program for 25 and up there will certainly be more attention piad to those young women, but the vast majority of attention will still be focused on the young men 22-24.
Are the shadchanim going to redd those boys to 19 year old young women or to 22 year olds. The answer to this question will determine whether today’s 22 year old young women get married or whether today’s 22 year old young women become tomorrow’s 32/42 single young women.
If this program started only at 25 then shadchanim will continue to redd the 19 and 20 year olds to the larger pool of dating boys. By starting the program at 22 there is NO doubt that the tremendous group of 22 year old young women will NOT become 42 and single
We MUST start at 22 precisely because we want to do everything in our power to make sure that today’s 22 year olds do NOT become tomorrow’s 32 year olds.
Q: What about the girls who can’t afford.
As I showed earlier, for Eliyahu Hanavi they would come up with the money. What’s the risk? However and far more important is that this is a opportunity for poor young women to get the attention that previously only the wealthier did. Now a young woman who is not from a wealthy family has the change to get quality attention from 150 shadchanim across the country with NO RISK to her.
Q: Why are the dollar amounts so high
If there is significant added shidduch attention for the young women on the list, could that have been achieved for 3k instead of 5k. Frankly that's a minor question in the big picture. Certainly something that maybe should be adjusted if necessary but not a deal breaker. Basically, if a young woman gets married and pays 5k and maybe she could've gotten married and paid 3k.... Nu nu.... If a 30 year old gets married and spends 13k and could've gotten the same attention for 10k.... Nu nu
If the program doesn't help in any significant way then it will disappear, go the way of the horse and buggy and be forgotten very quickly.
Q: The feeling people have is their being blacklisted if they don't participate and no one will help anyone not joining
If 50 girls join the list. Do you really think every other girl will be blacklisted? If 150 girls join the list do you really think other girls will be blacklisted. It would be awfully hard to redd shidduchim to the 2,000 dating young men, if only 150 girls get dates....
If 2,000 girls join the list will the other girls be blacklisted? Maybe.
Remember, the only way 2,000 young women join (and stay in the list) is if it's so wildly successful and young women are getting married left and right. In that case, I think it's kedai to beg borrow or steal (a phrase a mother used) to get your daughter married.
Only time will tell if it works or not. If it works (meaning girls join and girls get married) then it's all good. If it doesn't, meaning either girls don't join, or they join and don't get married, then no harm no foul. No one spent any money other than NASI on some ads.
Before I answer the final question regarding the names of the Rabbinic supporters, I word regarding shadhcanim is critical.
This whole article and perhaps the program itself has the potential to paint shadcahnim as heartless money hungry ruthless mercenaries. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Allow me to explain.
In speaking to people I’ve asked them how many shidduchim do they think a typical very very busy Shadchan make each year. Peoples response where very telling 50 a year. 300 shidduchim a year.
It is totally out of touch with reality. The typical very very busy Shadchan makes 6 or 7 a year. To make 6/7 a year means that the Shadchan has forfeited their family life, they have zero menucha, can’t go to weddings without being bombarded, they can’t do homework with their children, they are called and besieged at all hours of the day and night and people are upset at them. Why they don’t call back etc. For a typical shidduch a shachan receives total from both sides together between 2,000 and 3,000 dollars. 6/7 shidduchim equals a whopping grand total of a whopping 12,000 to 21,000 a year. (and many many times the Shadchan receives far less. It is on RARE occasions that they receive more).
There are three kinds of full time shadchnim
1. Those who are so prolific that they actually make a parnassah sufficient to basically support their family with it. There are perhaps 4 such people in the country. They make 23 a year, they may be hired by cities, there may be some people who “hire them privately” and with everything together they put together a parnassah to pay their tuition (barely) grocery etc.
2. People (usually women) whose husbands make a good enough parnassah to enable to spend their time as they wish. Some women are good souls and instead of spending their time shopping etc, they have dedicated their lives to try their utmost to help make shidduchim. We can well understand the the number of woman who nowadays are not called on to help support the family is very very small. (and of those who could, what would motivate a regular person to chose for themselves the lives I’ve depicted.)
3. People who are either insane or simly saints. Their families really need their parnassha, they don’t earn a parnsaah from shidduchim. Yet they are cut from a different cloth then they rest of us and they do it anyway. It would be great if we could clone these people but realistically the nuber of people like this you can count on one hand. (subliminally we as a community expect everyone who redds a shidduch to be such a person. They are supposed to be available all times day and night etc. we think somehow by virtue of someone trying to redd shidduchim a little bit, they automatically become obligated to take on the role of a saint. Clearly this is simply unrealistic and unfair and simply a result of UNDERSTANDABLE pain and frustration on the part of the singles, but it won’t changes the reality.
Now we wonder: Why don’t we have more people redding shidduchim. Why don’t we have more people who are redding shidduchim they should redd shidduchim to the slightly older, young women.
Is the answer obvious now? Who can afford the time it takes to dedicate hour and hours to redd shidduchim in general. Bringing a 30 year old young woman to a chuppah it immeasurable more work than making a shidduch for a 20 year old. For the time and effort shadchanim are putting in the would like to at least she nachas. Forget the 2/3 thousand dollars. They would at least like to she a shidduch happen. Isn’t it clear why we have so few people who dedicated their time to this? Why the VAST MAJORITY of those who do try of course are severely limited in the amount of time they can spend as the need to work to help support their own families!
This program is an effective way of achieving two separate goals.
1. Going forward it can effectively continue to close the age gap and thus we will not be in the same devastating situation we ate today.
2. For the young women today who already past a certain age at which they are now in a precarious situation. This can give them the opportunity to get as much and as vast shidduch attention which will afford them the greatest possible opportunity of walking down the aisle.
Finally: Why aren’t the Rabbinic supporters named in the any of the NASI ads
The true and short answer is because I was specifically told not to. I will offer you a glimpse into part of the reasoning behind that directive, although as will be self is evident there is a risk in what I am writing.
Far greater than any of these programs that are in the public eye is the work behind the scenes that has the ability to practically totally solve the crisis going forward. There is a plan on the table that if/when implemented will bdirech hateva save/protect close to 1,000 girls over the next 8 years. This plan needs to be implemented by the Roshi Hayeshiva and Rabbonim only. Perhaps Askanim can get involved to help move it along. It calls for a minimal structural change with almost no downside that will bring with it many side benefits in addition to saving 1,000 girls. The “Daas Torah” if you may, feels they have a much greater chance of effecting that change if their involvement is behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, change is hard to come by and thus it is a process that is taking far to long and the victims of this inexcusable situation are the precious Bnos Yisroel
Rav Shmuel Kametzky Shlit”a and many many well respected and well known Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim know who is the guiding force of the program and under whose guidance everything takes place. Feel free to ask them. It isn’t only my fault that we as a community have utterly and totally failed these young women.
Over the last two years we as a community have collectively expended inordinate amount of time energy and resources on all kinds of wonderful and important issues. R’ Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin, the boys in Japan and others. There is no doubt that the lives of 1,000 of our precious bnos Yisroel, is far far more urgent than any of these programs.
In addition, WE CAUSED THE TRAGEDY, WE ARE RESPONSIBLE. Yet day after day they and their families continue to suffer in silence. Where is the kinus demanding that these changes be implemented? Where are the articles, WHERE IS THE COMMUNITY.
And therefore, if the best chance to hopefully/ maybe bring to fruition such change (and other ideas) and save 1,000 of our precious daughters and sisters requires that the NASI Project is accused of hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. It’s well worth it.
After 120 year we want to be able say yadeinu lo shafchu es hadam hazheh.
I hope that those who read this article in it’s entirety and take the time to understand it, will then have a better understanding and have answers to their questions. I wish I could explain it in person to every single person, but I realize it is simply not feasible.
Hachosem b’dema, but with hope and knowledge that the yeshua is very attainable.