A shidduch kenos was held in Yerushalayim on Sunday, 13 Sivan 5775 to assist the many young men and women trying to find their zivug. Anyone entering would agree it appeared like a regular chareidi event, with men seated in the front and women in the rear but in fact, the event was quite out of the ordinary.
The young men and women have one thing in common, they have decided to enter the workplace or attend an institute of higher education. Now they report they are having difficulty getting a shidduch as a result of their decision. They lamented that while they are still chareidi in every sense of the word they are viewed as ‘second rate’ when it comes to shidduchim. The kenos was hosted by the Agudah Achas organization.
30-year-old Yossi Chaim entered the work place five years ago while he was learning in yeshiva. “I began working in radio and I have found great difficulty when I began looking for my second half, when approaching chareidi shadchanim”.
It should be pointed out that Yossi arrived in a black suit and a fedora. He told participants that until a young lady reaches the age of 24 or even 26 she will not consider marrying one who works. He questions why working is viewed in a negative light, adding “this kind of belief must be uprooted”.
Moti Horowitz of Agudah Achas explains that when a young man begins working, he has broken from the mainstream in the beis medrash and life regarding a shidduch becomes complicated. Horowitz spearheaded the kenos in the hope of breaking the wall and helping to advance the shidduch process for the growing number of chareidim who are now in school and/or employed. Horowitz explains that at present, many shadchanim has stopped looking at them as prospects when approached for a shidduch.
Horowitz adds “It is easy to blame the chinuch, the seminaries, parents, or the young men themselves but the time has come to address the problem”.
Nechemia Steinberger, who heads the chareidi Mechina in Hebrew University does not fear putting his cards on the table. “A shidduch is like a deal. It is built entirely on a database of stereotypes. The nature of young man, the bochur’s name, and many other questions and ideas that accompany stigmas – often disconnected from reality.
“When a chareidi male decides to begin academic studies he is viewed as being influenced by outside factors, as an individual who has chosen his own path.
“Until now his parents were at the wheel and now, he drove the car himself and in fact needs to create his own destiny. It is not obvious that it has halachic and ethical limitations, and, for example, he cannot go to a bar to initiate a relationship with women”.
Steinberger and others feel the internet can play a helping role and he hopes and feels that some things viewed as muktzah today will in the future assist in finding shidduchim. He feels perhaps an individual will open his own shidduch doors in the future, adding the first religious/chareidi shidduch site began back in 2001 and since then others have joined. He adds today there are ten such sites.
Shmuel Dillerman explains the shidduch websites are divided into three categories. He developed the “Mabat L’Shidduchim” website to assist chareidim. It is an information website. He explains direct contact between males and females is less successful in the chareidi world to date.
Yael Silman explains when she was asked to register on a site she declined but she was eventually persuaded. She originally felt there was no chance of finding a shidduch via the internet. “I entered the site daily”, explaining she did not post a photo. She explains 30-40 people visited and an additional 20 left notes. She met many people she explains, but these were no shidduchim. As a result, she stopped visiting her profile on the website as she became fearful.
She concludes “We must find the formula that even we, the working and studying chareidim, will find our shidduchim without being stigmatized”.
The chareidi tzibur in Israel is far from accepting the solutions aired during the kenos shidduchim in Yerushalayim. Organizers feel it will take time. “If one would have said ten years ago that chareidim would study for an academic degree they would have laughed in our faces” an organizer explained. He feels the day will come when a young man or woman studying in a chareidi college or university for an academic degree will no longer be muktzah.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)