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The Shidduch Crisis in Haredi non-Hasidic American Litvish yeshiva circles has been in the news. A report in The Yeshiva World News screamed "Shidduch Crisis: US Roshei Yeshivos Ask Harav Hirsch To Make Fateful Decisions" (June 28, 2023):

"A delegation of Roshei Yeshivos from the US landed in Eretz Yisrael on Wednesday in order to consult with Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch [born 1936], about the shidduch crisis in the US, Kikar H’Shabbat reported on Wednesday. The report notes the fact that although there are shidduch issues in every country, including Israel, the US has the specific problem that bochurim start shidduchim at a later age than Israeli bochurim (who usually start around age 21) because most spend at least a year or two learning in an Israeli yeshivah. This results in the famous 'age disparity' issue that places girls at a huge disadvantage. The administrator of a US yeshivah told Kikar: 'We have a real problem here and we have to solve it. Roshei Yeshivos held meetings a number of times in order to discuss the issue but nothing has really succeeded yet in solving the problem.' 'Roshei Yeshivos decided that the phenomenon of learning at a later age in Eretz Yisrael needs to end but they don’t want to take responsibility alone for such a fateful question.

Therefore, a decision was made that a number of leading Roshei Yeshivos will travel to Eretz Yisrael for a few hours and consult with the one who leads the yeshivos in Eretz Yisrael, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch [who is originally from the US], and whatever he decides is what will happen.' Sources told YWN that the Roshei Yeshivos also discussed the issue of eliminating one year of Beis Medrash in US yeshivos in order to allow bochurim to go to Eretz Yisrael at an earlier age. The report noted that HaRav Hirsch is not only a native English speaker but is also very familiar with the Olam HaYeshivos in the US.

Four of the Rabbanim in the delegation are HaGaon HaRav Mordechai Dick, Rosh Yeshivas Heichel HaTorah in Monsey, HaGaon HaRav Mendel Slomowitz, Rosh Yeshivas Toras Chaim in Lakewood, HaRav Yehudah Svei, one of the Roshei Yeshivos of Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, and the Novominsker Rebbe."

To one degree or another there has always been a "Shidduch Crisis" (a "matchmaking crisis" or "making of matches" crisis) since the dawn of time. The Torah starts off the book of Genesis with how the creation of one man alone, Adam, was not sufficient, how it was "not good for man to be alone" and therefore Eve was created to be an "ezer kenegdo" (helpmate) to Adam, with God Himself in the role of Divine Matchmaker. Indeed, Judaism teaches that after God had finished creating the world, he busies Himself with matching up men and women for marriage, a process that Judaism holds is "more difficult than the Splitting of the Red Sea"!

It's just that in every era the circumstances change and the challenges take on new faces. In our own day and age in the Frum (religious) (Haredi) Yeshiva world in America the challenge is how to avoid a backlog and piling up of young singles who wish to get married but cannot find their "bashert" matches, hence "the Shidduch Crisis"!

Interestingly this "crisis" is not to be found in the American Hasidic, or in Israeli Haredi communities who manage to marry off their sons and daughters soon after turning eighteen, as the Mishna in Pirkei Avot and Jewish Law prescribe. It is the Litvish non-Hasidim in America who are complaining of too many girls remaining single long after they turn eighteen unable or unwilling to hook up with American Litvish young yeshiva men who are slightly older than them.

As the article above points out it is a serious challenge for many and some notable rabbis are looking for relatively drastic solutions as they seek advice and input from a senior rabbi in Israel. However, one rabbi alone, no matter how great he is, is not able to solve behaviors in a vast social climate that has been decades in the making that is accepted as the norm by most American Haredi yeshiva people.

Sad to say it it difficult to see any real change happening for the better unless, for example, all the rabbis of Agudas Yisroel of America combined with the full support of the Degel HaTorah and Agudas Yisroel rabbis in Israel, fully study and acknowledge the problem and come to an UNANIMOUS agreement and implement policy changes on the ground in their yeshivas and related bais yaakovs (schools for girls) in America stopping "the year in Israel" phenomenon by the children of American Bnai Torah who are paying a high personal price for this known as the "Shidduch Crisis".

Yes, if implemented, some Israeli institutions that rely on temporary Americans students will shrink or be shut down, but on the other hand the vast majority of American yeshiva boys and girls will remain home as they study in yeshivas and bais yaakovs nearer to home and at the same time making it much easier and timely to proceed with finding their Bashert Zivug (predestined match) soon after turning eighteen and not wasting time with year/s long trips overseas that accomplish very little since the same results can be obtained in American yeshivas and bais yaakovs.

This same policy change should stress that once married, the young newly-wed Yeshivisha couples should try their utmost to then spend a few years learning in Kollel in Israel and even for those who want to, to make Aliya to Israel, hopefully with support and encouragement from their parents, families and communities of origin! This in turn will see the growth of new Kollelim in Israel catering to Americans who will have hopefully chosen to make Israel their new temporary or hopefully permanent home!

One reason that American Hasidim don't have this crisis is because they do not have the social custom of sending their children to learn or study in Israeli institutions around the time when they reach the earliest marriageable age of eighteen.

Boys and girls stay home or some boys live in a local yeshiva dormitories in America until they will date, get engaged and get married, and then decide if they want to stay on and learn in Kollel or if they want to go out and work and in some cases, some move to Israel.

While in Israel, the Haredi communities do not send their sons and daughters to far off lands to study and focus instead on the top priority of making Shidduchim and marrying their children off.

After all, a year of study in America would be a dream come true for the average Israeli religious youngsters, imagine of they were offered spending a year in New York or Lakewood, they would grab it, but instead common sense and economic practicalities prevail and the Frum (religious) Haredi parents in Israel keep their children close to home and ensure that after high school they date, get engaged and get married, which is the logical thing to do. Unlike American Haredim who have developed a fanciful phenomenon of sending their sons and daughters away to Israel when they should be also dating at home in America instead.

Only American Haredi Yeshivish parents feel they are "obligated" (Why? Who says it must be so? When did this become the norm? How much can they afford it financially) to send their sons and daughters away from home after high school to spend a year or two enjoying life in Israel, while their Hasidic counterparts in America and Haredi Yeshiva families in Israel are busy with the real-life agenda of getting down to the business of marrying off their children as soon as possible after turning eighteen.

One cannot have two chief agendas of Shidduchim versus learning in Israel competing with each other.

As long as American yeshiva families insist on sending their sons and daughters away to Israel when in fact they should be dating for marriage purposes instead there will always be these "age disparities" with mostly girls at a disadvantage as they wait for boys to come home from Israel and then to come out of the so-called "freezers" a process implied and described in the above article and hence an ever-present ongoing real life "Shidduch Crisis"!

In case anyone thinks I am against Aliya, I hereby state that I am not against Aliya, and I wish that every young Jewish couple getting married in America would make Aliya after they get married and as a couple move to Israel and build a Bayis Ne'eman B'Yisrael!

People have lost sight of the reason why young Orthodox Jewish yeshiva boys and bais yaakov girls are sent to Israel in the first place. One reason is that a mere fifty years ago the American yeshiva world was still in its infancy rebuilding a Torah world that was lost in the Holocaust. The Roshei Yeshiva and leaders were looking for ways to intensify and speed up the process of turning their young students into mature Bnai Torah (Torah Jews) and sending a few select male students to learn in Israel was seen as a way of boosting the personal Torah and spiritual growth of those students, and it succeeded. But then it became fashionable for girls who had just graduated high school to jump on the "year in Israel" bandwagon and enterprising people set up seminaries to bring them in in droves, while it then became accepted for virtually all American yeshiva boys to spend a year in Israel whether they needed it or not.

Today, once the average Bais Yaakov girl finishes twelfth grade in America she is, or should be, supremely well-educated in the complex world of Torah. The education they receive today is intense and thorough. The year in Israel for most is a luxury of touring and having a good time that takes them out of focusing on their real goal of Shidduchim and marriage.

But then somewhere along the line, due mainly to safe, easy and cheap air travel to and from Israel introduced in the 1970s, it became a fad and a craze and suddenly a "year in Israel" became a must-do on everyone's Shidduch resume regardless of what they did with their time in Israel.

And at a great personal expense too as parents were put under huge financial pressures to pay anywhere from twenty to fifty thousand dollars each per year for girls expenses, air travel back and forth, and dorming in seminaries and for boys yeshivas in Israel.

It was great for those Americans in Israel who set up seminaries and yeshivas catering to American students who have the customers who come and spend like crazy for the privilege of being in "elite" seminary A, B or C. But what about the poor parents back home who have many children and are financially exhausted and depleted as they try to do this for every child in a large family, and then later try to make lavish weddings and support their children in Kollel to top it off.

It is an unsustainable model and no wonder it is showing serious cracks with various "crises" such as the "Shidduch Crisis", the "Tuition Crisis", the "Housing Crisis". "the Cost of Living Crisis", "the OTD Crisis" etc.

In the meantime the Hasidim in America and the Haredim in Israel are totally unburdened by this conundrum. They are able to shepherd their sons and daughters to the Chuppah and married life relatively quickly after age eighteen as they don't have to send their children away from for a year or two that creates artificial "age gaps" and they are not burdened by the costs of sending their children overseas but can rather save their money to make weddings for their children and pay for tuition and Kollel expenses instead.

A final analogy to sum up. Imagine that one has a terrible toothache and goes to the dentist who says there is no choice and a root canal procedure must be performed. Or even worse, say a person is in need of serious surgery!

Would it be normal or logical for the patient to say they must first take off one year to go touring or studying overseas?

Of course not!

The correct decision is to listen to the doctor and perform the medical procedure as soon as possible to alleviate the pain and suffering of the suffering patient.

The Shidduch Crisis is a festering sore, a self-inflicted wound, in the heart of the Frum yeshiva world.

It is as if thousands of young people and their parents are suffering pain and agony as the time for the young people to get married is delayed with trips overseas and unnecessary time delays.

No matter how noble the cause, it cannot take precedence over one of the most fundamental urgent things in life of finding one's soul mate, getting married and starting a family, a Bayis Ne'eman BeYisrael, building a true Jewish home and strengthening the foundations of the Jewish People!

Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin was born to Holocaust survivor parents in Israel, grew up in South Africa, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. He is an alumnus of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and of Teachers CollegeColumbia University. He heads the Jewish Professionals Institute dedicated to Jewish Adult Education and Outreach Kiruv Rechokim. He was the Director of the Belzer Chasidim's Sinai Heritage Center of Manhattan 19881995, a Trustee of AJOP 19941997 and founder of American Friends of South African Jewish Education 19952015. He is also a docent and tour guide at The Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Downtown Manhattan, New York.He is the author of The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy. Contact Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin at[email protected]