Jewish wedding (illustration)
Jewish wedding (illustration)iStock

Fourth in a series about the Shidduch Crisis in the American Yeshiva world:

Part One: "Thoughts About the 'Shidduch Crisis' in the American Yeshiva World" (July 31, 2023)

Part Two: "The Need to Overcome 'Shidduch Crisis' Obstacles: Advice For Older Yeshiva Singles" (Aug 15, 2023)

Part Three: "Early Marriage as a Solution to the 'Shidduch Crisis" in the American Yeshiva World" (Aug 22, 2023)

There are many angles and dimensions to the Shidduch Crisis within the American Yeshiva world.

There is a consensus that there are more girls than boys in the dating pool and various suggestions have been offered to reduce the gap between the numbers of young men who are dating and the young women available to date them.

One mostly unspoken and perhaps unnoticed aspect is the attitudes in the American yeshiva world towards those young yeshiva educated men who have decided to leave the world of full-time learning in yeshiva and have chosen to start a life in the working world.

Sometimes they are called "earner-learners" who are kovea ittim meaning they "fix a set time" to learn Torah but they dedicate the bulk of their time to working and earning money on their own. Perhaps they have gone into their parents' businesses or gotten jobs in wholesale or retail stores, or doing something in real estate or working in the lucrative nursing home business, or maybe working in sales or construction or making money from a technology or an Internet business or many other potential areas of employment.

Then there are those who have taken the step to go to college, such as to Touro College that has seperate classes for yeshiva educated males and females with campuses in Brooklyn and Queens and a few other places. Perhaps they eventually plan on becoming accountants, computer programmers, or obtain degrees in business management, marketing or some area of finance.

These working boys are generally not the initial prime candidates for many of the American Litvish yeshiva world's girls who have spent their lives in great Bais Yaakov-type schools in Brooklyn or Lakewood for example and then to top it off have spent a year in post-high school seminaries in Jerusalem where they are intensively educated to seek Kollel full time learning boys to marry.

The girls then return to America and live at home mostly in yeshivish communities where they prepare to date and look primarily for full-time learning boys. These are the girls who eventually mount up in numbers in the American yeshiva communities and many remain single well into their twenties and some even longer as they cling to the hope and dream and ideal of marrying a full time learning boy.

Sometimes, as the time passes and they remain single, these girls land up becoming big earners themselves or getting degrees and become professionals but they still cling to the dream of marrying a potential Kollel yungerman.

As reality would have it, a lot of the learning boys are, sadly, looking for very pretty girls and wealthy father in laws and families of girls who can support them in full time Kollel learning plus also looking for other additional benefits like cars and houses in many cases. Obviously this aspiration for good looking girls and a higher standard of living that not many can provide or support and sustain in families with many children is not doable for many frum yeshivish middle-class and lower-class families, so they land up with single daughters at home pining for a good shidduch for a long time, hence the so-called Shidduch Crisis.

Many outstanding daughters of long-term Kollel families and of Rebbeim, the idealistic teachers and in yeshivas and girls schools who lack financial means to support full-time Kollel sons in law see their daughters wait and wait in vain for the right outstanding male yeshiva boy candidate to fulfil their own and their families' dreams of a Kollel life.

At this point in time some serious cheshbon hanefesh "soul searching" should be the order of the day. If after a number of years of trying without success a girl and her family see that they are not getting what they want in terms of a suitable full-time Kollel learner, they should not have a mental block and personal prejudice to thinking or putting into action other plans and options such as considering an ehrliche working or even a frum college boy who might be ready to date such a girl if he was given the right chance and opportunity.

This requires compromise and a change of attitude because those boys who have gone into the working world and have not spent additional years in bais medrash full time will not be the equals of bochurim (young men) who follow the path of aspirant Toraso Umnaso (Torah study as a full-time career). They have the advantage however of making the commitment to marry a good Bas Yisroel and make a good living and support her and their family that they will build together to create a Bayis Ne'eman BeYisroel (a true Jewish home).

There have arisen quite a few exemplary communities of thousands of such couples where the young yeshiva educated husbands have full time jobs in all sorts of fields and support their wives and growing families and then send their young children to great yeshivas and Bais Yaakovs in turn continuing Torah life and many of them even support the full time Kollel yeshivas where they have family members and friends.

It is time for those who are suffering from the Shidduch Crisis from the point of view of having single daughters at home to consider broader options and help avoid the delay of their daughters to not only want full time Kollel learners, the valued Yissachers who uphold Limmud HaTorah (Torah learning), but to think of welcoming into their midst working boys who are worthy of being the true Zevuluns who practice Torah, Avoda, U'Gemilas Chasadim (Torah, service and loving kindness)!

Reprinted with permission of the author Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin and VINnews.

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]