Tuesday, December 27, 2011

`Anguish That Does Not Go Away - The Singles Problem

Taken from the Jewish Press-Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I am sure you get hundreds of letters a week regarding shidduchim. This letter is being penned by someone who is hoping to act as a representative on behalf of all the sad and lonely unmarried men and women in our society. I am hoping that if you share my message in whole or in part with our community it will have an effect, even if it be minute.

I am a very typical 30 something year old female, who attended typical Bais Yaakov type schools, who comes from a regular down to earth, frum – observant family, and who has an ordinary job that I go to day in and day out. I have a college degree and a master’s degree. Unfortunately, what I am missing is that I have not been blessed with finding my bashert – soul mate, yet.

Every day is very difficult for us singles, but perhaps the most painful are the Yom Tovim – the holidays – especially Yom Kippur. We hope, we daven and we dream that Hashem will answer our Tefillos – prayers and bring us only good things for the coming year. In order to make our dreams a reality, we unfortunately have to really rely on those around us to make it happen. Those close to us and those that are not. We network with anyone possible. I have emailed my personal information to so many people - an uncomfortable feeling in and of itself. More often than not, my calls are not returned, and the emails are not answered. Occasionally, I get “lucky” and someone will drop the name of an eligible guy, but then never do anything about it.. Would it be so terrible to expect that the person take an additional step and make that call? The waiting is torture.

I feel that WE – and I mean the entire Jewish community, do not do nearly as much for shidduchim as we should be doing. We all lead busy lives with many obligations, but how often do people put themselves out for others when it comes to shidduchim? And worse, how often do people commit to things and make promises and then proceed to forget about them. I have people who are close to me who have made New Year’s Resolutions and offered to help out with minor things like a follow up email or phone call to major projects like starting a shidduch group as a zechus – merit for me, but it never happens. We are about to celebrate Chanukah – life goes on and people are back to business as usual. I wonder how people can be so apathetic and never even give us singles a thought. We go to family simchas and are always labeled “the single relative”. We get through the Yom Tovim as “the single aunt”. I wonder how they can sleep comfortably at night knowing that we are suffering. I can tell you this – we singles have a hard time sleeping and getting up. I often wonder why people commit to helping if they have no intention of doing so. Why do they give hope only to dash it?

Our generation has become an “I” generation. People only have time to think of themselves, their own families and their own businesses? How about the next person? The neighbor, the relative and sadly, even the sibling? No one thinks..... No one seems to care. And now, I would like to point to an additional problem – the insensitivity, the hurtful remarks. Let me cite some examples:

This past Yom Kippur the Holiest day of the year, during the Rabbi’s speech right before Neilah (the closing prayer), someone came over to me in Shul to ask that I send my shidduch information.... she thought of someone appropriate for me. Wow, I thought, G-d is acting fast.

I followed up .... we are heading into winter, but I have yet to hear from her. Couldn’t she have called or at least e-mailed me? She picked me up only to drop me like a hot potato. Additionally, she took my time away during the last moments of Yom Kippur when I could have been saying Tehillim - Psalms. To accomplish what? To what end?

And then there are those who offer their sagacious advice and tell you “It’s time you got married”.. There are many more examples that I could cite. As I mentioned earlier, for us religious singles, the Yom Tovim – the holidays, are the most difficult to get through. Everyone is surrounded by their families, children and babies, while we stand alone. I overhear people whisper “She is such a rachmones (someone to be pitied). She must be in her thirties and still single. Very often, on the holidays, I opt out and stay at home. It is just too painful to go to shul, but staying home is not a happy solution either.

On one of these occasions, a neighbor’s married daughter knocked on my door to ask if I could watch her child at home while she went to shul with another of her children. I am not a high school teenager who babysits. Is she that clueless? Did it ever occur to her that I would do anything to take my own child to shul? And there have been many other similar situations. People take advantage, and just because they invite me to a Shabbos Seudah, they expect me to baby sit or pick up their kids at the bus stop. I often wonder what has become of us. How have we lost our chesed? I know that many of your readers will flip the page now and think to themselves, “ One of those shidduch articles again!” It takes too much time out of their busy schedules to even read about our pain and loneliness.

Are we not supposed to be “Rachmonim U B’nei Rachmonim? “Compassionate ones and the children of compassionate ones... sensitive to the suffering of others and careful of how we speak to them? Is it too much to ask for people to take a moment to make a phone call or send an e-mail?

To all the people reading this letter, permit me to make some suggestions.

It is admirable and noble to want to help with shidduchim, but be serious! Don’t name drop names because you want to feel that it shows you are doing something. Unless you have a concrete plan or serious information don’t talk about it. If you do mention someone, follow up and get back to the single person. Don’t leave anyone hanging. Your life might not be dependent on it, but ours is!

As tempting as it might sound, don’t volunteer to do something or make calls or start a program unless you are serious and prepared to put it into work. Think through what you are offering before you actually offer it. Empty offers are painful.

Spend time and network with everyone you know. You can’t imagine how many potential shidduchim can be made by just asking everyone if they know someone. Don’t let opportunities pass by. Network with your friends, its simple with emails and text messages. Bring it up at a table at a simcha, or after davening inshul, call relatives you don’t see, find a friend in an out of town community and network, network, network.

Think over and over before asking a single person to baby-sit. Precisely because they don’t have children, your request is that much more painful...and this is important – don’t imagine that because we are not married, we do not have a life and have nothing to do.

Thank you Rebbetzin for sharing this letter. I am not so naive as to think that the tide will be turned through this letter, but perhaps by reading my words, some people will take it to heart, and if just one single person is spared further pain, and just one person makes just one call for ashidduch connection, it will have been worthwhile for me to write.


  1. Excellent article/letter. I feel her pain. Shidduchim used to be "in" and people ran around saying stuff like "I think I have the perfect guy/girl for you" but the trend has passed and people have gone back to their busy, selfish lives. I agree that if someone mentions a shidduch, they should FOLLOW UP or KEEP IT SHUT! I hope this girl and all other people in need of a shidduch find their true zivug this year! and it should be an easy and clear process :)

  2. While single, I don't whole-heartedly agree with her viewpoint.

    I have tried to set people up. And you know what? It is a pain. People ask a zillion questions, and after finally wrangling an answer from one side, one has to deal with the zillion questions from the other side.

    I won't write off all of humanity as being selfish. One has to be extremely dedicated and thick-skinned to try to set people up.

    Sometimes women mindlessly ask me if I went out with someone, then they never get back to me. I assume not that they flaked, but that they called the guy who said "No thanks." Of course, my feelings could have been spared if they did things the PROPER way which is to call the guy first.

    Other people do have busy lives; I can't expect them to put aside their business for ME. But if someone is unable to help out, they should at least not say anything hurtful - like "Oy, nebach. Tsk tsk tsk."

    If I am single, I consider it not because people aren't trying on my behalf, but rather that the Eibishter is waiting until the right time. Marriages are still bashert; while those who have an idea should try to set up, as singles we should not place all of our faith in man.

  3. agree with the Princess.. but one other thing to consider..

    When someone says they will redt a shidduch and doesn't get back to you, assume it was a no. All because you do not hear back doesn't mean they didn't try!

  4. I hear but them not getting back to you still leaves a loose end in your mind. How hard is it to say, I tried but I'm sorry he doesn't think it's shayich or he's busy at the moment...Unless that's worse for some people. Also, I agree setting people up can be a pain as I've done it several times and it takes tons of energy and patience, but still, we're helping to contribute to helping solve the issue instead of simply standing back and doing NADA.

  5. I learned long ago not to expect people to get back to me--I am actually surprised when they do. What bothers me more is when somebody "name drops" i.e. they heard of a guy but don't want to be bothered with actually trying to set you up, so basically you are on your own to try to find somebody who knows him and might be willing to do so.
    Re: the baby-sitting--I agree with the letter write 100%.