Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You be the Judge

This happened to me not long ago and it is still niggling at me. I went to red a shidduch to a family I know fairly well. When I mentioned the boy's name, the girl said: "Oh my sister went out with him last year and it wasn't for her so it wouldn't be for me either."

My fingers are having "laryngitis" tonight so I won't tell you what I think about this. Instead, you tell me. Is there something wrong with this picture? Is there something right with this picture? At last, your chance to write a "posting" on this blog.

Changing Shidduch Making--How Long is Long Enough to Date Someone

Getting married is not like boiling eggs. When you boil eggs the recipe is there which tells you exactly how long to cook them for soft boiled and how long for hard boiled. When you attempt to establish a "recipe" for how long a couple should date you are dabbling with disaster.

One thing we do know. The further to the right you go, the shorter the dating time allowed for a couple before they have to make a decision of yes, this is my zivug, or no, this is not my zivug. Some yeshivot, rebbis, parents set a 6-date maximum, some an 8-date maximum. Why? Let's dispel any notion that this is a halachic issue--it's not. If this time "rule" were written somewhere, anywhere, rabbanim would have quoted it chapter and verse long ago. It is a "protective" issue. The reasoning seems to be that the longer a male and female go out, the more danger there is of inappropriate behavior occurring between them. The point where they might be getting to know each other and be able to relax in each other's company also signals a point where they might become "too relaxed." If they are getting to like each other the reasoning is that they might like each other too much. Let's leave that issue for just a moment.

In your life you will be called on to make many important decisions. One might be where to go to college, or whether to go at all. What profession should you go into? Another might be on where to buy a home. For each of these decisions the advice is "take your time and think this through thoroughly. Your decision will affect the rest of your life." No one, but no one puts a time limit on the thinking. They are worried that too little research, too little thinking might result in a bad decision. And if you truly have had no idea as regards whatever you are being asked to decide on, the advice is to go really slowly. As one friend put it "a college major is a decision you have to live with the rest of your life. Make sure it really fits you and is not just something you are choosing because someone else told you to do so." Good advice really. Take your time and really know your own mind before making the decision.

You decide that you need to buy a car. Do you just walk into any car dealer and hope that the right car will "reach out and grab you"? If you are being smart you will put in the hours of research necessary. What models are available? How do the different brands compare? What are the safety features? How are the models you are considering rated? What are the added features each model presents? What is the cost now and for future upkeep? You take each model for a test drive, sometimes more than one. Typically, most people spend weeks/months on deciding on a car to buy.

You need a "special" outfit for a wedding or other simcha. You pray that you will find it on your first shopping expedition, but you also know that it could take "forever" until you find just the right outfit. There is no rational way to describe this to anyone. Even if you could say "I'm looking for a navy blue outfit" that would not mean "any" navy outfit. Basically, you'll know the outfit when you see it, and that could take days of shopping, weeks even, and yes, sometimes months. The more "special" the occasion, the more time that gets put in.

Watch people in a paint store trying to decide on what color to paint the walls in their home. They look at all the colors, they narrow down the field to a particular color family, they look at them side by side, they put the color cards next to other colors to see how they will harmonize, they take the color sample cards home and look at them taped up on the wall. They check the durability of the type of paint. And eventually they come to a decision. Imagine that: choosing paint is not as simple as walking into the store, down the aisle, pointing to a can and saying "that one please."

And yet....Our present dating system is basically telling us to make the decision that will affect us most in our lives and to do so in less time then you might spend on choosing a major, buying an outfit, buying a car or choosing a paint color. "The rules" imply that every one of us is identical to all the others, and that our thinking processes are identical also. If person "A" can make a decision on his/her zivug in 6 dates then everyone else should be able to do so also. What nonsense.

No combination of two people on a date is ever identical to any other two people on a date. In fact, no date is ever the same for any one person seeing more than one person. How many possible marriages have never come to fruition because at 6 or 8 dates one or both of the people were just "not quite sure" and the process was ended?

I'll go on record as saying that our dating couples are not spending enough time dating. And not only that, so many of the chumras that are put on what topics of conversation are appropriate or which ones should not be raised until after an engagement are just so much hooey. One well known "authority" on frum dating has stated that under no circumstances should a dating couple find themselves in actual disagreement over something--you know, having an argument or having a fight. Such "negativity" will take away from what they should be finding out while dating.

We are told that there are three ways to "know" a person: B'kiso, B'koso and B'kaaso: observing them where they live and in their everyday activities, observing them when under the influence of alcohol and observing them when they are angry. None of these are available to dating couples. The last, should you date long enough to actually find something that you might disagree about, can be helpful. What is this person like when things don't go their way? How do they handle frustration? What are they like when they are angry? Can I deal with their method of dealing? Am I going to have enough time before someone pressures me to make a decision to work out with this person some basics of communication that will satisfy both of us? Some of these "anger" differences are male/female and a compromise will need to be reached by both parties. Some are red flags that say "run, run fast!"

Okay, we want to put some sort of "cutoff" to the dating process. It is true that some people just might date for months and months and still not get to the point of knowing anything important. Those people need "help" of a different kind. Perhaps what we need to be talking about is a dating "minimum" not a dating "maximum." That's right, a 6 to 8 date minimum. And perhaps double that as the outside parameter. In short, dating time should have a sensible range, recognizing that not all people "learn" at the same pace.

Just a word now about the "inappropriate thoughts/behavior" issue. Here is a unique thought. Instead of setting unrealistic dating "rules," instead of worrying all out of proportion, perhaps rebbis and parents ought to be concentrating on teaching the principles of self control. You know, where a person learns to control impulses that are not allowed or are not beneficial? And I'll climb out even further on this lonely limb and say this. Those "inappropriate" thoughts? They better be there at some point in the dating process. "Physical" attraction had better be there if a couple is considering marriage. The physical aspect of a marriage is part of the glue that holds the marriage together. It's not the thoughts that are the problem; it is acting on those thoughts before you are supposed to that is the problem, and that is where the education needs to be.

In far too many cases, the 6-date recipe is resulting in inedible dishes--we are way overdue to change the recipe.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A New Poll: The Internet and a Frum Home

I was kind of wondering what my next poll would be and then the following happened. I received the alumnus magazine from one of the girls high schools in Brooklyn. In it was an admonishment that no teachers were to assign any work that required the Internet to students in grades 9-11; only 12th graders could have such assignments, if necessary. A phone call to someone teaching in that school brought forth the information that even in 12th grade the Internet research has to be optional, since some students do not have the Internet at home.

If you are reading this blog you are clearly on the Internet, but I'd still like to get some input here. So the next poll is on the Internet in frum homes. Scroll down below and please vote.

The Dunkinization of Jewish Staten Island

Every community seems to have its own flavor, its own set of unique characteristics. In this Staten Island is no different from other communities. And yet, up until two days ago, I would have said that our community is truly a unique one for New York City.

Think of it, a community where all the people living here basically get along. There is no divide in the Willowbrook community along hashkafic lines. Boys who go to Torah Temima live on the same block and play with boys who go to The Jewish Foundation School--a local day school. Girls from Prospect Park and from Shulamit and from the full range of the high schools in the city are all friends with each other based on things other than the school they go to. Want a chasidishe shteible to daven in? Got it, got two. Want an Agudah type of shule? Got it (and R. Moshe Meir Weiss is the Rav). Want an OU shule? Got that too. Want Lubavitch? Yup, here too. Are you sefardi and want a shule that davens your nusach? Try two of them. And then there is the Young Israel--second largest in the US. Want a Young Israel but want to daven nusach sfard? Yup, the only one in the country that has a sfard minyan is here. The YI has six different minyanim on a Shabbos--different strokes for different folks.

Women who wear their hair covered? Some do, some don't and no one is pointing fingers. Want to wear a black hat? Go ahead. Want to wear a kipah sruga? Be our guest. Need a mikveh--more than two. A keilim mikveh? Yup. A kosher butcher? Two. Take home food stores? Inside each of the butcher shops. Need a bakery? Right here. Kosher specialty grocery stores? Two and also inside the take home food stores. Major supermarkets with huge kosher departments? Waldbaums, Shoprite, Pathmark and Stop & Shop.

Boys and girls yeshiva ketanot? Indeed. A day school? That too. A boys high school. It's here, more than one. Want a kollel? We have that too. Want a kollel specifically for retired men who are sitting down to learn? Kollel Balabatim of Willowbrook. Want shiurim? Lots of choice. Want Hatzalah and an active Bikur Cholim and Community Help Organization? Want a community known for its tzedaka giving? Here we are. We have top models of all. Want a "big name" yeshiva? R' Reuven Feinstein's yeshiva is here in Staten Island. Want affordable housing BY COMPARISON to the rest of the city? We still represent something of a "bargain." Think about it--rents that are about half as much for twice as much apartment.

And yet.... For years now there have been heard voices complaining that there is not enough in Staten Island. Huh? What was actually being complained about was the lack of restaurants here. Yes, we have had a pizza shop/milchig restaurant for years. And on and off there has been some sort of fleishig restaurant, although you couldn't prove it by my family. Staten Island tends to be a "home cooking" kind of place. And for those moments when you can't or won't cook, the take home places are just fine.

With everything we have to offer there are still those who foresaw doom for the community because of a lack of restaurants. "You can't get young couples to move in here if there are no services such as are available in other communities." Some of us still don't get that. We didn't buy our homes nor choose this community on the basis of a restaurant that might or might not stick around.

Well, the proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. Staten Island is now the proud possessor of....a strictly kosher under kosher supervision, no treif in the store at all Dunkin Donuts. And this enterprise, which some believe will "grow" our community in leaps and bounds, has already caused a bit of a furor. Two rabbanim associated with the Vaad refused to give hashgocho on the store because it carries both cholov stam and cholov yisroel, your choice for your coffee. The hashgocho comes from Brooklyn--how's that for a weird turnaround? The opening of the store got front page coverage in The Staten Island Advance. Talk about much ado about nothing.

Let me admit that my son went down to the store this morning and picked up bagels. The owner had had such a run on what was being sold that he was almost out of everything. Yup, the bagels were fresh and they were good, soft instead of chewy, but good. And if we ever get in the mood for bagels I'll go back. But with a fully operational kitchen and lots of choices, why would I go and buy coffees for just about the price of a package or jar of coffee for my own home?

We are all in love with a brand of product called "yenems (theirs)." "Yenems" has to be better than our own. Otherwise how could we possibly explain the "kosher" imitation shrimp and crab products that show up on caterer's menus and on our grocery shelves? How do we otherwise explain "kosher" imitation bacon and sausages? We Jews also seem to be particularly fascinated with fast food chain "yenems." Frankly I don't believe that having a Dunkin Donuts will cause a rush of people to move to Staten Island. Give it a few weeks for the novelty to wear off and it will be just another store choice. Frankly, Dunkin Donuts is fairly benign for a "yenems." It's basically about baked goods and coffee.

I am thankful at least that no one has yet brought up the horrifying thought of a kosher Subway store here. (Let's leave out the issue of 'maaris eyin' here). When the Subway restaurant opened up in Flatbush I watched the hordes rush in to savor what non-Jews had been savoring for so long--over-sized, fat and calorie loaded health time bombs. But hey, it's a "yenems."

If a community is judged by its culinary choices then Staten Island finally is on its way up--or is that down? It's so nice to see Klal Yisroel busy with the important things that face us.

Keepers of the Flame--Part One

It seems that in every family there is one person who remembers everyone's birthdays, the dates of important occurrences, and the names of all the cousins no matter how far down the family tree. Usually that person has at least one child with the same characteristics. Sometimes all this information gets written down, no matter how haphazardly, but a lot of it is committed to memory. Over time a lot of this information gets lost. That's a real shame.

Right now the generation that was "of age" during WWII has grown very small. There are not that many of them left to tell the stories that truly form who we are and how we got there. For some of you this may be your parents; for others, your grandparents. Or they may be elderly aunts and uncles or cousins. They may have shared stories over the years, but these stories have no permanence, never having been recorded for posterity.

This year I am suggesting to all of you to become "Keepers of the Flame." As Jews with direct connections to The Shoah we are told "Never Forget." Unfortunately, for many, by the time we remember to do this, our "source material" will no longer be here.

First step: a family tree. You may know who you were named for, but who were they named for? Or why are some parts of the family named one thing and another part another thing? Go back as far as you can and list every name--Hebrew and English--and any dates of birth that you can. For each person list a town and country of birth. Also list dates of death, when known, and yes, causes of death when known. What are the yahrzeit dates? Where are these people buried, if known? You are going to need to personally interview the oldest members of your families to get all the information. And don't be surprised if there are some gaps in the information. Be sure and leave yourself some space for new additions to the family tree--and be sure to enter them.

A note here: many of the sites online that help with tools for doing the family tree limit that tree to yourself and your direct ancestors--they do not leave space for aunts and uncles and cousins and machatonim. A Jewish family tree should include this information. The interconnection in many parts of a family don't become clear unless you do this. See the tools below.

Include maps with your family tree and mark on the maps all the locations that your family inhabited and still inhabit. The Internet is an excellent source for maps going back to the time of the Shoah and before.

Take a recording device with you when having an information gathering session. For one thing, it gives you an oral record in the voice of someone who "was there." For another, it's a backup of information in case you miss something in writing down answers.

So the first step is to gather the basic family information and get it down on paper. Enlist your siblings to help if the job is going to be a large one. Or try a first cousin. While you are doing this your relatives may volunteer other information, stories of what once was. That's where the recording device is a life saver. Take the stories while you can.

Don't put off this first step--it only takes a pen, some paper and a willingness to listen for a little bit, and to ask questions. The value is priceless. No, not next week or next month or "later," whenever that might be. Do it NOW. My husband and I, our siblings, and our first cousins and their spouses have among us 11 living parents/aunts and uncles, ad meyo v'esrim. Yes, 57 people and only 11 of the past generation. The youngest member of that group is turning 79 this year; the oldest is over 90. If not now, when?

Some tools that can help are listed below.



More to come in the next posting.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Changing Shidduch Making--the Telephone is our Friend

I know that a number of rebbaim have given their bochrim guidelines about dating. Included in those guidelines is how many times a week or in two weeks a bochur should see a girl. But also included by many rebbaim is an ossur for talking on the phone in the interim. This holds true even after an engagement is announced. Huh? Far from seeing the phone as our enemy, we need to start considering it as a frum person's best friend.

If the complaint is made that frum couples do not date each other long enough--and it is--then dating more often is the answer. If that is not an answer that is acceptable to some parts of Klal, then the phone is a perfect "non-date" date. I am reasonably sure that both a boy and a girl holding phones that are connected through electricity does not constitute negiah, despite the phone company advertisements that say "Reach out and touch someone."

Let's make a "new rule." Couples who are set up with each other for "face-to-face" dates should also be required to have at least one "phone date" in between each of their meetings. Two would be better. In this way a couple would have "met" at least 12 times before having to make any big decisions.

Think of it, no having to get all dressed up, no having to travel for hours, no hassles of finding parking, no running into friends/neighbors/family who are oh so interested in what you are doing, no expenditures (if you are using cell phone minutes this is still cheaper then most dates). And best of all, no real distractions. When the only point of the date is to talk then more talking gets done.

In general, females "enjoy" talking more than males do. It also seems to come easier to them. Many males consider the phone as an "evil instrument" and spend as little time as possible on it. For these males, the practical advantages of phone dating need to be stressed.

So, what do you talk about if you aren't in a place that gives you something to talk about, like a museum? Everything and anything. Anything unusual happen to you? Share. Anything of vital interest in the news? Discuss. Anything happening in Klal Yisroel of a new nature? Talk about it. Have a hobby you like? Wax enthusiastic. Learn anything interesting? Repeat it. In short, get to know each other and each other's views and opinions.

If you are having one phone date a week, make it at least one hour in duration. For two phone dates, half an hour might do.

I already know one objection that is going to be raised to phone dating. It will take away learning time from the males. I respectfully state that there is learning and then there is "learning." We cannot seriously be saying that learning about a prospective future husband/wife for a person in the shidduch process is less important than opening a sefer. If we are, that just might be one of the major reasons for shalom bais problems in young married couples.

So there it is--we need to increase "phone time" for dating couples. The benefits are just too obvious to ignore any longer.

A note: couples a bit less "right" in their orientation both date longer and use the telephone to greater benefit. If those more to the "right" are NOT using the telephone as much because it is something that those more to the "left" use, then they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Grammar Lesson, Shidduch Style

One of my more chasidishe students has been having a terrible time understanding why commas are so necessary in writing English. In desperation to find an example that would stick in his mind, I used an example from Yiddish. Not only does it teach the importance of commas, but it has application to shidduchim.

"Er vill sie nischt." Translation: He doesn't want her. No comma necessary.

"Er vill, sie nischt." Translation: He wants (her), but she doesn't want (him). The comma is what changes the meaning.

And perhaps we might also remember that there are two parties to a shidduch and both have to be in agreement for a shidduch to go forward; it's not just a male prerogative. We need to frame our sentence differently if we want successful shidduchim.

An Erev Shabbos Reminder

Over Shabbos is a perfect time to ask people about "One at a Time Shidduchim." See the "10-day assignment" below if you don't know what that is. Have a guten Shabbos.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sometimes Students Listen--so Keep Talking

Two of my students, one present and one former, became chosonim recently, both to girls from Los Angeles. I gave the present student a mazel tov and asked who the kallah was. He gave a name and mentioned Los Angeles. I asked him if he had gotten any of the "strange" comments along the line of "What, there weren't enough girls in New York?" He laughed and answered "A few. But I borrowed a line you threw out in class one day, about how Hashem isn't mezaveg zevugim by zip code. There was no possible comeback to that one. Thanks." Not quite along the lines of Shakespeare's "to be or not to be, that is the question" but someone was listening anyway.

The former student, while he was in my class, was balancing yeshiva, a part-time job and full-time college. He was a young man and people were pressuring him to enter into the shidduch parsha. Frankly, he had too much on his plate already without adding this also. He asked me for my opinion--he had been offered a good full-time position with the company he was working for. Should he go for the job or go into shidduchim? This was a fairly easy going student whose smile had been slipping because of "over committment." My advice was to take the job first--he was graduating--and then get into shidduchim. And yes, I frankly told him that he would be "worth" more to the right girl if he was making a living. He sought me out last night to tell me he had just become a choson. He asked if I remembered the advice I had given him. And then he added "I'm glad I listened to you, and so is my kallah."

Of course, in a fair world, these two boys and their kallahs would now be working hard so that two Los Angeles boys would find two girls presently in New York. It's only fair to keep the numbers even.

To those who are teaching--you never know what thing you have said may have affect on a student. The affect may be seconds later or even years later. Take heart--sometimes students listen.

A Chuckle for the Day

If you need a good laugh, or maybe that should be a good cry, read the following. Gosh I wish I had thought of this! Sorry, in pdf format it looked really "official" but I haven't got the software to "translate" it correctly. And I have no idea who actually wrote this, although someone says it comes from Canada, so I can't give credit where credit is due.

Yonaty and Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin Min Hamehadrin are pleased to introduce:

The Chumra of the Week Club

• Are you concerned that people don't notice and appreciate your yiras shomayim?
• Do you sometimes get the feeling that your neighbor is observing more chumras than
• Have you ever noticed someone looking at your tefillin during shacharis as though there
were something wrong with them?
• Do people occasionally hesitate when you extend them an invitation to eat at your home,
or ask what hashgachos you rely on?
• Has anyone ever said to you in surprise: "Oh, are you maikel?"

If you have ever been faced by any of these mortifying scenarios, The Chumra of the Week
Club (CWC) is for you!

CWC is a new concept in real, authentic, ostentatous Yiddishkeit. Never again will you be
upstaged! Never again will you be at a loss for a chumra! We supply you weekly with the very
best in conspicuous yiras shomayim! (Please note that due to lack of demand for "bein adam
l'chaveyro" chumras, all CWC chumras are "bein adam lamakom".)

Special Introductory Offer (limited time only): Join now and immediately receive three free
chumras from our database (from the categories of your choice) as our introductory gift to
you. Thereafter, each Friday you will receive full source material for a new, exciting, additional
chumra which you can immediately put into use. Within a short time you will have amassed a
chumra list that will amaze your friends and make you the envy of your kollel or shul.

Guarantee: We absolutely GUARANTEE all our chumras to be of the highest quality! Our full-
time staff is busy combing the Bar Ilan CD ROM for the most obscure strictures. (Note that
with Super-frum and Over-the-top membership you can receive even more obscure and
personalized chumras - guaranteed to dumfound both friend and foe.)

Return Policy: If you are not delighted with any chumra you receive from us, you may return
it for exchange within 7 days of receipt - no questions asked. Simply state the reason for the
return (to help us serve you better in future), and the category from which you wish to receive your replacement chumra.

Reasons for return may include (but are not limited to):

• You are already observing a chumra of equal or greater stringency. (Unlikely, as our
chumras are hand-picked for uniqueness and stringency.)
• You know someone who is already observing the same chumra.
• The chumra is not noticeable enough.
• The chumra does not inconvenience other people
• Keeping the chumra would involve personal hardship

Accompanying Factsheet: Our chumras come from a wide range of lesser-known achronim,
including: the "Pi Ha'ason," and the "Shtus Vehevel." Each chumra comes complete with a
fully annotated fact sheet that includes:

• A photocopy of the source material
• A list of justifications for your chumra
• Suggestions on how to introduce the chumra into casual conversation
• Member feedback and success stories

Don't suffer any longer! Don't sit back as others beat you in the race to the top! Join CWC
today and benefit from the special introductory offer! Start your own personal database of
show-stopping chumras by completing the form overleaf and mailing it to us with your
payment TODAY!


Please complete form and send, with your cheque, to The Chumra of the Week Club,
c/o Yonaty Design and Publishing, 12/13 Shalom Bonayich, Netivot 87804, Israel.

Title (check one):

. Harav

. Harav Hagaon

. Harav Hatzaddik

. Hagaon Hatzaddik

. Kvod Kodsho

. Moreinu Verabeinu

. Adoneinu Moreinu Verabeinu

. Hamara De'asra

. G'dol Hador

Other (please specify): __________________

Name ___________ ben ___________ ben ___________ ben ___________

(You must be able to supply genealogical data for the past four generations to be eligible for CWC).

Surname: _______________

Address: ___________________________________________________________

Phone: ____________ email: __________________


Indicate the level of membership you wish to purchase (check one):

. Regular (one new, eye-popping stringency per week - $500 p/a)

. Super-frum (same as Regular PLUS one super-unusual chumra every six months - $650

. Over-the-top (same as Super-frum PLUS an annual chumra tailor-made for you, and
guaranteed to be totally unique - $950 p/a.)


To help us custom-tailor your personal chumra selection, please circle the following, as

1) Litvak / Chassidic / Sephardic

2) FBB / BT

3) Type of coat worn (check one):

. short - single breasted

. short - double-breasted

. knee-length - Two buttons on back? ( YES / NO )

. ankle-length

. drags on floor

Years in kollel _______ Current occupation: _____________________________


Yes, please rush me my three introductory chumras by return post! (Check three categories
below from which you would like to receive your free chumras):

. Food - Fleishigs

. Food - Milchigs

. Davening

. Clothing

. Tefillin and Tzitzis

. Miscellaneous

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Changing Shidduch Making--Using Technology

We live in a technological society. Everywhere we look there is evidence of this. Yet, when it comes to shidduchim, we are "behind the times." Yes, there are some shidduch groups who have attempted to computerize their shidduch lists, but the effort is uneven.

What is needed is a centralized data base for shidduchim. That's right, everyone who is looking for a shidduch all in one place. Klal Yisroel has some "brilliant" computer people out there and setting up the database is not a difficult thing. There are also business people out there who have space available to be able to give us access to a server to handle the database.

The Chicago Jewish community has such a database for its singles. They also realize how important shidduch making is, and the community pays to support this shidduch office. We could learn a thing or two from out of towners.

Issues of privacy can be handled easily. People's names, addresses--other than city of location--and phone numbers would not be available to everyone "surfing the net." Only the contact person(s) for that single would be able to access that information when there is an actual shidduch being red.

I, and other shadchanim, have made dozens of calls trying to find someone who "fits" the person I am redding a shidduch for. A cross-referenced single database would make things faster and more efficient.

Yes, I can hear the objections flying in. "I don't want/need everyone to know my business." "I like dealing with only one shadchan." Let me give my answers in brief. One, if you are in shidduchim what is the secret? The more people who know, the better your chance of finding a shidduch. No one, repeat no one, knows precisely how or when they will find a shidduch, nor do they know who the "shaliach" will be. Two, you would still be dealing with a shadchan, the contact person listed for the single. Or, your shadchan would be the one "surfing" the database and dealing with the contact person. And yes, there are going to be some people and/or groups that are "territorial" about the people they have on their lists now. No one group is better, more "choshuv" than another when it comes to shidduchim.

Yes, the horrible, terrible "W" word is involved in getting this up and running--WORK. Someone will need to organize the input of the data and maintain the database. Someone will have to decide on and implement the categories and cross-referencing necessary. Someone will have to scan in or enter the information on the singles. Imagine that, having to work to get something of benefit. Would you pay $1 for improved shidduch making? Would you pay $5? Would a shule consider putting $50 or $100 of its budget every year towards helping the singles of Klal get married? Why not? If you and your shules would then we could afford to hire people to help do all this work. Or if you are one of those "computer" people, maybe you would donate a few hours in help.

What's it worth in terms of time and/or money to have the joy of a husband or wife across from you at the breakfast table? Or the joy of rocking your first child to sleep? Better living through computers--now there is an idea whose time has come.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Please read the posting "A 10-Day Assignment for You" below, and please help by responding.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Changing Shidduch Making--a Buyers and Sellers Market

New York City has any number of venues that can handle large convention and exposition crowds. Other "Jewish" businesses already take advantage of these convention centers, such as the yearly Kosher Expo. Companies from all ends of the kosher spectrum come together to showcase their products. It saves time, it saves money and what is more, it works. What if we were to take advantage of these venues for the purpose of shidduchim? That's right, Jewish Shidduch InfoQuest 2008.

Imagine if you could get all the volunteer shidduch groups in the City and the surrounding areas to come together in one spot. Add in the various national organizations which have shidduch making departments. Add in those shadchanim who charge for their services. Add in representatives from the shidduch groups/shadchanim outside of the New York area. Add in shule rabbis/rebbetzins who actively look for shidduchim for their congregants. Now add in Jewish singles of all types, parents and just plain those who are interested in helping but have never really figured out how.

Now add in a series of side rooms where various workshops would be available on different areas of the shidduch process. Imagine a workshop for parents new to the process, and one for parents who are "old" to the process and getting discouraged. Imagine a workshop where a trained specialist lays out what's real and what is not when you are looking for a mate. Imagine financial specialists who give workshops on the costs of being Jewish and being married. Imagine "networking" sessions where singles, parents and shadchanim could make useful contacts. Imagine side rooms for various "meet and greet" programs for those who are not opposed to them. Hey, imagine any thing your mind can come up with that you think might be helpful to those looking for shidduchim. (Hmm, we might even include a small chapel on the side for "instant" weddings--if you can have speed dating then why not speed marriages?)

If we are going to treat shidduchim as a "business" then we ought to be doing so in a more organized fashion. Put all the "vendors" in one large area and let them meet. Put them together and let them see what is out there "for sale." Let prospective "clients" see all the possible "service companies" that are available and make their choices accordingly. Educate "consumers" on what is realistic to expect.

Get all those "bright" computer people Klal has who manage to find time to play games online to invest some of their energy in creating a centralized shidduch database, so singles don't have to contact 50 different people and repeat the same information fifty times.

Yup, it would take money. There are now two separate groups who are paying shadchanim bonuses for making certain types of shidduchim. Why not take that money and do something on a grander scale, with perhaps more of a chance to do some good? What we have in place now doesn't work awfully well, nor does it work efficiently. And yes, I know, it would require a lot of cooperation on the part of groups that aren't known for cooperating well. Get over it, I say. Getting our singles married takes precedent over perceived past slights or ideological differences. Either we learn to pull together or we are going to see ourselves blow apart.

Kind of radical? Maybe. But if you are going to treat shidduch making as a business undertaking, something we seem to be doing now, then at least let's make it a "profitable" undertaking. You can't treat the children of Klal as "schoira," as merchandise, and forget about marketing.

Learning from Mother Nature

I like to think that nothing happens by accident. We may not know the reasons why something happened but there is really nothing random. I just had one of those "random" occurrences and I think I have figured out the reason why I had to see it.

We have a large yard that hosts a lot of different types of wildlife. A robin came down to look for worms in the grass a few minutes ago. I meant to rake the leaves on the grass yesterday and somehow didn't get around to it. The robin somehow got himself under a leaf that must have had something sticky on it. He couldn't get loose from the leaf. Just at the point where I was going to go out and try and help, although I had no idea how, a group of three robins flew down to where the stuck robin was chirping loudly. In short order the three grabbed at the leaf and got the stuck robin out.

So what did I learn? Even if we are all individuals we need to have a support group. Some things just cannot be done by one person alone. Four minds are better then one when there is a problem to be solved. I have no idea if these three robins "knew" the first robin, or if they were friends or relations. It didn't seem to matter. A robin in trouble is every robin's responsibility. Instinct you say? Then let's all applaud instinct. And let's hope that Klal Yisroel finds where it buried its instinct.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Survey Results: Who Should Support Learning Couples

The survey on who should support learning couples is now closed. Of the five choices, three got no votes: the girl's parents alone, the boy's parents alone, whichever set of parents can afford the money. Of the 15 people voting, 13 or 86% said the young couple should support themselves, however they can manage to arrange that, and 2 or 13% said that both parents equally should support the couple.

What is the purpose of a survey or study? To gather useful information that can be used in making decisions about something. Today, in Klal Yisroel, it seems to be the working assumption that a girl's parents should support a young learning couple. Yet, in this survey no one chose that method of support. Does this represent an attitude that is beginning to change in Klal, or is it specific to the people who happen to come to this blog? The sampling for this survey is too small to make any definitive statements. If we want to see if attitudes are changing, we need responses from more people.

So here I go again, "driving the bus." After you've asked about "One at a Time" shidduchim, you might want to ask 10 or more people that you talk to anyway to vote for one of the survey's choices--just have them tell you. Then please report back. A survey of 150 or more people gives us a lot better information. And this I promise you, if 150 people say that they believe that young couples should be supporting themselves, then I will get off my chair and write an article for someplace other than this blog publicizing the fact.

In a Lighter Vein, a little Laughter to Brighten your Day

The other day I had a doctors appointment with a new doctor. His last name is "Mentsch." I kind of thought the name was cute when I heard it, but then I met him. He walked in wearing a kipoh and a wedding ring. I truly had to hold my laughter in. Can you imagine his wife telling her shadchan that all she really wanted was a "mentsch"? Can you imagine her surprise when a "mentsch" walked in the door? Kind of gives new meaning to "mentschlichkeit." Ask and ye shall receive--and a Jewish doctor no less.

Changing Shidduch Making--the Questionnaire

Everyone who has ever red a shidduch or who has been red a shidduch has had to deal with a form of questionnaire. Unfortunately, every individual shadchan or shidduch making group uses a different questionnaire. They also define some of the terms on the questionnaire differently from other people.

What we need is a standardized questionnaire. What we need is some agreement on what basic information is necessary to have and what information really has no bearing on a shidduch. What we need is some agreement on how to define basic terms. What we need is a shidduch convocation for purposes of producing that standardized questionnaire. Oh yes, and what we need is an agreement among the parties to producing the questionnaire to use it exclusively.

Yes, some Sunday, we need to gather together the heads of all the shidduch groups and any interested individual shadchanim and they need to be locked into a large room somewhere and told they can't leave until they have a working questionnaire, one they will all agree is the "official" questionnaire. And maybe to make sure they don't "waffle" around, the press should be present to monitor the proceedings and report on them.

Then the prototype needs to be sent to yeshiva and high school principals and the major rabbinic organizations for any comments or possible changes. And there needs to be a time limit, so this doesn't get shoved off until "tomorrow."

Then the Jewish media need to do a "public service announcement" and publicize that there is a standardized questionnaire and where people can find it, either online or in paper form. Maybe the Jewish presses could print a copy in their papers. And schools of all types would be asked to duplicate the questionnaire and send it home with their older students.

Too impersonal? The questionnaire would have a space, fairly short, for a person to write a personal statement, whatever they want/need a shadchan to know that is not covered by the standard questions.

What would be the affect of this questionnaire? The shidduch process would be streamlined. Fill out one questionnaire and send out copies to all the people you feel might help you get a shidduch. Two shadchanim from different places who are trying to red a shidduch would both be dealing with the same information and "know" what that information actually means. Misunderstandings would be reduced. Shadchanim could spend more time on actually redding shidduchim and less time on trying to figure out what someone is really looking for.

Parents would no longer have to worry if they are asking the "right" questions. Nor would they become highly agitated when some of the "wrong" questions were asked, because those "wrong" questions would be eliminated. If you need examples of those "wrong" questions, read my early postings on questions that a shadchan is asked.

Questions of the "plastic tablecloth versus linen" nature would be completely eliminated. Shidduchim might get red on the basis of what combination of two people would make a good marriage rather than on oblique esoterica that are in no way predictors of future shalom bais. And perhaps we would finally realize that while the basic information in a questionnaire can get two people to the dating stage, it does not substitute for dating.

Will this solve the tangle shidduch making has gotten itself into? Not completely, but it is a start. We are an information driven society. Standardizing the way we get that information as regards shidduchim makes logical sense. It saves time, aggravation and yes, money.

Changing Shidduch Making--an Introduction

The concept of brainstorming is not a new one. It's a useful tool for gathering ideas. Not every idea that is tossed into the pot will be a workable one, or workable in its totality. But in the process of throwing out ideas off the top of one's head, some kernels of usefulness usually come to light. That is what I am going to do in the next postings: some brainstorming. And I need you to respond, both reactions to what I throw out and with ideas of your own. And yes, somewhere in this process some workable ideas may come out.

And I'm asking something else as well. I'm not hunting for new dedicated readers of this blog. But for purposes of shidduch brainstorming, please ask your friends, neighbors and anyone you can think of who is really concerned about this subject to read the "Changing Shidduch Making" postings and comment. And yes, if they want to stay anonymous for this series of postings, so be it. And if they feel uncomfortable commenting on a blog, please, you pass on their comments. "There is strength in numbers" applies here. Somewhere, out there among us, are solutions to a miserable problem--let's find them.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A 10-day Assignment for You

A comment on my last posting rang very true. The person said that everyone is waiting for someone else to "drive the bus." Okay, just consider me your bus driver on this short trip.

Those in marketing and advertising use focus groups prior to the launch of a new product to test market reaction to that product. That's what I am asking you to do. All it will take is a bit of talking on your part.

Over the next 10 days you are sure to see or speak with at least 10 people. Your job is to ask those people, if single, if they would sign a pledge that someone else prepared stating that they would only take shidduchim "One at a Time." If those people are married, would they also sign a pledge prepared by someone else stating that they will take shidduchim for their children only "One at a Time." If they are young marrieds without children in shidduchim, ask them if they would have signed when they were single and if they would sign when their children get older. If they say no, ask why. You can't launch a product if you don't know both the positive and negative reactions to that product.

If you are being really ambitious, and hey, it's only a couple of extra words, ask these people if they, too, would ask 10 more people whom they are talking to anyway and let you know, yes or no. If only 10 of you were to do this, we would, at least in theory, get the responses of 1000 people. Yup, 1000. And all you have to do is ask a question or two.

After 10 days, please come back to this blog and report some numbers--how many yes, how many no. If there is a really good reason, other than "I don't sign anything," report the answer.

There is no real paperwork to fill out, it won't cost you money, and since I am asking you to do it, and you can say that to someone else, you aren't the one who will get any funny looks.

And I promise that I will be far from mad if you happen to only ask 7 people--everything counts. And if you should happen to want to, ask more then 10 people that you see.

This is how activism starts out: with a few purposeful words. Talk enough and maybe some action will be forthcoming. It works for rumors; why not for positive action? Get the grapevine working!
The Rational and the Irrational

Humans are rational beings. They are capable of thinking and reasoning. They also have instincts, feelings, emotions and passions. These are not always rational as we understand the term; if you were to apply the laws of logic and reasoning to them you would not come up with the expected conclusions. Perhaps the problem is that we assume that ALL things can be looked at rationally, can be reduced to scientific formulae, when they can't be.

Think of a food that you don't like to eat or won't eat. Now think of why you won't eat that food. Try and come up with a rational reason for your dislike. Basically you are going to arrive at "It doesn't taste good" or "I just don't like it." Don't even bother to try and figure out why this is so--you can't argue taste. It doesn't matter if the food is a nutritional powerhouse. It doesn't matter if you eat other foods in the same class and enjoy them. It doesn't even matter if you have eaten that food in an earlier time period with no problem. Today, in the here and now, you won't eat food X. Are we being irrational? Only if you assume that every single thing, every one, needs to be governed by scientific--read rational--rules.

You need a new pair of shoes. Rationality comes into it if you have looked at the shoes in your closet and you have every color but black; you then decide that black is the color you need to buy, because it is absent from your closet. But is there really a rational need to have black shoes? Or is it that we are following a "style dictate" that says that only black shoes can be worn with black or grey clothing? Or is it that we like the way black shoes look with black clothing? You can't reduce fashion to a rational approach. And if instead of those black shoes you come home with a pair of brown ones that you "fell in love with," are you being irrational? Nope. Instead, we should be saying that it is "irrational" to apply the rules of rationality to clothing choices.

Are there places where we should be applying rationality and are not? Yes. Scientific evidence shows overwhelmingly the dangers of too much alcohol. Were we to continue to overindulge in alcohol, we would be "flying in the face of reason." Ditto for smoking or for substance abuse.

Now let's examine getting married. Is this a rational thing? Yes. For one thing, as Jews we are told that we must get married, and we are thus obeying the dictates of our religion. Obeying the rules is rational, for the most part. Do children thrive better in homes where there is both a mother and a father? "Scientific" studies show this to be the case for the most part. Do married men live longer and stay healthier as they age? Again, studies have shown this to be the case. So getting married is a rational thing to do.

Finding a shidduch, however, is not an entirely rational process. Sure, we have tried to make it one. We have applied the scientific method. Scientists ask questions, lots of questions. People looking for shidduchim also ask questions, lots of questions. And these people believe that the more questions you ask, the more likely you will be to make the "right" shidduch. If a geneticist can ask all about your ancestor's medical histories, then why not someone looking for a shidduch? It's scientific after all. And if there is an illness in a prospective shidduch's family somewhere, we "scientifically" decide to avoid the shidduch, using reasoning that says "where there is one there will be more." Scientific? Hardly. That is fear at work, and there is nothing of the rational about it. (And if 20 years after marriage one of the partners develops some kind of illness, what then? Are we going to "ask for our money back"?)

A meteorologist who has seen how one or two hurricanes behaved can begin to predict how the next one will behave. It's a principle of scientific research. So, of course, knowing who your siblings married, and the state of those marriages, must be a good predictor of who you should marry and how your marriage will be. Wrong. Science run amok.

When a date doesn't work out we attempt to analyze it scientifically, so that we can eliminate any factors that lead to the failure, and to ensure future success. If only it were that simple. Sometimes, it is true, a shidduch doesn't work out because of things that were not known before the shidduch was red. But for the most part, a shidduch doesn't work out and there is no rational, scientific way to dissect what went wrong. Even scientists understand that no matter how careful their thoughts in coming up with a theory, the "proof" is in the actual experiment, in the doing.

"Bashert" cannot be reduced to a scientific formula. This being the case, why are we trying--and failing--to become more and more "rationally" methodical in redding shidduchim? We ask millions of questions, we research until we are fatigued and blue in the face, we "scientifically" approach the subject matter--and we fail in every application, except one:the one that is bashert. We add rule after rule, chumra after chumra, all in the hope of standardizing shidduchim "scientifically." We approach shidduchim as if a clear cut business plan will produce the desired results. In short, we spend too much time in "preparing" for an experiment, and not enough time in running the experiment itself.

Males and females need to go out with each other. No matter what has been found out beforehand there is no way to predict what will happen when one male and one female go out on a date. Even when everything is perfect on paper, there is no guarantee that this couple will get married.

You want to apply rationality to shidduchim? Stop spending so much time beforehand and spend a lot more time in actually dating. No, some of those dates will not be successful. Are they any more successful now, with all the pre-preparation?

In short, our "rational" approach to shidduch making is itself irrational. We are attempting to use a methodology that does not and cannot apply to shidduchim. Does this mean that I am advocating asking no questions? No. I am advocating "quality" over "quantity." I am advocating understanding that making a shidduch cannot use the same methodology as predicting hurricanes or even of buying a new car. People are not "products," nor are they natural phenomena that behave in predictable ways.

But let's be scientific about this. When scientists see that one method is not producing the desired results, they try another method. Our desire for marriage is "right"--our approach is dead wrong. Were everyone to refuse to allow themselves to be seen as "specimens under glass," were we to refuse to ask the unnecessary questions, nor to answer them, we might do better--lots better.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

For Want of a Nail

Someone commented to me that I was being too simplistic in some of the things I suggest as possible solutions to problems Klal Yisroel is having regarding shidduchim and tuition and other things. They said that the solutions were too small to have any affect. i don't agree. "A journey of a thousand days begins with a single step." If I were to follow this person's advice I would never attempt to do anything. After all, if I can't solve the whole problem why should I try to solve any of it?

The following rhyme was part of the "standard" reading when I was in elementary school. I still believe that it contains good advice.

(England, circa 1390)
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

As the saying goes, "it's the little things that count."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Thought I'd Seen Everything

The following is the last paragraph that appears on a shidduch questionnaire that was posted on the Internet. The questionnaire itself runs to 4 pages and the paragraph below is only one of 5 on the "acceptance of terms" page at the end. If after reading it you want to see the rest of this document, needing something strange to lighten the day, go to www.yisharon.org/shidduch.dot

Having given due consideration to the above, the undersigned hereby releases, acquits, discharges, indemnifies and holds harmless the Young Israel of Sharon, their officers, directors, agents, independent contractors, volunteers and employees from any and all damages, illnesses (including the possible exposure to AIDS and other infectious diseases), injuries, claims, demands and causes of action of whatever nature and character (and all costs of defense and related thereto) which may accrue to be asserted by the undersigned, any other participant in the Shidduch Circle or Shabbatonim, or any person or entity claiming by, through, or on behalf of the undersigned, or any other participant in the Shidduch Circle or Shabbatonim arising directly or indirectly out of the application or participation by the undersigned.

And you think it is only the "frummies" who have a screwed up system of shidduchim? This is a Young Israel in Massachusetts, not exactly a hotbed of right wing observance. Does it really take a lawyer today to get a shidduch red in Massachusetts? Heaven help us!

Standards of Beauty--part #3
Is there a Klal Yisroel Type?

A comment on the red head posting has me scratching my head in puzzlement. The comment was "you don't expect Jews to be red heads." Why?

I used our community phone book and glanced through the names. For those I knew I tried to picture what they look like. I did the same for my extended family. Know what I found? We come in all the colors of the rainbow, in all sizes and in all shapes. We are blonds, red heads, and brunettes in every shading. We have examples of every possible eye color. We're very tall and we are very short and everything in between. There are no--yes no--distinct features that someone can point to and say "That is a Jewish physical trait." Even the old tired joke about Jewish noses doesn't hold true.

Know what? You can't really be accurate about any nationality as regards the physical. Italians are brunettes with dark eyes, right? Sure, except for the ones who are blond with light eyes. All Norwegians are blond? Sure, except for the ones who aren't.

Our clothing choices may make us easy to pick out of a crowd, but you can't do it on physical characteristics.
A Little Activism Anyone?

The more I think about it, the more I believe that the "One at a Time" campaign for better shidduchim redding just might have a chance of working. "All" that would need to be done would be to contact every known shadchan or shadchanus group and get them to agree to the pledge. They would need to inform the members of their groups and get their cooperation. Articles would need to be written and submitted to the various Jewish media to be publicized. And then boys yeshivot would need to be notified that shadchanim are no longer going to work with boys with lists. And shule rabbis would also need to be notified. And yes, we would ask these various yeshivot and shules to also take the pledge.

Perhaps the first part of the pledge would be as follows: "As a shadchan I pledge that the first question I will ask of any parent who is asking me about a shidduch for their son or for any single male who is asking about a shidduch will be: Are you free right now to accept a shidduch? If I red you a female right now who is "shayich" are you available to go out? If the answer is "yes" I will take your information and will work on finding you a shidduch. If the answer is "no" I will not take your information nor will I work on finding you a shidduch. Please call me back when you are free to take a shidduch I offer you. I only red shidduchim "One at a Time."

And perhaps to yeshivot and shules the first part of the pledge might be like this: "We agree that keeping lists for males who are in the shidduch parsha is harmful. The women of Klal Yisroel are demeaned when they are treated like "s'choira," and list keeping reduces the women of Klal to merchandise. Males cannot concentrate on the shidduch they are presently considering when they know there are many more on the list. We pledge that we will tell our talmidim and our congregants that list keeping is not in concert with the way Jewish males should be behaving. Therefore, we openly state our disapproval of lists for Jewish males. We advocate shidduch making that is "One at a Time."

And yes, there would be a pledge for parents of females. "We pledge that we will not agree to have our daughter's names put on any lists for males. Our first question to any shadchan who calls about a shidduch will be "Is the male available right now to go out?" Unless a male is available to go out when a shidduch is red, we are not interested. Our daughters are equally as precious to us as our sons are, and we will not demean our daughters by placing them on lists. We believe in shidduchim "One at a Time.""

And there would be a pledge for parents of males: "We pledge that we will not keep any lists of shidduchim for our sons. Our sons will only know about one girl at any given time. If the shidduch that he is presently involved in does not come to fruition, we will then consider another female, only one. We believe in redding shidduchim "One at a Time.""

And how about a pledge for females? "We do not and will not agree to be placed on any lists kept by shadchanim or by parents of males. Our first question will be "Is the male available right now to go out?" If he is not, please do not bother to give us information nor mention us as a possible "later" shidduch. We will only take shidduchim that are red "One at a Time.""

And then of course all the girl's high schools and seminaries would need to be informed that shidduch making was going in a different direction. And we would need them to pledge that they support this new, logical approach to shidduch making called "One at a Time."

Hmm, we'd need to get some donations to cover any printing and mailing costs. We'd need to do a little legwork to get all the addresses and email addresses. We'd have to do follow up mailings. We'd need to nudge the media. And we would then afterwards need to bombard the yeshivot and shules with mailings. And yes, the grapevine that works so well with other things would need to be actively used--you tell two friends, they tell two friends etc.

A word of caution from an old activist. Be prepared that not everyone will be in favor of this new way of redding shidduchim. Some people may look at those who are as if they are strange or even "harmful" creatures. Those "protecting" their lists may say some hurtful things. It's all par for the course. Just keep in mind that things worth having are worth fighting for.

Making shidduchim in Klal is in an awful state. Here's an idea that just might make a difference. Sure, it still needs to be worked on--that is where your input comes in. But hey, are things getting better without our doing anything?
Male and Female He Created Them

Years back I adopted a personal policy when redding shidduchim. If a parent calling me up for a shidduch for a daughter also had a son or sons of marriageable age in the house, the parent was required to "give me" the sons for shidduchim as well as the daughter they were calling about. Most parents agreed, until I said "Fine. Here is a shidduch I have for your son. After he goes out with the girl I am presenting I will fix up your daughter." Then the sputtering began. Most common comment? "He already has a list a mile long!"

Pray tell, where am I supposed to find the males to red someone when parents routinely do not "register" their sons with me? Yes, because of the number disparity boys seem to find it easier to have shidduchim red for them. Okay, let's be honest, if they wear pants people of all types will be throwing shidduchim at them. But parents who keep lists for their sons are not doing their daughters any favors.

Someone once suggested a shidduch for one of my daughters. We said yes. The shadchan called back so happy--she had managed to move us up on the boy's list to "only" number 19. We declined the "honor."

Aside from taking eligible boys out of general circulation, shidduch lists have another, very negative affect. For a male, knowing that there is a long list of females all willing to go out with him turns him into a shopper rather than a shidduch seeker. He does not concentrate solely on the female he is going out with today--what if the one for tomorrow is "better"? Or maybe the one for next Sunday, or next Monday ad infinitum. The male becomes a comparison shopper. He flits from "store" to "store," never actually buying anything. Eventually he will, but not before he has seen all the "merchandise." A few of the males become fed up with the whole process and finally just say "Okay, this one."

It's a pipe dream, but I hope that some day parents of boys will decline to even hear about any shidduch presented to them if another shidduch has already been red. Maybe we could do a mass mailing to all of Klal Yisroel and ask them to sign pledge cards: "One at a time" is the motto we work with. If males were not set up by the system to be "michusim" maybe shidduchim would be easier to red. I'm afraid I am becoming pessimistic; the odds of this happening are about equal to my winning the state lottery without having bought a ticket. But it is still a good idea.