Thursday, September 8, 2011

No More, Please!!!

Those who have been reading my blog for a while know that I spent many years as a volunteer shadchan--read no charge--and about a year ago I got out of the business. I could not deal with the "new and improved" methods that have come into existence, particularly the questionnaires and what they ask.

Yesterday someone called me about a shidduch for one of my kids. I was happy to listen to the call until we got to the Grand Inquisition. The person calling got to the "What type of frum is your daughter" question, and having 4 wisdom teeth extracted without benefit of anesthesia started to look really good to me. To give this person at least some credit, she didn't just read off a list of all the different terms we are cursed with for establishing frumkeit, type and degree. Instead, she gave me certain scenarios and asked how my daughter would react to those scenarios. The one where I finally called a halt to the inquisition was the following: What would be your daughter's reaction if someone gave her comic books as a gift? Would she allow such a gift for her children?

Hashem Yerachem if such questions are integral to making a shidduch today or in any way, shape or form can help to define a person's frumkeit. When I called a halt to the questioning the shadchan sounded truly surprised. When I told her that such questions couldn't possibly have any bearing on a shidduch--certainly not on a shidduch date--she told me that the boy in question had put the answer to this question as a high priority. I politely ended the call and breathed a sigh of relief.

I've been married going on 40 years. Not once, not ever did my views on comic books become an issue in our marriage. No, my husband and I have not always agreed 100% on everything we have faced in our marriage, but that is what marriage is about: learning how and when to compromise, learning how to find alternatives when there is disagreement, learning that "winning" and always getting your way is not the object of marriage. Granted, I haven't read all that many comic books lately, but more because of lack of opportunity rather than a decision to stop reading them. Our pediatrician used to have copies of comic books in his office. I admit I was and still am a fan of the Archie comics. However, the kids long ago graduated to an "adult" doctor so I'm not around those comics much any more.

Attitude on comic books as an indicator of frumkeit and shidduch compatibility is just too much for me. Just when I think I've heard it all, along comes something like this.


profk_offspring said...

Ok. Now I get the phone call from you last night. Some people really need lives. Now I understand why the person who called me up with a shidduch yesterday was pleasantly stunned when I told him beyond a few non-negotiable issues (no 60-year-olds please), I'm not interested in giving someone the third degree and a phone call can't hurt.

And, for the record, my brother gifted me with a limited edition X-Men comic book a few weeks ago and I was in seventh heaven. I might not let a small child read some of the issues in my Marvel collection (which has to do less with frumkeit and more with age-appropriateness), but how that classifies as a shidduch question mystifies me (and I'm never giving up my X-men classics!).

JS said...

Well, it would seem the system works just fine. You (and your daughter) got to find out before even meeting that this guy isn't compatible with your daughter. He places a high value on what you consider to be narishkeit. If this is what he truly values for whatever reason let him be paired off with someone else who values it as well. Pick your maxim: "birds of a feather fly together" or "stupid is as stupid does."

Point is, seems there's no real shidduch crisis - people who place tremendous value on certain things that the general populace does not are going to have a harder time finding a match. You and your family are clearly more modern than you think you are (or, at least, more modern than these sorts of people). I'd suggest you embrace it and get your children to meet someone the "old fashioned way" - actually going up to someone and talking.

Anonymous said...

To me, I guess it would depend if he considered Tintin to be comics. I can certainly live without Archie, DC Comics, et al, but I consider Tintin to be seminal.

Trudy said...

get your children to meet someone the "old fashioned way" - actually going up to someone and talking.

Okay JS. Go ahead and name 10 places where this could happen today. Name even 5. Other than the really rare meet and mingles that a few places will hold, where do we have opportunities for our kids to just go up to each other, say hi and have a conversation? Even what you call the Modern Orthodox are finding themselves resorting to intermediaries just to get a line on a single who falls in the general ballpark.

We spend years telling our kids over and over "Don't talk to strangers" and then we'd like such a kid to just go up to some guy wearing a kipah in the middle of Macy's and strike up a conversation?

Maybe that should be a posting Prof. A list of places where it's safe for a single of either sex to go up to an unknown single of the other sex and strike up a conversation. Going to be a short posting but something is better then nothing.

Anonymous said...

Trudy, we are not exactly talking about children just back from a year in seminary. Adults can meet other adults safely. Almost the entire country does not use the blind date system, and people end up getting married, for the most part.

Nothing wrong with a little help if someone genuinely has an idea of a good match, but adults can meet other adults. Not every shul has adopted the mechitza kiddush yet.

JS said...


I don't understand what's so difficult. The opportunities are only limited if you limit your way of thinking or limit what is "acceptable." I met my wife in college. We both went to the same secular university and were involved in the Orthodox group there. I know of several other couples from our university that met in the exact same way. I know people from other secular universities that met that way and I even know many YU/Stern couples as well. They may be on different campuses, but that hasn't stopped anyone who's interested in meeting someone of the opposite sex.

In fact, this is how my parents met, through social involvement in an on-campus Jewish group. My wife's parents met at a hotel in the Catskills - back then it was acceptable for Orthodox, single people to just go to a hotel and RELAX and meet others without all this nonsensical religious singles programs now that do more harm than good.

Why can't you meet someone at shul or during kiddush? They live in your neighborhood, you see them every week. Why can't you make a Shabbat meal and invite people over? These things are only verboten if you decide they are. And, if you live in a community where it is forbidden, well, who's fault is that?

Why not ask friends to set you up? Just take a chance and call the person up or make it "blind" and just meet on the date. You know, without all the checking and investigating and detective work.

Join your shul's chessed or bikur cholim group. Maybe your shul has a book club or other programming. Check out the local Y or JCC - they often have programs and lectures. Attend mixed gender shiurim or learning programs. Become an NCSY or similar advisor, you'll meet other advisors and get to travel to other communities as well.

I think that's easily 5 and probably closer to 10. And, they're all MO friendly (i.e., I didn't say "go to a bar" or whatever). The sky is the limit as far as opportunities. People who live in the NYC area especially and say they "can't meet someone" aren't trying hard enough, are trying in the wrong way, or are just too picky.

It's a lot like trying to find a job. Some people put in no effort or direct their efforts to the wrong things and then wonder why they can't find a job. Some people don't interview well and don't want to work on those skills. Some people went to bad schools or have no experience and yet want a starting salary of 6 figures at a big firm. Some people won't consider certain jobs or don't apply to a job that requires a cover letter in addition to a resume.

I'm sure you can figure out the analogies to the dating world.

Anonymous said...

Will Eisner can be a very controversial artist/writer especially his New York stories where he gently mocks nebbish New Yorkers and people who live in quiet existentialist despair.

Quiet existentialist despair is not a good shidduch date.