The following letter is from Debra Kovacs in response to, “What Happened to Faith?”
Dear Rabbi Singer,
I read your article “What Happened to Faith?” I thought you brought up some interesting points. However, as a single woman who has made seven shidduchim and has set many people up I do not think the issue is faith. Just a little background on myself, I am from Miami, I lived on the UWS for a year and I lived on the UES for two years prior. Currently, I live in Brooklyn. I have had my fair share of dating on both sides of the park.
It seems that the issue is that people (men) do not have regular exposure to the Jewish life cycle. One can go years without ever seeing a bar mitzvah, bris, or kiddush for a new baby in shul. If these occasions exist, they are sporadic throughout the year. I think its pertinent for men to see a bar mitzvah every shabbat. To know that there are several brisim every week. These events are gentle reminders to single men to take stock and settle down. Living on the UWS, I met several men and women who did not even know any families and only mingle with singles. So there was never any exposure to the Jewish life cycle that was relate-able to them.
The other problem with the men is that there are too many options. There are so many girls that it is hard for many to stay focused on the one in front of them because they think the next best thing is always going to walk through the door. (Of course this is not true). The camp-like atmosphere of we are all “just friends” is not conducive for serious marriage minded dating.
The other point I wanted to make is quite unpopular but needs to be stated. Someone out there (I think a feminist) is deluding women into thinking that men should fall in love with them from the inside and do not need to maintain an attractive physical appearance to the best of their abilities. Men (as I am sure you know) need to be attracted to someone on the outside before they are attracted on the inside. A friend of mine who is a social worker for Jewish Family Services in Clifton, NJ, told me that they had a shidduch makeover day for women at JFS. A hair stylist, make up artist and a fashion expert came one day and coached girls on how to do their hair, make up, and what types of clothes are most flattering to their body types. I’m not saying that one has to be 5’6 and a size 0 but they should be put together. I do not know if this issue has been addressed by community leaders but it’s definitely something girls need to hear. I tell women just as you value financial stability in a man; a man places the same value in physical appearance in a woman.
You are correct about expectations. A women I do not know recently emailed me asking me to set her up. I no longer have the email (otherwise I would send it to you) But this is the gist: “My name is so and so, I am from NJ. I am 5″3, thin, blond hair, blue eyes. I am a financial analyst. What I am looking for: Tall, doctor (love the idea of helping people) will also date: lawyer, finance or businessman. Must have good education and financially secure. WILL NOT DATE (she had this in caps) dark, sefardic or Persian.” I wanted to reply back to her that I have a nice social worker for her; after all don’t social workers help people?! My other response would have been “If your husband loses his job and gets into a car wreck, will you divorce him?”
Women need to stop looking for dollar signs and look for ambition and accountability. A man can make $300k/year but what happens if he loses his job in this fragile economy, will he sit on his butt waiting for the exact same position to come his way. Or does he have ambition to find another job even if it’s not exactly what he was doing before. I know many men who are sitting on unemployment for 2+years because they have not found another job exactly like the one they had before being laid off.
Bottom line is that women need to learn that men are not sick, perverted ATM machines. And men have to realize if they are attracted to a woman and she is nice and kind and they share the same values, he should marry her.
Sorry for the long email. I just felt as someone with some community influence on the UWS could address some of the above issues and together we can find a solution or at least a band-aid to this monumental task in front of us. Wishing you much success in all your endeavors.
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