In Does the “Shidduch Crisis” Exist Beyond the Yeshiva World? I tried to define what exactly the term “Shidduch Crisis” describes and whether it applies to the Modern Orthodox community.
Regardless of how you choose to classify it the fact is that there are a significant number of both men and women in the Modern Orthodox community who remain single into their late 30’s, 40’s and beyond and who might never marry.
There’s no question that the challenges are much greater for the women, since the men their age tend to want to date younger women. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are plenty of “older” bachelors either unwilling or unable to marry.
There are many reasons for why people remain single. Choice, luck, expectations and effort all play a role and effect different people in different ways. The purpose of this article is not to judge but rather to clarify and possibly offer a solution to a problem faced by singles who sincerely want to get married ASAP.
So just to be “crystal clear” (remember A Few Good Men?), if you’re not looking to get hitched now or you just get really pissed when anyone writes about this stuff, do your blood pressure (and me) a favor and stop reading now (read this instead).
Great, let’s continue on together.
From listening to many different kinds of Modern Orthodox single women over 35, most of them do give finances a significant place in their decision making process. There’s nothing wrong with that. Actually, it’s a very valid consideration when choosing a spouse — especially given the staggering cost of building and maintaining an Orthodox lifestyle and family (at least in most major US communities).
There are two main problems that result from this financial focus.
The first is that women reject men who they see as not being able to meet their financial requirements. Not ALL women, but enough to make it a major contributing factor to the issue at hand. Now before you start explaining yourselves…it’s ok, I get it. You have every right to choose who to date or not to date. But without judging the decision, it is still a contributing factor.
The second problem that results from the “financial focus” is that men feel scared that they will not be able to support a family and therefore postpone getting married. This applies even to men who are making a good living. But who’s to say what a “good” living is these days? It all depends on their expectations and the expectations of the women they date. A 29 yr old single Modern Orthodox man might decide to wait a few more years until he makes partner at his firm and starts earning the big bucks before settling down. That way he’ll feel comfortable in supporting his potential family.
So men with great jobs are waiting until they become super successful so that they can provide for the kind of lifestyle that they’ve grown used to seeing from family and friends.
Men who don’t have the big bucks kind of jobs are plain out scared. How the heck are they going to keep up with the Goldbergs on their salary? What if their wives can’t or won’t work when they have young kids? And then mortgages and tuitions…!!! So even though woman consider them “marriage material”, these men are hesitant to take the plunge.
Then there are the men who for whatever reason lost their way along the career path and are just making ends meet? Supporting a family…what the heck?? Women might view them as “nice guys”, but they don’t consider them serious marriage prospects in most cases. There are always exceptions. For instance, if the man is doing something worthwhile and fulfilling that doesn’t pay the “big bucks” — the right woman will appreciate that.
To top everything off, the economy in the US (and the rest of the world) has still not recovered from the great recession. For many life will never be the same as in the years of plenty. Expectations need to be modified ASAP.
Assuming that what I’ve said is correct, that a significant percentage of single Modern Orthodox Jewish men are either postponing marriage or unable to marry because of financial considerations, then there is a viable solution that the community can take to slow down or eliminate this so called “Shidduch Crisis”.
The solution lies in either significantly reducing the financial burden of building an Orthodox home or increasing the earning power of the men in challenging financial straits. Or a bit of both.
I truly believe that if Yeshiva tuition was $5,000/yr instead of $15,000+ and if less expensive yet quality housing solutions were available, then men and women would be much more willing and able to marry sooner.
Maybe the Modern Orthodox community can learn from their Chareidi brothers how to make this happen. I don’t know the exact figures, but I’m pretty sure Chareidi families in the US are not paying the skyhigh tuitions that the Modern Orthodox, and that’s because the community realizes that it just isn’t possible — so they make it happen.
In the chassidic communities, they build affordable housing units and keep prices down artificially so that families can afford to live in their communities. The Rebbes and community leaders realize that they have no choice but to make it affordable for their people to continue living their lifestyle. They also make an effort to ensure that every member of their community has a parnasah.
Of course there are huge challenges, but I believe that the Modern Orthodox community has the resources and wealth to surmount those challenges. Obviously these solutions would benefit the entire community, not only singles, which is even more of a reason to make them happen.
I believe that financial considerations are a major factor in the Modern Orthodox “Shidduch Crisis” (yes, there are others too).
If you really want to solve the “Shidduch Crisis” maybe the answer lies in offering tuition discounts, inexpensive mortgages and housing subsidies, and better job assistance.
What do you think?