Monday, November 14, 2005

"Appalling Shadchan Behavior, Aisle 3..."

For the benefit of my non-Hebraically inclined readers, a shadchan is a matchmaker. The matchmaker's job is, of course, to match an eligible, perhaps compatible man with an eligible, perhaps compatible woman. Depending on the matchmaking organization, eligibility may be determined by middos (ethical values), net worth, geographical location, religious hashkafah (point of view), or middos (physical measurements). Without arguing the relative merits or meanings of these criteria for matches, let's just move on to the subject at hand. Sweet Rose, a longtime reader of this blog and bloggerette herself, writes about why she's not rejoining Saw You At Sinai, an online matchmaking service--she's had bad experiences with the site, having not matched with a single person during her membership (I feel ya, sister--that's my story too). But beyond that disappointment were experiences like this one:
But last night's story is the absolute worst. A friend was telling me about a friend of hers (who I have met several times) who recently got dressed up, put on make-up, did her hair, and had someone take a very nice picture of her. She posted this photo on SYAS and received an incredibly rude e-mail, completely unsolicited, from a shadchan on the site. This e-mails subject line itself was "EW." The e-mail consisted of berating and ridiculing remarks regarding this woman's picture. Name-calling was even resorted to. The woman who received this e-mail was in tears after reading it. This is the worst e-mail I have heard of, but not the only one. Who on earth gave the shadchanim the idea that it is okay to treat anyone in such a manner? Who taught these supposedly frum individuals that it is under the guise of Torah to give unsolicited criticism in a mean and cruel manner? What on earth was this woman thinking in writing such an e-mail? Just because a person is single entitles no one, not even a shadchan who is "helping" that single, to be rude and cruel. I know many shadchanim received less than grateful responses from singles, and that is absolutely not justifiable either. But calling names and breaking down the self-esteem of women, for no reason that I can fathom, is ridiculously disgusting.
She's right, no question. I've heard decent things about SYAS and about its leadership, so I'm going to assume that this one person is an aberration. An unforgivable aberration, but still not the norm. The worst thing I can say about SYAS is that for me it was ineffective, not further damaging to my self-esteem. She continues:

What worries me the most is that this is not an isolated incident…One of my friends questioned whether men on SYAS get the same treatment, considering the fact that I have heard there are many more women on the site than men. I honestly don't personally know any men who are on SYAS, but I would be interested to know whether any of them have received such e-mails.

I haven't done the research and therefore may be speaking out of turn (or out of my, well, you know), but I feel comfortable saying that men don't get these sorts of emails. Like it or not, there's a huge imbalance in the way women and men are treated by traditional Judaism, and the imbalance is also clear when it comes to the value of a single Jewish man as opposed to the value of a single Jewish woman. It's no secret from anyone who reads my column or this blog that one of my central issues with the Orthodox movement is the way it treats singles, especially single women in their thirties and "Godforbidforties": as "a crisis," thinking that if the community puts enough pressure on singles, they'll marry and do their due to the Jewish people by procreating. Never mind that some people, for whatever reason, may not WANT children...Or that most singles aren't just sitting around twiddling their thumbs, waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right to knock at their doors. There are those who say we're being too picky. And then there are others who say that dealing with the nightmare of dating in the (let's just say) traditional Jewish world -- as evidenced by creepy guys at kiddush, nightmare singles shabbatonim and horrific shadchan encounters -- are enough to turn anyone off, not just to the process of looking for a soulmate, but to the traditional Jewish community in general. And that is--or soon will be--the true crisis.


Anonymous said...

Those sound like neat horror movie titles. "Creepy Guys at Kiddush, Nightmare Singles Shabbatonim, Morning Minyan Massacre, The Bar Mitzvah Centerpiece Klepto Gang".

I think an internet blog-type site is like a gigantic bathroom wall, and people are likely to scrawl rude, insulting things on it that they wouldn't say to your face. It's human nature to try and get away with things when you know you can. Though that certainly doesn't excuse it.

Anonymous said...

I have had a simular thing happen to me and took it pretty hard. It makes it all the worse when the person is mean in such a cowardly way....I hope whoever is hurt feels better soon and realizes the person who said that is an schmuck.



Passionate Life said...


I think it’s important to keep in mind when we have been treated insensitively or unfairly to focus on the INDIVIDUAL who did so as opposed to that person’s religion or website affiliation.

Whether it’s an individual shadchen on SYAS or an insensitive Orthodox PERSON, let’s not blame a million people for the faults of insensitive people. Orthodox Torah Judaism values a single woman as much as a single man at ALL times. If this is not reflected by an INDIVIDUALS behavior, shame on him or her, regardless of their affiliation.

As far as calling the singles situation a crisis, I believe that it is a valid moniker. I look at it not as a means to pressure singles but rather to bring awareness to the community at large that singles are suffering and more sensitivity and involvement is necessary.

Calling it a crisis will put the fire to some people’s feet and cause them to extend themselves by getting involved, setting someone up, inviting singles for a Shabbos meal etc.

P-Life ;-)