Friday, November 13, 2009

Golden Oldies for Parshat Chayei Sara

I still can't find time to write so again I will fall back on reruns from last fall.

Parshat Chayei Sara is a perennial trigger of Shidduch related articles and I actually posted 3 such articles last year. The first was titled:

Shidduchim Then and Now

and it was meant to zero in on what I have and continue to maintain is the main issue of the Shidduch crisis in the chareidi world: the gender imbalance. This is not to say that there are not other mishugossin that exacerbate the problem (a la Chanaya Weissman), but (1) in many cases these mishugossin are merely a derivative of the gender imbalance and the "buyer's market" that it causes and (2) these mishugossin are nothing new. They have existed for generations when we did not have anything called a "shidduch crisis" afoot.

The second post was entitled:

Lost and Found

and it was a succinct witicism that I heard in the name of Rav Nachum Pertzovitz, ZT"L which, in one line, dealt with the "mishugossin" aspect of shidduch trevails. Note that this "gem of wisdom" was mined way before the current shidduch crisis.

The third, and most important one was entitled:

Is the Yeshiva World Ready for Web Cam Dating?

and was a call to action. It articulates my firm conviction that we can partially alleviate the problem if we standardize long distance dating over the Internet.

The immediate result of that post was that I was introduced to ShidduchVision which was, at that time, an embryonic concept to implement this idea. I explored ShidduchVision and even contacted the developers. What emerged was that although we are of one mind on the concept, we are sorely divided on the method.

My position is that Web Cam dating can only be effective if it takes advantage of the strength and ease of access of the Internet. Yes, the Internet is a dangerous tool but so is electricity. We just have to know how to use it safely and, today, it is not that hard.

The postion of the SV developers was that the Internet is a non-starter because it won't get Rabbinic support and the quality is not lifelike. It's point-to-point cable or nothing. My contention is that PTP is so limited and cumbersome that it will take years to develop, leave many locations unattended (and thus be totally useless for those locations), and will likely be eventually replaced by the Internet anyway. As for Rabbinic support, I feel that if the cheaper, quicker and more efficient Internet system is petitioned for properly, there will be Rabbinic support. I explained all of this in great detail in a subsequent post in January entitled:

Realizing the Vision

Well, a year has passed since these posts were written and there is good news and bad.

The good news is that ShidduchVision has officially been launched and is up and running and the "date" worked out very nicely - though, if I understand correctly, the shidduch didn't (you can't win em all). This is great news...

...if you live in Chicago and want to date somebody in Baltimore or vice versa.

The rest of the world is out of the Loop (and the Beltway).

It looks like some other major communities are close to being launched and sponsors are being sought out in numerous others. So eventually, ShidduchVision may actually turn in to something effective. But only partially effective.

For one thing, we must ask: how long will "eventually" really take, and how do we justify the wasted time and opportunities to help singles that are being passed up because we must wait for a PTP cable system to be installed? We have already invested a full year and all we have is Chicago and Baltimore!

How long will it take to get to St. Louis, Denver, Montreal and Scranton?

But the real reason it can be only partially effective is because many smaller communities and mini communities will never have a PTP cable system like ShidduchVision. Not now, and not "eventually".

Will Vancouver (written up a few years ago as a 70% intermarriage rate!) ever have one? Will Cincinatti or Hartford? Will Rio de Janeiro? San Diego and Phoenix? How about Waterbury and Rochester?

And some of these places need it a lot more than Chicago and Baltimore.

I really am cheering for ShidduchVision and hope that it succeeds beyond all expectations. I really hope that the time and money invested in ShidduchVision proves to be a more "profitable" investment than what we might have gained over the same time by pushing for an Internet-based system (for less money).

And how will we know that it has succeeded beyond all expectations?

If I feel no need to write again next year singing the same blues I am singing now for the second straight year.

Aren't you sick of reruns?

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