Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shidduchim XI - A Shadchan's Customer's Wish List - Part 4: Resumes 101 - Formatting

It’s time to talk tachlis about resumes. But, before we do so, we must set a number of ground rules to this discussion:

Ground rule 1:

My previous posts clearly indicate that my objective is to help the girls in particular since they are more disadvantaged in this game. The analogy to a job resume is fitting. An employer (job provider) is usually swamped with countless resumesשברצותו אוחז וברצותו שלח.   A job seeker may have the option of which job to apply to but his (her) options are much more limited (and most likely his/her need is much greater). Even though employers must also promote themselves – “Come work for us and be part of our exciting team. High salaries, bonuses, and benefits!” (this, while the radio reports that they are laying off another 300 workers) – they still have the upper hand. In today’s economy, the job seeker cannot be too fussy about how the company presents itself, but the job provider can be fussy about the wannabe employees.

Likewise, in today’s shidduch economy, the girls do not have the luxury of being fussy about poorly written resumes from boys. And so, the boys can get away with it. Still and all, most of the pointers that will be discussed here are equally applicable to boys’ resumes, and, in some cases (where the girl is the catch-of-the-day), a bad resume can spoil his chances as well.

So, the boys should also pay attention.

Ground rule 2:

It goes without saying that everything I will write reflects my own philosophies and that not everyone shares them with me. This is the precise point I wanted to make by quoting my friend’s email in the previous post. Doubtless, some readers may totally disagree with some of the positions I present and think that what I consider to be productive may be counterproductive – or vice versa.

My intent here is to present what I believe should be included in a quality resume and to explain why I think so. If any person has heard a dissenting opinion they should definitely hear out why the dissenting position thinks that way. Thereupon, they should make an informed choice as to which approach will serve their interests best. They should not base their decisions on anybody’s claim that “I have done hundreds of shidduchim. I know what to do.” No matter how prominent the mentor is.

Let’s start.

In order to provide a visual aid, I have prepared a sample shidduch resume that meets my criteria. Click HERE to view. Indeed, this is what I actually use. This is the resume of my 20 year old daughter wherein I changed almost every single name and phone number (including hers) and some other identifying details – to protect the (young and) innocent. My Yossi’s resume consists of the exact same format and content layout but obviously has the details that apply to him.

Every document, resumes included, has two components:

1.   Formatting – The layout and appearance of the document; the  חיצוניות

2.   Content – The textual information of the document; the פנימיות

Incidentally, every shidduch also has the same two components. In both cases the “content” is the important part and indicates the outlooks and personality of the individual. But, at some level, the outward appearance also reflects some of the פנימיות and it can be dressed up to project a certain image.

Let us discuss the formatting first, as it is the shorter discussion.

It goes without saying that a resume (and a blog post) must look nice and neat, well laid out and easy to read. And so it must have what is called formatting.

Formatting refers to things such as the style and size of font, the headings, line spacing, indentations, and blocks of information. A typical resume will have a banner line (Name of Subject) at the top. It can be either left aligned or centered. This is usually followed by some basic details in regular font (address, age, height).

After this there are blocks of information usually with headings such as Parents, Siblings, Work, Education, References, etc. The headings are usually slightly smaller than the banner and bolded. The fields of information under each heading is lined up in regular font. There is usually “white space” between each block of information.

The formatting itself is usually a matter of personal style without any iron-clad rules except one: Be consistent. If you are using 12 point font Times New Roman for regular type, use it for all the regular type. If you use 14 point bold Arial for the block headers, use it for all the block headers. Don’t change sizes and don’t change fonts for similar classes of information. Likewise keep the line spacing regular.

Almost every resume that I have seen has some normal formatting and complies with these basic rules. So I have no complaints about formatting per se. There is only one aspect of formatting that needs a little discussion and that is the fonts. But really this is part of a larger issue which is itself a throwback to my previous post; the one that asserts that resumes should be very detailed.

To give you a clue about the larger issue, I invite you to take a quick look at the sample resume that I provided (and actually use) and you will quickly notice something unusual about it that differs from almost any resume that you have seen and absolutely every one that I have received:

It is 2 pages long!

So we will now discuss: The One Page Myth

There seems to be a rule either implied or stated by well-meaning coaches that “Keep your resume short and sweet and get it all on one page.”

I vehemently disagree. Not only is there nothing wrong with a resume going on to a second page, I maintain that there are some big advantages to doing it. And why?

·         It allows you to include a lot more information.

As a “buyer” I look at more information as a big plus for all the reasons I mentioned in my last post. We all know that a resume should not look too “busy” but it helps to look a little “busy” because this gives the impression that you are a “busy” person. More information tells the reader that there is more to you.  More depth, more substance.  

·         You have more space to keep the resume neat and readable.

I just mentioned that a resume should not look too busy. Yet, many one-page resumes look that way. Why? Because the writer does indeed have a bit more information that can comfortably fit on one page. So what do they do? In some cases, they reduce the font. A normal text document should be in either 12 point or 11 point font. 12 is the standard and 11 point looks somewhat busier and more “serious”, yet 11 point is also within an acceptable range. However, if that doesn’t fit, writers will venture even to smaller fonts to adhere to the mythical one-page max rule. Then it becomes tedious and unpleasant.

I have even seen some documents with 12 point font on some text blocks, but some other text blocks are reduced. This makes it look uneven and messy. I have also seen other unsightly “fixes” such as running the names and numbers of references one after the other on a single line instead of each reference in it’s own line. This was obviously because the writer was running out of space at the end of the page.

·         It makes your resume stand out

Imagine that a boy is between “parshas” and is looking over a stack of resumes to decide who should be next. Or a shadchan is reviewing her inventory. Every single resume in the stack is a single piece of black and white ink jet paper. Except one. This one is a little thicker than the others. It has a bit more “body” than the others because it is two pages stapled together or wrinkled at the corner. (Also it has a bit more to say for itself).

Which one is calling for attention? Which one is saying, “Look at me now?”

You guessed it. It’s the two-page resume. The two page resume that nobody else will write because the shadchan said, “Don’t you dare make it more than one page.”

Incidentally, I looked over most of the resumes that I have on file. There were indeed two 2-page resumes. At least one of these girls is married.

I want to add one more thing about fonts in particular. Use normal ones such as Times, Arial, Georgia, etc. Do not use any cursive or calligraphic fonts or commix or Olde English or something that makes your resume more difficult to read.

This basically wraps up the formatting segment. The content segment is much more complex so it will have to wait for the next installment. But while we are discussing formatting and appearance of your resume, let us cover just one more idea:

Is there any advantage to decorating your resume? Such as putting a border around the margins or some smiley faces or clipart on it?

(Note - Even though we already ruled out fancy fonts because of readability, one resume actually had a cursive font for the headings. This is the same girl who had a 2-page resume and is now married. Another resume had the headings in color. Another girl had her banner information shaded.)

Firstly, I can say that I have never seen borders, so, in my book, you would be the first! But there is something to be said for it.

No doubt, it will certainly help your resume stand out in a pile. And every time the boy (or his mom) or a shadchan goes over the stack of resumes, yours will catch their eye. It also sends signals of you being creative, non-conformist, unique, and daring. In short, it would give your resume some added personality. 

On the other hand, it may come across as a bit “cheesey” and you could be construed as being flashy or an attention grabber.

All this says to us, that some issues can be a double edged sword and work both in your favor and against you. This will also apply to some of the information fields that will be covered in the content section. Just be aware that you can never please everybody, so you should aim to please the type of people that you are trying to attract.

Personally, I would not recommend smileys or clipart but borders or headers that are fancy, shaded or colored may have some merit. Aside from the headers, I have never seen anyone decorate their resume, so it appears that the overwhelming consensus is not to do it. And this is definitely the safe, conservative approach (like wearing Bais Yaakov uniforms). Still, if you think the “signals” will work in your favor, then – go for it!

For - All is fair in love and war!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Shidduchim X - A Shadchan's Customer's Wish List - Part 3: The Long and Short of Shidduch Resumes

First story:

Not long ago, my wife and I were visiting some relatives who were staying at a Jerusalem hotel. In the lobby, my wife chanced upon another hotel guest from the US that she knew. As to be expected, the conversation veered toward the subject of our children and it was mentioned that we have a son in the US in shidduchim.  They then discussed the American “system” including the style of resumes and the woman told my wife, “Now they are telling us not to put any extensive information on the resumes. Just some very basic facts. The shorter the better.”

I was only a casual eavesdropper in this conversation, but when I heard that statement my eaves formally dropped out. Who are the omniscient “they”? Is there some central “shidduch rules” Bureau of Standards? Who decides things like this? Most importantly, in what way and for whom is such a standard helpful?

Second story:

In response to my previous post, I received an email from a close friend. He wrote: “My objective in seeing a resume for a girl is to recognize association and thus family make up and if there is any direction on finding out honest info.”

I took this to mean that he does not look at a resume as a substantial composite of information but rather as a launching pad to accruing more (honest) information. As such it doesn’t bother him if a resume is somewhat “skimpy”.  But, at the very least, he does want to see two things: “association” and “family makeup”.

I responded to him that he could not have been more helpful in allowing me to make my point. To some extent we have different goals (or, at least, different emphases). In contrast to him, I look at a resume to see if there is a chance that this girl is suitable for my son. For this, I may require a more extended profile than he does. Also, I may read more into certain nuances and subliminal messages.

Who is right, my friend or I?

This is a silly question. He is a buyer for his sons and I am a buyer for mine. We are both “customers” of the sellers. Often enough, of the same sellers. And the customer is always right. Every customer. So it definitely pays for a seller to please as many buyers as possible. If one wants to catch more types of fish, it is recommended to use different types of bait.

Now, let’s check out the seller. What is the seller’s objective in writing a resume (or a product description)?

The answer is: to get the product sold, or – to get the job!

And how does one do this?

By informing the buyer that you (your product) are what he is looking for; that you are a suitable candidate for the job.

But that’s not all.

You also need to give the buyer or employer the impression that not only are you a suitable candidate for the job, but that you are the best candidate for the job.

Your resume has to beat out everyone else’s.

Now, hundreds of overly complacent girls present shoddy resumes on the assumption that the proposed suitor will inquire by the agent (shadchan) on more detailed information and will get the full sales pitch on what a metziah she really is. Furthermore, they assume they have a sterling set of references that each will sing their praises. And, as far as my friend is concerned, if the resume presents adequate “association” and “family makeup”, he will dig further.

But, I most probably will not. This is partially due to what I wrote two posts ago that our unique situation of being located overseas makes fact-finding a very tedious chore. And we will not do it unless we already think that this prospect is not only a suitable candidate, but one of the best candidates out of all of the current applicants. When a shadchan emails us a resume with a cover note saying: “If you need to know anything else, just ask.”, the resume better look interesting or we are not going to just ask. If the resume flunks, the shadchan, unless they are very aggressive and follow up on us, will probably not get the chance to give us the full mi-shebeirach. Likewise, the references could be the Gadolei haDor, but if the top half of the resume is not up to snuff, we will never reach the bottom half where the references are lurking. Just like a job resume, an employer will not call your references if he doesn’t already think you qualify for the post.

I guess that in America, you need a good shadchan to get the resume through the door. By me, you need a good resume to get the shadchan (or the references) through the door.

I am writing this blog post to let American readers know: Don’t think that just because our circumstances force us to be very fussy on resumes that we are the only ones; and don’t think that this does not apply to the typical American “buyer”. I am certain that there are plenty of American based families that likewise see the resume as the first line of offense.

In my close friend’s email, after that one sentence that I quoted above, he added a second sentence that I did not fully understand: “If you start doing what your suggesting they will all sound the same anyway.”

He may not have understood what I am suggesting. I am suggesting that every girl’s resume (and boy’s for that matter) should be as extensive and detailed as it can be. One of the main reasons is that the more detailed it is, the more it paints a precise composite picture and, consequently, the more it makes the subject unique.

In my book, the way you get your resume through the door is by making it look different than anybody else’s. To give an example, in my children’s resumes, I include hair color and eye color. I haven’t seen anybody else do it. Why do I?

One reason is precisely because nobody else does it. It shows that whoever wrote this resume is not just another cow in the herd. This is the one with the brown hair and the green eyes. Also, this is one who is thoughtful enough to provide this information. It makes a psychological impression.

In addition, it actually helps give the reader a bit of a mental image of the physical person (in lieu of photographs which are not encouraged in our circles). And since this image is only imaginary, the incomplete part of the image is usually in line with the how the buyer wants the prospect to look (as opposed to what kind of Frankenstein they really look like). So now your resume presents a partial physical image while the next person’s resume does not. Which one has the upper hand?

One more thing. In this game, time is of the essence. This means that today your resume may be some bochur’s king of the pile. But tomorrow, a new one may show up in the email that will upstage yours. Thus, the quicker and easier that you make it for a buyer to determine that you are numero uno, the less likely for a last minute upset.

My original plan for this post was to be very specific and to go into detail about what to include in a resume line item for line item. But, as usual, my post is already overflowing so it will have to wait for the next installment. I think it will be valuable advice.

So for now, let’s review some of the reasons why it is an advantage to have a very informative resume:

·        It makes you unique and helps you stand out from the others

·        It gives the impression of a deeper, more sophisticated person. A shallow resume indicates a shallow person

·        It sends the subliminal message that you want the buyer to know about you

·        It saves the buyer time from having to hunt for the information he wants and lowers the chances of another resume upstaging yours in the interim

·        It is, plain and simple, a display of courtesy and thoughtfulness (which reflects on you).

Recall what I wrote in the previous post: a girl does not necessarily have a barshert. There must be a concerted hishtadlus commensurate to the demands of the circumstances. You will only beat the competition if you compete. And these advantages will give you a competitive edge in this competitive world.

Hence, we can add one more entry on the above list of advantages for an informative resume:

·        It sends the subliminal message that you are truly competing for the job and you really want to get married.

And this will distinguish the kallahs from the girls.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Shidduchim IX - A Shadchan’s Customer’s Wish List - Part 2: Barshert is Barshert, No?

One of the most puzzling concepts in our mesora is the concept of barshert especially as it relates to other obscure concepts such as bechira and hishtadlus.

We all know the famous gemara in Sota and Sanhedrin which states that "Forty days before the formation of the fetus, a heavenly voice announces:  The daughter of this one is destined for Ploni; the house of this one is destined for Ploni; the field of this one is destined for Ploni." Yet, in Moed Kattan the gemara says that one can daven to get a certain woman or property and perhaps he will be granted it out of Heavenly mercy. Likewise, in Sota and Sanhedrin the gemara tells us that this only applies to our first shidduch (zivug rishon) but not to subsequent ones. The subsequent ones are based solely on our "acts" (behavior or merit).

I have heard it said that “the first zivug” may refer to the first shidduch prospect that is offered to any individual. Once that one is turned down, all of those that are suggested afterward are considered “zivug sheini” and are based on our acts.

A more practical perspective is that the concept of “zivug rishon” only was applicable in days of yore when it was commonplace for girls to be married at pre-adolescence and boys in their teenage years. This is before either one is 20 years old and fully responsible for their "acts". Thus, since the boy and girl are not fully mature and have not yet adopted an adult lifestyle, they are matched with Heavenly foresight. Today that almost all boys and most girls are married when they are already 20 and answerable for their acts, they are automatically in “zivug sheini” mode. (I do not have any names to attach to the above viewpoints).

Whether these explanations are true or not, for all we know, they may be. And it says to us that, in practice, we can’t really rely on the barshert card.

Now here is a very interesting observation. As noted, this statement of “bas ploni l’ploni” is quoted three times in Talmud Bavli: Sota 2a, Sanhedrin 22a and Moed Kattan 18b. All three places deal with the apparent contradiction of “barshert” versus “hishtadlus/bechira”. But there seems to be three major discrepancies between the quotes in Sota and Sanhedrin on one side and the one in Moed Kattan.

1.   In Sota and Sanhedrin, the gemara states that this bas kol comes out forty days before the fetus is formed. In Moed Kattan it says that it comes every single day.

2.   In Sota and Sanhedrin, this contradiction is indeed between “barshert” vs. “bechira” (acts or behavior) while in Moed Kattan the contradiction is between “barshert” and “hishtadlus” (davening for a specific shidduch).

Tosefes in Moed Kattan (and Sota) do not seem to be bothered by these first two discrepancies. They ask: Why doesn’t Shmuel answer the contradiction in Moed Kattan that the barshert is for zivug rishon and the hishtadlus is for zivug sheni just like in the other two places in Shas?

I think that a third major discrepancy addresses the first two and negates Tosefos’ question:

3.   In Sota and Sanhedrin, this quote is attributed to Rav by way of Rav Yehuda. In Moed Kattan it is attributed to Shmuel by way of Rav Yehuda. (Rav Yehuda was a student both of Rav and of Shmuel).

It seems to me that Rav in Sota and Sanhedrin and Shmuel in Moed Kattan are discussing two different scenarios and saying two different things. Rav is talking about zivug rishon and thus he says “forty days before the fetus is formed…” Nothing will interfere with this at the zivug rishon stage so when the gemara asks a contradiction about being matched by merit, the way out is to say we are not referring to zivug rishon but zivug sheini.

Shmuel in Moed Kattan was not discussing zivug rishon at all. His starting point was zivug sheini. Therefore, for zivug sheini, the appropriate mate is always changing on a day to day basis based on the person’s behavioral status. As such, for zivug sheini mode, there is a brand new barshert every single day! In this setting, tefillah and hishtadlus will be effective even if there has been a “gezeira” that this woman is destined for another.

So, after all this we are plenty confused. Our future jobs, homes, and spouses are pre-ordained as barshert but because we have bechira, if we don’t do our hishtadlus, barshert won’t happen.


Now, here is a bigger question. Does a woman have a barshert at all?

Despite all of the efforts of the Open Orthodox and WOW, etc. etc. to equalize the genders, the Torah itself and the words of Chazal are not very egalitarian. For example, in the famous gemara in Beitza we are told that our preordained parnassah is set every Rosh Hashannah. But this budget does not include our expenditures for Shabbos and Yom Tov and tuition for our sons in learning. This will always be reimbursed at whatever the expense.

At face value, this only applies to sons. Many folks want to say that this holds true for the learning expenses incurred for the daughters, as well. I cannot say whether this is true or not but I can say that the gemara doesn’t say so. It mentions only boys.

Now, the terminology – This one’s daughter is for “Ploni” (male), as well as field for “Ploni”(male) and house for “Ploni”(male) certainly does not sound gender neutral. Actually, Tosefos in Sota seems to hold that this is said specifically for the males since, in most cases, the girl is not yet even in formation mode. One may want to deduce that Tosefos will hold that if the girl is indeed already in formation, there may be decrees on her as well but it is definitely inconclusive.

All told, up to this point we are not sure that any such preordained decrees are directly conferred to any girls. At best, a girl may be assured a preordained mate by virtue of being the one named on a specific male’s profile. But this will only apply to zivug rishon!

And in a society where there are more eligible girls than boys and chazal forbid us from double-duty, it will come out that although every boy may have an initial predestined mate and, according to the way I explained the gemara Moed Kattan, he may have a new daily predestined mate even in zivug sheini mode, there is yet no conclusive statement from chazal that a girl has a predestined mate whatsoever!

There is good news in this and bad news. The bad news is that my opinion is that every girl should get the concept of barshert out of their head. As far as we know they have no barshert. It is all dependent on their merit (acts) and their hishtadlus.

The good news is as follows: In today’s raging shidduch crisis atmosphere, a girl may reason as such: “Either I am on some boy’s hit list or not. If I am, it’s going to happen no matter what so why bother doing any substantial hishtadlus? And if, Ch”v I am not, so then there is no hope for me and all my hishtadlus won’t help, so why bother doing any substantial hishtadlus?” And she may fall into a rut of despair. This viewpoint says that, at this stage, a boy gets another barshert every day and there is no reason that it can’t be her. Thus, as I just wrote in the “bad news” paragraph, there is nothing but hishtadlus.

For girls, the shidduch crisis is a war, and Yaakov Avinu has shown us how to fight a war: Prepare for battle, buy off the Powers that Be, and Daven.

In other words: For the girls, hishtadlus is the only card in the game. Do it and do it right.

I am now (almost) getting to the point of this whole post.

I have several very close acquaintances who are in their advanced years and have never been married. In regard to some of them, I have been asked over the years why it is that these people have not found their “intendeds”? Obviously, I don’t know the real answer but in some cases I know enough to respond, “I have never seen this or that person going about the parsha as if they really want to get the job done.”

Sometimes, in order to win the game, you really need to play the game to win.

Now, I am writing as the father of very eligible boy. I represent the “buyer” in the shidduch market. It is the girls’ job to “sell the product”, so they are the “sellers”. And I am totally astounded by how many sellers are out there that are not playing the game as if they really want to get the goods sold!

As I wrote in my last post, my proximity here in Eretz Yisroel forces me to employ a particular MO (method of operation) which may not be the standard in the US. Here is how we operate: If somebody meets my Yossi and wants to set him up, Yossi will give the kind person our contact information and instruct them to send us the girl’s resume by email. My wife and I will screen the resumes to see what looks interesting and we will take it from there.

We generally do not first get an earful from the shadchan and then a resume just as a “zichron devarim” like other folks do. For us, the resume is the full product description and the marketing brochure. We will not contact the shadchan if we don’t like the resume. (Though some shadchanim follow up and contact us.) So, just like a job resume, a shidduch resume has to “scream” at the buyer and say, “I am what you are looking for. I am not like every other resume in your pile. I am special!” And it should say, “I am playing this game to win.”

I am utterly astounded by the way many, if not most, of the resumes are written. And, in so many cases, I look at a resume and ask myself: Does this girl really want to get married??

It’s amazing how much psychology is involved in a resume and what messages a shrewd person can read into every line. Now, because I have a seasoned gemara kupp and an analytical mind, I can easily point out what is right or wrong with a resume. But one does not need to be a high-tech geek or uber-chacham like me. These “signals” are picked up subconsciously even by less astute people. And if it gives the wrong message, it gives the wrong feeling. I cannot tell you how many resumes I felt like ripping to shreds due to a lack of basic fundamental information. This is because I felt that the “seller” is playing hide-and-seek with me by not telling me what I want to know. And, this translates into my mind, “This girl is not serious”.

This resume is not screaming: “I am special!” it is screaming “Go look somewhere else!”

And I cannot be the only one who gets these negative signals.

So, in my next post, I intend to reveal what is truly at the top of my wish list as a shadchan’s customer: Properly conveyed information – up front.

There is a science (and an art) to writing resumes and it pays for an astute seller and an astute agent (shadchan) to understand this science. You need to do what it takes to turn a “suggestion” into a date. It takes a bit of hishtadlus.

It is not automatically barshert.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Shidduchim VIII - A Shadchan’s Customer’s Wish List - Part 1: The Skype is the Limit

The title of this post is a parody of the title of an article that appeared in last week’s Mishpacha magazine. The article – Your Shadchan’s Wish List - was about a shadchan’s perspective of what would help people get married. As the father of a boy (or two) currently in the Parsha, and with the knowledge that it is a “buyer's market” from the boys’ side (כי יקח איש אשה), I think it may be helpful to add to it the perspectives of a “buyer”. It will require more than one post so here is Part 1.

The Shidduch Crisis languishes on. And why should it not? For one thing, one of the primary causes - the fact that more girls than boys enter the shidduch market on a yearly basis – has not changed and won’t change anytime soon. (See this clip from Yisroel “Freddy” Friedman. I agree with all he says except where he says there is no such crisis here in E”Y. It exists here as well but is not as severe.) In this respect, I have reached the conclusion that this crisis is at least partially Heavenly ordained and beyond our capabilities to eradicate.

But, beyond this, it seems clear to me that certain steps that can be taken to alleviate this crisis have not been taken.

The most obvious one and the one that I have been preaching about for years is that modern web cam technology (e.g. Skype) should be integrated into the shidduch process (see the links at the end of this post). When I discuss this with people one-on-one, all I get are “Yes, but…”s. I have emailed both to Freddy Friedman (to pass on to S. Y. Rechnitz) and to R. Shlomo Lewenstein about this and have received no responses. Not a single man of action has contacted me.

To rephrase a very popular quote: Irrationality is to keep doing things the same way and to complain about not getting better results (and that there is a crisis going on).

But HKBH says: מה תצעק אלי? דבר אל בני ישראל ויסעו!

Why are you screaming to Me? Speak to the Children of Israel to move on…”

Even when HKBH Himself puts us in a tight spot, we cannot just stand there. It is our duty to move on. Yet, the Children of Israel are frozen in their tracks. They are afraid to move on. Where is Nachshon?

Before I say more, I want to present a progress report. My prodigy “Yossi” who starred in some previous posts is still out there. He was in the US from last July until Pesach when he came home for Bein Hazmanim. He recently returned to the US and is back in the hunt.

The hit-or-miss adventures of those nine months (chavlei leida) could fill a book, or at least a few blog posts. Though he made a hit with his Rosh Yeshiva, chavrusas and many friends and relatives, when it comes to shidduchim, all he had were misses – Miss Klein and Miss Schwartz and Miss Rechnitz (I can fantasize, can’t I?). Hence, I have learned quite a bit about the American Yeshivish dating scene. It ain’t what it used to be!

Now, I am writing from my lofty perch here in Yerushalyim, Ir HaKodesh (second only to Lakewood, NJ, Ir Kodesh Hakedashim). Thus, the distance gives me some advantages and disadvantages. The prime disadvantage is that I am too far away to get a close-up view and to manage the situation directly. But the advantage of distance is that one can have a bird’s eye view of the larger picture. From here, Los Angeles and Denver and St. Louis and Chicago and Baltimore and NY/NJ are all the same.

I am an American oleh, somewhat tech savvy (though not fully up-to-date), who still has parents and in-laws and siblings and, now, two unattached sons in the US. I still have a bank account in the US and I do buy things on Ebay, Amazon, Target, Old Navy (all in dollars) sent to American addresses and transported by relatives. And I buy airplane tickets, too. Until recently, I worked at a high-tech company servicing US customers. (I am now “between jobs”.) All my writing is targeted to Anglo-Jewish audiences. Thus, from my holy abode here in Eretz HaKodesh אכתי עבדא דאובאמה אנא. I still have a “virtual” life in the US. As such, the Internet, for better or for worse (what I call the Parah Adumah) is an intrinsic part of my life.

Often, the most convenient times to speak to people one does not see is on Erev Shabbos or Motzaei Shabbos when people are home. But we here in Eretz Yisrael cannot speak to Americans on Erev Shabbos because here Shabbos begins when Americans wake up. Likewise we cannot speak to Americans on Motzaei Shabbos because we are in bed when Shabbos ends. (Thank G-d for Sundays!) Thus we must rely more on email to communicate overseas.

Israelis who do not interact with the US as much as I do have no such need for the Internet and Americans who live near their families and can just go shopping at Target and Walmart and go personally to their banks and don’t fly around likewise do not need it as much as I do.

It is with all this background that I can appreciate more than others what the Internet has enabled us to do and how it can help communication – and dating – even at close range.

The Americans are too close to the forest to see the trees.

What were my arguments in favor of web cam dating? They were the following (not the full list):

·         It negates distance

·         It saves time

·         It saves money

·         It saves lives

And now, to illustrate, back to my Yossi.

The truth is that over his nine months in the US, Yossi only met up with about six Misses. He began his trip with a summer camp job and then a new Yeshiva in Ellul plus just getting to know folks, so we didn’t really expect him to see much action before Cheshvan. On top of that, he hadn’t succeeded in getting a driver’s license in Eretz Yisroel (don’t ask – it’s a post in itself) but he managed to get one in his birth state over Sukkos.

His first encounter was after Sukkos which he was spending in an out of town community by his grandparents. Some baalhabayis spotted him and thought he would shtim with his gorgeous tuchter. He was still working at his license at the time so the maidel provided the transportation. After two very low cost dates with no fireworks (but still ok) he left town and reported to Yeshiva in NJ. This might have been a good scenario for some Skyping, but instead, the girl’s side put in a few bucks and shipped her east (supposedly she had a wedding to attend anyhow). He needed to date her and this time she did not bring a car. He had to rent one. $90!

Welcome to dating in America!

Before he left the Holy Land, I told him that although I give my blessing for his ventures, I cannot back him financially too far. If he needs $100+ dates, he will need to come up with the gelt himself. So, after three dates and still feeling parve, the girl was released. Was it a pre-mature decision? We’ll never know, will we?

Moral: Web cam dating can save money and prevent quick decision making.

Not only did this date cost Yossi over $100 but it cost the girl about another $300. Perhaps, in a case like this where the parties are seeing each other it doesn’t make sense to revert to Skype, but it’s nevertheless a sad situation where the girl needs to shell out to chase the boy to the coast. This did not occur in my days.

A bit later, while in Yeshiva in NJ, we got a nice sounding suggestion from another mid-western town. Yossi was in no position to fly out there but, as seems to be the trend, the girl was willing to fly in. If there was a textbook call for Skype, this was it.  

In this case, I explicitly told Yossi to tell the Shadchan that he wants to Skype her first before she drops a few hundred to fly out on a blind date. The response, in line with what skeptics have been telling me all this time, was that she is quite willing to spend the money (her father is a Rebbe – who’s money?) and quite unwilling to Skype. So she spent and she flew.

Yossi learned how to economize a bit on the dates (she was stationed in Lakewood) so they went out three times and then she said no. As far as I am concerned she could have said no over the web cam from the comfort of her own home for a lot less money and without missing work.

Moral: Web cam dating can negate distance and save time and lots of money.

By now I was resigned to the new American system. Girl travels, no Skype. Have it your way. When in Rome, do like a Roman. In any case, the next girl was a hit and a miss. Actually a hit-and-run and a miss. And the most expensive date of all!

This prospect was from Monsey. Monsey is a bit ironic because it can easily fall through the cracks. Too close to Lakewood to require a girl to relocate but too far as to be a cheap and simple date. Yossi who has to count his pennies was waffling on this one.

In order to lighten the expense, the shadchan offered to Yossi the use of her brother-in-law’s car, a battered cheap AMC Saturn, if he could get to Passaic. Luckily, we have relatives in Passaic so, for the first date, Yossi spent Shabbos in Passaic and, after Havdalah, he took hold of the car. He GPS'ed his way to Monsey and went out on a proper date. When it was over, past midnight, he took the girl back home to Monsey and headed off to Passaic. He almost made it.

We all know that after midnight on a Saturday night in non-Jewish America is witching hour. Watch out! Approximately 1:15 am on Passaic Ave. a guy named Jose driving a big black Ford pickup (or SUV) DUI'ed through a stop sign and got Yossi front-side. Demolished the front end. Totaled. Hit and run.

Chasdei Hashem ki lo tamnu! If, R”L, his car would have been positioned two feet forward…who knows? (Though if he was ten feet forward, nothing would have happened.) Yossi walked away with merely a slight bruise on his leg but without a car. A borrowed car. An uninsured-for-collision borrowed car.

Although the owner, a Passaic yungermahn, did not have comprehensive insurance, he did have AAA which automatically provides collision insurance, with one catch. The offending car must be identified. They do not cover hit-and-run. It just so happened that Jose, who was stoned, didn’t get too far and the cops followed a trail of fluids and debris and picked him up but they never informed the owner. To them it was just another Saturday night DUI smash-up. Happens every week.

A few weeks later, however, the owner did pick up a police copy of the accident report and sure enough all of the perp’s details were right there. At the end, AAA did cover the loss but with a $500 deductible. Plus there was a $200 towing charge courtesy of the Passaic Police Department. A posek said that a shoel is only responsible for the car but not the towing charge so the date cost us $500 plus another $50 for the GPS device (aside from the price of the date) and the generous yungermahn was out $200 (but we think he scored big on the value of the car). Yossi had to take up a collection to cover the loss (thank G-d for grandparents).

$550 (dammim merubim) for a date which ch”v could have cost everything (sh'fichas dammim). Only a first date! Incidentally, after one more date (the girl came to Lakewood), she said no (no kesher to the smash-up).

Saturday night after chatzos is not the time to be out on the streets – or roads – if you don’t have to. I am advocating web cam dating so that, at least some times, you won’t have to. Incidentally, in my original post about Skype dating, I related a very similar story about my brother-in-law. Both events could have ended a lot differently. Like I wrote then, we can laugh at it now, but it’s no laughing matter.

Moral: Web cam dating can negate distance and save lots of time and lots and lots of money – and lives.

So this part of my perspective is drawing to a close but I am getting more than a bit peturbed at the laxity of the “system”. This is a serious matter.

·         There is money at stake (הוצאת דמים)

·         There is time at stake (איבוד ימים)

·         There are lives at stake (שפיכת דמים)

·         There is kedusha at stake (תהיו תמים)

The Americans may be too close to ground zero to see it but I am not. And I formally challenge all of the prominent shadchanim – including R. Shlomo Lewenstein, R. Yisroel Friedman, and the rest – plus all of the Roshei Yeshivos, Mashgichim and Rabbanim of all of the mosdos in New Jersey  to reevaluate the situation and step up to the plate.

In my post from 2009 I quoted the following from Jonathan Rosenblum:

A few weeks ago, the Novominsker Rebbe told me that he views the so-called Shidduch Crisis, as the most devastating problem facing the Orthodox community – a matter of “dinei nefashos.”

I commented:

If it is truly a dinei nefashos, then we are facing a situation of לא תעמד על דם רעך and we must save neshamos with any practical means at our disposal.

That was more than seven years ago. Before I had to deal with it myself. But I will now state in no uncertain terms that it’s not just לא תעמד על דם רעך. All the korbanos of the last seven years, financially, physically, and spiritually, are שפיכת דמים plain and simple. And it is the powers that be that have not heeded the clarion call that have all that שפיכת דמים on their hands.

It is high time to put our money where our mouse is.

Previous posts about Web Cam dating:

Original post - November 26, 2008       >                   HERE

Second post (Shidduch Vision) - January 28, 2009  >  HERE

Third post - August 10, 2014               >                    HERE