Monday, December 21, 2009

No Arranged Marriages

"No. Stop. Break!" Tires shriek as we grind to a halt. "You almost ran over that puppy!"

"Oops. Sorry. I didn't notice…" I resume driving. My new teacher leans back in her seat, trying to relax despite putting her life in my hands.

"Can I ask you something?" she says, as I circle yet another traffic circle.

"Go ahead" I reply, my eyes firmly on the road, looking out for more stray dogs.

"Do you do that Shidduch business?"

"Yup. I go on Shidduch dates." I have no problem admitting it. Seeing as how it's a subject that fills most of my waking hours nowadays. (I'm still trying to remember what I used to talk about with friends, before we started dating.)

"Have you, like, actually met a boy yet?"

"Oh sure." I say. "I've met quite a lot of boys."

"Ah." she looks suprised. "Does that mean you don't have to marry them?"

I laugh. "A shidduch isn't an arranged marriage. It's an arranged date." And if I'd married all the boys I'd gone out with, well, it would be pretty confusing by now. "It's sort of like a blind date."

"Really? We do those too. I used to go on blind dates all the time" She's trying to take it in. "Then what's the difference from what we do?" We being the secular public.

"Well I don't stam go out" ( Sorry, there's no good English equivalent for stam) "shidduch dating is for a purpose״

"You mean if it doesn't work then on to the next one . No hanging around." She approves. "And what do you do on a shidduch date? Someone told me once that you went to hotels"

"At first it's hotel lobbies. Then cafes and museums and other places. Maybe parks or the zoo."

"The zoo?!" she thinks that's hilarious.

"Yeah, the zoo is filled with religous couples, dating."

"Gosh how boring. You must know all the animals by name by now"

I agree with her. "One guy got a fright when I told him the zoo is only fun with kids. He thought I was hinting."

Maybe I should explain to her about Chasidim doing Shidduchim differently, about the different streams in Chareidi Judaism. Hold on, is that a truck? I better keep my eyes on the road and concentrate. Otherwise there might be one less Shidduch Maidel in the world.

"You know, it doesn't sound so bad. I always thought Shidduchim were like in the films. That you had to marry them, you didn't have a choice."

I'm glad I sorted that out for her. One less misconception about the Chareidi public.

I decide I'd better leave it at that. Not tell her about certain online blogs where Shiduch daters vent their frustrations with the system. Better not to spoil the good impression.


  1. Quick question on Zoo dates, is it a problem if you get a bit carried away and give a mini lecture on the Parrot in the Jerusalem Biblical zoo ? I'm an amateur zoologist, is it going to ruin the zoo date ?
    By the way, did you know that they have a Parrot that can swear about Nazis in Yiddish (its very old) if you catch it in the right mood.

  2. I have an avreich friend who always says that the closest thing to compare shidduch dating to, is... internet dating. You give a list and description of yourself and your ideal mate. (And even your intentions for seeking someone.) The person on the other side does the same. And the link in the middle tries to suss out the most congruent match.

    That thought should go pretty far in settling the minds of our secular friends, who might otherwise regard shidduchim as an anachronism :)