Question: My daughter, who is 21 years old, has been in the shidduch parashah for more than two years. She is a beautiful girl with impeccable middos. My daughter is also very talented and bright, and she has won many academic awards. We are, baruch Hashem, well off financially, so support is not an issue.

Every shadchan who meets my daughter is shocked that a girl who has so much going for herself, and comes from a family such as ours, still remains single. I know the shadchanim are trying, but the type of boy we are looking for keeps saying no. Please believe me when I tell you that we are not being unreasonable or unrealistic in what we are looking for.

I have asked the shadchanim to find out for us the reason for all these rejections. Either they really don’t know, or they don’t want to tell us.

My husband and I are at our wits’ end. We don’t know where to turn for help. We keep hitting a brick wall with every attempt. Please advise us.

The Panelists Respond

Baila Sebrow:

Although your daughter is young, I gather from your undertones that within your circles, 21 is an age where parents who have an unmarried daughter begin to panic. You are presenting a symptom which will continue to remain for many years, until the underlying problem is cured.

I assume that the shadchanim whose services you utilized on behalf of your daughter conducted an intake, as any shadchan worth his or her salt does to assess the situation. Furthermore, I suspect that with your perseverance and astuteness, the shadchanim you have chosen did not just view your daughter as a job applicant in merely appraising her resumé and picture in hope of yielding successful results.

You sound sincere in your angst. You also convey open-mindedness in perceiving the truth. It appears that the shadchanim are sparing your feelings and telling you what they believe you want to hear.

I am certain of everything you state in your letter, as I have unfortunately seen this devastating situation time and again. There is a genuine reason for your problem, and it does not come down to passively citing “the shidduch crisis” as an answer to every difficult situation.

You need to understand that the manner in which you assume your family is identified by society is clearly very different from the way they are truly envisioned in terms of hashkafah, style of living, family lineage, etc. People philosophize and come to their own conclusions, which might have a nonsensical basis. That said, regardless of what your daughter’s resumé states, the views of others will be contradictory. It is clear that your daughter’s references are destroying her chances for finding a compatible shidduch.

With all the shiurim and shemiras ha’lashon sessions people attend, educating themselves on the dangers involved in speaking lashon ha’ra, when it comes to shidduchim, people live by their own set of rules. Some people appoint themselves judge and jury when given the power of being a character reference. These people don’t just answer the questions asked of them. They further mimic the actions of a historian, psychologist, and prosecuting officer in misrepresenting the person they were supposed to be a reference for. Some are very sly with their condescending implications.

You cannot stop the average person from expressing derogatory remarks. However, you can certainly be proactive in your choice of references. In addition, you have the right to examine your references by verifying their performance.

My advice is for you to immediately change the references on your daughter’s resumé, even if one of the references happens to be daughter’s best friend. As a shadchanis, I have witnessed much backstabbing by people who deliberately sabotage their friend’s chances for finding a shidduch. The motive is jealousy. Your references should never be anyone looking for a similar shidduch for themselves or a family member.

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at

Adina Branfman:

There can be a wide range of reasons that might cause this situation to arise, some of which many find difficult to swallow. I have no doubt that the possibilities I will address do not cover the entire spectrum nor am I insinuating that any of these apply to your specific situation.

The most common issue I have dealt with is a potential disconnect between what kind of boy you are looking for and what kind of boy is looking for you. A girl bearing a description with a plethora of amazing superlative adjectives does not translate into fitting the mold of every guy. You need to clarify that not only do the boys meet your criteria, but that the reverse is also true.

Another possibility arises with the common case of poor self-perception. Many people will perceive themselves differently than they appear to others. Whether it’s looks, smarts, personality, or family awesomeness, people sometimes overestimate their child’s characteristics, especially when they are inevitably compared to other prospects. I obviously don’t have enough detail to suspect a delusion of grandeur, but I will say it is a common cause of this circumstance.

Miscommunication between parents and their children can be another culprit. This can be a small issue, e.g., the parent wanting a different type of boy than his or her child; or a larger issue, e.g., a child that has a “reputation” that the parents may know nothing about. A frequent proclivity or previous “secret” boyfriend can often be a deterrent to a prospective match.

A less common, but still very plausible, cause could be a bad reference that is scaring potential shidduchim away. This could explain consistent rejections.

Usually an honest self-evaluation and a resumé check is the cure for these woes. Make sure that you are completely open with the way you appear to the public, and perceive both your family as a whole and your daughter. Once that is covered, align this with your daughter’s interest and make sure that your references are on board with you.

Of course, none of the above reasons may apply; this could just be a simple luck of the draw which you, unfortunately, have been getting the downside of so far. Either way, as much as we feel we can control the situation, we simply cannot. We try to do our best, and let the One above do the rest. Hatzlachah.

Adina Branfman is a social worker who has dealt with singles for the past six years. She helps coordinate matchmaking events in New York City, where she resides. She can be reached at

Alisa Berger:

First off, I want to tell you that you are not alone. There are countless other girls and boys being rejected all the time by potential shidduchim whom they deemed as perfect for themselves, but for whatever reason, the other party did not quite share their view.

I commend you for having raised such a seemingly wonderful daughter. Unfortunately, there is no real answer or quick fix to your problem. You have basically described what it is like to be a girl on the shidduch scene today. Waiting for dates and rejection are par for the course and part of the parashah and must be taken in stride.

Perhaps it is time to take another look at your “must have/no way” lists and see if anything can possibly be eliminated. Even the smallest adjustments, like allowing your daughter to date boys who are a year older than those she was previously comfortable dating, or maybe even an inch shorter, can open up a whole new world of shidduch possibilities.

Are you certain that you are introducing her to the right type of shadchanim? By this I mean shadchanim who are connected with and can set your daughter up with the type of boys she is looking for. And after initially meeting these shadchanim, are you following up with them regularly with an e‑mail reminding them exactly what your daughter is currently doing and what type of boy she is looking for?

Additionally, it is important to remember that you never know from where your bashert will come. Official “shadchanim” are not the only people capable of redding shidduchim. Make sure everyone you know is aware that you have an amazing 21-year-old daughter who is available. I’ll never forget the day I was accosted in Gourmet Glatt by a friend of my mother’s who informed me that her daughter who had recently returned from her year in Israel was currently “on the market.” She then proceeded to shove a picture of her daughter under my nose and ask me how gorgeous I think she looks and do I have anyone for her.

I had to hold back my laughter as I explained to her that I knew exactly what her daughter looked like, as we had just spent Pesach together and I had just seen her in shul. But we should all take a lesson from this eager, proactive mother; by November of that year, her daughter was engaged. Be pushy to the point of obnoxiousness. You are your daughter’s greatest advocate.

Don’t sit back and think that people will call and the dates will come because she is such a great girl. In some rare cases, that does happen. But in most cases, you have to make it happen yourself. Ask around about who the good boys are in the various yeshivas, colleges, neighborhoods and use whatever connections you have to try and get your daughter fixed up with them. Don’t give up because of rejections. Keep pushing and trying, because eventually, the right one will say yes.

And daven. Unfortunately, we can’t change people. We can’t force boys to go out with our daughters, just as we couldn’t force other girls to be their friends when they were little. Life doesn’t always work out the way we would like it to, and not everyone finds their bashert on their first or second date at age 19. But if we keep in mind that it is all in Hashem’s hands, and it is all happening according to His plan, we can relax and know that it will happen at the right time. Put in as much hishtadlus as you can and daven to Hashem that it should happen b’ito uv’zmano, with the right person. That is all we can ask for.

Alisa Berger is a Lawrence shadchanis and part-time dating coach. She can be reached at v

In each installment of the Five Towns Jewish Times Dating Forum, a question pertaining to contemporary dating issues will be addressed by our diverse and experienced forum panelists. Questions and comments can be submitted to

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