By Baila Sebrow

Question

I have never tried dating via the help of shadchanim. Though I went to Bais Yaakov and seminary, I no longer look so much like a “Bais Yaakov” girl, and I never thought I’d meet the guy for me through the shadchan route. But I’m 30 now, and I think I should give it a try.

I keep Shabbat and kosher, but mostly out of fear and a level of respect for my parents (I moved back home recently) and because I believed I would not be allowed into the shidduch world otherwise.

I am a writer (children’s book and screenplay pending publication) ballet dancer, and singer. I have always tried to keep Shabbat during my performances, albeit not quite so perfectly.

So my question is: Do you think I should even venture into the shidduch world? Will any shadchan accept an applicant who wants to pursue a career in Hollywood while also remaining somewhat true to Judaism (going at my own pace in terms of Shabbos and tznius)?

I am not picky or difficult with dating, but I will almost always go with my intuition after the first date or two. I will gladly date a convert or wait for someone who is mid-process. I would also date a guy up to 12 years older than I am. Good middos and true kindness are what I really seek.

Response

Even though your path may have changed direction from where you started out in your Bais Yaakov upbringing, I sense that you still feel a certain connection as it relates to customs, specifically with finding your shidduch. On the one hand you say that you keep Shabbos out of fear and respect for your parents; yet, on the other hand, you still observe a level of tznius, and you stress that you want to be accepted as being true to Judaism while going at your own pace.

You want what every other young lady your age desires to have in her life; a husband. In the world that you know and are comfortable in, you feel that the best way to achieve your goal is by going the shadchan route, although you state that in earlier years you thought it would not work for you.

You are right to assume that there are shadchanim who may have a problem with your choice of career. However, those are the shadchanim who deal with guys who are seeking to date young women who choose the status quo type of professions common in their communities. Your path is in the arts.

There are hashkafic circles within various communities where the young ladies who seek a shidduch all study toward similar careers, and the schools they attend for higher education are still within the Bais Yaakov type of system. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but not that long ago, girls who attended Bais Yaakov were discouraged from choosing careers that would place them in secular environments. There were many brilliant high school and seminary graduates who were forced to end their education with those diplomas and take on teaching in yeshivas or secretarial jobs in frum offices only.

For those who are happy with that derech, there is nothing wrong with it, and they happily moved along in life. But there were always those girls whose parents did not agree with the philosophy of keeping their daughters intellectually confined, or even circumstances where girls went against their parents and chose careers that were vastly different in their community. As a result, such young ladies assumed that they must become more modern, and that they would somehow find their bashert using their own social network. There were situations where that happened. But, in many cases, people do not necessarily marry those they work with. Presently, there are frum schools of higher education and creativity, so very frum families will now allow their daughters to pursue a career that will benefit them intellectually and financially.

It is admirable that you say you will date a man 12 years older or a convert. (A situation where somebody is still in the mid-process of conversion can develop into complications for many reasons, and I would advise you to be in close contact with a rabbi for guidance should you date such a man.) If this were a simple matter of finding you a shadchan who deals with men who are older or converts, I would say that’s great and there are such people who have access to those shidduchim. The problem is that you feel that those are the only types of men who will accept you. I want to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with such men, as long as they have the middos, kindness, and other qualities you want. But if you would feel more compatibility with a guy who is closer to you in age and had a similar upbringing, then it would be tragic for you to avoid searching for someone like that due to a belief that he would reject you.

Opposites attract initially, because it evokes curiosity about the “other side.” There’s also the misguided belief that since things did not work out within one’s own surroundings, somebody different will bring the happiness they crave. In order to attain a harmonious relationship, it is imperative that a couple share like minded values and goals. That is not to say that two people who come from different types of households cannot have a happy marriage. But at the very least, both of them need to look at life through similar perspectives.

Hashkafic practices, child-rearing, managing finances, living arrangements, in-laws, and even how a couple spends their leisure time together can trigger disputes if the husband and wife do not see eye-to-eye. The beginning of a budding relationship is all fun and romance, but if the underpinnings are weak then it turns out to be just fluff.

If you are committed to dating the types of men you mentioned, then you and your future husband will have to be geared up to do a bit more work than those who come from shared backgrounds. It takes time to understand each other when you live together. You need to be prepared that there may be arguments, and that when it comes down to it, you may each share different views. People in such a marriage must accept and never lose respect for one another or family members, and you will have to learn how to agree to disagree. High emotional maturity is necessary to succeed in such a marriage.

What you have going for yourself right now is that these days there are young people choosing the arts for their professions. Frum society has come a long way in becoming more tolerant of women in the arts. There are frum women who write screenplays for Hollywood, and who also sing and dance. It has been a gradual progression that eventually became accepted.

You sound like a determined young lady to have accomplished so much, and one who is still climbing the ladder to success. Just as you are marketing yourself professionally, you need to now apply those skills to finding your bashert, too. Do not be ashamed of who you are and any personal struggles with halachah. Work on developing healthy self-esteem. Network as much as possible, informing everyone you know that you are looking for a shidduch. Your shadchan does not have to be somebody who “puts up a shingle” that says he or she is a shadchan. The one who will ultimately find your match can be a friend, acquaintance, or a person you barely know who meets you for the first time, and an idea will click in his or her head to introduce you.

There are various social media shidduch groups and dating sites where lots of singles have met their bashert. If you feel comfortable going that route, you will be surprised at how much appreciation people will have for what you are doing with your life. Not only that, but by publicly introducing yourself, you might also inspire other frum young ladies who have been brought up as you have and wish to have creative occupations, too.

You can be frum and follow your career aspirations with a man who gets where you are coming from and will not only respect you, but will admire who you are and be proud to say that you are his true ezer k’negdo. Follow your dreams and ambitions. They can all be yours! 

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to 5townsforum@gmail.com.

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