A PSA encouraging young Orthodox Jewish men not to worry about a woman’s age when agreeing to an arranged meeting with the goal of marriage (or shidduch) has been going viral in the Jewish community since it was posted on Tuesday. It’s garnered mixed results—mostly mockery, but some support.
The video, by Kof-K Kosher Certification sponsoring the North American Shidduch Initiative, is shot against a white background with ominous music playing over the testimonials. It features three young Yeshiva attendees talking about being unsure of meeting a potential future wife who was their same age or a few months to a year older. One says he’d always imagined having a younger wife—you know, someone in her early twenties, rather than a 23 or 24-year-old spinster.
In the video, Rabbi Aaron Mueller explains that age should not play a factor. He says, “She’s a great girl, with a steady job, and a lot of life experience.” Rabbi Tzodak Katz says, “She’s much more grounded and well-prepared for marriage.” After all, if the girl comes from a good Jewish family, went to a school like Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, etc., who cares how old she is? In the end, these boys listened to their shadchan (matchmaker) and ended up married to their shidduch date. Two of them have young children.
At the end of the video, a screen reads, “Next time someone suggests a shidduch, please remember age is just a number, because the precious qualities of our daughters are ageless.”
A shidduch isn’t exactly an arranged marriage—but it is the introduction of two Jewish singles for the express purpose of getting married. Their families have to approve the shidduch. Judaism puts a big precedent on marrying within the faith, even facing recent criticism for Hebrew Union College’s rules expelling rabbinical students found to be dating or married to non-Jews. Preserving the faith is that important. And in recent years, Judaism has been facing an arguable “shidduch crisis” because women are waiting longer to get married in favor of school or careers, and men are being too picky about the age of their matches.
The video has been making the rounds on Facebook and has been criticized both for the absurdity of the men worrying about the age of their arranged wife (which is still super-young in conventional terms, or only six months different), but also because “age” is the least of the problems with judging a potential shidduch date.
One of my female Orthodox Jewish Facebook friends who posted the video wrote that Jewish women continue to be hypocritically judged “by the educational institutions they attended, the number of siblings they have, whether or not their mothers own white tablecloths, and how they stack their plates. But age? Nah, that's too shallow.”
Another countered that the video was necessary for getting through to Orthodox single men who are being too quick to reject potential shidduchim based on flimsy excuses.
“Anything that tries to get people to be more open-minded about the shidduchim they are suggested (like this video) is important,” he wrote.
The men in the video stress their potential mate’s personality, relationship with God, and her worldview when it comes to Jewish law and philosophy.
Of his wife, one year older than him, one of the men in the video says, “Her maturity brought a lot to our relationship.”
Image via YouTube