Talking Point: Disabilities

I found this post about the “disability” question on SYAS intriguing because, well, it’s something I’ve never thought about. I disagree with the author’s fundamental premise that the questions on the profile are irrelevant. Yes, they can be narrow, personal, and even a little weird. But the point is to help shadchanim narrow down the possibilities, and until someone thinks of a better way, leave it.

Some of the questions are there specifically to prevent people from going out with someone they’d later find objectionable for reasons that could have been clarified beforehand. Like “are you a ba’al teshuva” or “are you disabled.” I’m not saying whether I believe it is wrong or right to discriminate based on these factors – merely that people do. And if those people found themselves on a date with someone who they discovered to be a BT or disabled, they would probably reject them immediately. The result is that everyone has wasted their time and the daters are frustrated or hurt.

But what about the people who don’t care or have never thought about it? Having to choose a box to check off means they have to make an impulsive decision, and, well, the very fact that the question is being asked suggests that one’s answer should be “no.” People who might have cheerfully gone out with either label won’t give themselves the opportunity.

So, good or bad? I don’t know.

Weigh in below.

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12 thoughts on “Talking Point: Disabilities

  1. It’s the problem with the shidduch system in general – that people meet under constrained circumstances instead of in a natural setting. If you get to know a disabled person (say, in the workplace), you might enjoy his or her personality so much that you soon don’t even notice the disability. But in a shidduch situation, most people, even good people, are not open-minded enough to consider a faceless disabled person – it’s understandable that they’re concerned about the possible hardships of life with a disabled spouse.

  2. …or maybe it forces you to think about things you might ignore if “swept away” that could be real issues when the glow wears off.

  3. Anonymous, the shidduch system also encourages people to be “swept away” with its emphasis on breathtakingly short courtships. A couple who meets outside the shidduch system will likely date for months before discussing marriage, and spend a few more months discussing major issues (like disability) in detail.

  4. I object to the whole SYAS questionnaire. “Will you keep kosher in the home, and out of the home?” Uh, yeah. so will most observant Jews in the world.

    There is no deeper questions asked to whittle down the possibilities. I’m not volunteering to make up this list, but the possibilities of a virtual date are just too endless. Family or friends that set you up know you in living color, not a flat smiling photo seen by a faceless shadchan, who simply puts you in touch with someone possessing XY chromosomes. Considering their success rate, which is not really much to write home about (550 marriages out of over 30,000 members?), it shows a need for improvement.

  5. Princess Lea, there are plenty of people who everyone would consider frum who eat non-kosher certified dairy food “out.” I’m not entirely sure how they justify it, but there are enough left-wing YU types (to use a somewhat familiar example) that do this and are on YU Connects/SYAS that the question is definitely necessary.

  6. While it may be a problem of the system, the website still needs to ask that because disabilities or being a bt may hinder someone from being interested. That said so may height differences ie. a boy doesnt want a short girl. or a short guy wont date a tall girl, the weight factor, genetic issues in the family, divorced parents. The list can go on forever. The point is that people who are USING the system to find a match will have their idea of what they need, want, or are willing to overlook. They may share this with the matchmaker and that way she can find someone who may be appropriate to date. If one feels that getting to know someone at work will give them a better chance then by all means go for it. There is a match for everyone out there so there is no need to be embarrassed or feel threatened by having to share factual information on a website. No one is perfect and its just a matter of what individual factors/issues you possess.

  7. I wouldn’t find these questions objectionable if the default for all the questions about your preferences was “no answer”. But “Are you OK with dating someone with a disability?” is a yes-or-no question, and the default is “no” (although as a guideline, not a requirement). I don’t like that at all.

  8. A shadchanit once set me up with a “partial paraplegic.” She never told me about it on the phone, but when she emailed me the profile, it was in the second paragraph and came as quite a surprise (since I couldn’t travel and she did not seem to be in a situation to travel either).

  9. Define disability please. The word is used as a general catch-all phrase and means different things to different people. Insurance companies define it one way, and when they do it includes everything from poor vision (and that’s a really general category on its own)to unable to move without assistance. When you see that word on a SYAS form what does it really mean? Yes, I had people tell me that glasses falls under “disability.” And low hearing in one or both ears was a disabled person. Someone who once came to me for a shidduch considered allergies to fall under disabled. So what is that SYAS question really asking? And if people answer “no,” what are they really answering to?

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