A Link: Shidduch Crisis Goes Mainstream

Is there a shidduch crisis, or it is a ploy by the ultra-orthodox to take control of defining orthodoxy? And if there is one, is it caused by conservatism, shallow expectations, or American culture? Do you think about this subject ever? Well, so does the Washington Post, now.

The paragraph I found most interesting:

Orthodox Jews make up less than than 10 percent of American Judaism, with an estimated population between 300,000 and 750,000 people. Being unmarried into your mid-20s in this world can be isolating.

Mein Gott! Only 750,000? And assuming half are female, that only leaves me 325,000 to choose from! Hashkafically in range, 200,000. But of course that includes married people and people who are too old and too young, so you can probably chop that down to only 50,000, if not far less.

Now do the math. You go out with 10 guys, of which maybe 1 or 2 you really liked. So we can say that only about a tenth of the men out there are likely. We’re down to under 5,000.

There’s an argument for settling if I ever heard one. There are 750,000 American orthodox Jews, of which 50,000 are datable, and 5,000 with which I could conceivably get to a fourth date. If I go out with 6 guys a year, how long would it take me to find my bashert?

…at risk of making my statistics professor cry, I’m going to answer “A large number of years.”

So basically, if you can hook one that’s half decent, don’t worry about the other 4,999. Just grab him and keep him.


26 thoughts on “A Link: Shidduch Crisis Goes Mainstream

  1. Twice it is mentioned in the article how one individual feels alone because all her friends are married. And she’s 22 or 23 (an infant!). If there was a crisis, wouldn’t she have a lot of single friends to hang out with?

    But this is seriously pathetic. Now lack of belief in God and basherts is being advertised for the world at large? Why bother to be religious? Maybe we need something like AA – “Hi, my name is Shprintzy, and I feel a desperate need to marry before God decides it is the right time.” “Hi, Shprintzy!”

    How can people view a shidduch crisis as a separate entity than the oddly high rate of divorce we have nowadays? Not getting something the second you want it does not qualify as being a crisis. Got health? Got food? You can wait.

  2. Since when does HKBH follow the “natural” and “logical” rules of math? Obviously, it is statistically unlikely that someone will find their bashert. Except for that statistics and logic shouldn’t be a factor when we believe that there is Someone up there pulling the strings…

    Oh and btw, @MCP: Good call.

  3. Of course knowing that you’ve got so many options will only prolong your singlehood by making you think that there’s someone better out there. If there was less supply (or you didn’t think it was so high) the odds of you getting married would increase, the solution therefore is to find the price equilibrium (a shidduch) by placing yourself in a situation where supply (single guys) = demand (you), so obviously you need to leave New York ASAP or you’ll become a victim of supply and demand.

  4. “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain

    He forgot to mention statistical distortion though……….

  5. Hey,

    I am following your blog for a few months, and and your today’s post is really triggering me to write down my first and probably the longest comment. Before Pesach, I was grading a few problem sets. The last problem asked students to develop a combinatorial puzzle and solve it (grade was based on creativity). One of the student wrote the following question that is similar to your calculations. The credit goes to Joshou B. a YU student. He got the full credit not because of his creativity (100% sure he copied it from another book), but his effort to find and understand a nice question.

    There is a jar (world) filled with N cards (possible shidduch), each of which has a random number written on it (middot, intelligence, beauty, modesty, and most importantly cookery). The cards are selected sequentially and randomly from the jar and your job is as each number comes out to call out when you think the highest number (The one who you are looking for so many years) has been shown and you are given only one chance to do so (sorry you cannot break the engagement or get divorce).if you call out a number which isnʼt the highest you lose.You are given the right to review all the previously picked numbers (ex-dates) before deciding whether the one currently picked is the highest. Now, find a strategy to maximize the probability of winning (Mazal Tov)!!!

    This is a real mathematics problem. Details are about a page and it is not that difficult. If anyone is interested, I can upload or email it, but the final solution (strategy)is that you should wait (and do not call out no matter what) while you are picking the first 1/e = 36.78 % of cards (e is 2.71, Napier number ). After that, call out when you see the first biggest number. With this strategy to maximize your chance.


    1: Bad4, if your date pool is about 5000, you don’t need to wait “A large number of years” to find the one. Simply date 1839 guys in a row (with a rate of 1 guy per night, it is about 5.03 years) and then again date new guys and pick the best one. Statistics guarantees you that he is the right one (or probably the right one).

    2: MCP: you are right to some extent. If he is JUST half decent, and the girl is in early 20’s, she should let him go (He is probably in the first 36 percent). But if she have already dated for more that 5 years, and the only guy who she went out for more than 3 times is just half decent in her eyes,then she seriously should reevaluate her criteria. Nobody should overestimate himself/herself. Yes, she can wait until late 30 and dates all 4999 guys, and hopefully she will find the ideal one, but then there is no guarantee that she won’t be just an ordinary, half a decent girl in his ideal man’s eyes.

    3: It is clear to me that Hakol b’yadei shmayaim. He is the one who rules the world and not statistics. But don’t forget that, as a jew, you have neshama (part of God), and therefore your decision is also counted.

  6. MCP & Bloop – He’s one of 5,000 possibilities, but only 1/50,000 people you can date. What are you chances of ever meeting the other 4,999 – especially considering the kind of shadchanim you’ve got setting you up, and the DOAs they keep finding for you?

    Lea – Good call on the “lonely at 23” thing. What shidduch crisis? Yeah, I’m single. But 98% of my friends are not!

    Ezzie – Now, if I had split an infinitive…

    Leibel – What I got out of that was “Move to where there’s only one single guy… and marry him.” Was that right? :-/

  7. N2 – I’ve actually heard that before (so yes, he copied it) and here are my problems with it:

    1 – At a rate of 1 guy a night it’ll take me 5 years to date 36% of my pool. Okay – but what about at a rate of 5 guys a year? And that’s missing the fact that there aren’t 5,000 datable guys out there – that’s just the number of guys I’d actually enjoy dating. So I’d have to date for more like 20 years to get anywhere near 35%, and by that time, my dating pool will only be dating people half their age.
    2 – Once you’ve dated 35% of your pool, you’re supposed to pick the next guy who is better than all the previous ones. You could be dating for quite a while before that happens, especially if you had a couple of decent ones early on.

    3 – Assuming you’ve dated 35% of your dating pool and found someone who’s better than all of them… what if he hasn’t finished dating 35% of his dating pool?

    So, like a number of fun statistical problems, it makes a great conversation piece, but is less than practical.
    But you knew that, of course. 😉

  8. Leibel – What I got out of that was “Move to where there’s only one single guy… and marry him.” Was that right? :-/

    Indeed, my friend is the only single guy in my community (I’d be the second one, but I’m never there) so solving your problem is very easy indeed.

  9. you said: There’s an argument for settling if I ever heard one. There are 750,000 American orthodox Jews, of which 50,000 are datable, and 5,000 with which I could conceivably get to a fourth date. If I go out with 6 guys a year, how long would it take me to find my bashert?

    My son’s rebbe says that 90% of guys could marry 90% of girls….which based on your statistics is another argumen for just settling! Of course, everyone thinks that they are the outlier, falling into the 10% of people who need something that 90% do not offer.

    But Rebbe also did not indicate where he got HIS statistics and what is the basis for his statement. Given the rate of broken engagements among my son’s friends in his yeshiva, I suspect that alot of these boys must be outliers, falling into the (more than?) 10%…..

  10. So, if I moved to your community, we’d automatically be perfect for each other and be married within months? Great! Where is it?

  11. Bloop, sorry for outing you…

    Bad4, isn’t it worth wading through a few more DOAs and finding someone who’s better than half decent than settling now? If #1/5000 was half decent, maybe #2 will be even better – even if you have to go through another 9 of the remaining 45000 in between each date.

    Although, if 90% of your dates are DOAs, your research sucks. No offense or anything.

  12. “18.So, if I moved to your community, we’d automatically be perfect for each other and be married within months? Great! Where is it?” – It’s funny I forgot, I haven’t been there in a while as I practically live where I work.

  13. FWIW, note that the person quoted saying “I’m single and lonely” lives Out Of Town, in Boston. While personally I love non-NY communities way more than anything in NY, the fact is that out of the NY area it is socially isolating to be single in a way that isn’t the case in NY (or at least in the Heights where I live).

  14. “21.*Reproachfully* – I just finished packing – now you tell me?” – First of all you’d marry my friend, not me. I’m married to my job (which is possessive), he’s not married yet.

  15. Leibel – yes, but I can’t go marry your friend because you’ve forgotten where you’re from. >-|

  16. I think a statistician went through this problem once and came to the conclusion that the best solution is to take the second guy you find acceptable.

    (The best loss/gain ratio)

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