Dear Sir: This May Be Why You’re Not Married Yet

It’s very convenient, not to mention traditional, to let your parents take care of your shidduch research for you. However, before you do, you should make sure you’re on the same page as them about what you’re looking for.

I’m copy-pasting this from an email  I got from a friend we’ll call Sfati. Here’s a quick introduction:

A couple of months ago her mother asked Sfati if she knew any single girls who would work for the son of a sister of a friend (exhale) who was working on a Ph.D in medieval Jewish history at NYU, with the goal of becoming a professor. Sfati says, “Gee whiz! I have a friend who just started a PhD in renaissance Jewish history at Columbia. I think she wants to be a professor too! They should have something to talk about.”

“Send her info!” Sfati’s mother encouraged.

So Sfati emails her friend, who responds with a standard shidduch profile containing no content of interest: some basics about her family and schooling, but nothing about who she is and what she’s looking for. Sfati wrote back, asking her friend to compose a more descriptive paragraph, which she then appended to the document and forwarded to her mother, who forwarded it to the mother of the boy.

“She’s a real Hungarian mother,” Sfati’s mother warned her. “Always perfectly put together, you know?”

“That bodes ill,” Sfati frowned. “I mean, my friend isn’t a shlump, but she’s not a dressed-up doll either.”

A couple of weeks later, Sfati received a phone call from this Hungarian Mom. The transcripts go like such:

Mother: So is she funny? Her resume was a little funny.
Me: (Oh, no. So much for my great idea.) No–her resume was a standard resume and I asked her for more information–I put that on there.
Mother: But she wrote it, right?
Me: Yes.
Mother: Cause my son would think it’s a little funny. [Note her son does not appear to have read it.] Is she funny?
Me: No, she’s not funny. I mean, she is very intelligent. She’s doing her PhD in History, which is not something most Bais Yaakov girls from Boro Park do, so she’s obviously very intelligent, but no, she’s not funny.
Mother: Ok. Is she Litvish? Because I get the impression from her resume that her family is Litvish, and that’s not going to work. We’re Chassidish. I mean, my son is not going to wear a shtreimel or anything, but he’s going to wear a bekeshe or something.
Me: (don’t think there will be much of a difference between your families no matter what what you wear) I actually don’t know. I never saw her father or brothers.
Mother: Ok. Sometimes people who are very smart, they kind of don’t have friends. I mean, my son is very smart, but he–did she fit in, did she have friends?
Me: Yes, definitely. I was part of her chevra (deliberately using a frum word to be establish myself as part of her in-group, as much as I can be while living in Overland Park, KS). She had a lot of friends.
Mother: Does she have good middos?
Me: Yes. She is very smart, so she understands people, and can be sensitive to their feelings.
Mother: Ok. How does she look?
Me: She has dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes, big eyes…
Mother: Is she thin or is she chubby?
Me: (she is chubby but somehow I don’t think this is a good thing to say) She’s not thin but she’s not chubby either.
Mother: Is she big?
Me: Well, she’s not big. I don’t know exactly how tall she is–
Mother: She’s 5’3, it says so on her resume.
Me: Ok. Well, she’s not big–
Mother: So she’s full.
Me: Yes, she’s full.
Mother: (with a tone of finality) Well, that won’t work.  My son, he never asks if the girl is beautiful or what she looks like, but he needs someone who is skinny. He’s very skinny, my son.
Me: Oh. Well–do you want to know more about her, just in case?
Mother: What I would really love to do is see a picture of her.
Me: (Hoping this won’t be another strike) Well, she’s on Facebook.
Mother: Oh, really? (thankfully, doesn’t seem to be bothered) Ok, under her name?
Me: Yes. Do you have any more questions?
Mother: Does she have a stable family?
Me: Well, I never really went over to her house. I met her mother once and she seemed very nice, and she herself is very emotionally stable.
Mother: Ok. Well, thank you. I’ll look at her picture on Facebook. Thank you.
Me: Thank you, bye.



11 thoughts on “Dear Sir: This May Be Why You’re Not Married Yet

  1. Sadly, I thought initially that it was a job interview since they were looking for someone who would “work for” the guy.

  2. Hm, so did I.

    A Hungarian boy who will wear a bekeshel and going for a PhD in Jewish history to become a professor? There are a lot of “contradictions” in there. He sounds pretty unique.

    Since I am constantly on the receiving end of anti-Hungarian sentiment (no one says, “Well, she’s a real Litvishe mother,” do they?) I have my hackles up. My mother metaphorically hid under the bed when my brothers were dating, and she was born in Hungary.

    Let’s see if the two go out in the end. I’m curious. If Momma says no, maybe they’ll bump into each other at an inter-college history seminar.

  3. Call me a romantic. I was hoping that it was for a job, she’d do research for him, and they’d end up getting married… Notice that there are no mothers-in-law in fairy tales!

  4. I wonder if all the questions were simply a lead-up to the photo question. In other words, mom is checking if she’s the right size for her little boy.

  5. …and I’m of course thinking, hmm, who do I know for this guy…? My guess is the guy is a great guy – just a victim of his mother.

  6. How about “This guy is a victim of his mother, so maybe he should grow up and take care of his own dating life.” Seriously, if a guy needs his mommy to do this for him, especially if she acts like Madam Inquisition, a girl as adult and independent-minded as the one referenced in this story (doing a PhD in history is not common and often requires breaking a the mold a bit) deserves better.

  7. Yeah, I was just in the car with my father yesterday passing through the downtown, pretty far from where any frum people live. I noticed a yeshivish-looking guy standing on the sidewalk and said “huh, wonder who that is.” My father said, “I know him, he goes to [the local yeshiva nearest our own neighborhood]. Actually the rosh yeshiva suggested that I set you up with him but I said no.”
    This was the first I’d heard about it.

    So I hesitate to judge Mr. Future-PhD on his mother’s behavior. It isn’t necessarily his fault, he might not even know about it.
    [Disclaimer– I do trust my father though and I appreciate that he eliminated someone from the running who, from the expression on my father’s face when he said this, was distinctly not appropriate for me.]

    I agree with Princess Lea, think it would be nice if they meet up at a conference about Jewish history and make up their own minds. Or just get a better shadchan to redt it personally if they don’t want to wait for a coincidental meeting.

  8. Oh for heaven’s sake. I wonder what would happen if she’d just lied to the mother and said ‘Yep, totally skinny,’ sent a photo of a completely different person, and then let the son go out on the date and decide for himself.

    (Yeah, I guess the mother would show her son the picture before the date. BUT THEN- what if, on the ensuing date, the young lady pretended to have no idea what the dude is talking about? ‘No, it was totally me in that picture…’ And then the dude and his mother go crazy trying to figure out where the miscommunication occurred and everyone denies everything. Some situations just beg to be messed with…this ridiculous game of broken telephone is one of them.)w

  9. My husband also thinks the guy probably has no idea his mother is doing all this for him. He could be dating independently but his mother is still trying to grasp at straws of control and normalcy. 🙂

  10. or maybe her son doesnt want a fat girl and the mother doesnt want her son to sound shallow so she is willing to take the fall.

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