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Kate Davis
(Via E-Mail)

Importance Of A First Impression

I am very involved in shidduchim in my neighborhood and try to help others outside the neighborhood as well. We run a shidduch group locally where we get mothers – mainly of daughters – from all walks of life trying to help their children. I try to be extremely sensitive to these mothers as I once walked in their shoes. I must say that I agree wholeheartedly with Yitta Halberstam’s article.

When a girl goes on a date or out to a simcha, she should equate this to going on a job interview. Would you ever think of going out to meet a prospective employer with unkempt hair or clothing that is not so attractive? It is hard enough to find a great shidduch when you really try to make yourself look your best.

Without belaboring the point, when a single girl goes out of her house, she needs to make herself presentable. What happens if she goes out to buy milk and happens to run into a shadchan or perhaps a family member of a boy who might be a potential shidduch? You never know where you will be seen, so it is very important to put your best face on. Yes, it is just not fair that men aren’t judged by the same standard, and that’s something we’d love to change. But in the meantime, mothers and daughters need to do whatever it takes to make it work.

Someone once told me that when a boy opens the door, in that instant he makes his judgment on a girl’s looks. Yes, a boy or girl can learn to look at people differently once they get to know them, but essentially it is the very first impression that is so crucial.

In sum, please help your daughters do what they need to so that they will be most presentable at this important time of life.
Gail Hochman
Fair Lawn, NJ

Confidence Is Key

What makes a girl beautiful/pretty/cute? Two things stand out when I meet someone: self-confidence and individuality. I know a lot of women who, when you take them apart feature by feature, are not that pretty but they exude a self-confidence that elevates them above their actual looks.

If you think you are amazing, it shows! I am more wowed by someone who “dares” to wear her hair curly or who wears glasses to a chassunah than I am by the cookie-cutter bland good looks of the masses. Don’t get me wrong. I love accessories , fashion and makeup, but I am more proud of my accomplishments than I am of my looks or my wardrobe.

I have two teenage daughters and I think the greatest gift I can give them is self-worth and the knowledge that they are cherished no matter what their real or imagined physical flaws may be. We are so much more than the sum of our parts; take what makes you unique and embrace it instead of hiding it.

As trite as it sounds, we have a shidduch crisis because the system is flawed, not our girls.
Dr. Chani Miller
Highland Park, NJ

The Financial Component

Yitta Halberstam’s discussion of the role that looks play in shidduchim, including her suggestion that young women even undergo plastic surgery if warranted, has generated a huge response. However, her article does not mention another component of shidduchim that plays a key role – namely, money.

Several years ago one of my elderly neighbors stopped me, apologized for what he was going to say, but said that he had to say it. He then proceeded to tell me he had several granddaughters who were either presently or would soon be looking for shidduchim. Their Bais Yaakov educations had emphasized that they should marry learners, and this is what they were looking for. However, they were having trouble finding a suitable young man because the first question asked by the boy’s side is how much support the girl’s side is willing to give.

“One hundred thousand dollars over three years is what they want at a minimum,” my neighbor lamented. “Where are people, particularly those with a three or more daughters, supposed to get this kind of money?”

Indeed, I have heard parents with daughters in the market for a shidduch say, “You have to buy the boy. There is no other way.”

So, while looks are indeed important, I fear that without money even the best-looking girls will not be able to marry a good learner.
Dr. Yitzchok Levine
Brooklyn, NY

Editor’s Note: Dr. Levine writes The Jewish Press’s popular “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” column that appears the first week of each month.

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