Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,
By way of introduction, I’m also a rebbetzin but as yet I do not have married children; it’s an experience I’m looking forward to and the reason I am writing to you now.
My husband is a rabbi in a small community on the West Coast. We have been blessed with two daughters and three sons. Our girls came first and after that the boys were born.
There is a difference of four years between our daughters and, early on at least, I was grateful for that. I’ve seen many situations where girls who are close in age become extremely competitive. So when my younger daughter was born four years after my first, I said to myself, Baruch Hashem, there will be no sibling rivalry here. They will have different friends, different expectations, and different teachers who will not compare one against the other.
I know families can be splintered when siblings do not get along and when there is jealousy – especially when they reach the shidduch stage and one gets married while the other remains single.
Boys somehow are different and I haven’t seen the same type of behavior among brothers, certainly with regard to shidduchim.
When our boys became older we sent them to a yeshiva in Baltimore and they did well. Two of them are learning in Yerushalayim and the other is in Lakewood. With our girls it was different. We were reluctant to send them out of town but when they graduated from high school they went to seminary in Yerushalayim.
When our older daughter came home we started to look for a shidduch for her. In our community, though, there were no real shidduch candidates for her. So we decided to send her to New York. She rented an apartment in Brooklyn from a lovely frum family. We were hoping that with the help of that family she’d be able to make a shidduch. The years flew by and suddenly she was 23 and still single. And the very thing I thought I’d never have to deal with was happening: My two girls were at the shidduch stage at the same time.
With every day that passed it became increasingly apparent that we were living in the wrong community. As much as our younger daughter was trying to make a shidduch for herself and as much as we tried to help, nothing seemed to work. Finally, my husband and I decided we would move to New York to help our older daughter.
You may wonder why we’d chosen to live in such a heavily assimilated Jewish community in the first place. Well, as a young and idealistic couple we had wanted to make a difference in the Jewish world and bring Torah to what had been a spiritual wasteland.
And we did make a difference. Today there is an Orthodox shul that my husband founded and leads. We built a mikveh with the help of others. We established a small day school where our own children studied for a few years, and more recently we set up a kollel. It’s comprised of just a few people but it’s a start.
My husband told our congregation that in all our years there we had never taken a Sabbatical or even an extended vacation, but now we would have to depart for a year to see what we could do for our daughter.
We moved to New York and knocked on every door. We spoke with rabbis, community leaders, neighbors and friends. We received a slew of recommendations. Our older daughter went on many dates but none of them clicked. After a while she refused to take more recommendations. She became somewhat bitter as she saw her friends getting married. We were heartbroken for her.
As for our younger daughter, we put her situation on the back burner. We were uncomfortable even considering a shidduch for her while her older sister was still single. And then before we knew it, our year in New York was over. We returned to our congregation, leaving our younger daughter in New York with our older one.
What should we do now, Rebbetzin? How can we find the right young man for our older daughter? And should we allow our younger daughter to go out before our older one finds her shidduch?
I regret that we never knocked on your door while we were in New York, but we associated Hineni with ba’alei teshuvah and we did not think we would find a proper candidate for our daughter.
However, we’ve heard from others about all the shidduchim you’ve made, here and in other countries. So at this point, with all our plans and expectations in shambles, I humbly ask your help in finding our girls shidduchim. They are truly lovely – pretty on the outside with good middos on the inside. I cannot understand why they are having such a hard time.
(To be continued)