Editor’s Note: Rebbetzin Jungreis, a”h, is no longer with us in a physical sense, but her message is eternal and The Jewish Press will continue to present the columns that for more than half a century have inspired countless readers around the world.
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Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:
I feel troubled and confused. I have to make the most important decision of my life and am very conflicted. I am 26 years old and sick of the dating scene. It’s been a long haul for me. I feel very depressed and frustrated due to my single state.
I am a graduate of a prominent day school. After studying in a Jerusalem seminary I returned from Israel and entered the shidduch scene. When my friends and I would sit around discussing the future, the general consensus was that I would be bombarded with potential shidduchim. Indeed, my mom received many phone calls and recommendations and it appeared I would be among the first in my social circle to be married.
But now, seven years down the road, after more dates than I care to count, I’m still single while most of my friends are married with children.
Most of the boys I dated liked me but I just couldn’t connect. As the years passed I received fewer and fewer calls; I guess people gave up on me.
Additionally, when it comes to marriage there is a double standard in the Jewish community. As a boy gets older, he can still get younger girls, but the same does not hold true for girls.
With time, girls are put on the shelf, and I must tell you that sometimes I feel as if the world is passing me by.
Two of my younger siblings are already married. I am very happy for them but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt. I hope you don’t think badly of me for this, but I want to be honest.
Since nothing was happening in my personal life, I decided to continue my secular education. In my younger years I always saw myself as a stay-at-home mom, busy caring for her children and doing chesed for the community. I eventually went on to law school, and today I am an attorney. I bury myself in my work and, Baruch Hashem, I do very well – but I derive no satisfaction or joy from it and have discovered some guys are intimidated by the thought of marrying a lawyer or a doctor. So my career has presented me with yet another handicap.
And now to my current predicament: Four months ago, by pure chance, I met a terrific guy and really connected with him. We share the same likes, conversation flows easily, we have a great time together. In short, we enjoy each others’ company. He just feels “right.”
So what’s wrong? Well, there is a problem, and it’s huge. He is not observant of mitzvot. He did go to a day school and a religious high school, but his commitment is marginal. He’s not really shomer Shabbos, and while he doesn’t eat treif, he has no problem eating fish in a non-kosher restaurant. He has a Shabbos table, makes Kiddush, etc., but more than that, I don’t know.
He tells me that at this point in his life he is involved in many business dealings and cannot suddenly make a radical change, but he assures me that once we are married he will become fully observant. He comes from a traditional background, so it’s not foreign to him. I tried to get him to a Torah class, but he just doesn’t have the time; he promised me that if we marry he would attend classes.
On the plus side, he is very kind and considerate. But can I trust him to keep his promise?
When I discussed the matter with my parents, they were very frank and said they would never have considered such a shidduch in the past, and they have strong reservations about his religious commitment – but because of the shidduch difficulties I’ve encountered, my age, and the fact that my younger siblings are already married, they would not stand in my way if we were to become engaged.
Bottom line, it’s my call, and that to me is very frightening. Rebbetzin, can I trust him? He says that after marriage he will grow in Torah and take on the observance of mitzvos, but can I believe that? I would be grateful for your guidance.
(To Be Continued)Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis