Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

I have been dating for a few years now and have often heard the same names suggested more than once. Recently, I was at a simcha and ran into an acquaintance. She suggested a guy that sounded wonderful. As she described him, I became very excited because he sounded like a great match. He was someone she knew from work and could vouch for his middos, and many other wonderful qualities. She explained that at this point in his life, our hashkafos and values seem to align. The only caveat was that he comes from a vastly different background than I do. While we both grew up frum, our fathers certainly don’t look the same in their Shabbos garb and our minhagim are definitely different. I am now feeling uncertain about our upcoming date – am I making a mistake?


Comfort Zone


Dear Comfort,

We are still reeling here from the immense tragedy in Surfside, Florida. Our hearts are shattered as we struggle to make sense of the pain and heartbreak. We pray for comfort and do our best to offer hope and healing. At once, we are forced to confront what matter most; life, and living it to its fullest. Everything is uncertain now, but life and its value are clear. The gift to live one more day, and the ability to fill our days with opportunity is all that matters. To be able to “be” is a blessing and we simply cannot squander it.


Sneetches Are Sneetches…

Thank you so much for reaching out. While we appreciate when others think of us in shidduchim, it can be frustrating to hear the same suggestion again and again. It is a breath of fresh air to hear about someone new who sounds exactly like the person we have been looking for. A chance encounter had you suddenly filled with excitement and hope. Yet, your different backgrounds concern you. You worry that the homes you grew up in will hinder a future home you might try to build together.


And No Kind of Sneetch…

Certainly, a shared background is helpful as it creates a sense of comfort and security. Familiarity is beneficial when any new chosson and kallah try to merge their shared experiences and backgrounds into a shared life. Sitting at a Shabbos table that looks and feels like the one of your youth allows for an easy blending of your homes into a new one. The recognizable jargon, shared minhagim and mode of dress allow a couple to rely on this foundation as they learn and accept the differences that they both bring into the relationship.


Is The Best…

While a shared background might make things easier, it doesn’t mean that it is the only way. Sure, you hope to spend Yom Tov, Shabbosim, and many simchas with your respective families, but the ultimate goal is to create a new family of your own. This does not require a mirror image upbringing for success; rather a shared respect for one another and the homes that shaped you.


On The Beaches.

You have dated for some time now. You hope to create a bayis ne’eman filled with a loving spouse, children, joy, and success. Compassion, care, and a commitment to one another are the foundations of that goal, and the determination to look for happiness, even when it is packaged differently than what we originally envisioned. Choose opportunity and happiness. Choose to pursue every avenue to achieve a life filled to its fullest, and you will meet with success. Tomorrow is a gift. Appreciate it, and let preconceived notions and small obstacles lie, as you scale every mountain to live life.


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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at to schedule a phone session.