Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Many girls find the shidduch process to be challenging in a society where boys seem to be much more in demand. What advice would you give to girls and their parents as they go through this part of their lives?

There’s no denying that it is a tough situation. That said, it’s important to understand your self-worth. Understanding your unique value and holding onto it, even in the midst of a situation in which there simply are not enough “boys” for every girl, will help you recognize that you are still worth it. You have value regardless of how many boys are redt to you.

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What is the proper role of a parent during the dating process?

Different communities and families have different norms when it comes to the role of parents in the dating process. There is no one size fits all and no one golden rule. The most important thing is that the parents and children discuss that role in advance. Lay out the questions, “Who calls references? Who decides yes/no? Who speaks to the shadchan to relay important information?” Coming to a mutual agreement in advance will alleviate any potential conflict.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges of the shidduch process, and what can be done to overcome these challenges?

The shidduch process has many challenges both for individuals and for communities as well. Some of those challenges are the financials that are involved (shadchan fees, costs of dates, travel costs, etc.). Other challenges include a seeming shortage of men as compared to women who are ready to date. In addition, there is the issue of references and reputations based on the right seminary or yeshivah that can make or break a shidduch before it has even started.

I’ve written about this before, but the way to overcome these challenges is on a community level. We, as individuals, can work on a way to overcome the costs and logistics, but we need to get together as a community to overcome the larger issues of shortages and reputations. This work actually requires cross-community efforts over the course of several years to change perceptions and unwritten rules. This work is important and essential, and can only happen with all of the stakeholders on board.

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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.