Last summer, I experienced this pressure first-hand.A prominent rabbi argued to me that too few students were getting married in college.When a young rabbinical student named David sails into the restaurant and asks if she is Sarah, he sits down and they begin their date. Photo by Judah S Harris Another young man hustles into the restaurant and waltzes up to their table. That’s when the trio realize that David has been sitting with Sarah Feldman, while his intended date, Sarah Jacobs, is impatiently drumming her immaculately lacquered nails over at the next table, wondering where her date is.Miracle of miracles, they are having a great time, really making this blind date different from every other blind date! David reluctantly gets up and moves to sit with the other Sarah, a superficial fashionista obsessed with ordering extra food to go and cloyingly eager to get married. This is the premise of the comedy web series, “Soon by You,” about the lives of six Orthodox singles in New York all looking for love and sometimes having to defend themselves against pushy relatives urging them to just hurry up and get married already.The young woman who wrote the aforementioned e-mail explained how she has felt an unhealthy pressure to wed ever since her time at a religious seminary in Jerusalem.
She wrote, "Whether or not you agree with system, the system remains the same." The "system" to which this woman referred is the Orthodox Jewish world of dating and all of the pressure it exerts on those attempting to navigate through it.
Instead of encouraging healthy relationships, this pressure often proves more destructive than productive.
From what I have seen, our spiritual leadership needs to acquaint themselves with the real effects of this pressure on my peers and me.
The position the rabbi advocated was completely out of touch with my reality, and as far as I could see, he seemed unwilling to even consider the needs of a diverse and changing community.
As repeatedly shown in the media, Orthodox Judaism is notorious for its emphasis on marriage, and true to this reputation, our leaders tend to advocate marriage at a young age.