This morning, as I checked out the headline of the New York Times' Metropolitan Section, I had to laugh. It said: Speed- Dating, Muslim Style.
The article spoke of the many American Muslim singles who are involved in the secular professional world but still want to date people within their religion and culture. Instead of relying on matchmakers and families, these young people are taking things into their own hands by attending speed dating events that cater to the Muslim community.
Interestingly enough, the founder of these events got his idea from, of all places, jdate. He took their model and applied it to his culture. What I found fascinating is that while these 5-minute encounters were taking place, there were many parents sitting on the side-lines, evaluating if anyone is worthy of being their child's mate.
The article made me think about dating in the Jewish community as well. There are similarities in that dating someone within one's religion and even of a specific religious observance is very important to young Orthodox Jewish singles. They often rely on friends, families and professional match- makers to set them up with suitable men or women. In most cases, these young people are dating for the pourpose of getting married and not just for fun. In recent years, though, things have gone awry. People speak of a "singles-crisis" as more and more women and men seem to be having a harder time finding their mate.
I am loathe to pin these difficulties on any one issue but it is clear that the world is changing and along with it maybe our expectations of our spouses. What strikes me as so sad is that dating is really meant to be a means to an end- which is marriage and a family. It seems kind of backwards that someone would get caught up in the process of dating. Dating becomes a life-style in and of itself and people get stuck there rather than moving on to marriage, which is not really the end-goal, rather only the beginning of the creation of a relationship and a life together.
I try not to judge other people, especially when I have not been in their shoes. Everyone's path in life is different and maybe these women and men just need to go through these experiences in order to finally find the mate and happiness meant for them. We are definitely seeing an increase in the use of new technologies and ideas in the world of Jewish dating, whether it is jdate or more religiously observant sites like Frumster or Saw You at Sinai. And of course there are the Speed-dating events, although I can assure you that there are no parents standing by at the Jewish ones.
Aside from all these new useful ways to meet, I also think that we as individuals need to take responsiblity and try to set up our friends and acquaintances. It is a small Jewish world and if we put some thought into it, I am sure we can help out and make a difference. My husband and I often try but have not been successful yet. We know it is complex and goes beyond- youre male, shes female- or youre both tall and lawyers. By both embracing new ways of meeting and relying on good old word of mouth and networking, we can hopefully help people come together.