“Wow,” he said, “that sounds a lot like the Shidduch Crisis.” I had never heard of it, but the Shidduch Crisis turned out to be a marriage crisis among Orthodox Jews remarkably similar to the one afflicting Mormons.
On a lark, I emailed my friend Cynthia Bowman,* a devout Mormon who grew up in Salt Lake City and returns there often, and asked her whether Mormon sex ratios are as lopsided as the ARIS study claimed.
[Editor’s note: “Cynthia Bowman” is a pseudonym, as are other names denoted with an asterisk.
“Today, if you look at the girls who graduated five years ago, there are probably thirty girls who are not yet married.
Overall, there are thousands of unmarried girls in their late twenties.
Shidduch is the Hebrew word for a marriage match, and Orthodox Jews (including the more assimilated Modern Orthodox) now refer to the excess supply of unmarried women in their communities as the Shidduch Crisis. Or maybe it’s the women who are holding out for the Mormon or Jewish George Clooney?
Mormon and Orthodox Jewish leaders alike fear that their respective marriage crises reflect some failure to instill proper values in young people. In fact, the root causes of both the Shidduch Crisis and the Mormon marriage crisis have little to do with culture or religion. The fact is that there are more marriage-age women than men both in the Orthodox Jewish community and in the Utah LDS church.
The shadchan’s job has been made exceedingly difficult, she said, by a mysterious increase in the number of unmarried women within the Orthodox community.
When Elefant attended Jewish high school 30 years ago, “there were maybe three girls that didn’t get married by the time they were twenty or twenty-one,” she said.
“There might actually be a more promiscuous dating culture than there otherwise would be in the Mormon culture because of this gap.” Months later, still neck-deep in Mormon research, I got lucky again.