What Does It Mean to Be Single and Orthodox in America Today?

The OU’s Center for Communal Research recently launched a series of multi-disciplinary studies exploring the “Shidduch Crisis” —research aimed at providing actual data to better explore many of the questions and suggestions presented in this issue.

Our research—which involves surveys as well as in-depth interviews and anthropological investigations into what it means to be single and Orthodox in America today—fundamentally explores two broad, intersecting issues.

The first is the “Shidduch Crisis” as it’s usually understood, namely the perceived sex-ratio imbalance favoring men, producing a growing population of single women. We’re looking at whether it’s even real; and if it is, for which specific sub-populations is it particularly pronounced. We will also explore whether it is due to the pyramid birthrate combined with later marriage for men than women or to male attrition.

The second issue concerns the significant psychological and existential effects of the “Shidduch Crisis,” such as desperation, anxiety and stress. For many singles, the desire to partner is profound; yet, their lack of control over a complex and multifaceted system of social, cultural and economic expectations is profoundly fraught. How does the “Shidduch Crisis” affect health, consumer practices, household budgets, et cetera?

We will also explore the role of the single in the family-centric Orthodox society: What place is there for those among us who cannot find a partner? Are they immediately, perhaps inescapably, stigmatized for a circumstance that is sometimes beyond their control?

We look forward to engaging you in our research and welcome your thoughts, questions and comments at research@ou.org.

Matt Williams, Director, OU Center for Communal Research

 

Below are the articles from Jewish Action’s special section on Orthodox singles and dating:

Frum Dating in the Digital Age by Rachel Schwartzberg

Singles and the Shabbat Experience by Leah R. Lightman

On Being an Orthodox Never-Married Woman by Tikva

A Polite Request for Basic Sensitivity by Dovid Bashevkin

Marriage Then . . . and Now by Faigy Grunfeld

This article was featured in Jewish Action Summer 2019.