I don't have many answers in life although I do have many hunches! (Ask anyone that knows me they'll nod their heads in agreement!)
My hunch, as far as the answer to the Shidduch crisis is so basic and goes down to the core that everyone usually overlooks it! Or maybe people overlook this problem because it's so big that it seems insurmountable.
....and it's always easier to deal with the SYMPTOM than to get down to the CAUSE!
In my humble opinion, I feel that the problem all begins with.................
Yes, that lovely institution that was founded by our esteemed Sara Schenirer. Who gave her heart and her soul to this beautiful cause. Whom we sing about her "Sara Schenirer had the whole world known back then, they would've paraded in your honor all throughout the land......" Who was a seamstress and bemoaned the fate of Jewish girls who were so conscious of their outer appearances while their souls remained unclad......
Sara Schenirer has done a wonderful thing! No two ways about it. But if you look at the history of Bais Yakov, you may recall how many of the Rabomim (sages) not only did not agree with her they were actually AGAINST her!
Wasn't she doing a wonderful thing? She was saving yidishe neshamos from the streets. Why didn't they applaud her for all her efforts?
Maybe......just maybe.......the matter wasn't as simple as it looks now.
My husbands grandmother, who came from a chassidishe home, made sure to tell my husband that "Bais Yakov was for the Modernishe (modern) homes. Not for frum (orthodox) girls like me!"
Even the Belzer Rebbe who gave his Haskomah (agreement) to the idea said "it's a good thing for girls in general, but Belzer girls won't go."
As we know, the BY movement was a Horoas Shaah and it was necessary for their times. But EVERYONE agreed that it wasn't the IDEAL. The ideal was to keep the girls home so they can learn from their parents. Where Mama would teach hear girls how to do do needle point (maybe there are SOME Mamas that still teach their daughters this art!) and Tate would teach his girls the laws of Kashrus. Then they would build their own home - just like the way they saw it in their parents home.
This ideal was slowly starting to change as the streets became dazzling and the theaters and clubs inviting. Until many girls were never home anymore.
But some were.
Like my husbands grandmother.
So here we are, almost a century later, and we are dealing with the results. Yes, Bais Yakov has kept girls off the streets. Yes, girls know Tanach as much as they know secular subjects.
But the home has lost its lure.
Because there isn't a WOMAN there to occupy it.
Women have become knowledge oriented, goal seeking (which is definitely not a feminine trait) and don't have the skills or wherewithal for the process. (Read the Circle the Arrow and Spiral by Miriam Kosman) The Reform Movement is definitely what caused it, but the Bais Yakov my has made it all encompassing.
The teachers that are preaching are doing the SAME THING AS MEN! Girls are taught to memorize, spit back, and LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN! (Lest they be caught saying something that "defies" Torah - which in real life language "will give a bad name for the school." )And of course, you only have to remember this for the test!
When it comes to emotions they are taught to just shove them down.("The Torah was given through Naaseh V'mishmah. You don't HAVE to understand everything you are taught...)
When it comes to Tznius it's all about covering the knee and the elbow and lest you chas veshalom attract a man! (Now wonder why girls aren't getting married. Maybe they are AFRAID of being Machshil a man!)
I can go on and on!
The point here is not to put down Bais Yakov! I'm just trying to show you the conflict that we have here.
On the one hand, we want to keep girls off the streets. On the other hand, we want to teach them how to build a home.
Just as a "by the way", after reading a little about Sara Schenirer, I DID get the impression that her Bais Yakov looked VERY different than ours! It sounds like she instilled lots of LOVE and PRIDE for Yiddishkeit. It sounds like she cared for every girls physical, emotional, AND spiritual being. It sounds like she really built girls from the bottom up so that they are capable of being the Akeres Habayis.
Now, if you're wondering what solution I have in mind, I am NOT saying to eradicate Bais Yakov.
I do think though, that we have to start rethinking this cause. As it began with a specific time frame in mind. Then, it was a world of the mind. It was a world where women were trying to get equality. It was a world where girls were mostly taught by their mothers the ins and outs of a home. IT WAS A DIFFERENT WORLD!
We live in a Feminist world. Most women work. Most girls are brought up by their neighbors and classmates. It is a world of EMOTION. Where what I FEEL is more important than what you THINK. Therapy is the name of the game nowadays. There's speech therapy, play therapy, occupational therapy, psychologists..... You name it!
We need to start rethinking the way the Bais Yakovs are run. Are they catering to nowadays needs?
Just because 100 years ago there was a class of 50 kids and the teacher gave lectures, does this mean we have to do the same now? It used to be that children didn't need specialized attention, does that mean it's not necessary now?
I have a lot more to say on this topic in terms of practicalities.
For now, I will leave you off with the problem, so it can sink in.
And maybe you can come up with some ideas of how to change the current system......
Because all we want is for girls to get married....
Whatever it takes to get them there!