Over the last few years, money has evolved to become a significant vehicle that has been utilized to address the increasing challenges faced by many Jewish singles in finding their Bashert.

From financial initiatives to encourage men to marry older or same-age women, to community fundraisers to help raise money for parents of daughters to marry them off to families of good stock.  But where there is a price to be paid. (Pun possibly intended)

How about a VISA Shiddach Card? For every dollar a parent spends on a Shiddach, you get reward points?

While I believe the people and organizations behind these initiatives are sincerely well-meaning and genuinely seek to help, I also believe that this growing phenomena should be of grave concern to all.

While we should all agree that radical action is needed to address this evolved reality, dangling financial carrots seems much more to be throwing money at the problem, than constructively nurturing a far healthier dating mindset and outcome.

In many ways, the underlying health of a community can be assessed by both the dynamics of dating and the divorce rate. The sometimes less-than-obvious fault lines (but profoundly deep) within a community, tend to manifest themselves most acutely within these areas of life.

Why?

Because life junctions that are powerfully transformative, often stressful and that demand much personal responsibility, most often necessitate the best of character and life skills in us all. And, when there are deficiencies or flawed understandings of relationships, expectations etc., a glaring spotlight exhibits an awakening of deep-seething challenges – often denied, ignored or simply wished away.

Let us take just one issue – that Shidduch resume and the truncated list of absolutes.

And allow me tell you just one story.

Shani and Avi begin communicating. They both share similar backgrounds, Jewish outlooks, life aspirations and appreciate one another’s good sense of humor.  Avi especially finds Shani’s zest for life most attractive. They decide to meet. Low and behold, on meeting, Avi realizes that Shani’s hair is not exactly the color he was looking for, and that she is in fact one month older than he is!

But suddenly Avi overlooks these ‘deep flaws’ from his list of self and societal-imposed criteria.  Already somewhat knowledgeable of many of Shani’s redeeming qualities, Avi realizes what is genuinely most important and that which is not.

And how did they meet? Online on JWed.com. (formerly Frumster.com).

That is not to say online dating offers a panacea to the ills of dating. Far from that. We always encourage singles to utilize a broad range of services and tools – offline and online. What JWed has shown, not least through almost 2,500 matches, is that it is a successful model that powerfully breaks-down offline barriers that can often inhibit the search of one’s Bashert – who IS out there.

Interestingly on a recent website survey where members were asked “How important is age compatibility to you?,” over 40% of respondents said age “is just a number.” (30% conveyed an importance to be close in age).

In the non-Jewish world, we see an ever increasing fixation among older males to marry much younger women. At worst, this manifests in the high divorce rate of middle-aged men and older, growing tired of their ‘old’ wives. In our world, whether it is the 28 year-old never married male who seeks an 18 year-old girl or a 55 year divorced male who seeks a 30 year old wife, can we really say that our preoccupation on the non-negotiable of youth is purely of a spiritual and emotionally healthy nature?

Between Shani and Avi, they averaged an online dating expenditure of $75. Not bad for finding something priceless. And living proof that often a little less – can sure go a much longer way!