| Teen Diary Serial |

Vered’s Story: Chapter 15

“I’m a shadchan,” she told me. “I love working with singles. And you know what, you look like a wonderful girl



fter high school and seminary came shidduchim, but I didn’t start right away. I started college and worked hard, which didn’t leave me much time to date. A lot of my friends were under quite a bit of pressure from their families; I wasn’t. In addition, it was complicated. There were so many unwritten rules and nuances about shidduchim, and neither my parents nor I were really sure how everything worked.

Soon after we came home from sem, I decided to visit one of my seminary friends I’d grown quite close to. She lived in a large Jewish city near me, so I hopped on a bus to go visit her. As I settled into my seat on the bus, a friendly middle-aged lady sat down next to me. She was very warm and started talking to me immediately, introducing herself as Mrs. Shein.

As soon as she heard that I’d just returned from sem, she asked if I was already in shidduchim. “I’m a shadchan,” she told me. “I love working with singles. And you know what, you look like a wonderful girl. Maybe you’d be just right for my nephew, he’s looking for someone intelligent like you.”

She was really serious about wanting to set me up, and I was excited. It was so nice of this random lady to be trying to help me.

“Do you want a learner? An earner? A learner-earner?” Mrs. Shein inquired, as she scribbled my answers in a legal pad in her lap. “It sounds perfect,” she gushed, and asked for my contact info. As the bus neared my stop, I asked if the young man in question was a Kohein.

Mrs. Shein stopped talking and narrowed her eyes. “Why do you ask?” she said.

“Well, I’m a convert,” I explained, “and I can’t marry a Kohein.”

Mrs. Shein fell silent. “Ohh…” she breathed. Then she looked at me for a few long moments. “Well… I have a 31-year-old divorcé, maybe you two can meet.”

I looked up sharply. What? Three seconds ago she was practically marrying me off to her nephew. I was 19 years old, and now she was offering me a 31-year-old divorced man? What had just happened?

The bus pulled up to my stop and I managed to get myself off in one piece, a bitter taste filling my mouth. If I’d thought this kind of attitude toward geirim had gone away, boy, was I wrong.

I walked down the street, swallowing hard. I’d been fully observant since I was eight years old, and in the Bais Yaakov system since my bas mitzvah. Unfortunately, it seemed this made no difference. I was a convert, so I was marked.

It reminded of me, to some degree, of anti-Semitism. There will always been non-Jews who will dislike Jews, no matter how assimilated they are. Disturbingly, it felt too similar. Like, no matter how frum I was, some people were just going to dislike me because of my past. There are anti-converts who will never, ever feel that I’m the same as they are — a Yid who wants to serve Hashem and build a home to honor His name.

And often, you’d never even know it. People can be lovely, kind, thoughtful, welcoming. But then, you, the convert, are suggested as a shidduch for their son. And suddenly… they seem to change, and no longer appear as kind and welcoming.

Girls and women in the shidduch system are under a lot of pressure, and may sometimes feel vulnerable or even desperate. We all know this. But I wished those setting me up would be consistently helpful and respectful. Instead, I often felt like I was seeing things that usually stay hidden — when the thoughtful, kind people morphed into something unrecognizable.

Even though I am a Jew, I wasn’t good enough for them, and they didn’t hesitate to make that clear. Very clear.

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 948)

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