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article imageOp-Ed: Are more Jewish women staying single?

By Paula Kirman     Jul 15, 2014 in World
More Jewish women are staying single (at least longer than their peers) and have a lower than average birth rate, at least according to one author.
In an article published in March of this year by Melanie Notkin, a major reason is the difficulty in finding a partner who matches the woman's level of Judaism. Unwilling to settle too early, we wait until we are in our 30s before we start to date men with lower levels of Jewish religious observance, or even begin dating non-Jews. Waiting longer for marriage (if at all) then results in having fewer children (again, if at all).
As a Jewish woman of a certain age, I can definitely relate to what Notkin writes. I myself have written about the pitfalls of the Jewish dating scene, especially living in a smaller community, particularly in this essay published in 2000. Nine years later, I was approached by InterfaithFamily.com to write a "what happened next" follow up in 2009. Not much, as I explained in this article, which is no longer on their website but I posted on my relationship blog to keep it alive.
I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I not spent the majority of my 20s looking exclusively for a Jewish mate. Like for most women regardless of religion, once I passed into my 30s the pool of available (and by "available" I mean both in terms of marital status and emotional stability) men shrunk exponentially. I have only dated non-Jewish men in the last decade and pretty much gave up the idea that I would ever find a Jewish spouse quite a long time ago.
Should I ever have let my religion dictate my love life? Like the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. I am honestly not sure if the situation of Jewish women is that much different than other educated, professional women with strong values they wish to share with a partner. I know Christian women having the same problem. I know women who are leaders in their communities who are successful in every way, except their personal lives.
Marriages in general today happen later for men too. However, biology being what it is, men can delay parenthood much later than women. Men also tend to go for women who are younger. A 35 year old woman is often overlooked by a man the same age as her.
Instead of bemoaning our single fates, perhaps it is time to re-examine and redefine what it means to be a successful woman. Completion does not come with a partner. Motherhood is not the definition of womanhood. I don't believe that Jewish women are staying single for reasons other than why other women stay single, and it certainly is not on purpose, but it is a reality of our lives, often beyond our control, and we can either embrace who we are or wallow in self-pity.
I choose to embrace life.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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