Ultra-orthodox matchmaking: everything it's best not to know
"Among the traditional Haredi public – not the modern stream, which has changed in recent years – pairing one's children is the exclusive responsibility of parents. No yeshiva boy is supposed to choose a girl himself. When parents think the time is right, the phase known as "starting to listen" begins – that is, taking suggestions and statements from matchmakers. For the Hasidim it happens around the age of 18, sometimes even younger. For Lithuanians and Sephardim, it's around the age of 20.
"During this stage parents approach matchmakers, tell them about their son or daughter and specify what they are seeking for their child. Finally, much like in the job market, they give the names of their relatives, neighbors and teachers who can provide those interested with "recommendations," or simply additional details.
"When the two sides feel that the stats are good, a meeting between the couple will be arranged. In most Haredi communities the couple will meet a maximum of three times before they become engaged. In the more devout Hasidic communities, the strict rules permit only one meeting, lasting about 20 minutes. The rationale: they will probably develop feelings, and feelings are bad for business.
"Haya, a neighbor of mine, got hitched to a match 38 years ago and is still married. To the same man. Eight out of her 15 children got married in the same way. "We aren't looking for love," she tells me. "We don't marry because I love you or you love me. We have a common goal – to build a home in Israel – and we work together in order to achieve that aim."