For many Orthodox singles, the road to marriage is like Snake Hill Road in Staten Island — a twisting-turning street that forces drivers to speed up, slow down, then make a few sharp turns until finally clearing the divider and proceeding (hopefully) with smooth sailing. But the “shidduch road” is not only a jerky ride at times; it’s also fraught with an endless array of rules — bewildering to even the most seasoned shidduch dater, since there’s no agreed-upon rulebook.
Enter BadForShidduchim, a 21-year-old, female Orthodox blogger from Brooklyn who is trying to shed the Big Brother/uber-conscience that weighs upon the daily decisions Orthodox singles make — from walking out of the house in open-toe shoes to putting on a black hat — causing them to ask themselves, “Is it good for shidduchim?”
“Bad4,” as she refers to herself on her blog, aims to demystify the shidduch process by asking devoted male and female readers to form a consensus on matters of proper shidduch etiquette: What’s the best venue for a shidduch date? (Hint: It’s not the Brooklyn Marriott). Should the guy walk the girl to her door? (Depends, though it probably wouldn’t hurt for him to get out of his car and walk her to the stairs. Just slowing down and then zipping off is a definite no-no).
For the uninitiated, Bad4’s blog also offers a wealth of lessons in Shidduch Speak: the “available” single is open to suggestions from the shadchan (matchmaker). “In the parsha” is another way of saying that the single is dating and is “on the market.” “Going out” refers exclusively to dating and cannot be used for other purposes. And when someone asks you “What’s going on in your life?” the yenta most probably wants to know whether you are “busy” (i.e. dating someone semi-seriously).
Bad4 began blogging a year ago, after a particularly long-winded kvetch about dating prompted her younger sister to beg her to stop harping — for good. “No one wants to hear about it,” the younger sister said. So Bad4 decided to take her frustrations online.
Anonymously. “I didn’t tell any of my friends,” she says in an interview with The Jewish Week. (She revealed her name to this reporter, but requested that it not be printed.)
That’s because blogging is, well, bad for shidduchim.
Bad4 is one of a growing number of singles who are fed up with the system and find that the anonymity of the Web offers a safe space to kvetch, concoct solutions or, more often, have a laugh at someone else’s bad dating expense. With more than 200,000 hits, Bad4 has gained quite a following, making her blog one of the most frequently visited and commented-on blogs about shidduchim (a larger-than-one-might-expect niche within the blogosphere).
Visitors appreciate her acerbic wit, nuanced musings and irreverence when it comes to all things shidduchim. And when she disappears for a day or two, they accuse her of getting engaged.
“Bad4 takes an almost Seinfeld-like approach to the ‘study’ of shidduchim,” says Ezzie Goldish (aka SerandEz), a 24-year-old married blogger from Kew Garden Hills, Queens, who regularly comments on BadForShidduchim and, along with his wife, Serach, has hosted several Shabbatons for frum bloggers. Bad4’s posts are approached “from a point of view that really allows anyone to enjoy the posts, whether they’re young or old, across the [religious] spectrum from chasidish to left-wing Modern Orthodox,” he says.
Each day, the blog gets between 350 and 1,000 hits, which is a lot considering the topic is so specialized. Though most blog posts stem from something that happened to her, Bad4 has gradually shifted the focus from personal rants to exploring more universal aspects of dating.
“Misery loves company, but people want to read something that will make them laugh,” she says.
A recent post took a twist on the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest. Instead of asking contestants to compose the opening line to the worst novel of all time, Bad4 asked readers to share the best “bad line” they’ve been privy to hearing on a date. The grand prize-winner?
The hapless soul who asked Bad4’s friend, just 30 minutes into their first meeting, “So, what school do you want to send our kids to?”
“It was probably just a slip up,” Bad4 writes, “But that doesn’t make it any less disconcerting a line to hear on a first date.”
Meanwhile, it turns out that blogging is actually good for shidduchim — at least in Bad4’s experience. Three readers have asked her out via e-mail, not knowing her true identity and basing their interest solely on her posts. She went out with one, but it didn’t work out. And another two wannabe shadchanim (matchmakers) have e-mailed, proclaiming that they have the “perfect” guy for her. Perhaps in the near future we’ll be visiting a new blog ... Great4Marrieds.