DOREEN WACHMANN COLUMN
The way to end shidduch coercion

THERE is a lot wrong with the shiddduch system. But there is also a lot wrong with the pre-lockdown, pre-Me Too, over-sexualised secular dating scene.

I write this after watching a Valentine’s Day news clip on dating during lockdown, which became much more like shidduchim, albeit more modern Orthodox ones.

The online internet dating industry boomed as couples met online. When they did actually have a date, it was in socially distanced walks.

Thanks to the lockdowns, shomer negiah (not touching) dating has become the norm in law-abiding secular society.

Despite the terrible tragedy of coronavirus, this is a welcome change from the over-sexualised world into which children were forced from an early age by societal and media pressure — the very pressure the shidduch system is intended to avoid.

Without rushing into bed after the first date, couples get to know one another on a deeper level.

In the report on Forced Marriage in Jewish Communities, Yehudis Fletcher and Eve Sacks write about “social coercion” and “emotional and pressure” to marry within charedi society.

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I was right to be so fearful of Polish antisemitism

THE first question I asked Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich when I interviewed him in 2015, just after his country voted in the right-wing anti-immigrant Law and Justice Party, was about antisemitism in Poland, to which he replied that he had no worries on that score.

Now the chief rabbi has led a Jewish communal protest against the recent case of historians Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski, who were ordered to apologise for stating historical truths about the Holocaust.

Yet unaware of the new Polish government’s policy of Holocaust revisionism, I began my 2015 article: “Poland is known for its historic antisemitism.

“The staunchly Catholic country with its history of Christian antisemitism provided a good stamping ground for the Nazis. Even after the Holocaust, when survivors tried to return to their homes, they were met in their Polish hometowns with antisemitic violence.

“Yet Poland’s current chief rabbi Michael Schudrich insists that, unlike in the UK, antisemitism is not growing in Poland. Nor is he worried that the recent Polish elections which brought in a more right-wing anti-immigrant government could worsen the situation.”

A few months later I was scared stiff when I realised that the Polish government were protesting not just against the writings of Polish citizens but against British writers and American film-makers who dared to mention Poland’s role in attacks against Jews during the Shoah.

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