Different cultures and religions across the world have different ways of viewing dating, courtship, and marriage. Some relationships are set up by their parents, others are banned from dating until they reach a certain age and some might have complete freedom while dating.
The process of courtship and dating for Jewish teenagers is mandated by Jewish law. A Jew should not date until he or she is mature and ready for marriage which is the purpose of dating in Jewish culture. For practicing Jews, these rules are not restrictive but are the foundation of a happy, healthy, and enduring marriage.
Going forward, we will talk about five major rules that Orthodox Jews follow while dating. One of the ways that practicing Jews make sure to adhere to these rules is by following the traditional dating process which we will discuss further on.
1. Age and Religion
Once a Jew has reached the age of 18-20, they can begin to date or begin the search for their spouse. It is important in Jewish culture to wait to date until you are mature enough and ready to start a family through the holy bonds of matrimony. This is considered the one and only reason you should be dating. Marriage is a commandment from God referred to by the Hebrew word ‘mitzvah’ and should be taken seriously. (Source)
It is also generally accepted within the religion that a Jew should marry another Jew as they have compatible souls and will be able to carry on the Jewish nation and heritage. This is another way that Jews make sure they are compatible with their spouse, by sharing the same religious beliefs and practices.
Modesty is equally important for both men and women while dating. It entails covering your body tastefully and is a way of preserving both your dates and your own dignity, worth, and self-respect.
The rule of modesty reaches beyond your clothing into your manners and speech. In Jewish dating, the purpose is to truly get to know one another to see if you are compatible. It is unlikely that you will find a good match if you are talking about yourself the whole time or boasting about your strengths. Honesty and humility are highly valued in Judaism.
3. No Touching
This is a rule that is strictly followed by Orthodox Jews but may be bent by people pertaining to other sects of Judaism. The idea behind the no-touching rule is that you first want to be connected to who your date is as a person, not on what you feel physically for them. (Source)
The no touching rule is also put in place to maintain proper boundaries between men and women. Having premarital sex is breaking the commandment as outlined in the Torah.
4. No Unsupervised Alone Time
This rule connects closely with the “no touching” rule as both prevent the couple from being in situations where their morals might be compromised. Unless the Jewish couple is going on a date in a public place such as a park or hotel lobby, they must have a chaperone.
The perfect spot to go on a date as an Orthodox Jew is where there are others present, but where you are still able to discuss your future hopes and dreams. The purpose of dating is to get to know one another better, which is best done through conversation. One Jew explained their dislike of a date where you are alone and don’t have much time to talk by saying that it…
5. Be Sensitive to the Feelings of Others
This is a major rule in the dating etiquette of Orthodox Jews. During a date, you are expected to be kind and considerate of each other’s feelings so that they can feel valued and understood. It would be rude to be constantly checking your watch or phone, almost like you just cannot wait until the date is over.
Another aspect of this is to make sure to tell someone if you are no longer interested in dating them before going on a date with someone else. If you do not make them aware it is not only extremely rude but hurtful and could lessen your chances of others wanting to date you.
The Dating Process
The Jewish dating process may seem odd to outsiders, but to Jews, it is the only logical way to handle courtship. The whole process is completed with the true purpose of dating in mind– to see if you and your date are compatible for marriage, all while maintaining their religious views, morals, and rules.
Finding Someone to Date
If you are a practicing Orthodox Jew, when you turn 18 or feel mature enough and ready for marriage, you will let your parents know that you are ready to start searching for a spouse.
There are a few ways to get to know other Jewish singles in your area. You can join programs or activities at your local synagogue or can even join Jewish dating websites. However, the most traditional way is to get in contact with a shadchan or matchmaker.
A shadchan gets to know lots of single Jews by interviewing them, their family, and their friends. Using the information they get, along with their intuition, they then set up couples to go on dates. The shadchan usually handles all of the planning and communication, oftentimes being the only link between the pair.
A typical date for a Jewish couple is simply talking while sipping soda. Popular spots for a Jewish couple to go on a date include parks, museums, galleries, zoos, and even the airport. In these places, the couple converses so they can truly understand the other- their strengths, weaknesses, and goals- to gauge compatibility.
After the date, they will each have calls with the shadchan who set them up to discuss whether or not they would like to continue dating. This process will repeat until one of the people decides they aren’t compatible or the couple gets engaged.