Anyone part of a “single’s scene” knows how difficult it is to find that special someone with whom you can spend the rest of your life. Bars and mixers might help put similar people in the same room, but such forums rarely result in successful relationships. To help narrow down the field of compatible singles, some entrepreneurs took advantage of the Internet, resulting in sites like Match.com or E-Harmony.
Jewish dating is perhaps even more difficult for a myriad of reasons which won’t be discussed here. Still, there are some Internet dating sites created specifically for the Jewish community, such as JDate, Jewish Caf?, Future Simchas and Frumster.
Like many other on-line dating services, singles complete profiles which contain generic information as well as some space for the individuals to elaborate. When singles search for other singles, they do so on specialized fields – each depending on the particular site. For example, Frumster allows one to search based on such fields as education, height, body type, and religious observance. However, with Frumster one can be certain of a minimum degree of observance, as it is the only one which serves the Orthodox community exclusively.
During one of my random Frumster searches I noticed that there were more women in my results page who were divorced. I found this odd since the age range for which I was searching was up until 30 years old. What bothered me wasn’t that divorce’s were suggested. I don’t believe that someone divorced should be any less of an option than anyone else. Furthermore, there are cases such as abuse where divorce would be the obviously preferable option – the sooner the better. However, there is an unfortunate stigma against being divorced, and for divorce’s Frumster might be the only option. There are many questions which need to be asked to interpret the meaning of any phenomenon.
What occurred to me that Frumster could be a useful resource for obtaining Orthodox Jewish sociological data, necessary to at least begin to understand what is happening within our community.
Before I started any major searches, I checked their Terms of Service and found nothing prohibiting this use of the Frumster system.1 I had contacted the administrators and received this oblique response: “Thank you for your feedback and suggestions. We will consider your needs as we develop further improvements for the frumster service.” Hardly an endorsement, but not a refusal either.
Still, any approved member – basic or premium – can easily duplicate any of these searches should one feel like it.
For my data, I searched for women between the ages of 18 and 30, of all criteria who had been divorced, differentiating between those with children and those without. I then specialized the searches to focus on the specific regions of America, Israel, United Kingdom, Canada, and NY/NJ. As you will see, the specification for NY/NJ is not just an East Coast Bias, but that there is a high concentration of male and female areas from those two states. Frumster does give some precedence to other countries like Australia and South Africa by prominently placing them at the top of a search list and in larger bolded format. However, Australia only has 27 female and zero male members, and South Africa has a mere 11 female and zero male members and so I didn’t do any detailed searching for those countries.
Finally, as a male member of Frumster, I was only able to search for women. However, I had help from Meredith Scheck2 for duplicating my searches for Frumster’s male members.
|Total Members||Total Divorced||With Children||Without Children|
|Men||3096 (54.05%)||123 (3.97%)||84 (2.71%)||39 (1.25%)|
|Women||2632 (45.95%)||127 (4.82%)||59 (2.24%)||68 (2.58%)|
|Total||5728||250 (4.73%)||143 (2.70%)||107 (2.02%)|
|Total Members||Total Divorced||Without Children||With Children|
|Worldwide||2632||127 (4.82%)||59 (2.24%)||68 (2.58%)|
|America||2064 (74.41%)||102 (4.94%)||52 (2.51%)||50 (2.42%)|
|Israel||200 (7.59%)||9 (4.50%)||2 (1.00%)||7 (3.50%)|
|United Kingdom||144 (5.47%)||5 (3.47%)||2 (1.38%)||3 (2.08%)|
|Canada||122 (4.63%)||4 (3.27%)||3 (2.45%)||1 (0.81%)|
|NY/NJ||1448 (55.01%)||76 (5.24%)||42 (2.90%)||34 (2.34%)|
|Total Members||Total Divorced||Without Children||With Children|
|Worldwide||3096||123 (3.97%)||84 (2.71%)||39 (1.25%)|
|America||2837 (91.63%)||104 (3.66%)||71 (2.50%)||33 (1.16%)|
|Israel||258 (8.33%)||9 (3.48%)||2 (0.77%)||7 (2.71%)|
|United Kingdom||152 (5.47%)||4 (3.47%)||3 (1.38%)||1 (2.08%)|
|Canada||166 (4.63%)||2 (3.27%)||2 (3.27%)||0 (0.00%)|
|NY/NJ||1690 (54.58%)||83 (4.91%)||59 (3.49%)||24 (1.42%)|
Uses and Limits
The major question you might be asking is, “what’s the point?” Sociologists and other academics might appreciate data for its own sake, but is there anything more practical?
Before we analyze what these numbers mean and represent, we must first acknowledge the limits. First, the 5728 registered members of Frumster may not be a meaningful cross-section of the orthodox single population. It only represents those people who are single and chose to register for this site in particular. Second, it would be difficult to compare these results with national statistics. Most statistics on divorce rates examine the changes in a given year or time period. These numbers simply represent the number of divorc?es in a particular dating pool. To compare trends, we would have to redo this study in a few years to see if there is an increase of divorces.
However, even with its limitations, such studies may prove valuable. First, it provides a quantifiable view into the world of Orthodox dating. For all the discussions on Jewish Singles, there is little hard data to support any theory. Second, it gives people an idea of who is out there in the single’s world. Would one have the desire, one could search for single women on Frumster have PhD, Law, or medical degrees, perhaps dispelling a myth that educated women intimidate men.4
Finally, the searching of divorce rates in this age group can be particularly useful for understanding and fixing the current dating and marriage situation. If there is an increase in divorces, or a disproportionate rate of divorce in a community, then it would be a definitive sign that something isn’t working correctly in the system. It could be a clear sign to Rabbis, teachers, parents, and singles themselves to rethink what Jewish dating and marriage ought to be and take the necessary steps to prevent avoidable personal anguish.
1. Obviously this is subject to change. I am not using any of this data for commercial gain, nor am I “inappropriately” linking to the site or any member in particular. 4.f states “You must use the Frumster service in a manner consistent with any and all applicable laws and regulations” and as far as I can tell, I’m still well within these boundaries.
2. Or wherever she’s blogging now.
3. As new members join, all of these numbers are subject to change. The data is accurate as of the time of this blog posting.
4. 428 worldwide across all ages.
I was ready to slap you for not giving me credit. Lucky for you I scrolled down to the footnotes.
Less interesting than the 5% divorce rate for 18-30 would be to run the figures for, say, ages 25-30.
Do you have any statistics on divorce in South Africa?
I’m doing a documentary on Jewish marriage and matchmakers. Do you know what the statistics are on divorce in the orthodox jewish society vs. secular society? If not, do you know where I can find these statistics.
Update: Physical violence is never a good solution to angst over blog posts. The mere fact that I was, potentially, ready to slap you does not mean that I would have done so.