The History of NASI Initiatives
It might be informative to provide a brief history of the actions taken to address the Shidduch crisis. Work first began on age-gap around 2003 when a few individuals came to the realization that a simple mathematical reality – steady population growth combined with the communal tendency for boys to begin dating at an older age than girls do – is the simplest, most straightforward explanation of the shidduch crisis. Specifically, an analysis of R’ Marvin Schick’s Avi Chai Foundation day school studies, combined with other research, completely convinced them that “age gap” is not a problem that will just go away. They concluded that not just the then older girls were having serious difficulties with shidduchim, but unless age-gap was meaningfully addressed, the crisis will continue to affect the available shidduch options for untold numbers of Bais Yaakov girls in the future.
The novel explanation met a lot of resistance initially, because it was so different from the way people had become accustomed to thinking of the problem.
The age-gap concept was brought out in the open due to the herculean, tireless efforts of one individual - Rabbi Nachi Levovitz- who took it upon himself to bring the age gap concept to the attention of the leading Roshei Yeshiva in North America, and for that Klal Yisroel is forever indebted to him. Due his efforts, and with the strong support of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum Zt”l and ybcl”c Rav Meir Hershkowitz Shlita, a meeting of 30 Roshei Yeshiva took place on Dec 15th 2005 at the home of R’ Shmuel Berenbaum zt’l to discuss the dire situation and future prognosis that the age gap induced Shidduch crisis presented. Everyone present agreed that steps must be taken to improve the situation.
The NASI project was launched in September 2007, a full four years after the initial studies were done, and almost two full years after that meeting in Rav Shmuel Berenbaum’s home. In fact, no one in the inner circle of NASI was even present at the meeting in Rav Shmuel Berenbuam’s home. I myself was completely unaware of the entire age gap concept until the middle of 2007.
NASI’s approach to close the age gap has been on two fronts with two separate strategies. The initial approach – which is still very much ongoing - began in 2007. At that time all of NASI’s work was singularly focused on educating the community about the underlying root causes of the situation (age gap) and to encourage boys and their families to be open and willing to consider shidduchim with young women the same age or even older. At the same time, we encouraged shadchanim to make an effort to redd such shidduchim. Baruch Hashem those efforts have borne fruit. It is abundantly clear that boys and their families are ready and willing to consider shidduchim with young women the same age or even older. Many hundreds of such shidduchim have taken place since that time. Admittedly we can't have accurate numbers, as the vast majority doesn’t contact us to inform us that another same age shidduch has occurred. These efforts are ongoing, and will iy"H continue unabated. Our community is better off as a result of this wonderful development.
In December of 2012, a full five years after NASI was launched, nine years after the meeting of Roshei Yeshiva in Rav Shmuel Berenbaum zatzal’s home, more than eleven years after the original age gap study had been done, - that NASI began to carefully broach the second tactic, i.e. the discussion of boys younger, with the release of a kol korei encouraging boys to begin shidduchim younger. The efforts on this front picked up steam in 2014 with the release of a second kol korei on this issue. Bringing about change is a slow and delicate process, and it is only within the last few months that we have seen a significant uptick in the number of younger boys - from a wide spectrum of Yeshivos- who are positioned to begin shidduchim, as well quite a few such boys who have gotten engaged; with the encouragement of their Rebbeim.
Since NASI’s inception eight years ago we have distributed in total many hundreds of thousands of dollars to tens of shadchanim within the framework of the various carefully crafted NASI programs. In the period from Jan 2014 through June 2015 alone, we have distributed to shadchanim over $275,000 via the various programs. Each and every program is funded separately, and each program is careful monitored and periodically revaluated to assess its progress and adjustments are made as necessary.
We hope that the day will be very soon when we will be zoche to see the fulfillment of the pasuk, ע וד ישמע בערי יהודה ובחוצות ירושלים, קול ששון וקול שמחה קול חתן וקול כלה.