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It’s total chaos.” For Orthodox Jewish women, as for Mormon ones, getting married and having children is more than a lifestyle choice.

Marriage and motherhood are essentially spiritual obligations, which is why the Orthodox marriage crisis is so hotly debated and why it has earned its own moniker.

On a lark, I emailed my friend Cynthia Bowman,* a devout Mormon who grew up in Salt Lake City and returns there often, and asked her whether Mormon sex ratios are as lopsided as the ARIS study claimed.

[Editor’s note: “Cynthia Bowman” is a pseudonym, as are other names denoted with an asterisk.

The shadchan’s job has been made exceedingly difficult, she said, by a mysterious increase in the number of unmarried women within the Orthodox community.

When Elefant attended Jewish high school 30 years ago, “there were maybe three girls that didn’t get married by the time they were twenty or twenty-one,” she said.

“I don’t sleep at night anymore,” said Elefant, a shadchan—or Jewish matchmaker—affiliated with the Ohr Naava: Women’s Torah Center in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn.

“My own sister is thirty-seven, educated, accomplished, attractive, and single.

I told her to freeze her eggs.” Secular-style dating is rare in the Orthodox community in which Elefant lives.

Most marriages are loosely arranged—“guided” is probably a better word—by matchmakers such as Elefant.

She shared stories of devout Mormon women who wound up marrying outside the religion—officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—simply because they had no other options. ”—who gave up on finding a husband and decided to have children on their own.

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