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The average age at which Israelis get married is significantly lower than in other Westerners societies, according to statistics released on Sunday in honor of the Tu Be'av holiday. Nevertheless, hundreds of single men and women will converge on a Kabbalistic yeshiva in the heart of Jerusalem on Monday to pray for a shidduch (match).
"Kabbalah teaches that this day is portentous," says Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri, whose father, David, heads the Shalom Yeshiva. "It was the day that men from the tribe of Binyamin, who had been blackballed after the concubine on the Giva affair, were allowed to marry. And the Talmud says this day was a Yom Tov that was unequaled in joyousness."
Special prayers against the "evil eye," which might be preventing singles from finding their beloved, will be recited and shofars will be blown to awaken God's mercy. Some who cannot come to the yeshiva have sent faxes with their names so that Batzri can add them to his prayers.
According to the Mishna, on Tu Be'av the unmarried women of Jerusalem wore white garments and went out to dance in the vineyards, where they were chosen as wives by unmarried men. Nowadays many consider the day the equivalent of Valentine's Day, and it has been widely commercialized, becoming a secular holiday. Around the country, people celebrate with concerts, dance festivals and weddings.
According to the statistics released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2005, the average age of an Israeli bridegroom was 27.1, while in France, it was 31.5. The highest age among the countries surveyed was in Sweden, at 34.1.
The same trend was found for women. On average, Israeli brides got married at age 24.1, while in France the standard age was 29.4, and in Sweden 31.5.
For Jewish women, the average age at marriage was 25, a year older than for the Israeli population as a whole.
Since 1970, Jewish men and women are getting married at a later age, according to the CBS. The average age of bridegrooms rose from 24.1 to 27.6 between 1970 and 2005, and the ages of the brides rose even more steeply, from 21.4 to 25.2.
This has produced a significant increase in the number of bachelors between the ages of 25 to 29. At the end of 1970, only 28 percent of the men in this age group were single, while in 2005, 61% of Jewish men in that range were unmarried.
In 2005, 41,029 people got married in Israel, and out of those, 31,284 were Jewish, with about 90% of them getting married for the first time. Muslims accounted for 8,280 of the people getting married, 647 were Christians and 818 were Druse.