"I ma, who am I going to marry?”

My oldest daughter, Elisheva Bulow, was four years old when she asked me the question.

“When it’s time for you to get married, we’ll find the right boy for you,” I assured her.

Fifteen years later, Elisheva returned from seminary in Eretz Yisrael and informed me that she was ready to get married. Now it was time for me to make good on my pledge. But how on earth was I going to find my daughter a shidduch? Both my husband and I became observant in our teens, but even after being part of the frum community for over 20 years, we weren’t quite your typical frum family.

Unlike her brothers, whose interests often ran more toward basketball than Gemara, Elisheva had grown into a good, frum Bais Yaakov girl, the type who wouldn’t listen to Jewish music that wasn’t eidel and wouldn’t dream of watching anything that even remotely resembled a movie.

Once, I showed my children a documentary movie about penguins in Antarctica. “It’s worth watching,” I told Elisheva.

“Is it a movie?” she asked. “I don’t watch movies.”

“It’s a documentary,” I replied.

“I don’t watch movies,” she repeated.

Elisheva was the frummest of all our children, exemplary in her tefillah, her chesed, her middos. We called her “the rebbetzin.” She wanted to marry a real ben Torah who had achieved significant depth in his avodas Hashem, but it was obvious to me that our family was not the right type to attract that kind of boy. It didn’t help that we lived in Denver, Colorado. Nor could we offer much in the way of support, as most of our income was going to tuition and we had very little in the bank.

“Go back to Eretz Yisrael for a second year,” I urged her. “This way, you can find a shidduch in the context of who you are, rather than in the context of our family.”

Elisheva spent the next three years in Eretz Yisrael, where she worked as a dorm counselor while finishing her BA and beginning her master’s degree. A number of shidduchim were suggested for her during this time, and I conscientiously checked them out and approved the ones I thought sounded promising. Elisheva went out, but she hated dating. She was a no-makeup, no-pretenses kind of girl, and she found the shidduch process excruciatingly awkward and artificial.

When Elisheva came home after her third year in Eretz Yisrael, she said to me, “Ima, I never want to date again. I totally trust you to find me the right boy, and whoever it is I’ll marry him.”

“Sorry, Elisheva,” I said. “I can’t do that for you. I’m not chassidish. All I can offer you is to look into shidduchim and vet the prospects, but you have to go out for yourself and see if there’s a click.”

Elisheva went back to Eretz Yisrael at the end of that summer to finish her master’s. The day after she boarded the plane, I went to a wedding, where I sat next to a woman named Sari Horovitz Hoffman, the mother-in-law of my friend Miriam. Mrs. Hoffman told me that she was about to be empty-nested, as her oldest son was married, her middle son was working in a camp for the summer before returning to Eretz Yisrael for his fifth year there, and her youngest was about to go off to yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael as well. “Now I can finally get to all the projects that I’ve been pushing off all the years,” she said.

The next morning, August 7, 2007, I heard the terrible news. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 668)