Every year, it happens again. We surround the base of Sinai, to re-receive what has been given and regiven, year-to-year.
In the span of a year, most of us haven’t changed that much. Or at least, that is what we think, when confronting these texts, ideas, people we may not have considered much in the past few months. But the truth is that perspective isn’t often the big bang, a paradigm shift, a tectonic movement of earth under feet, that rattles assumptions and forces a review of priorities. Sometimes it starts with reconsidering a word, or a person, or a word from a person.
A once-and-perhaps-future friend once told me that you can’t change people. Maybe not at their essence; maybe there’s a part of us that exists before we’re aware of existence itself, and this element is immutable, ingrained. But people change every day. They change their minds. They change careers. They look at a person differently, or see a new meaning in a text, or suddenly claim a path as destiny with a passion that no one could have foreseen.
Some people object to the cycle of holidays, to the annual repetition of the same rituals, often with no change perceived from one year to the next. But I try to take the opportunity to move in some way, to extrapolate a theme from the biblical or the talmudic meaning of the day and let it inform my life, words and actions. It’s a difficult exercise, this receiving, this accepting. The practice of it requires exercise – although the prescription is annual, bound to the calendar, repeated exercise even more often would show greater benefits.
But there’s a disconnect. If the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai, and the mountain was their wedding canopy, and God declared love for the Jewish people at that grand elevation of nature, and we entered into partnership, then the reigning metaphor of the receipt of the Torah was the declaration of relationship, a declaration of commitment and covenant, the analog of which I currently lack. But this time on the calendar comes annually, whether I’m single or not, to remind me that relationship is a value, is possible, is important.
So I think about my words, about how the use of them binds me to others in this world and to those who are beyond, how they aid me in connecting to relationships that nourish me, and how they nurture my innermost self and soul. This year, those words are different than they were in tone and register, but still serve to adhere me to history and to humanity.
I hear voices in the texts, sacred and profane, past, present and future. I have hope that they will steer me toward an enhanced ability to recognize and welcome goodness, should I be lucky enough to find it.
We are constantly in the process of receiving, whether it is Torah, or meaning, or love. But it takes an open mind, and the willingness to say, “my perception is not set in stone tablets.” I might fear restrictive laws and tremble at the foot of the mountain, but when it comes to the opportunity to accept relationship, I am certain that I will.
While you might be caught up in cliches or otherwise struggling with online dating, your grandparents are scoring big-time.
Initially considered to be the realm of the desperate and the serial killers, scam artists and losers waiting to meet them, Internet dating is now a mostly socially accepted way of meeting potential partners, especially by 20- and 30-year-olds who grew up with the technology.
Honestly, they had me at “serial killers.” I do have to say that there’s not much of a transition from that rogues’ gallery of what internet dating used to be to it being “socially accepted.” From a research and world trends perspective, I think the jury may still be out. But back to the piece.
But according to experts like online dating coach Laurie Davis, “the over-50 crowd is the largest growing segment” of singles looking for love in cyber space on sites like JDate.com. PlentyofFish.com, Match.com, eHarmony.com and others.
Of course, this is probably known by women who are internet dating in their 30s. (Men in their 30s and 40s are typically chillin’ with the 20-something ladies, whilst the 50-something gents are all up for some hot 30s action.
But here’s a piece of advice for those 50-somethings who may want to jump start a reality television career: Kate Gosselin, of Jon Minus Kate and We’re Not Really Sure What Happened to the Eight, is apparently on internet dating sites like JDate. So that’s Kate Plus (J)Date. (Still no word on “the Eight.”)
If there’s any sign you’ve made it as a Christian rock act, it’s when your song “Bring Me to Life” is parodied by Ben Klein, the “Hassidic Weird Al.” (I know it’s April Fool’s Day, but this is no joke.)
Klein has also recorded fairly musically-accurate not-quite-parodies of songs by Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Linkin Park, the Plain White T’s, Cascada and Miley Cyrus. What’s YOUR favorite?
Special kudos to JJ writer Ryan Torok for venturing in front of the camera to have Julie assess his online dating profile. It takes a brave man to do this for the sake of journalism…
What burning questions do you have about cyberdating? If you submit them here, I’ll try to snag some answers from Julie or another expert…
(A longer version of this piece appears at MyUrbanKvetch.)
Recently, Jews observed the holiday of Purim, which thematically centers on disguise, withheld information, and political intrigue. To commemorate these themes and celebrate the inner parts of our lives that we might not always feel comfortable expressing, Jews traditionally dress in costume. Some costumes are fun, or (taking a cue from secular cousin Halloween) present an excuse to sex it up a little, at least for the one day. But if the theme was exposure and honesty, my costume choice was clear: I would become the clichés that people write (over and over again) in their online dating profiles.
How would I do this? Could I wear “a little black dress and jeans and a t-shirt”? How would I visually manifest “working hard and playing hard”? Should I get a fake arm, throw it around my shoulder, and label with a sign that says “my ex – but don’t worry, he’s out of the picture”?
I started with the little black dress, and attached to the front of the dress a whiteboard of sorts – then let people add their own clichés via stickers. And then the public art/commenting phase began. Afterwards, I knew I needed to analyze this piece of public commentary for the audience of online daters and beyond, so that we can all learn to be ourselves and not clichés.
Alongside “work hard and play hard,” “I like a fancy night out, but also a night in,” “friends and family are important to me,” and “a perfect date is when you don’t want it to end”- as well as “looking for someone with a good head on his shoulders,” which was scribbled on a sticker in Hebrew – were several categories of clichés:
The Blame Game: These comments blame someone else for your presence on JDate, usually a parent or a friend. “I never do this,” “I can’t believe I’m on JDate,” “my friends made me join.” However you got here, you’re here and so is everyone else, so get over it.
“Duh” statements: “I love travel and sushi,” “I love to laugh,” “communication is the most important thing,” and “love to hike and bike.” They don’t really tell you anything about the person in question: it’s like saying “I’m a carbon-based lifeform who enjoys breathing oxygen and locomoting bipedally” (except less interestingly). And as for “my mom thinks I’m a catch,” we’re so glad for you, and are certain that this focus on your mother during a search for a life partner is not at all negatively influencing your results.
Maybe JDate was as sick of those “chemistry-inspired matches” commercials for sites like Chemistry.com and eHarmony.com as we were, and figured, “if you can’t beat them, join them by creating a personality test that assigns a color to you as a dater and indicates what kinds of things you may need (if not be actively looking for) in a date/partner.”
Ever wonder why some people are so easy to love, work for, and befriend, while it’s difficult to build and maintain healthy relationships with others? All of these relationships begin with you. Imagine the power of truly knowing yourself, including what motivates you, and how the relationships in your life are impacted as a result. The Color Code is one of the most revolutionary and accurate measurements of your personality and is your best bet for understanding how to make sense out of your relationships.
JDate’s new way to self-analyze toward trying to discern a potential chemistry with someone asks a series of questions about the reactions you had to situations when you were a child. You choose “the best” answer, which may not accurately describe you, but never mind about that for now. It creates a personality type that, instead of a Myers-Briggsian “INFJ” or something like that, assigns you a color. The 15-minute test (unlike JDate membership that enables you to actually interact with people on the site) is free, and promises to help you:
“determine your own Color, or driving Core Motive, “speak the language” of others by identifying their Color, and build stronger and more meaningful relationships by understanding what drives people and their behavior. The Color Code Personality Test will provide you with in-depth understanding of why you do the things you do and how you can best interact with the other Color personalities.”
The test determines which personality color is your personality type, which determines which color drives your “Core Motives.”
- RED (The Power-Wielders): Core Motive = Power, or the ability to move from “a” to “b” as efficiently as possible
- BLUE (The Do-Gooders): Core Motive = Intimacy, this doesn’t mean sex, but the need to connect, share feelings, and build relationships with others
- WHITE (The Peacekeepers): Core Motive = Peace, or calm even in the midst of conflict; clarity in the midst of confusion
- YELLOW (The Fun-Lovers): Core Motive = Fun, or always enjoying the moment
My results will be no surprise to anyone who knows me. I was 66% Blue, followed by a 19% White and 13% yellow. Only 2% Red. According to the test, this means that I am (in alphabetical order, apparently) “analytical, committed, compassionate, dedicated, deliberate, dependable, emotional, loyal, nurturing, quality-seeking, respectful, sincere, thoughtful and well-mannered.”
I’m not sure this helps me understand my dating preferences – it’s more about me identifying the patterns that make me me. (Plus, my parents will be very glad to learn that their raising such a responsible, reliable child has been independently verified by JDate.)
But perhaps it will help daters – if not to understand the way they themselves are wired – understand how to communicate with other people on the site. For instance, after taking the quiz, I clicked on the profile of a guy with a great smile, and learned he was a “yellow.” “The best way to communicate with this member is to try a positive and upbeat approach. A joke or two wouldn’t hurt either,” JDate advised me.
Pretty general: be upbeat and be funny. That’s pretty much my strategy anyway, especially in a first communication. But will I think about this as I craft an opener to him (or someone else)? Probably, and maybe that will help keep us all on track, so there’s less insanity in first contact emails. But then again, if the insanity of those emails disappeared, we probably would have to shutter JDatersAnonymous. So the conflict continues.
Have you taken this quiz? How did you rank? Were your results accurate? Has it helped you in your use of JDate? Send us your experiences.
At the end of his travels through Europe, JTA’s Ben Harris (“The Wandering Jew”) has uncovered a lot of Jewish Europe. How fitting to end his European journey with a party called “the Ball,” at which attendees tell you straight out: they’re here to woo. “To woo?” “Yes, to woo.” (I actually think he was talking about not knowing “to who” he’s going to talk to, but “to woo” makes some logical sense as well.)
Warning – this clip, filmed in Brussels at the annual Ball held by the European Center for Jewish Students, may contain the following:
*Unlicensed use of Beyonce songs
*Footage of Jews dancing
*A woman wearing one of those skinny scarves
*Shocking images of spontaneous Hebrew bus singing and rapping
*Euphemisms like “raring to go”
*A DJ trying to be supercool while in denial about his DJing at a Jewish meat market
*One couple trying to get their “Jewish continuity” on
*Jews who come from all over Europe including…Mexico
*Did we mention footage of Jews dancing?
This “week” in Jewish dating news is a magical week, because it includes stories from the last month, many of them centering on issues of modesty and “shomer negiah” (not touching members of the opposite sex until marriage).
Chastity squad’s gonna git you, sucka. If you’re American yeshiva students screening porn for local Orthodox youth, or if you’re someone really immodest, like a divorcee, you might want to stay out of Jerusalem’s Beit Israel neighborhood. The ‘hood, which is becoming increasingly religious has been the site of several violent attacks against people deemed by the local “chastity squad” to be immodest.
The ‘chastity squad’ members snatched her at the playground, poured hot water on her, and when she began shouting they beat her up,” said the resident who witnessed the incident. In a separate incident, squad members allegedly broke into an apartment where several American yeshiva students lived, sprayed them with tear gas and stole a laptop.
Isn’t It Romantic? Giving new meaning to the term “eligible singles,” Star Singles is hosting a “special event for Kohanim and women eligible to marry them (please contact us for halachic parameters).” To learn about those parameters, you can check out the comments (“I guess this is where all the virgins will be,” “no divorcees allowed,” “sorry, I’m not a virgin”) or do some more research (see here, under “ritual defilement”). If you’re “eligible,” the event’s tonight in Brooklyn. Here’s the link to the Facebook invitation - if you go, please share a report with JDaters Anonymous…inquiring minds wanna know! (via Mara Manischewitz)
Isn’t It Romantic 2: Shidduchim Boogaloo. Cash money to anyone who matches a couple! Has it really come to this? On the Upper West Side, a memo circulated shortly to rabbis before Simchat Torah, promising $1000 to the person who orchestrates each of the first five matches made over Simchat Torah on the UWS that leads to marriage. Stipulations include that the two people didn’t know each other before and that they get married by Simchat Torah of next year. Also, “all 3 people have to agree that at certain time and certain place this matchmaker made the match and verified in front of a rabbi and they must be married by next Simchat Torah.”
“It has recently been revealed that the primary cause of the [shidduch crisis] is that boys frequently prefer girls who are a few years younger… Since every year our population grows, the result is that there are always more girls in need of a shidduch than there are available boys.” The letter strongly urges shadhanim [matchmakers] to push shidduchim[matches] in which there is a minimal age gap between the boy and girl, or for the girl to be older.
Cool it, would-be “Jewgars”: in this world, “older” probably means 23.
Bringing Sexy Back(side) to Saucier Shomer Negiah Girls? “Shomer Negiah Panties allow a woman to abide by the halacha, but still be individual and sexy at the same time.” One pair sets you (sexy) back $20, but since these panties are Jewish, you can get a bargain: two pairs for $36…that’s one “chai” per pair. Cute idea, but I think they should really read: “Shomer Negiah: If You Can Read This, You’re Too Close.”
So that’s the news for now – feel free to send your submissions for wacky dating news to us here at jdatersanonymous at gmail. We want to hear from you!
Whether you’re on the Upper West Side or not, you might enjoy these pieces “from the vault.”
What’s it like inside a Sukkah singles party in Manhattan? Back in 2005, yours truly and some intrepid friends found out. Listen in:
Man: Did you notice JDate’s site redesign? All of the women’s profiles defaulted to “does not want children.”
Woman #3: You’re the third guy to mention that tonight. As if Jewish continuity didn’t have enough problems—now everyone thinks that Jewish women don’t want to procreate. In JDate’s last redesign, they reset all the profiles, so if you said you spoke Hebrew, it now said you spoke Vietnamese. Or Tagalog. What is Tagalog, anyway?
Man: [fiddles with BlackBerry] “Tagalog is one of the major languages of the Philippines.”
Woman #2: Huh. At least we learned something.
Woman #3: Yes, that JDate is still JDate.
For the complete scoop, check out the original article.
What should you expect to see on Simchat Torah on the Upper West Side? Here’s a checklist of 20 “might-sees” – print it out, and see how you score! Including…
3. Israelis on cell phones.
4. A blind date who doesn’t remember you.
5. People you knew in high school who ignore you when they see you.
6. A throng.
7. A thong. Or inappropriate shul cleavage.
Those of you who have never heard the f-word might want to skip this post.
Some of you may be familiar with a site called “F___ My Life,” in which people write in complaints about all the ways their life sucks, and then end each post with the signoff, “F___ My Life,” or simply, “FML.” The subheader reads: “your everyday life stories.” The tagline: “Get the guts to spill the beans.”
Now we have Holy Shidduch! – I don’t exactly want to call it a “ripoff,” although the site’s design and concept do seem rather similar to the original FML site, so let’s go with the kinder “homage” – which centers such “my life is so nuts” – FML-style stories within the religious dating world, and ends each post with “HS.” The subheader reads: “your everyday dating stories.” And the (somewhat less catchy) tagline at HS is (emphasis, including caps and color directly from that site): WELCOME TO ALL THOSE WHO WISH THE MATCHMAKER WOULD STOP CALLING!
OK. We get it.
I know people who are obsessed with FML, and there are undoubtedly those who will become addicted to these short tales from the Jewish dating battlefield. As someone who’s never been a fan of FML, I can’t say I am going to add HS to my list of daily must-reads – most of these stories, on both sites, do seem more “everyday” than uniquely appalling. I’ve heard far worse stories, and the boxiness of the design – while perhaps an homage to the current Twitter trend, seems a little unsophisticated to me. But I’m one of the first people to admit that a site doesn’t have to be gorgeous or a runaway success in order to tap into the pop culture zeitgeist.
As readers and consumers of dating-related culture and sites, do you have any insight, comments or insights? Are these stories compelling enough to keep you coming back? Or is it just a massive complaining competition (“you think that’s bad, my life is worse…”)?