How to Solve the Singles Crisis
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?
Usually, singers wax rhapsodic about the woman’s, um, attributes, and talk about taking her home. But how do you sing about someone who you really see potential with? Now we have the answer: the romance of this contemporary longing can be summed up in the following (potentially unintentionally) hilarious lyrics from R. Kelly (with a vital contribution by Tyrese):
In case you missed the audio, that was: “Girl, you make me wanna get you pregnant. Knock you up, yeah…”
I can’t wait until this is someone’s “first dance” song at their wedding. Or even better, features into a plot of “The Office” or “30 Rock.” It has to, right? Or maybe Will Schuester will be singing it on next week’s “Glee”? (Gosh, I hope not.)
This song has obvious comedic impact (he compares her to Patron, and tries to shake it off by telling himself that he’s a player, only to keep imagining her in a house with a white picket fence until he gives up and says, “put that girl in my kitchen.” Sigh. Don’t we all wish someone special would croon these sentiments at us?) But because I’ve always got to put the “J” in this website (and because I’ve just spent three days glued to the Twitter feed for the JFNA General Assembly), I’m going to just assume that these lyrics were written by Michael Steinhardt or someone else who’s obsessed with Jewish continuity. Of course it’s a little heavy-handed to work effectively in the Jewish community, but it seems clear that the Jews need a song like this, with a strong message about pursuing marriage and children.
Some potential lyrics? Glad you asked.
“Girl, you make me wanna join Federation / be part of the Jewish nation / find a JCC with a Hebrew school, and a swimming pool.”
“I wanna knock you up / let’s go into debt together / pay for Hebrew school forever.”
“First I gave you a rock / now we’re deep in hock / first for Jewish schools then for Jewish camp / yat least we’ve got God’s approval stamp.”
I’m certain there are more potential lyrics out there. And I’m certain some of you are writing them right now. Please share!
(And we can all thank Emily Goldsher for sharing this vital piece of musical elegance with us.)
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!
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…”)?
Arriving imminently, the Jewish holiday of love.
To celebrate, you can:
1) Watch Benji Lovitt try to get a date for the holiday
2) Go to a local Jewish singles party celebration of the holiday, like tomorrow night’s LoveFest 2009 sponsored by JConnectLA or Bangitout’s NY White Party (now to be held on Thursday because of a rain threat).
4) Remember that last year, Madonna and Guy Ritchie used Tu B’Av as a chance to rejustify their love.
5) Read about how I once jinxed the Bangitout Tu B’Av party.
6) Reassess the pros and cons of speed dating, created by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo in 1998.
7) Listen to Galgalatz, Israeli radio, for a menu of songs including “All You Need is Love” (The Beatles), “I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz) and – of course – Lady Gaga’s “Love Game,” with the immortal love lyric “I want to take a ride on your disco stick.”
8) Go through your iPhone/BlackBerry address book and let your eyes linger on each name, remembering how you were treated and how you treated others, and promise yourself it’s going to be different this time. If you’re feeling benevolent and find worthy candidates, recycle people by matching them with each other based on things they have in common. If you’re not feeling benevolent, don’t bother…
9) Go old school: Wear white and frolic in the fields, waiting for a special someone to come along and fall in love with you. Make sure it’s your field, though. Because otherwise it’s just called trespassing. And bring some Shout wipes. Because grass stains like a bitch.
10) YOUR IDEAS HERE.
Happy Tu B’Av, everyone. And please, as always, love responsibly.
The “How to Solve the Singles Crisis” discussion takes a new turn with the following advice: Have at least 12 children, do not use birth control, and continue having children after 40. According to Ynet, “This is the formula for overcoming sterility and long-term bachelorhood in the Religious Zionism movement put forth by renowned Rabbi David Batzri.”
Rabbi Batzri, a respected kabbalist and head of Nahar Shalom Yeshiva, participated in a prayer assembly held in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter and at the Western Wall together with about one thousand single women searching for “respectable mating.” Under the title “Women in Wait,” they heard tips for getting themselves out of their distressful situation.
[T]he rabbi asserted that “a girl who wishes to marry must take upon herself already on the first date an obligation to have no less than 12 children.” In addition, he encouraged women to put pressure on one another not to delay pregnancy after getting married and not to wait long in between births.
Maybe I’m not seeing what is obvious to others reading this. But for me, a single woman who is, let’s say, NOT in her early 20s, I can’t see the value of this advice to unmarried women. Is the implication that the reason these women aren’t married is because they go into their dates unwilling to have more than 12 children? Because otherwise, you’re just telling them to do something that’s outside of their control: they can’t get married because they haven’t “taken on the obligation to have no less than 12 children,” and they certainly can’t have children before they’ve gotten married.
This reminds me of Lori Gottlieb’s article titled “Marry Him,” in which she opined (this is my paraphrase – I suggest you read the whole article) that women in their 20s should settle for Mr. Good-Enough so they can have the life they want in their 30s. By the time they reach their 30s, they’re living another situation entirely:
Choosing to spend your life with a guy who doesn’t delight in the small things in life might be considered settling at 30, but not at 35. By 40, if you get a cold shiver down your spine at the thought of embracing a certain guy, but you enjoy his company more than anyone else’s, is that settling or making an adult compromise?
Basically, go back and be in your 20s and make different decisions. If you’re already in your 30s, it’s like the bumper sticker: “If you can read this, you’re too close.”
Batzri’s instruction to women isn’t a solution to sterility, or to “long-term bachelorhood.” Unmarried women aren’t sterile, nor are they responsible for bachelors being bachelors. Perhaps giving a bit of mussar (strongly worded advice) to the bachelors might yield more marriages – and therefore more children – than telling a crowd of women, gathering because they’re desperately desiring of marriage and children, that it’s up to them to change things.
Sorry I’ve been away. Thank you for sticking around, checking back with me, reminding me to publish held comments, etc. I had been having some technical problems, but most of all found myself in a crunch for time – I kept writing half-posts and then discarding them. But now I’m back, hoping to provide some regular dating news and commentary from the crazy place where Jews and dating (sometimes) meet.
Up after the jump, Megan Fox, blind dating that’s really blind, religious transparency, and words to the brokenhearted.
Today, the Telegraph blog over at the JTA shared a story from the Hareidi (Ultra-Orthodox) world (via YnetNews): that older bachelors who were not married (and who were not yeshiva students) be punished: with banishment from the city of Jerusalem. This class of toxic older bachelors, shirking their responsibilities to be fruitful and multiply consists of those over the wizened age of 20.
The ruling was issued by Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, head of the Hazon Yaakov yeshiva and son of Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who noted that:
[…] in the past it was customary to banish “older” single men from the capital as punishment for their refusal to marry and provide for a family.
In recent generations, Sephardi rabbis decided to annul this regulation, but according to Rabbi Yosef it should be reinstated. “Only a yeshiva student who studies Torah has an exceptional permission to postpone marriage, if he fears that marriage might distract him from his studies. But normally one must not delay marriage till after 20, and those who do had better leave Jerusalem and go study somewhere else,” he wrote.
Banishment. Somewhere, Jewish demographers and those who are obsessed with the singles crisis are saying, “Wow. We totally should have thought of that.”
And now, for something completely different…
If you’re tired of all the negative stereotyping of Jewish women as overinvolved, shrill, shrewish (“funny, she doesn’t look shrewish”), superficial harpies (and why wouldn’t you be?), here’s something a bit unusual. Friend of JDaters Anonymous Van Wallach has now published a treatise on the appeal of the Jewess, titled “Smart, Vulnerable, and Shtetl-Lovely: The Allure of Jewish Women.”
While the titular love Wallach describes was no doubt something that he had within him, he was inspired to write this piece after reading a Matchup column by Chicago-based freelancer Abigail Pickus (who once wrote for PresenTense) in the Jewish Week (where someone else used to write a column). The column shared her experiences on the receiving end of a litany of reasons why her Jewish male friend wouldn’t date Jewish women. Wallach didn’t just get angry – he got writing:
Why […] did I turn to and stay with Jewish women? Something about them clicked with me on a deep level. I once described a woman as “smart, vulnerable, and shtetl-lovely.” That’s my highest praise for the appeal of the Jewish woman’s mind, heart, and body. They are all allure, and if they freshen their lipstick over a sushi dinner, I’ll follow them anywhere – and I have. A Jewish man who dismisses such women as a group is, in technical terms, meshuggenah.
I’ll just add that anyone who dismisses Jewish men or Jewish women as a group isn’t helping. Let’s acknowledge that there are trends, and there are exceptions. And most of us are really looking for someone who is – in some way, even if it’s a small way only perceptible to us – exceptional.
Check out the whole piece over at Blogcritics.
As happens in the Jewish calendar, last night began a holiday that continues today: Tu B’Av, the traditional Jewish holiday of love. The timing is designed so that after Tish’ah B’Av, the Ninth of Av fast day, which recalls the tragedies of the Jewish people especially the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, we affirm life with joy, celebration and looking toward a future (read: the hope of future Jewish babies).
I was supposed to go to the Bangitout Tu B’Av party in NYC–which draws about 800-1000 Jews all (theoretically) looking for relationships. If I still had the Jewish Week singles column, I would have gone for research, but since Jewish singles isn’t my official pring beat anymore, this year, I was going just for me. But it wasn’t in the cards. (Read why here.)
Because last week was Tish’ah B’Av, this Shabbat is Shabbat Nachamu, the “Shabbat of Consolation” on which Madonna will be justifying her love with her husband through renewal of vows, and which traditionally has served as a designated Jewish singles weekend for the eternally hopeful.
But singles weekends are expensive, so many will take a less costly route and gather in Central Park on Shabbat for picnicking and kibbitzing. Who knows? I might even be there.
And now, a Tu B’Av video courtesy of some of my blog friends, including Benji Lovitt of WhatWarZone. Happy Tu B’Av!