Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chapter 28: Perfect on Paper

Sometimes a boy and a girl meet, on a Shidduch date, and they know right away that they are perfect for each other. They have the same Hashkafa, outlook on life, the same ideals. They have the same hobbies, and CDs, and favorite books. The character traits they were looking for, their "list", is sitting right across from them, in flesh and blood. They should be thrilled, because perhaps they've found their soul mate.

There's only one problem. They aren't very happy about it.

"There are classical music concerts for free, on Monday afternoons" Daniel said. "I go to them with my sister, she's also in Jerusalem this year"

"That's so interesting" says Karen. "I love classical music. I never heard of those free concerts."

So he's a fan of classical music, the same way she is. Another point in his favor. Why is she wishing this date was over?

"I think balance is very important", Karen is saying. "I believe in a blend of Torah and secular studies"

Daniel finds himself nodding. He agrees entirely. He resists the urge to look at his watch.

They talk for two hours. They have a lot in common. They would make a good match. Daniel sees why Shulamit put them together.

But when Daniel does finally glance at his watch, and say "Shall we?", Karen is relieved.

Daniel walks her to the parking lot in silence. They both have no more energy for conversation.

When Daniel gets back to the Yeshiva dorms, he finds Ari in bed already, reading a biography of the Brisker Rav.

"Here's your tie back. Thanks, Ari."

Ari sits up, keeps a finger in the book, saving his place, and closes it.

"Nu, so how was?"

Daniel pauses for a moment, hesitates, finding the words.

"She's a very nice girl." He says. "We have a lot in common. I'll go out with her again, if she wants to."

And when Karen gets home, she says the same thing.

"He's a very nice boy. I'll go out with him again, if he wants to. I'll call Shulamit in the morning"

Then she turns on her computer. Maybe Yishai sent an email while she was out.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chapter 27: Army Appeal

Sunshine, grass, trees, wind catching at her hair, shadows falling in patterns on the ground, the gentle sounds the world made, when it was left alone. And Avner, always Avner.

He crouched beside her as she bent close to a wild flower, perched on a boulder as she climbed up to where there was a better view. Brachy grew to know the steady click of his camera's shutter, as he snapped frame after frame, always staying within breathing distance.

Brachy giggled, as she watched the group gathering around one lone blossoming tree, surrounding it on all sides with their cameras and eager gazes. She flipped the lid off the lens.

"Makes you feel sorry for the tree, doesn't it?" Avner whispered into her ear.

Brachy jumped. She smiled up at him, but moved away, putting some distance between them.

He continued, ignoring her reaction. "So much pressure. I sure hope that poor tree is photogenic."

"Rather it than me." Brachy said.

"Oh I'd way prefer to take a picture of you any day Brachy. You're much prettier than the flower blossoms."

Brachy's face froze. Shock, embarrassment, dismay. She opened her mouth, then closed it again, without speaking. Her eyes were two admonishing guardians, gazing at Avner with disapproval.

"I was joking! Don't worry Brachy, I know you're a Dosit. Forget it, OK? Look, there's a squirrel, think we'll catch it in time?"

Brachy felt stupid, she knew her reaction to his compliment was extreme. She forced her mouth into a more normal expression, and shrugged, nodded, kneeled beside Avner to snap shots of the squirrel now disappearing behind a rock.

"If you hold a stalk of grass, or something, close to the lens, it will blur, create a halo for the picture. Try it, it makes an interesting frame." Avner passed over a twig

"How do you know so much, anyway?" Brachy asked Avner. "I thought this class was for beginners?"

"They taught me photography in the Army." Avner said.

As if that explained it all. "The army?" Brachy pictured a row of soldiers in formation, all taking artistic portraits of the sunset, or perhaps chasing butterflies? Photography didn't fit in with Brachy's image of basic training.

"For reconnaissance. I was in intelligence. " Avner didn't say more.

She'd forgotten that Avner had been a soldier, forgotten that he had done so much already in life. She'd begun thinking of him of another friend, doing the same things that she did.

Nobody in Brachy's family had ever served in the army. Not her father, not her brothers, or cousins. She had never seen a man come home in uniform, was never taught the army slang. Soldiers were heroic, powerful, beings. They'd endured basic training, they'd trekked across deserts bearing loaded packs, they'd risked their lives for the country.

True, lately the soldiers she saw on the bus and the street were looking smaller, younger, more vulnerable. Brachy began to realize that she was older than most of them, that they were just boys really.

But it was still exciting, thinking of Avner as a soldier. He suddenly seemed older than he had before. Brachy saw, as if for the first time, the shadow of stubble on his chin; she heard the thick huskiness of his voice.

She wondered if it was true what he'd said before; did he really think that she was pretty?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What is YOUR favorite Shidduch post?

You know those Shidduch posts you read, somewhere, anywhere, and really love? The ones where your reaction is "That's exactly how I feel", the ones that leave you thinking, or get you grinning. Tell us about them!

We are collecting the best of the Shidduch Blogosphere, over here.

Our goal- Publication. Don't you feel sorry for those poor souls who don't have Internet access, or who haven't yet discovered the blogosphere? And wouldn't it be great, to have the very best posts collected in one book?

Our motivation- Making a real difference in how singles are being viewed in the Frum Community, and providing a genuine, uncensored, well written narrative about Shidduchim

Bad4Shidduchim launched the project today. Here are some FAQs we are being asked:

Who can nominate a blog post? Anyone! You don't even have to register on the site (although it would be cool if you did!)

Can I nominate my own blog posts? Yes! Who knows your best posts better than yourself? We are trying to find all the great stuff out there, that we might not know about - or might have read, and loved, but forgotten about.

So what do I do now? Go to the Shidduch Anthology Forum, and post the links to your favorite posts. And spread the word!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Other Species

They fascinated me. They lived beside us, but in a system entirely apart. Talking to them would cast me into a state of mortal sin, but I badly wanted to hear how yeshiva boys lived, and talked, and thought. I wanted to hear what went in within the hallowed halls where my feet could never tread. I gathered up crumbs of information, snippets of conversations. And I wondered.

Fast forward ten years, out of high school and into Shidduchim. Yeshiva boys are coming out of my ears. Can this be God's repayment for my once secret interest? "You want to hear what it's like in Yeshiva, do you? You'll hear what it's like in a hundred Yeshivas!"

For I am now an expert on Yeshivas.

A Chareidi colleague discusses where to send his son to Yeshiva. I inundate him with a wealth of information; I tell him the pros and cons of each institution, the type of boys who go there, the families they come from, the staff's approach to Chinuch, and the comfort level of the food and dorms. I even share some of the below the surface politics with him.

"Oh they've changed" I say, "The new Rosh Yeshiva want to make it more Chareidi."

He blinks at me. Why should a girl know all this? What business is it of hers?

I wish I could pull out my credentials, and flourish them in his face. I have endless reliable sources; an infinite list of conversations and discussions, on all facets of Yeshiva life- the good, the bad, and the excruciatingly boring.

For what does a Yeshiva boy talk about on a date, if not his Yeshiva?

So if you need advice on where to Shteig in Eretz Yisroel, or where to send your son, contact: 1-800-Frum N' Flipping – for all your Chinuch needs.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Who's the most eligible of them all?

I have good news. In fact, I have fabulous news. You know how we are always venting about the Shidduch scene?

Well, I misjudged it. The cloud does have a silver lining. The Shidduch world is not that bad after all!

We can start counting our blessings.

Blessing #1: There is no list of top eligible singles published every year in Hamodia.

Let's all take a moment to say a little prayer of gratitude. (Something along the lines of"Thank you O Lord, for sparing us")

For our less fortunate brethren, those abiding in the 'Swamp' of Kattamon, have this to deal with every year.

When Nati on Srugim made it to an online list of eligible Religious singles, I wasn't sure if it was a joke. Turns out it's for real. Every year NRG publishes a list of the top Dati folk who are on the market for a spouse.

I'm so glad I'm Chareidi!

Or should we be starting our own version of "The List"?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chapter 26: Enough is Enough

"There are no words for this perfection. No mortal expression can capture the sublimity of your creation." Dovid took another bite of cheesecake, and rolled his hand around his stomach, to show how much he was enjoying it.

"Thank you, thank you." Shulamit grinned. "So your big sis' is good for something, eh?"

"Shulamit, you outdid yourself this year." Ima said. Shulamit's annual Shavuos cheesecake was a family tradition.

"At least she's making the most of all the free time on her hands." Abba said. "Better a gourmet cheese cake than another hare brained scheme."

Ima turned and frowned at him. At least on Yom Tov let there be no disagreements.

"Actually, I have some amazing news!" Shulamit said, turning to her father. "Just wait till you hear this!"

"Well go on then." He said, cutting himself another slice of cake.

"I met this girl at the wedding last week, and I realized she is exactly the type of girl that Daniel is looking for! - Remember Daniel? He came to sell flowers that time when there was a mix up – Anyway I called them both and they agreed to go out!"

Shulamit beamed, as her eyes darted back and forth between Abba and Ima and Dovid, to capture the excitement she knew would be reflected back at her. She waited, but none of them smiled, or said a word. There was silence.

"Aren't you pleased?" Shulamit said slowly.

Ima spoke. "We were hoping you would have better news for us."

"What's better than making a Shidduch? Do you know what a Mitzvah it is?!"

"Matchmaking is indeed a great thing." Abba said. "But 'Aniyei Ircha Kodmin', the poor of your own city come first. What about you Shulamit? When will you stop with this game and focus on your own life?"

"Abba's just worried about you." Ima said. "I also am. We all are."

"But you promised! We agreed on this! You said it was O.K!"

Dovid poured out some of the fancy white wine Abba had brought home. Nobody was looking his way. He tried to pretend he wasn’t there. Girls, and their endless melodrama! Thank God he only had one sister. Although she was a jolly good cook.

"Shulamit, we agreed that you could take a year off to focus on your studies." Abba said, glancing between words at his wife for confirmation. "We weren't expecting you to launch a neighborhood campaign to marry off every girl aside for yourself!"

Now Shulamit was the silent one.

"If marriage is so on your mind, why don't you try to get married yourself? Isn't it time? Haven't you waited long enough?"

"I can't believe you're speaking to me like this. How can you forget what I went through? I need a break. I can’t deal with it anymore. And besides, I need to focus on my career. The religious fashion world needs me."

Dovid picked up a Bencher, and launched into a loud, if off tune, "Shir HaMaalot." He figured the meal had gone on long enough. Why couldn't his family be normal, like Yitzy's family ?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


"What are your plans for this year?" That would be my boss talking. He looks at me expectantly.

The answer is obvious. The words flash in my mind, as if spelled out in neon light bulbs on the top of a store front window.

"Finish my novel."

Wrong answer. There's no way I can say that. He doesn't even know I'm writing a novel.

"My plans?" Stalling for time is always an option.

"How do you want to develop this year?" He doesn't shift his gaze from my face.

I take it "Finally get a driving license" is also out? How about "Work on my Middos"? Does that count as development?

I spend a hefty chunk of my day here, between four office walls. I shouldn't just be killing time, waiting to leave, to date, to write.

"I'd like more responsibility." I mumble. "And more opportunities for creativity."

Yeah that sounds passably professional.

Last year the answer I bit back was "Get married." I really should start preparing for these meetings.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just One Date

"'Just one date', they'd tell me. 'A couple of hours, why not? Isn't it worth a try?'

"And they were right in a way. I couldn’t rule out guys before I'd met them. Because I'm a mix, and I needed a mix. I couldn't know ahead what was the exact combination of Israeli and Chutznik, of Yeshivish and open, that I needed. Because it depended on the guy really, it's not an exact science. So I kept trying.

"But one date was never one date. There's the 'before', the whole getting ready business. But what's worse is the 'after', the deliberations, the 'should I try again?'. The hoping he'll say no, because you don't have the courage to be the one to end it. Second dates are almost autmoatic, because how can you know him properly after only one date? Eventually it ends, two or three dates later, one or two weeks later, after endless phone calls and debates. And it always ends for the reason that you saw on the first date."

I nod, I agree. It's often the same for me too. (Those times when I'm not the one being dumped)

"Finally I decided I'm going to start listening to myself. I'm going to trust my instincts. I'll go out for 'just one date', and it really will be for one date only. If I don't see it going anywhere I'll end it, cut it right away, not let it drag on."

"And it worked", I say.

She smiles. She's now happily married to a guy who is totally unlike her 'on paper', who she agreed to the 'just one date' with (because she knew it really only had to be one date, and not more), and who she liked, a lot, and clicked with. And actually wanted spend a second date, and a third, and eventually a lifetime with.

"It saved me so much heartache" she tells me. "I went out with all types of guys that year, I tried everything, but as soon as I didn't think it was going to work, I ended it, and moved on."

"It's scary" I say. "What if I'm meant to marry someone who I don't like straight away? How can I know who my Besherte is, and how much of a chance I need to give the relationship?"

Her dating strategy does sound appealing though. Listening to myself, and to my feelings, which never really change, however much I keep trying. No more forcing relationships that aren't going anywhere. No more praying to be dumped. Should I try it?

Scrawling for a Shidduch

"We don't know each other. But maybe we'll get married one day. I like your name. I'm sure we'll fall madly in love"

I grin. I wonder what he'll make of that! It serves him right for insisting on this crazy method for winnowing out the unsuitables.

Then I crumple up the paper; I've got to try to take this seriously. I lay out a new blank white sheet on the desk. What should I write in a letter to someone I've never met, never even spoken to?

It doesn't matter really. He just wants to see my handwriting. He doesn't care what I say.

I can't believe I agreed to this; giving a guy a sample of my handwriting, so that he can analyze it, before we even go out. I bet he's not even my type. I don't go for this sort of stuff.

My writing looks messy on the paper. I always joke that my handwriting is encrypted, because I'm the only one who can decipher it. I wonder what the scrawled letters and lines will teach him about me.

I told them that they could forget it, a year ago. I didn't care that he was a 'great guy'. I wasn't going to let my handwriting be analyzed, by anyone. I thought it was insane, I still do. But now I'm in my "what the heck" mood. Compared to posing a Shidduch profile online, is this any crazier?

The situation is ironic. Usually I worry what guys will think of my writing. But this time I wait to see what he thinks of my handwriting. I can't win.

This all happened a while ago. To my great surprise, my messy handwriting passed the test. We were soul mates. Until the actual date proved that premise wrong (it was face to face, not handwriting to handwriting). I'm curious, what's your take on Graphology and Shidduchim? What would you have done in my place?

Did you know that I'm a fanatic?

I'd love to see your comments on my guest post about being a fanatic in Jerusalem.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

For Appearances Sake: A Story

She tells me there's another way. She tells me it can be different. I try to keep my disbelief from showing; I try to keep the skepticism out of my eyes. I humor her. I nod along as she speaks. The poor girl can't be quite all there, if you know what I mean

Her eyes are steady, as she looks back at me. She seems normal enough. Perhaps she merely doesn't realize the implications of her words, and no one has taken the trouble to teach her, to show her the way things need to be. Her statements tumble out in a stream of perplexities, until I break in, interrupting. I can't keep quiet any longer.

"You go to the shows that sound the most 'fun'? You only go to Shiurim that you 'find interesting'?"

She nods. She doesn't deny it.

"What about weddings?" I ask her. "Which weddings do you attend?"

"Weddings that I want to go to."

"But what if there's nobody there?!"

"There's always somebody there" she laughs. She looks at me like I'm the crazy one, would you believe it.

"But what if there's nobody there who matters?"

"Nobody who matters?"

"Who knows people. You need to go to places where you'll be seen, where you'll meet people." I explain with great patience. Really I'm proud of myself, managing to show such understanding.

As a single girl, she has duties. She needs to go to the right places, in order to meet the right sort of people, so that they will introduce her to the right sort of boy. She can't just saunter around like she's on vacation, without a thought to the future. How will she ever be set up with anyone, if she's not even trying?

The girl seems oblivious to the dim fate that lies ahead for her. She carries on speaking, smiling, telling now of the curious friendships she strikes up with people of no social significance. She doesn't even seem embarrassed.

I try to picture the world she describes. Faint pictures rustle in my mind, they are faded and brittle, scenes of days gone by. Is she from another time, another place? Do they ignore the whispers, in her world?

"What about the whispers?" I ask her.

She stops her chatter. She stares at me, as if she's not sure what to say.

"The little voices that whisper in your head, that ask 'Does she know anyone?', whenever you're with someone. Don't you hear them?"

Still she stares at me, unspeaking.

"'Who will be there?', 'Who will I meet?', 'Should I go?'" I continue. "The whispers. They are a continuous echo in the background. They tell you what to do, where to go, who to speak with, who to make an effort to socialize with. "

She turns around and walks away from me.

I remember now. I remember that I used to be like her. I used to live life without the whispers. Then things changed. They'll change for her too, when she starts Shidduchim.

I hope it won’t always be like this. I have friends on the other side. I have friends who are married. They tell me things are different, in that place. They tell me the whispers go away. They tell me the ulterior motives vanish, disappear. They live life for its own sake again, and not for appearances sake. That's what they say, at least. I don’t know if to believe them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chapter 25: Before Shavuos

There was a kit for sale. Cheese, cookie crumbs, topping, all wrapped up neatly in a plastic tub, instructions included. It was tempting.

She already had a cheesecake recipe, waiting at home, torn out from this week's Mishpacha. The ingredients she needed were listed on the back of the envelope, tucked in the purse somewhere, if only she could find it.

The recipe had looked good, when she'd read it. But the half-the-work -done-for-you kit would be less work, less of a bother. It was double the price the ingredients would cost stand alone though. And it wouldn't come out as good. Besides, she made a cheesecake every year for Shavuos, she loved baking. What had gotten into her?

She wondered what would happen if she went home, without the ingredients? What would happen if she didn't make a cheesecake? What would happen if she stayed home, and didn't go to Shul? Could she pretend it wasn't Yom Tov? Could she ignore the date, and wait for it to be over?

Shavuos was the spiritual start of the year. Shavuos was the day when Hashem decided how much help with Torah he'd give you the next year, the same way that on Rosh Hashana he decided on the material stuff. But Brachy still wished it was over. How had she ever had the energy, for the Shiurim and the Mussar books, the praying and the learning?

Brachy used to worry that she wasn't really religious. Did she really believe in God? How could she know if she did? She read books, written specially for teenagers, about faith, and belief. She read books about the truth of the Torah, and proofs of the existence of God. She wanted to believe. But she didn't know how she felt deep inside. She couldn't tell. What would happen, if she was tested?

So it had been a relief, in a way. Going through the worst, and seeing that she did believe in him.

God had been there with her then, with them all. One week, spent by a hospital bed. One week, in the hospital's Intensive care. Brachy had felt him then. If she shut her eyes and blocked out the world, she could still remember. It was the hardest week of her life, but God had been there, he'd wrapped himself around her, and comforted her, and made her strong.

Now it was over, and she was on her own again. Daddy was gone, God was gone, she was left to cope. Year after year, Shavuos following Pesach. Would the cycle of festivities never end? She tried to bring back the feelings of faith, of assurance, that she'd had in the year of mourning, but the emptiness, hollowness, stayed.

Trust Sara Leah to call for a chat when Brachy was surrounded on all sides by impatient shoppers. She managed to hold the phone with one hand, and push the cart with the other.

"Where will you be for Yom Tov?"

"At home."

They always asked her that question. It started when Daddy died. They expected her to go away for Yom Tov, go somewhere where there was a man at the head of the table. As if now her family was no longer a family, her home no longer a home.
She was creating a traffic jam in the drinks aisle. "I'll talk to you later Sara Leah, OK?"

The Yahrzeit candles, she mustn't forget them. What aisle were they in?

This time the phone gave only a short beep; it was a text message, not a phone call. Avner had started texting her in between classes. He wanted her to see a new movie with him tomorrow night, when Yom Tov was out. Didn't he realize that she didn't watch movies? She couldn't do a thing like that of course.

Brachy dropped a handful of Yahrzheit candles into the cart. Enough for them all to light tonight.

In front of the fridges, Brachy reached out and took a cheesecake kit. It would be easier.

Disclaimer: I have a messy room. It took me two hours to tidy it today. While I was hanging up clothes I thought about this scene, and tried to bring it to life. Why am I telling you all this? Because, flattering as it is when my story sounds real, this is NOT a true story, and Brachy is NOT me. Glad we cleared that up..
Happy Shavuos everyone!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chapter 24: When Dreams Come True

It wasn't coming out right. Was it the lines that were wrong, the shading? Shulamit wanted the dress to be simple, fresh, but instead it looked flowery and naïve on paper. She ran a thick x through the center of the charcoal figure, and folded over the sheet.

The blank whiteness of the new page reflected back at her, as if it were the enemy, mocking her. She'd never found it so difficult to work before. In school she'd always been drawing. While the teachers drawled on, while the girls giggled and gossiped, Shulamit had drawn out her fantasies, working her way back from the ends of notebooks to their centers, only stopping when she reached class notes and homework, encroaching from the beginning.

The pictures she'd produced had been admired, praised. "You're so talented", they told her. 'You have a gift." "Don't forget us when you're famous."

And she'd believed them. She'd always known what she wanted to be when she grew up. She enjoyed drawing and designing dresses, she was good at it, she was meant for it.

So really everything should be perfect now. Finally she could spend all day studying and practicing fashion, art, and design.

The table was spread with charcoal pencils of varying thicknesses. Dovid was in school, Abba was at work, Ima was out shopping; the house was quiet. It was too quiet. Shulamit found her portable microphones in Dovid's room, plugged them in to her IPod. All artists needed background music to work to, why hadn't she thought of that before?

Being an artist was a lot of pressure. She couldn't sit around and wait to be inspired. She couldn't work when she felt like it. There were deadlines, and assignments to hand it. It was positively draining, sucking out every ounce of creativity she'd ever possessed. No wonder her pictures were falling flat. What did they expect from her?

How did the other students do it? How did they turn up week after week with original masterpieces? Were they better than her? Was she good enough? Maybe she'd made a mistake? Shulamit couldn't bear to be mediocre, when she'd always thought she was the best. Should she give up, and go back to the Seminary where she belonged, and study teaching, together with all the others?

She needed a break. Shulamit remembered the girl from Sara Leah's wedding; Karen, that was her name. She'd told Karen she had a Shidduch for her. Daniel would be perfect; he was sophisticated and worldly, just like Karen was. Had Karen tried dating Baal Teshuvas before? It really was the ideal solution for her. Anyway, she'd call him. Sometimes being a matchmaker was much more relaxing than being an artist.

"Hi Daniel, it's Shulamit, can you talk now? How are you?" Shulamit cradled the cordless phone in the nook of her neck, even though the school nurse had told them how bad that was for posture. She needed her hands free to fish for the scrap of paper where she'd written down Karen's details. When she'd emptied out her evening bag, where had the contents landed?

"I'm doing well. I'm enjoying this Zman at Yeshiva. Still fitting in the basketball I told you about. The dorms are emptying out, with all the boys getting engaged, but the truth is I'm enjoying the space."

"Right. That's great." Shulamit had been expecting a grunt and a swallowed "Baruch Hashem", not a whole conversation.

"And how are you, Shulamit?" Daniel prompted.

Now Shulamit felt obliged to give a genuine response. "Well I'm also studying..."

Her voice trailed off.

"I remember. Fashion design. Your dream! Is it going well?"

Shulamit didn't know how it happened. But Daniel was the first person to ask the question, and sound like he wanted to know the answer. The words tumbled out in a torrent, flowing smoother than the sketches she'd been agonizing over. She told him everything. He was patient, on the other side of the line. He asked more questions, encouraging her to talk. Shulamit realized that she'd been lonely, working at home all day. And classes weren't much better, she felt an alien there, among the students in their T- Shirts and Jeans. It felt good, to be finally talking to someone.

But suddenly, she was embarrassed. She had no business mixing her personal life in with making Shidduchim.

Shulamit lowered her voice, making it sound more businesslike and mature. "Listen Daniel, it's been great talking to you, but I actually called to ask you something. I have an idea for you."

"An idea?"

"You know. A Shidduch idea. Are you free now?"

"Of couse. A Shidduch..."

"She's an amazing girl! I met her last night. Remember how you said you're looking for someone intellectual? Well she's really into all that stuff."

Shulamit didn't understand why Daniel sounded so reserved all of a sudden. He really was the most perplexing boy. But as long as he'd agree to go out with Karen, it didn't matter.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

So What's Up?

To stop you thinking I've been slacking off, to dispel the impression that I've been spending my free time lounging around in a hammock on the shores of the Caribbean, instead of typing away like a dutiful blogger should be, I figured it's time to post some links.

I've been blogging for Midnight East at the International Writer's Festival in Jerusalem. (But don't get your hopes up- I'm not shedding the cloak of anonymity. It's a pseudonym.)

I was worried I'd be discovered for a fraud beforehand. I couldn't believe that despite usually teetering around in heels, on the one day I meet the President of Israel(well I didn't actually meet him, but let's not get nitty gritty here) I'm wearing sneakers and looking a mess. Guess that's life. And I did enjoy the Invitation Only press conference and opening ceremony.

What do single girls like? Or more precisely, what do Frum single girls who are in Shidduchim like? And what do they NOT like?

Frum Satire also reposted my Marrying-a-Gay-Guy question. The feedback was interesting. (Although some is R-rated, so be warned)

The other breaking news item is that, from across the Atlantic, BOSD came to Jerusalem, and we got to meet up. This historic event took place on Ben Yehudah. Luckily, we managed to keep away the Paparazzi. (And don't worry Bad4, despite it being a chapter meeting of the BadForShidduchim club, I knew better than to order an ice cream this time. The fruit shake wasn't very good though, BOSD, was it?) And guess what? I discovered I'm not the only blogger to write all my posts on my IPod!

Ps. Since I know you're all waiting in suspense, let me make the official announcement that my career in double dating is over.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mamma's Lil' Boy

Do you ever feel like you're living in a surreal Kafkaesque universe, too weird to be true? Do you ever wonder when the shutters will open, and sense will seep back into the world? If you open up your eyes will it be over? Can you go to sleep and wake up from this dream? You cry, from the sheer frustration; the absurdity overwhelms you, you look around frantically for the clarity that once was. How did you get here, what step along the way brought you to this society of madness? Why don't they see it too; why do they let this happen; where is this leading to?

I've been on dates with men. I've been on dates with women. I've never been on a double date before. A double date which is also a first date. A double date where both our moms get to tag along with us, and join in all the fun.

I'm confused as to the coupling. Do I pair up with him, while his mom pairs up with mine? Do we trade, me dating his mom and vice versa?

"Fine. Wednesday. 9 PM. At the café. Oh...there's there's one small thing. His mother wants to come along."

"His mother is coming on the date with us?! On a first date?!"

"Only for the first few minutes . That's the way they do things."

I'm too tired to put up a fight.

Then he calls back.

"They say the way they always do things is that both mothers meet beforehand. They want your mother to come too."

You know when you're too shocked for your mind to respond?

Later I take it in, the implications; I'm going on a chaperoned blind date.

Despite my ripe old age, I'm taking part in an act choreographed for children, too immature to know their own mind.

Because what can be their motives?

Is this to get a picture of my family religiosity, level of Frumness, Heimishness?

Perhaps it's all a matter of establishing my class, a not so subtle socio-economic background check?

Or do they want to see my mother's figure, to decipher the genetics of what dress size I'll be when I'm a grandmother?

I am going to refuse point blank. Delete the little box in Outlook with the place and time, and move onto the next guy. Because how can any guy who needs to bring along his mom on a first date; who relies on her approval not only of a girl, but also of a girl's family; who can't make the decision whether to go out a second time on his own; how can a guy who behaves like that be suitable for me, mature enough for me? I want to marry a grown up man, not a little boy.

I make the decision. Hashem makes a different once. There's a miscommunication along the chain of telephones and arrangers. It's all set. We are going out tomorrow, all four of us.

Let's look on the bright side. My grandmother lives abroad. So at least it won't be a triple date.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I'm an INTP

We ask about hats, and colors of Kippahs. We ask which stream of society he belongs too.

"Which Yeshivas did he go to?"
"What do his parents do?"
"What do his siblings do?"
"Where do they live?"
"How many years does he want to learn for?"

That's how we match up couples. Surprisingly, despite two people being perfect for each other on paper, despite them both agreeing that the husband should be in Kollel for exactly 5.5 years, until the birth of their third child; despite them both having brothers who learn in the Mir, and sisters who are working in special Ed; despite all of that, they meet and don't click.

The infamous click. The adults around them tear their hair out in frustration.
"What do you mean you don't like him?!"
"He's a very good boy, what's there not to like?"

The dater is ashamed. Indeed the boy is wonderfully suitable for her. She too will only eat Rubin and Eidah Chareidit chicken. But nonetheless, she doesn't enjoy being with him.
She's scared that she really is picky, like they all are saying.

There's one facet we often skip in Shidduch dating. Indeed, it's a minor detail. It may be the topic of one or two questions, asked and answered generically.
"Is he outgoing?"
"Oh yes. He's a very friendly boy."

All boys are friendly. Perhaps he nods and says Good Shabbos to the men he meets in Shul. Perhaps he's friendly with his dog, or his pet lizard. But he's friendly for sure. So what's the point in even asking? A boy's personality is hard to describe, hard to measure. It's not black and white like his suits and shirts.

So we don't even try to assess it beforehand. Personality we leave for the date. That's the point where we can see if there's a click. The main thing is we know what his Hashkafas are. All of married life will be smooth sailing, as long as we can agree where to send our kids to school.

It turns out that outside the religious world, people are search for mates in a different fashion. Zodiac "love matches" have been around since who-knows-when. Then there's graphology (more on that another day). And EHarmony has come along with a 250+ question Personality Profiles. Should this be a new section for our Shidduch DVDs?

Meanwhile, I took a free Myer Briggs test. Turns out that I'm an INTP. Now, I don't usually go for this sort of stuff, but 90 percent of what they wrote was totally accurate. It was like they could see inside my mind. It's pretty cool.

I don't think I want to rely on Myer Briggs for determining who I marry though. That's all I need.

"He won't go out with you because your Myer- Briggs personality types don't match".
"But we have the same Hashkafas! We are perfect for each other!"