Thursday, February 24, 2005

HAPPEN: NEW DATING MAGAZINE FROM MATCH.COM has launched Happen Magazine, an online mag dealing with dating. It's apparently free this month, and next month requires a subscription to Editor in chief Janet Siroto, in her letter from the editor, says: Happen is a new online magazine that offers a frank, funny look at dating and relationships. We call it Happen because we want to make great relationships happen…and support you through the ups, downs and hairpin turns along the way. Here's the link to the press release. Some interesting articles, including this one titled "The Weight Debate" and Daniel Radosh on the ten best and ten worst moments in dating history.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


YNET, the online expression of Israeli newspaper Yediot Acharonot, has been all over the blogosphere since it launched. But the hat tip goes to Miriam for bringing the singles portion of the site to my attention. Right now, the singles section features such varied writers as “JDate” (apparently, the online dating site has sprouted arms and is now creating dating columns) and JTS Chancellor Ismar Schorsch. Yes, that’s right. As many of you know, I used to work at JTS. And the chancellor is a great scholar. But not who I’m going to for singles advice. Nor to understand what singles life is like in Israel. For that, YNET needs someone living the singles life. IMHO, they should get Barbara Lawrence, one of the editors of Israeli website Walla (and arguably Israel’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw), to contribute a few of her pieces, maybe in translation. If you read Hebrew and want to peruse some of her writings online, check out this article about married men who want a little something on the side; links to her other columns follow the article. They also may wish to feature an occasional guest column from Jewish singles writers in various cities with large Jewish populations, like, say, New York. It's just an idea.

WHY DON'T WE GET DRUNK AND... about our feelings. (If you thought this was another post about the outlawing of kiddush clubs at synagogues, you're on the wrong blog...go here instead.) It all started rather mildly on Jewlicious: Laya reported that she attended a wedding, and diagnosed herself with nuptial-related social anxiety disorder. She described herself as fearing commitment (which I think she'll grow into) and finding that "the open bar was particularly helpful." Comments on the post, whose primary purpose was to illustrate that at weddings she sometimes says things that end up "raising a few religious eyebrows," included Dr. Janice (soon to be the subject of a First Person Singular column--you heard it here first!) suggesting that she find "other ways to handle these feelings, other than anesthesizing them at the open bar." She adds, "Alcohol makes a great bandaid, but it isn’t the solution to the fear of commitment." This being Jewlicious, there was also a thread of discussion on whether fear of commitment is actually a blessing or a problem to be solved. (Feel free to weigh in on this as well.) And here's my two shekels. Attending weddings is no easy task for singles, even when they are commitment-minded. Alcohol can be the necessary mood enhancer* to make weddings easier for the uncoupled; plus, it has the bonus effect of chipping away at the social anxiety disorders that we all, in various sub-diagnosable measures, possess. (The sheer number of suspected, undiagnosed cases of Asperger's Syndrome in the Upper West Side singles scene would shock you, especially if there were actual statistics available instead of just a nagging feeling in the hearts of single women.) I complain a lot about the lack of social skills among Jewish men in NYC in general. But take the social lubricant away (even at events at Aish, etc), and we've got boys who won't talk to girls, who fear rejection so much that they'd rather stand alone in a corner than try to meet someone, even when they're at a singles event. It's high school dances all over again (not that YeshivaGirl ever experienced the high school dance outside of a John Hughes movie). Sure, there's binge drinking in college, and for some people, a path that leads to alcoholism. I'm not talking about that road. (And I don't mean to belittle alcoholism, which is serious stuff.) I'm talking about open bar at weddings, singles events that provide "adult beverages," karaoke bars where people say things like "I'd have to get really drunk before I get up there." Situations where you want to do something, say something, express something raw and emotional about yourself, which years of living in this culture have suppressed. A few martinis later, your inhibitions are lowered, and you're more in touch with your desires. Because you're drunk when it happens, you have plausible deniability in the morning. Often, regret follows. But at least you've got the excuse when you feel your nakedness after drinking from the tap of Knowledge and Truth: "Ohmigod, I was so drunk, I don't even remember." In college, people used intoxication to explain away behaviors, claiming that the alcohol "altered them" in some intrinsic way. But I never bought it. When I drank, I did things that were very much in my character (karaoke is just one example), but that I feared would make me the subject of ridicule or ostracization in my "waking life." I knew what I was doing in my "yeshiva girl gone wild" persona (and believe me, it wasn't even THAT wild). These were things I wanted to have done, but had missed because I hadn't had the public school experience. Sometimes (and obviously there are exceptions to this rule) I think that alcohol is like those water wings kids wear in the swimming pool, or training wheels on a bike. Most of us don't want to have to rely on alcohol forever, but while we're single, it's nice to drop some of the veils of pretense and self-defense, and be in touch with what our hearts want. We can be funny, spontaneous, reactive to the moment and situation, uninhibited by social conventions or religious restrictions. In that moment, sometimes when it's most needed, we are bungee jumping off the cliff of repression, our selves falling free, clear and pure. *Yes, I know alcohol's a depressant. But before the low, comes the high. And dancing "on Cosmos" is definitely in fulfillment of "enhancing the happiness of the groom and bride." Work with me, people.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


How to dump your woman or man, via a Dutch website. According to the CNN report, the site suggests that women tell their partners they want a baby and that men buy their girlfriend underwear that's too big. And we'll have to take their word for it, since the website's not in English. But the site's worth a visit for the homepage graphic alone...

Monday, February 21, 2005


[Chayyei Sarah couldn't know this, but I actually wrote a poem about the "Don't"s before she posted this open letter to the men of the world...I'll dig it up and post it sometime soon. In the interim: ] Chayyei Sarah presents the case for truth in advertising in man-on-woman conversation. Married men, don those rings and talk about your wives. Taken-but-unmarried men, feel free to talk about how you saw “The Wedding Date” with your long-time girlfriend. In other words, be considerate of the single party-goer and let her know where you stand. [Not that any of MY readers need advice about this. The men of JDaters Anonymous are evolved and sensitive. Most of the time. But they have friends who may need this advice formally stated...]

Thursday, February 17, 2005


I just got this email. Reproduced in its entirety: eye2eye PURPOSE: is intended for Shomer Shabbat / Shomer Kashrut TALL singles living in New York metro area. Men above 5'10 and women above 5'7. HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: To subscribe go to or send a blank email to Membership approval is required by the moderator in order to avoid abuses. SENDING AND REPLYING TO EMAIL: To send emails to the list, address them to Reply only to sender. EMAIL POLICY: The list is generally unmoderated, and a specific email policy is still evolving. The following are examples of emails that would GENERALLY BE APPROPRIATE: (i) events specific for tall people (ii) inquiring about someone; (ii) information about community events; (iii) meetings; (iv) requests for community action on behalf of Israel; etc. The following are examples of emails that would NEVER BE APPROPRIATE FOR ANY LIST: (i) jokes; (ii) auctions; (iii) offensive or disparaging emails; and (iv) Lashon Hara. Please sign your name in all emails. Thank you. Moderator, eye2eye And to think: I missed the "tall" category by TWO INCHES.


I just visited JDate for the first time in two weeks--I wanted to see who had viewed me. (Which, having seen the group, is a desire I now officially negate.) And while I was there, I noticed something new! Apparently, the hordes have spoken, and "corporate" has listened, FINALLY giving JDate subscribers what they want: One-click opportunities to add JDate to your list of favorite sites and to set JDate as your homepage!! Hooray! I am so excited!! (...NOT!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Two major Israeli dating sites, and, were taken out by unusually heavy traffic and technical upgrades last night. Some Israeli singletons think it's a PR stunt that it specifically happened on February 14th. Blame it on Valentine's Day! (I always do!) Did you log on to JDate last night? I didn't. I'm free. (At least until the messages start piling up in my inbox, I get curious and I rejoin like the sucker that I am.) A little birdie told me that JDate's doing some overhaul. We'll see how much it changes. Plus c'est la meme, plus ca change.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


A reader writes from Paris: Hi Esther! I really enjoy reading your blog and I decided to write to you as I have a problem which is not often discussed and may benefit others. I've been dating a non-Jewish Czech woman for about 6 months. Although I never put any pressure on her she has recently agreed to convert. That's good news for me as I am really attached to my Judaism. However there looms another large problem-- that of language. My mother tongue being English I would naturally speak to my future children in English. I also speak Hebrew and French fluently. My girlfriend has expressed her strong desire to speak to them in Czech. I have no reason to oppose this other than I've tried a bit of Czech and it turns out to be an extremely difficult language which for example has 7 grammatical cases (as does Latin), and it's clear to me I'll never speak it (and frankly I don't have the energy to learn it as I have been learning Spanish and Arabic over the last 5 years!). I don't want to find myself in a situation wherin I can't understand what my own kids are saying, and envision paranoia setting in as I imagine what my wife and kids are talking about. I know this problem is not a Jewish one but I imagine many people face it. I would be very grateful if you threw this topic out there as it's starting to drive me messhuga!! She's already giving up on her religion, how could I ask her to give up on her native tongue? Well, readers? Any feedback for our Parisian friend?


In case you're joining the JDaters Anonymous program late, I highly recommend that you go over to Ken Wheaton's place, and read his "Nondating Life" series. Insightful, funny and universal.


At Santa Clara University, students are immersed in love and romance, but not for the regular college reasons. While their pursuit isn’t entirely academic, in a class called “Theology of Marriage,” the approach is scholarly, if not particularly romantic: "We break down the 'knight in shining armor' idea that there is one person just for you," said Frederick J. Parrella, a religious studies professor at the Jesuit-run university who has been teaching the popular marriage course, which constantly has a waiting list, for more than 15 years. "We're all made in God's image," the theologian stressed, adding that based on that idea, there is not necessarily one soul mate out there for everyone. Finding the right person for a committed relationship involves meeting people, making the right decisions and not just going by feelings, which are bound to go away, he told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 4 telephone interview from Santa Clara, Calif. In the span of the 10-week course, Parrella steers his students through the sometimes tricky love terrain by juxtaposing current books and movies that deal with love with deeper theological writings that delve into marriage as a sacrament and a reflection of God's love. The students watch clips from popular movies that present romantic love, such as Disney films, or Oscar-winners such as "American Beauty" and "As Good as it Gets," and read "I and Thou," by the late Jewish scholar Martin Buber, and "The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts," by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee. (JDaters Anonymous is thrilled to note that “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “The Rules” are nowhere on this list.) For students in this class, assignments include writing down deepest fears about relationships, doing interviews with couples who have been married more than 10 years, and “engaging in plenty of discussion about love on the big screen compared to a day-in-day-out commitment over the long haul.” If you were teaching a class on love, romance, or marriage, what reading materials would you assign? What kinds of projects would you ask your students to create? Is there any movie, book or other cultural influence that you think has had a positive or negative impact on you in terms of shaping your expectations of love and romance?


From one of my devoted readers comes the following piece of dating-related information. Beginning Valentine's Day, the No. 1 operator will help subscribers find partners through a video-on-demand (VOD) service that it calls Dating On Demand. On Monday, Comcast will introduce Dating On Demand nationally, based on videos from several cities. It also will have a local service for Chicago. By year's end, it expects to have local service in a dozen cities including Baltimore, Washington and Portland, Ore. People age 18 or older who want to broadcast their availability to either the opposite or the same sex can do so by preparing a three-to-five minute video. What's interesting to me is that (and I don't get to say things like this often) the Israelis made this dating-related stride first. Must be the country's increased density of Jewish mothers pressuring their children to get married.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


You've got plenty of uncoupled compadres to keep you company. Ken just wants to believe: "But the sorry truth of the matter is I still want to believe, if not for me, then for the rest of you. Hell, even when I get all melodramatic about being alone on Valentine's Day, it's still tinged with some sort of weird hope. I'm like the Fox Mulder of pathetic holidays." If you'd like to laugh at the whole prospect of marriage, try Veiled Conceit, the snarky spoof of the NY Times Sunday Styles wedding announcements. Whatever you do this Valentine's Day, don't drink and dial. Jmerica gives a nod to both JDaters Anonymous and JDatesGoneWrong. Over at Single Status, Gail Simons tells you about being a bridesmaid. Again. Chronicles of a JDater shares a very special IM conversation. My approach? Reclaim the whole damn thing as a day to concentrate on what you really need. (Although I always have the "it's not a Jewish holiday" crutch to lean on...which I do...heavily.) Check out my latest article on the subject: The Single's Guide to a Heart-Smart Valentine's Day ( -- February 2005).


Thanks to Gothamist, I now understand that much like a team of Nazis looking for the Ark of the Covenant, I've been digging in the wrong place. According to this new study, New York didn't even crack the top ten of best dating cities. Columbus, OH? Yes. Honolulu? Yup. Jersey City, NJ? Yessir. They all outrank NY according to the study. Of course, I doubt that Austin-San Marcos, TX is where all Jewish gals should migrate to in order to find their basherts (y'all). And then, when you read the details, you see that the survey was cosponsored by Axe Body Spray and fixates on ages 18-24, a bracket I've not seen since the Clone Wars. And then, it suddenly makes sense.


News bulletin: JDate co-founder resigns... ["Nothing to to with the growing power of fledgling weblog JDaters Anonymous," says an unnamed source...] Alon Carmel, one of the company’s co-founders and co-chairmen, has resigned his positions with the company to pursue other entrepreneurial and philanthropic interests. Mr. Carmel has agreed to continue to serve the company, as a consultant, and Joe Shapira, the company’s co-chairman, will become chairman of the company’s board of directors. Since launching JDate(R).com, eight years ago, Mr. Carmel helped build the company from a fledgling startup into one of the true leaders in the online personals space. In addition to, Spark Networks owns AmericanSingles(R).com and a host of other growing vertical market players in the online personals industry. One industry insider indicated that, inspired by the "truth in advertising" theme of his new favorite movie, "Crazy People," the 1990 comedy starring Dudley Moore and Darryl Hannah, Carmel has taken on a quest of a personal nature that he could not legally undertake as co-founder: to count by hand the number of JDate users who are actually active and contactable, and offer up this new number as the number of actual profiles available on JDate. This move would be a momentous step towards honesty, as it would thin out the pool of perceived availables, which currently includes men and women who are now married and forgot to take their profiles down, or people who have been so dissatisfied with the online dating service that they cancelled their paid plans and now receive email notifications in their inboxes that they cannot read.

Monday, February 07, 2005


I'm of two minds. (Not unusual for me. Do I love Jdate? Do I hate it? OK, you all know the answer to that one now...) One side of me loves an underdog and wants you to vote for JDaters Anonymous for Best Culture Blog in the JIB Awards. But the realist in me would realize that I just can't beat me; the leader in that category is currently My Urban Kvetch. And I'm not gonna lie...I do want that virtual statuette. This house cannot be divided against itself. And it looks like only one of my babies has a chance of being victorious... I leave this matter in your capable hands, my precious readers (all four of you), and hope that "Team Esther" will emerge from competition, in some way, triumphant.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Thanks to H for really getting the ball rolling on this discussion. Have you ever dated anyone of a different faith? Is dating intrafaith important to you and/or your family? Why have you chosen to date people from other faiths, or why do you choose not to? Comment here or Chez Superjux. Up to you.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


My new article, "The Drama of Dating," is now online at the Jewish Week website.(NY Jewish Week, 02/04/05) And oh, how I wish they had called me before they cut a phrase from my original opening (reproduced here for your convenience): "Curtain up! Light the lights!" "It’s time to put on makeup, it’s time to dress up right!" It is here, somewhere between a Broadway show’s clarion anthem and the whimsical pre-curtain preparation and onstage goofiness of "The Muppet Show," that we encounter the drama of our dating lives. Click here to read the whole article.