Sunday, May 29, 2005
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Friday, May 20, 2005
I struggle with labels, really I do. I’ve long said that everyone these days seems eager to slap a new and inventive label (Hippiedox, Conservadox, Flexidox) on themselves in order to describe their uniquely complex and nuanced relationship with Judaism ( e.g., “I go to an Orthodox shul, but go to the gym Shabbat afternoon, and will take the subway because, like a Shabbat elevator, it stops at every station anyway”). As a result, no label really means anything anymore. So, during my brief period on Frumster, I aligned myself with the most newly founded and most liberal category or label: “Traditional and Growing.” I chose this label because not choosing a label was not an option, and because this seemed like the most moderate, the most liberal, the most (if not exactly) resemblant of my observance. All the other labels included terms that I would never use to describe myself: yeshivish, black hat, ba’al teshuvah, etc) Because the people contacting me were never people I could see myself with religiously (and because none of them seemed to possess anything resembling a sense of humor), I deactivated my Frumster profile last month, but today, got this message from their customer support team informing me that I’d been reclassified.”For more, read the post and its 85 comments at Jewlicious. The site's undergoing renovations, but the content's all there...
Sunday, May 15, 2005
So, instead of making a fool of yourself, you go on a series of these nondates and with each passing one get progressively crazier, act increasingly weirder--you fret, you hope, you worry, you moon, you envy and, yes, you even pine--until finally you just snap and say "HOLY SHIT I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE. YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY AND I THINK I LOVE YOU." And when that happens? Well, there's a very, very slim chance that the other person will say, "Oh my god. Me too!" But the smart money goes on the other response: He or she shouts "Hey, look over there! It's Steve Perry from Journey!" and then, the minute you turn your head, runs away, never to be seen from again.Or, in the case of living in a densely packed community like the Upper West Side, you will continue to see that person everywhere. At every social event, at ever synagogue you visit, at every Shabbat dinner everywhere. Frankly, you're going to see them anyway, so there's no point in accelerating the misery by making them uncomfortable too. Better to pull away slightly, for the sake of your own sanity. Besides:
If you find yourself on the third or fourth hang-out, nondate or whatever, chances are you are dating this person only in your own mind. If the other person were as into you as you are into him or her, you'd already be holding hands on the subway, playing tonsil hockey in the park and generally making a nuisance of yourself in public.And you, being a smart person, have realized that you are doing none of these things. Even if the other person makes you feel like no one else, even if there's a connection there you haven't felt with anyone in years, even if you have a strange conviction that this person is someone who was meant for you, you stay quiet. You wait for the signal, the one sign that will translate into a romantic green light. Sometimes you see glimmers of this everywhere...hints that the feelings run deep on both sides. But nine times out of ten, that's called denial. The signal you're waiting for will never come. You learn that marinating in your own misery is preferable to cutting yourself open and plucking out your heart to offer it to a non-receptive audience. You continue your pining and mooning, and everything else, but treat it as a process of grief. All you can hope for is that after your denial and anger, eventually acceptance will come. In the interim, you paint on your smile, hope it fools everyone else, and try to beat back the sadness. [Inspired, obviously, by Ken's post.]
Sunday, May 08, 2005
The wayward son of a powerful rabbinic family kidnaps and violently abuses his teenage sister's would-be suitor to prevent an affair that violates the family's strict religious codes. The real-life tale culminated in the arrest earlier this week of the wife, daughter and son of Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, and two alleged Bedouin accomplices. The family members were suspected in the abduction and assault of a 17-year-old, ultra-Orthodox youth because they reportedly objected to his relationship with the rabbi's 18-year-old daughter, Ayala, whom he met in an Internet chat room.
"In our society, as long as people are not married ... no contact between a girl and a boy is acceptable," [another of the family's sons who was not involved in the abduction] said.
That's in Israel. But here in America, on the internet juggernaut that is the Craigslist M4W board, we have seen posts from religious people seeking sexual liaisons with people outside their community and outside their marriages. Now (hat tip: Dov Bear), a prophet of old seems to have emerged, and has taken on Craigslist as his personal shonda (source of embarrassment) to be eradicated through the time-honored technique of tokhakhah (rebuke for the purpose that the miscreant should repent). Here's an excerpt (spellings preserved, translations mine):
You know I'm more moderate than the people who posted both the ads and this rebuke to the people who are looking for these liaisons. But I think that what they point to is the power of the Internet to reflect things about ourselves, and even in our most religious communities, that we wouldn't cop to in real life. Married people looking for no-strings sexual relationships with other people should be working on their marriages; maybe the two people were never suited for each other anyway and only got married because of parental/communal/social pressure. ("I can't believe I'm 20, and haven't met my bashert yet!") Maybe they grew up thinking that boys were liars and girls were stupid. Or maybe the kids in question weren't fully-cooked individuals and shouldn't have committed to a relationship with someone else that was supposed to be forever while half-baked. Whether or not there's rebuke involved, the mere presence of these ads and the story about the kidnapping illustrates that life isn't always greener on the other side of the religious spectrum, and that a more restrictive and isolated lifestyle isn't always to be envied. Relationships are hard, and when it comes down to it, maybe the success of the relationship is really up to the two individuals who are trying to make it work.
Aishes ish [relations with another man's wife] causes mamzeirim [bastards] in klal yisoel [klal yisroel: the Jewish people]. Cheating on one's wife is also ASUR [forbidden]! Imagine what you are doing to your children - to your families! Giluy Arayos [forbidden sexual relations] is yahareg v'al ya'avor [a sin you are commanded to die for rather than commit]! Arayos is one of the three cardinal sins - on par with muder and idolatry. This is the downfall of our society. Even if they are strictly amongst single people, it is terrible. Even if the ads are not real, they are still a terrible chilul [desecration of God's name]. Even if you think nobody knows, it is still terrible. Even if you think nobody will ever find out, besides for you being wrong, it is still terrible.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
In the age of the Internet, who writes love letters anymore? The romantic epistolary tradition has gone high-tech; online love is all about the Instant Message (IM) window, with its unique language of shorthand endearments: BRB (be right back), IMHO (in my humble opinion) and the ultimate phrase representing devotion and commitment potential, the coveted LOL (laughing out loud). But at the end of an e-communication, can we trust our memory of what happened? Absent of intonation and physical cues, how do we discern if a sentiment is mutual? And how real is the connection for today’s daters?Click here to read the article in its entirety. Thanks to all of you who helped out with this article by emailing me or leaving your comments here. This is one of those columns that has your names written all over it... Enjoy!