Friday, October 20, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Recommitment Ceremony (Jewish Week–First Person Singular) by Esther D. Kustanowitz (09/29/2006)
To err is human, clearly. And during the High Holy Day season, even those of us who acknowledge our errant ways and engage in the process of repentance with a pure heart still possess the fatal flaw of our humanity. As soon as the hunger pangs from the Yom Kippur fast wane, we’re back on stage in our tragicomedy of errors, slinging gossip over bagels and lox, and likely violating any Rosh HaShanah resolutions before sunrise on the 11th of Tishrei. Another year goes by, and we’re back in our synagogues, proclaiming our guilt all over again in an endless annual loop—it’s like an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
What’s the point in persisting in this annual dance of repentance?
In the literal realm of human marital relationships, some couples, after five, 10, 20 years or so, decide to proclaim to the world that the person they’ve found is the person they still want to spend their lives with. They hold “second weddings” or “vow renewals” or “recommitment ceremonies,” inviting friends to witness the re-consecration of their partnership. But often, such ceremonies are prompted by the discovery of a breach in confidence or respect or another violation of the rules of sanctified relationships. Or perhaps the pair has survived a trauma and feels the need to reaffirm—not just for the sake of celebrating love in the public eye, but to put their own souls at ease—that despite all that has happened, their mate is still the One.
So the two stand there, opposite each other, looking into the eyes of their beloved and looking for a trust and commitment that they may not find. A partner may admit that he or she has made mistakes, and may swear before you and a group of people that from here on in, it’s all faith and devotion. But there’s a part of you that’s unsure: can people really change?
The relationship between God and the Jewish people is often cushioned in the metaphorical language of marital commitment. In Genesis, God made a covenant — sealed in flesh in the form of a brit milah (circumcision), which promised the Land of Israel to Abraham and his children. The terms of the agreement — God gives the land of Israel to the people, and the people will worship God — are reiterated at Mount Sinai. The term that God uses to refer to the people is segulah, which indicates a special, sanctified relationship like marriage.
And a midrash on the Mount Sinai narrative interprets that when the text says that the people stood b’tahteet ha’har, literally “in the bottom of the mountain,” that the mountain was suspended, chupah-like, over the heads of the assembled people — were they to try to end the relationship with God, they would have been crushed. And some suggest that Song of Songs, which describes a physically passionate affair — seemingly between a man and a woman — is a metaphor for the relationship between God and the Jews.
When it comes to actual marriage, something I admittedly don’t know anything about, I imagine that certain violations are forgivable and that others are not. At some point the two people who make up the zug (the couple) have to assess whether the relationship is worth it. But in the relationship with God, in which we have no way of really knowing whether God has forgiven us, the best we can do is see this annual assessment as a state of the union between the Jews and God.
The High Holy Day season is a chance to renew our relationship with Jewish life. Every year, we stand with our metaphorically wedded partner under a canopy of recommitment, and promise to marry each other all over again. As our Creator, surely God knows not to expect perfection — our entire relationship has been a bumpy cycle of imperfection: We violate our contract of commitment with God, and God rebukes but quickly forgives.
Still, we do what we can to make positive changes in our lives, to increase our commitment to living as nobly and morally as human beings can. We critically assess our actions and hopefully forgive ourselves as we attempt to curb evil inclinations, in the pursuit of more permanent partnerships, with other people and with God.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
But when the conversation turned to late cultural theorist Michel Foucault's interpretation of religion under late capitalism, Gold and Larson found themselves at an awkward impasse. "I was shocked when he said he believed in 'a greater spirit,'" Larson told The Herald yesterday. "I mean, how was I supposed to respond to that?" Unsure of how to move beyond the topic of God and religion, copulation of the most "awkward, perfunctory variety" ensued, according to Larson.Well, who hasn't been there...when philosophy fails, there's always fornication. Of course, there's the awkwardness of him sneaking out the next morning, and her sending him a note asking him to be in an "It's Complicated" relationship with her, which he thinks is too much of a commitment. Why be tied down, man? Especially to someone who doesn't believe in "a greater spirit"? I mean, how would they raise the kids? On an ending note, I do need to state that I believe this is a joke from the good people at Brown. The date on the story is April 3, which is close enough to April 1st to give one pause, and if you need any further convincing, check the woman's thesis title. Still, entertainingly written and conceived, and not altogether impossible in today's sexually casual but intellectually complicated world.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
The good news is I've solved the conflict between Muslims and Jews. All we have to do is agree that the opposite sex is evil and that singles should only mix in pursuit of immediate marriage. Whaddya say, kids? Doable?Those of you who are loyal Jewlicious or JDaters Anonymous readers may remember a post I did last year about a site for frum (religious) teens called, well, FrumTeens, which had a post cautioning girls (in 71 different "reasons") to "Never never never talk to boys..." According to "It's Muslim Boy Meets Girl, But Don't Call it Dating" (NY Times), American Muslims "equate anything labeled “dating” with hellfire, no matter how short a time is involved." (Well, they're kind of right. Or at least it feels like hellfire sometimes. But usually a trip to the doctor clears that up.)
The couple of hundred people attending the dating seminar [at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual convention, which attracted thousands of Muslims to Chicago over Labor Day weekend] burst out laughing when Imam Muhamed Magid of the Adams Center, a collective of seven mosques in Virginia, summed up the basic instructions that Muslim American parents give their adolescent children, particularly males: “Don’t talk to the Muslim girls, ever, but you are going to marry them. As for the non-Muslim girls, talk to them, but don’t ever bring one home.”But what about online dating and email messages? Surely that constitutes innocent and pure behavior, providing a safe space for Muslim singles to interact? Not so fast...basically, the article tells us, to Muslim ears, "dating" is a euphemism for premarital sex. Or, as the dating seminar moderator put it, "All of these are traps of the Devil to pull us in and we have no idea we are even going that way.”
Still, most American Muslims acknowledge that the optimal mate-finding process--an arranged marriage--is unattainable in this day and age. But they still want to be involved in the process.So here's the idea...a Joint Muslim-Jewish Task Force on Eradicating the Evil Process of Dating in the Modern World So That Singles Can Hurry Up and Get Married Already But Not to Each Other (Heaven Forbid). The JMJTFoOEtEPoDitMWSTSCHUaGMABNtEO(HF) may just revolutionize relationships, between Jews and Muslims as well as among their respective singles populations. And you heard it here first, folks...
Sunday, September 17, 2006
- Most Responsible Online Dater
- Least Likely to See a Matchmaker
- Best Performance Involving an Embarrassing Situation
- Best Online Dating Profile
- Best Singles Book
- Best TV Representation of Single Life (Since the Cancellation of Sex and the City)
- Most Creative Breakup Strategy
- Best Blog on the Subject of Singles and Dating
Monday, September 11, 2006
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Sunday, September 03, 2006
But what are the rules? How long are you supposed to wait to change your status after a breakup — or, for that matter, when a relationship begins? And beyond checking off status, what should you do with sexy comments a fling has posted? Or when do you downgrade an ex’s online avatar from your list of top friends?But really this isn't news. Relationships are always complicated. The only way to make sure you're on the same page is if you sit down and have a conversation. Close that IM window, kids--I'm talking about a real conversation. You know, the kind you have over dinner or even over the phone. Yes, I'm radical. And still single, actually, so never mind, I have no idea what I'm talking about. Don't do drugs--stay in school!
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Weddings are magic. The details have come together according to plan. Two people have found each other and decided to spend their lives together, no matter what fate brings them. The bride looks like a queen; plus, she has special powers.
On her wedding day, the Jewish bride has the “Bridas Touch” — a temporary condition in which, particularly under the wedding canopy, her marital fortune is contagious. While she’s under the canopy accepting a ring from her betrothed, she gives single women her regular jewelry to wear, for added luck. The remainder of wine from her glass is also imbued with special powers and distributed to single wedding guests; this “segulah” wine is a Red Bull energy drink for the uncoupled, increasing the inherent bashertiness of the imbiber.
The bridal wizardry begins even before the ceremony. When the mothers of the bride and groom break a plate before the ceremony, signifying that a kinyan, or transaction, has taken place, the shards are given to single women for good luck. At my brother’s wedding, I reached into my purse during the reception, and promptly sliced my finger open on such a lucky shard. Luckily, a handsome doctor with a great sense of humor came to my rescue, cleaning the wound with vanilla vodka and suturing it using frayed napkin strands. After cocktails and dancing, we hid from the crowd under the Viennese Table and he told me he loved me — that table of delicious pastries serving as chuppah to our love. (Or if you prefer the truth to literary license: The finger-slicing was followed by a band-aid, and a hora, during which some other dancer impaled her four-inch heel in the center of my big toe.)
For more, click the link above.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
One reason could be that married people have more relaxed attitudes in terms of body image, whereas singles may view themselves as part of the "marriage market" and will go to greater lengths to say fit, says Robyn McGee author of Hungry for More: A Keeping it Real Guide for Black Women on Weight and Body Image.But single people die sooner:
A study by the University of California, San Diego and the University of California, Los Angeles professors found that out of 67,000 Americans, those who never married tended to die earlier than those who were divorced, separated or widowed.And on the other hand, being married is no guarantee for longevity... married women who hold back on expressing their feelings also die younger than women who express their emotions:
Women who reported usually or always keeping their feelings to themselves when in conflict with their husbands, known as self-silencing, had more than four times the risk of dying from any cause compared to women who always show their feelings, the researchers said.And of course, there's the old joke. Married people live about as long as single people; it just feels like it's longer. But I know these are all true. Don't believe me? I read it in an online magazine. Or five.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
"Your profile is extremely well-written, as is your note. You are clearly very, very bright, as am I. That's why I can't understand why you'd be in such absolute denial of a clear reality. You didn't fill in your weight in your profile because you're not happy with it. If you were, it would be there and you wouldn't be writing all that senseless crap about Jane Mansfield, with whom you have absolutely nothing in common.
Look in the mirror, see the same thing anyone can see in your photos: You are soft, untoned, out-of-shape and, yes, fat. Then, either fix it or accept it, but don't try to make believe you're not. And certainly don't try to convince others you aren't because it makes you seem absolutely crazy. Now go do the right thing."
I felt like I had been hit in the stomach. His e-mail was breathtaking in its cruelty.
We've all asked this question before...who does such a thing? Who fancies himself so impervious to criticism, so above and beyond reproach, that he feels entitled to make someone else feel like crap, when a simple "Thanks for your interest, but I don't think we'd make a good match" might make a frustratingly generic, but merciful and menschy response? Or, as the writer puts it..." Why be gratuitously mean?"
Why indeed. It's the $64,000 question. She's willing to give JDate another chance--some of the rest of us have had it. But I would urge those of you who are out there and might be "inspired" to share your noble opinions, in the name of "tough love" or whatever in a similar mode to the above, please, opt for the generic, menschier response. Believe us, it makes you a better person.
The whole article is here, complete with her email address at the end--feel free to send her a note of support and commiseration...
When my friends and I moved to New York City after college, theater and high culture were out of our price range. But at the movies, we found affordable, air-conditioned entertainment. Popcorn was always extra (in terms of both coins and calories), but a secret bonus was included in the price of admission: Before the film started, we were treated to numerous movie trailers, designed to entice us into future movie ticket purchases and to create buzz for upcoming film releases. We’d predict how many trailers we’d get, and be delighted when we got more than expected. Based on how good each preview was, we’d make our decisions right there — “no way!” “totally!” and “maybe on DVD.”
In the dating world, several mechanisms operate as trailers, setting us up with overly vast expectations or none at all, and causing us to make instant judgments about the people we meet as romantic potentials. If we’re looking, we’re often “treated” to previews of the main attraction before we even determine whether the featured presentation holds any attraction at all. The movie judgment mechanism is activated. Bearing little information, we discard potential dates before we ever meet them, or elevate our expectations to such a level that no man or woman alive can ever hope to reach them.
To read the rest of this article, visit this page at EstherK.com.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
[A spokeswoman for the Apenheul ape park in the central Dutch city of Apeldoorn] said the chance of two orangutans actually mating as a result of the online interaction was small due to the problem of transporting them between the Netherlands and Indonesia. "But I wouldn't rule it out completely," she told The Associated Press.And if you add the cultural differences and the language barrier, it makes for some awkward family moments: she wants a traditional Dutch ceremony, and he wants to raise the kids Indonesian. For more hot international orangutan action, click over to this article that tells you all about how single orangutans will meet and mate using the same internet that you use for your, er, Amazon shopping.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Last week, mid-heatwave, I saw a couple--visibly sweating into their clothing, causing darkening patches to puddle on their backs, chests and under their arms--who insisted on not just holding hands, but occasionally walking with his arm around her shoulder...you know, the kind of people who never want to be apart, even if it's 100 degrees out."You've found that special someone, and you never want to be apart..." I know that SNL's "Love Toilet" was a fake product. Really. But I really have a feeling that this new trend of "Couple-Surfing" is an outgrowth of that kind of disgustingly-crazy-in-love couple, for whom PDA still means "public displays of affection."
While I'm all for couples communicating--whatever method they decide to use--I feel like this trend introduces a third party and may not facilitate communication; in some cases, the intervening layer of technology may lead to misunderstandings...
In any case, thank Wired's blog for this list of the interesting things couples said about how they view the internet, including:"An infomaniac is better off with another infomaniac who understands and partakes of their addiction, rather than mixing the tender electrovert with a more organically-centered human," and "There is something poetic in an e-mail correspondence, even if you see the other person every day. The e-mail personalities can be somehow different."
I've long mourned the loss of the love letter tradition--will our emails of LOL and ROTFLs someday serve the same romantic and nostalgic function as the lovingly inscribed, handwritten declarations of feelings immortalized by couples separated by life and war and parental or social impediments? Perhaps this trend of couples communicating with each other online might serve as a romance renaissance of sorts?
One thing's certain...if the article/list reveals any essential truth, it is this statement:
"I think my lover would prefer it if I wasn't checking blogs at 2 in the morning in my underwear."
Yeah, we're pretty sure you're right about that.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
|You Are Most Like Miranda!|
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
(Here's my latest singles column...I wrote this column before finding out about last week's Upper West Side tragedy, so any thematic similarity between Hamlet's ponderings and those of someone who's clinically depressed are strictly coincidental, and not intended as a commentary on the tragedy; still, I felt I had to address it in some way (and that's what paragraphs 4 & 5 are about. I hope that the community comforts Sarah's family and provides support for them and for all singles and marrieds in the future. EDK)
Coping with the Question by Esther D. Kustanowitz (First Person Singular, NY Jewish Week, August 4, 2006)
“To be, or not to be, that is the question,” Hamlet pondered, torturing himself with an existential query. As singles, we too grapple with an essential question: “Why are you still single?”Pose the question, even theoretically, and hordes will respond: you’re too picky, fat, short, ugly or boring; you’re not putting yourself out there; you have issues; you’re spiritually or morally bankrupt; you fear intimacy and commitment; you’re waiting for impossible perfection; or you’re so “whiny,” you should “just freakin’ wed anyone already.” (That last one? Courtesy of an anonymous blogger, complaining about my June column.)
While self-examination is already a single person’s occupational hazard, asking such a question repeatedly takes an emotional toll. When we’re alone, the question echoes, engendering a burgeoning paranoia that the purgatory may well be eternal, and because of some unrevealed and essentially unforgivable hubris. Men blame women, women blame men, everyone blames their parents and their community, and themselves.I had already completed this column when I got the news that a 25-year-old Upper West Sider, known by most as a happy young woman, had ended her life. Over the last week or so, there has been much discussion of who or what to blame for her death: named suspects include the community pressure to marry, a recent breakup, and clinical depression.
And although the community is not necessarily — as others have intimated — responsible for clinical depression, it may well have been one of many factors creating stress and hopelessness in the young woman’s life. I can only hope that the community will respond appropriately — helping her family to mourn and find comfort, and creating programs to better ensure that people of all ages feel supported and valued, socially, religiously and emotionally.But the question “Why are you still single?” or alternately, “Why aren’t you married yet?” is yet another form of community pressure and expressed expectations. When a single responds with “I guess I just haven’t found the right person yet,” the yenta-in-residence leans in, sometimes touching your arm, shoulder or leg to indicate just how sympathetic they are, and “consoles” you: “Don’t worry, we’ll find you someone. God willing, it should be soon too by you. Maybe you should try meeting some new people?” Oh. Like we hadn’t thought of that before.
When it comes to the question, everyone — especially those who aren’t single — thinks he or she has the answer. Those Rules ladies thought they knew (“never accept a Saturday night date if he calls Thursday”). Those people who told us that our potentials were “just not that into us” thought they knew, too. Shmuley Boteach thinks he knows; in a Beliefnet.com article from June, Boteach told one mother that the reason her 29-year-old daughter was (oh, the horror!) still single was because she had friends. Ask her to sever ties with her friends for a few weeks, Boteach advised — after experiencing true loneliness, she’d be ready to accept a partner into her life.Evan Marc Katz, E-Cyrano.com’s “online dating guru,” who I interviewed in one of my first columns, employs an irreverent, humorous approach to the infernal, eternal question in his new book, “Why You’re Still Single: What Your Friends Would Tell You If You Promised Not to Get Mad.” Katz and his co-author, Linda Holmes, present perspectives rather than answers, and the resultant honesty is refreshing. Against a backdrop of pop culture and humor, the duo delves into the depths of dating do’s and don’t’s, acting as the friends you really need — the funny ones who aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings if it will mean helping you out.
Struggling with one major question or many smaller ones, we understand that friends cannot take the place of our bashert. But neither should the pursuit of a significant other take the place of our already-significant friendships, the ones that provide love and support in a dating environment that — as we suffer the slings and arrows of our outrageous fortunes — can often feel like a friendless void.Shakespeare’s Hamlet is defined by his solitude; the Melancholy Dane cannot trust the people who surround him, not even his family. Most of us are luckier than Hamlet. Perhaps if he’d kept company with friends other than Ophelia, or if he’d experienced the proper support from his community, his existential dilemmas might have seemed a little less weighty.
Esther D. Kustanowitz took too many Shakespeare classes in college. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Monday, July 24, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Trek Passions received a boost back in March, when, on his late-night talk show, Conan O'Brien quipped: "The fans say the dating website is going great and any month now they hope a girl will join." It's not quite as bad as that. Although Passions Network President Michael Carter says they don't track such things, an informal count suggests more than a quarter of the 2,550 users are women. [...] In many ways the site attracts about what you'd expect. One person interviewed for this story left the endearingly rambling voice mail of a man not entirely comfortable with women. And some profiles seem to be written in another language: "A TOS-TNG-DS9 Fan Looking For par'Machi."As someone who just told a story on Shabbat afternoon about how Return of the Jedi helped me get an SAT question right, I'm so glad I didn't understand that.
Friday, July 07, 2006
I have only recently come into contact with your column and blog(s) and was merely looking for some kind of direction to take being that my Jdate experiences were too hard to handle, in my opinion. I placed my cancellation with Jdate today, after 7 months of lead-ons and 'just be friends' speeches. I thought that a faith-based/ethnic-based/spiritual-based dating web site would produce at least some meaningful contacts...but sadly, every person that I encountered blamed everything on "chemistry" and used it as an excuse to have no further contact. I certainly understand why people do not want to be brutally honest about certain things....but it really does hurt all the same when rejection occurs. I do not know if you have any contacts with people who have experienced this type of frustration....but if you know of some place, online forum, or venue that similar people use to speak about these issues, could you please help me?
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Saturday, June 03, 2006
"When I counsel singles like your daughter, I tell them first to cut themselves off from their friends for three weeks. After three weeks, they'll really yearn and crave company. Then, they'll see a man as someone special instead of someone in whom they can find flaws. Second, I urge young people to observe the two-date rule: go on a second date no matter how bad the first date was. Don't dismiss people immediately, but instead learn to simply enjoy human company. It is usually those second dates that lead to real possibilities."
Thursday, June 01, 2006
[...] It had begun the night before departure, like the night before my first day of camp or college. Part of it was the packing process. The more I put into my suitcase, the more it seemed to take out of me. I wondered if clothes would hinder me socially or matter at all. Still, beyond the grip of my own anxiety, I understood that future always lies just beyond the vanishing point of your own vision. On the horizon, there was something — of an unknown quality and duration, but still, something — to be found.For more, click the above link.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The Web site Babe has set up, takemeoutforlunch.com, demands exactly that: She wants 100 guys to take her to 100 fancy restaurants and she'll blog about them afterward, maybe squeeze them into a book. She may even find Mr. Right.She may find Mr. Right. But she'll milk a lot of guys for free lunch before she admits it. Because that's her gimmnick. Look, there's enough men in the world. She can have a hundred of them. I don't need a gimmick. Or maybe I do, but don't want one. At any rate, I bet she gets a TV show before I do. Which might be a good thing.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
On the Saw You at Sinai site many "shadchans" say they don't charge a fee, but what if they make a match, what is considered a nice "fee/ gift" for making the match?
Is a shadchan "gift" for a shadchan from Brooklyn cheaper than one from Manhattan or out of town? On the Saw You site they have an article from a Rabbi saying it is important to give a gift to a shadchan that makes a match, but doesn't give any guidance on what is considered one. I asked Saw You at Sinai what are the gifts aka "prices", they told me to ask a Rabbi. Can you help?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
Monday, April 24, 2006
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
The Katamonster deserves no pity as she gives none. She has no pity for the women she tramples over in the scramble to claim her prize; she has no remorse for those she leaves heartbroken in her trail; she bares no thought to the hurtful words she uses to badmouth a competitor.Whatever happened to sisterhood? Oh yeah, all's fair in love and the search for love. You Don't Look LIke Your Profile (Online Dating Adventures) Our carnival regulars, Hilary and Annabel Lee, are still struggling with the games of dating and relating with guys they meet online. So check them out in general, now and forever. I mean it. P-Life, passionate and high-energy as ever, has thrown himself into a new relationship with a woman from California--they're totally making it work so far, and P-Life took it on himself to sort of semi-retire from his single blogger life, naming me among others as one of the pioneers in the writing about Jewish singles arena. Also calling it quits is JeruGuru. ILikedYourProfile has launched a "funny dating email contest" that could win you a $20 Starbucks card. Hilary gives words to the thoughts of many singles who find themselves homeward bound for Passover. Don't forget to make your submissions for the next edition of this BlogCarnival, coming in May to a blogspot near you... Happy Passover and/or Easter...
Monday, April 10, 2006
Friday, April 07, 2006
The kiss is "happening more and more," agreed Peggy Post, a spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute founded by the doyenne of etiquette. "We're much more informal in everything from the clothes we wear to how we greet people." Ms. Post advocates the handshake and agrees that it's better "to steer clear of kissing people of the opposite sex, which can be misconstrued in some cases." This is especially true on first meetings. Later, kissing as a greeting depends on the relationship, she and others said. [emphasis mine--edk]I think the answer is for all of us to become shomer negiah all the time except for when we are in relationships with other people. Think of the clarity: first of all, no awkward business kisses. (Or Shabbos kisses, if any of you remember those boggling busses from that time between the Friday night service and dinner at Camp Ramah or USY Conventions.) Secondly, you'd never have to ask "What is the deal with those two? Are they dating or not?" nor would you ever have to answer "Well, no one knows for sure." Kissing etiquette is hard. So that's why I'm glad my staff of research assistants sends me articles like these, with helpful hints buried on page two of the article, like the fact that Blistex maintains a section on kissing etiquette (and pretty much anything you'd ever want to know about lips) on their site. On a not wholly unrelated note, today I bought two new lipglosses. Smooches, everyone! Or not...