Read on for an inside perspective on Jewish dating in America.By Ellen Baskin Being Jewish in America means different things to different people in different places.
” We’re sitting at a table at Pret A Manger in Union Square, and Irenstein, a 35-year-old dating coach dressed neatly in a pale green Tommy Hilfiger button-down, is talking with Sam, a 29-year-old ex-Orthodox Jew.
Sam looks terrified behind his wire-rimmed glasses.
Clutching the strap of his bag under the table as if it’s the leash of an unruly dog, he displays an impressive commitment to deflection—responding to Irenstein’s personal questions by spouting perplexing theories, including, “A major aspect of the notion of getting better at dating is not about increasing the total numbers, but increasing the yield of the process.” ).
Once they’ve gone off the path, for a variety of reasons including loss of faith, distaste for the lifestyle, and longing to educate themselves beyond the Jewish texts, OTD’ers are like immigrants in the secular world, unsure of the language and customs of dating, battling the voices of their parents and rabbis, who warned them that touching the opposite sex before marriage would incur God’s wrath.
Jewishness is often felt as an identification with an ethnic and cultural group as much as with a religious faith.
Then add to the mix the difference between growing up Jewish in a big city like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles and being raised in a small town.This information was pounded in from all directions, from rabbis, from my parents, my grandparents, Hebrew High School, Camp Ramah.I felt the pressure: The future of my people was at stake! The school was arty, musical, nerdy, and had a substantial Jewish population. Even though I no longer felt outside the norm, I still had trouble getting dates … Every Jewish woman I asked out on a date rejected me.Heterosexual men are more likely to play the field, and heterosexual women must compete for men’s attention.Of course, tales of scarce men and sexual permissiveness in ancient Sparta won’t convince everyone, so I began to explore the demographics of modern religion.After one date, though, I would beat myself up mentally for breaking my rule, and I’d avoid making second dates.