Archive for December, 2010

Crazy Jewish Jobs We All Need Sometimes

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We all know that being Orthodox is tough. Between holidays, family, and shul, there’s a LOT going on. So when you’re stressed, it’s nice to know you can call on one of these well-trained professionals:

Deputy Assistant, Shul Politics:

Sits with you at all shul meetings, including sub-sub-sub committee meetings. Pulls up data on his iPad to support your arguments. Advances your position as an influencer in the shul. Is on the other side of the room at Kiddush talking to that big-time donor when you can’t be.

Rabbinic Kitchen Design Consultant:

Consults to homeowners on halachah and the latest kitchen appliances. Areas of expertise include shabbos ovens, warming drawers, and fridge lights. Offers a Halachic Kitchen Certification so your crazy frum friends know they can eat at your house.

Chometz Management Consultant:

Helps you get rid of every last crumb before Pesach. Incredible attention to detail. Strong sense of smell. Services available starting Isru Chag the previous Pesach.

Personal Shabbos Goy:

Lives-in Friday nights. Assists with all muktza matters, turning on lights, dishwasher, oven, TV, whatever is needed. Comes with you to shul, spends the afternoon with you, whether at home or at a friend’s. Will also update your facebook status from “eating shabbos meal” to “sleeping.”

Frum Family Coordinator:

Visits Bubbe at the hospital when you can’t be there. Calls Tante Rochel in Israel to invite yourself, your spouse, and your eight kids to her tiny apartment for Sukkos. Arranges for your in-laws to get you a spa gift certificate for your birthday. Texts the kids in the other room to turn the TV down so the neighbors don’t know you have a TV. Takes the stress out of family.


Always daven b’tzibbur! Nine or ten men will join you in your home, office, or personal shteibel. No need to go to shul. Available for Shacharis, Mincha, and Maariv, all days of the week. Also available to join you for Tefilas Haderech in NYC taxis.

Thank you to Avi Conway at Prime Media Distribution for inspiring this post.

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The Real Crisis: Shidduchim and the Generation of Choice

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Ever heard of a “segulah bed?” For those of you who haven’t, I’ll explain. When someone marries and vacates their bed in an apartment of friends, it is seen as a segulah that the next person to sleep there will get married as well. No joke, people say this.

Instead of segulahs, we need real-world solutions to resolve this shidduch crisis. And I don’t advocate relying on the old shidduch system either.

What’s wrong with the old shidduch system?

For the most part, girls just sit and wait for a shadchan to call. Just. Sit. And. Wait.

Guys, on the other hand, have lists and lists of girls. They randomly pick from those described as pretty. And sometimes, they go out with the one whose shadchan happened to call right after the last bad date.

I think guys just have so many options, they don’t bother to go out with a girl more than once.

This happens in more “modern” circles as well. When I was single and living on the Upper West Side, I used to call it the Head Turning Syndrome. A guy would come to OZ, see a girl he knew he liked, and chat with her for a few minutes. Then, while he’d be standing there, another girl would walk by who looked potentially more interesting. He’d drop the first for the second, and the second for a third, never settling on any one girl long enough to get to know her.

I am convinced there are more girls than guys available in the dating pool, but I also think guys are not willing to really commit.

Why can’t guys commit?

We are the generation of choice.

We were brought up on constant choices. Even our discipline offered choices everywhere we turned: Either you stop throwing your toys, or I will take them away. Either you stop yelling, or you will go to your room. Your choice. Then, as we grew up, we also had loads of every day choices that our parents actually listened to: Do you want a Nintendo game or a camera for Chanukah? Do you want pizza or Chinese tonight? Do you want to apply to this school or that school?

Previous generations had nowhere near as many choices as we had. Our grandparents grew up with the mentality that you listened, you followed, you did, because that’s all there was. And that was the only way.

Unfortunately, this “choice, choice, choice” culture has led us to a crisis in shiduchim. You can have this girl with the stellar academics, or you can have this girl, smart (not stellar), but she’s prettier. Or you can have this other girl, stellar academics AND a great job. But she’s not as pretty. Hm….how to choose?

I liken this decision to the experience of purchasing a cell phone. This one comes with anytime minutes, but has no keyboard. This one has a keyboard, but no touch screen. This one has a touch screen AND a keyboard, but requires a two year service agreement. How in the world is one supposed to compare these things and make any decision?

It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

In the end, guys just continue to turn their heads again and again (I’m sure by now they’re dizzy!) and they never get to the real experience of commitment—the real hard work of cultivating a relationship.

Here’s what I propose. We should create a new rule—a new choice, if you will:

You date twice or you don’t get dates.

That’s it. Shadchans won’t set up guys who don’t go out again. And friends won’t let friends go out with such guys. Let’s make it a social rule, as strong as the rules that the guy picks the girls up, and that he pays for dinner.

Let’s get these guys to really give girls a try. Then maybe our shidduch crisis won’t be such a crisis after all.

But for those of you who still like “segulahs,” here’s a story about another segulah:

A single friend of mine once went to a separate-seating wedding. As she sat down on the women’s side, someone came up and offered her “segulah bread,” bread from the chassan and kallah’s table. She explained to my friend that if she eats the bread, it is a segulah that she will find her shidduch. My friend looked at her and said, “You want a segulah that I should get married? It would have been more of a segulah had they seated me at that single men’s table over there!!”

I agree with my friend, and I think segulahs are silly, but what do you think?

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The “Gourmet”ing of American Jewry

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American Jewry has arrived. We now have the opportunity to turn our attention to the finer things in life: gourmet foods with a culturally diverse palette, imported elegant wines of the finest vintage, and high quality restaurants with good service. And it’s all kosher. Because we made it so.

In our grandparents’ generation, things in America were simple. You worked hard at your job, you cooked your own food, you spent time with the family, and you were happy. That was it.

In our parents’ generation, there was more wealth to go around. Couples bought houses in the suburbs, new shuls were built, kosher restaurants opened, people you and I know started wearing designer clothes, and the kids went to summer camp. Jews kind of settled in, developed their communities, and got used to American life.

I was one of those kids who went to summer camp. And let me tell you, our generation has a lot of expectations. And it’s not our fault…that’s how we grew up! We want nice clothes, we want two cars, we want expensive vacations, we want nice wines, we want to go to fancy restaurants, we want good service, and we want good quality. And all at the best prices.

This is reality. This is what we want. And in certain parts of our community, we also want a nice chasan watch, a fancy set of china, beautiful bedding, and a chandelier above the shabbos table. We must admit, as a community, we’ve gotten pretty comfortable here in America. Our lives are a far cry from how our grandparents lived.

It’s not a bad thing though – I think it’s great! With our increased wealth, we’ve had the time and energy to devote to creating quality experiences. We’ve had the money to redo our kitchen with granite countertops. We’ve had the energy to open restaurants that non-Jews would hardly guess were kosher. And we’ve been able to buy iPhones for our kids.

It’s a good coming-of-age story. Each generation has seen better and better for its children.
Unfortunately, this is why the tuition crisis is so intense. Because we want everything. We can’t just live the simple life. Once we’ve tasted the Gourmet Life, we can’t go back.

What do you think about the “Gourmet”ing of American Jewry?

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