Monday, April 26, 2010

Resumes and What Not

It would seem that more than on Rav at the yeshiva is involved with shidduchim. In fact, during his last stay in America, none other than the top poo-bah spent several hours of his (and my) time contacting one donor whose children are "in shidduchim".

One email that was involved in this mission included on those "resumes" that I had kept hearing about the last 4 years. A question that had always plagued me was, what type of resume could a 19 year-old have? What exactly were the contents of such a resume? Well folks, that there mystery was solved today.

It turns out that these all-important documents, which parents put together with much heartfelt anguish and concern, contains nothing more than:
  • a list that includes the names and ages of the shidduch's family members (mother, father, siblings),
  • a description of the child's personality and core middot, and
  • a few quotes from people who know the child describing him/her
Given my (extensive, lol) experience with both dating and shadchanim, I was left with the strong impression that "the resume" was a wasted exercise. What is the relevance of this document? What information of value does it provide the reader? Yes, understanding where the child fits in the family is good information. And yes, it certainly is feel-good to have acquaintances say complimentary things.

But in the end, how much better do you really know the given person by having read this two-pager? So while I understand that the purpose of the document is supposedly to provide a summary of the "boy" or "girl" so that one can evaluate them for a potential match, I would have to weigh in by saying that unless more details of substance are added, one needn't lose too much sleep over their resume.

Because at the end of the day, they all read the same anyway. And isn't that the point? We wouldn't want our son or daughter to sound unique, after all! ;)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cool Rav

Since I moved to Brooklyn, no matter which shul I attended, I stuck with one Rav in particular for my numerous shailahs.

One of the reasons why I like the given Rav so much is that, for a Gadol, he has an excellent sense of humour. More to the point, he's a straight shooter; if what you're asking is a problem, he'll just tell you. And, while he's doing so, he'll even give you a very brief explanation of why. Efficient and educational. My type of guy.

So tonight while cooking I ran into a confusing situation, as often happens when you are trying to balance both milchig and fleischig in a small apartment kitchen. As luck would have it, the incident occurred during the last 30 minutes of the Rav's phone time. So I rang him and behold! I actually got through!

I explained my situation and apologised for calling but wondered if there might be a problem. "Not really", he said, and proceeded to explain why in under 15 seconds. And thus, he calmed my fears and gave me food for thought while remaining amusing to boot (his tone when he said "Not really" was hilarious).

Definitely a keeper. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Plugged In

Now that I'm working in a yeshivah, I feel like I'm plugged into the yeshivish community. More to the point, the community is suddenly incredibly accepting of me. Because whereas previously, when asked "What do you do?", people were befuddled by my response; they became perplexed because my unusual job prevented them from easily categorizing me.

Now, because people know the yeshivah and recognize my job title, they accept and remember me. Indeed, my first day back to work after Pesach, one of the Rebbeim mentioned that he had run into someone at mincha who had eaten a meal with me. Funny thing is, I don't remember eating with the person in question, but they remembered everything about me- name, workplace, place of origin. I guarantee you that such instant recognition was lacking in my pre-yeshivah employment period.

I understand that most people are only comfortable with what they know. Therefore, when faced with an unknown commodity, they try to find a connection to something familiar. That’s why, for example, people will ask you ultra-personal questions within seconds of meeting you (“Where are you from?”, “What do you do?”, “Where did you go to school?”, “Do you have kids?”, “Are you looking for a shidduch?”, etc.). I find these questions offensive, but I understand that they, having grown up within a very narrowly-delineated corridor, do not mean to be rude; rather, they are hoping to find a common meeting point, an opening into their world of experience.

Now, suddenly, I am perceived as run-of-the-mill. And the benefit to that is I am no longer asked impossibly rude questions.

It’s all good…

Monday, April 19, 2010

No Slits! Bare Calves!

Since my recent move, I found myself making the acquaintance of several new families, B'H'. And while I certainly love ad infinitum my existing roster of friends, I have been feeling the need to be more sociable and expand my social network. You know- become known in my new neighbourhood.

So there I found myself the last days of Pesach at yet another new family and was being my usual chatterbox self. In attendance was a large family, all 3 generations of them. I was busy playing Jewish Geography with the grandmother ("Do you know so-and-so from X community?"), who was attired like a real Bubbe: calf-length skirt and matching grandmotherly blazer, tights, and orthopedic shoes. In the midst of our tossing names/places around, I mentioned that when I lived down south, the communities were very open/accepting. Case in point, one Young Israel had a yeshivish Rav, yet the women in his congregation could come with a sunhat and short-sleeves and nobody would blink or comment. I said that such openness wouldn’t fly in Brooklyn.

When the topic ventured into the territory of skirt slits, things got particularly interesting. I noted that I had never understood why, if I had sewn up the slit on a skirt so that the slit is far below the knee, i.e., a few inches from the ankle, the slit was still deemed unacceptable. The Bubbe then crinkled her face into that "I'll be nice and educate you, poor thing" expression. She proceeded to tell me that once, at a shiur, the Rebbetzin had explained that it was because of how the fabric moved (when the skirt features a slit). When she said "moved", the Bubbe gestured with her hands to drive home the point as she gave me a meaningful look.

Did I mention that the long skirt I was wearing had a slit in it? :p

I must admit that it took every ounce of effort in my being to keep from erupting in convulsions of laughter. And then, to add to the carnival, the hostess concurred by proclaiming for all to hear that nobody thinks slits are okay. I think I deserve an award for maintaining decorum under such circumstances. But as a Yekki, when you're a guest in someone's home, the only acceptable reaction to anything is respect and politeness. I am proud that I stayed true to my Yekkish upbringing.

On an ending note, a second tale from the last days. I went to my long-time friend's house, and she was livid. Turns out she had spent the morning running around trying to hear 1. Yizkor, 2. Bircat HaKohanim. During her shul hopping, she wound up at one place where there is a small hallway when you enter the women's entrance with two doors; each door leads to a different shul. The one shul is ultra yeshivish, while the second is modern. Guess which shul she wound up in? Meanwhile, she was steaming mad because when she made it to the yeshivish shul after going to the modern one, the Rav was busy talking about tznius. Her point? That he should lecture to the ladies in the shul across the hall; my friend found it, quote, disgusting that women could go to shul without their legs covered. I was pleased that her daughter reminded her that "that is the type of shul it is", i.e. modern. If you don't like it, don't go there!

And that basically sums up my view of both stories. There are numerous flavours of frumkeit, some more lenient than others. Hold where you want to hold, but do not slam others for holding differently. If you disgree, then think for a moment about how the Beit HaMigdash includes 13 doors? We're a rainbow, y'all, not a shoebox. Let's all act accordingly with achdus and acceptance, and maybe we'll merit to see Moshiach. Today.

A Tall Order

One of the "features" of my latest job is that I interact with all Rebbeim. Sure, they're all old-school, and their mental frame of reference causes them to refer to me as "the new secretary". I mean, what else would a woman in a yeshiva be, right? Yet they are for the most part all good-intentioned, pleasant individuals.

Alas, one Rabbi informed me almost immediately after my arrival that he does shidduchim and may have a few "boys" for me. At first I was just vaguely amused, since:
  1. How could anyone refer to people in my age bracket as boys or girls?, and
  2. Why did he want to set me up? He barely knew me.

Indeed, it would seem that part of the reason for his determination was the previously-mentioned mindset: frummies can't seem to grasp how anyone could be almost 40 and unmarried. Sure, I was married before. But that anyone over 35 should be alone? That deeply unsettles people around these parts, and it often has less to do with a sincere desire to help versus the need to get everyone to conform to the party line. Think about it- if someone can be older, single and fulfilled, well what does that say for everyone else? Something's just got to be wrong then, right?

I realised that I was going to have to go along with the whole kit and caboodle. I do work there and I do try to be accommodating. So I figured maybe it would be a good way to ease back into dating. Go on a few dates with his "boys" and go from there.

Now, this Rabbi did call me a couple of times and subject me to the third degree. And because I understand that such behaviour is par for the course, I sucked it up and answered his questions (many of which were more intimate and embarrassing than any inquiries made by my own mother in recent memory).

But you see, the part that got to me is that he poo-pooed my desired criteria:

  • Working
  • Modern- versus yeshivish, like my workplace ;)
  • Previously married
  • Grew up out-of-town

In fact, he basically went so far as to intimate that I should have no criteria, since at this point, I should be happy to get any shidduchim! I mean, really- who on earth would possibly be willing to go out with me, once they read my "resume" (more on resumes in a different post). I literally had to say "It's a tall order, I know", in order to placate him and prove that I'm reasonable.

The entire exercise was, in short, downright belittling. And not particularly sensitive, to be honest, given my recent return to single hood.

So maybe I'm shooting myself in the foot here, but I'd like to hear from my readers: what is, in your opinion, the greatest red flag when you read my resume? That I've been divorced twice? That I have no children? That I have had health issues as of late?

Because, in the words of my first husband when he learned of my remarriage, "he's a lucky man". Having a Hubby #1 who's willing to voice my virtues post-divorce? Now doesn't that just say it all about my "value" in the shidduchim market? Put out the rest of it with the trash, I say!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ankle Socks (And Less)

Growing up, as I've mentioned previously, I was modern: I went to public school, wore pants, and spoke to guys. Not that I wasn't frum, mind you. I just wasn't *extremely* frum.

Over Pesach I was at a friend's house when a mutual friend showed up with her kids for some playtime. The said mutual friend was sporting sneakers, ankle socks, and zeh hu. Did that even remotely register with me? Only for me to think that I appreciated her dress code.

I'll save two other tznius stories from Pesach for a separate post, but suffice it to say that I loathe the Brooklyn attitude that if you aren't frum within the narrow confines of what is Yeshivish Brooklyn frumkeit, you're doing something *wrong*. That's a tad sanctimonious, no? Why must everyone fall within a tiny little box? And why is ultra-Yeshivish the only form of yiddishkeit deemed acceptable?

In fact, since I saw Ms. Ankle Socks sporting her bare legs, I must admit the temptation to follow suit. If everyone finds my dress code questionable (COLOUR? ANTI-SACK-OF-POTATOES? HORROR!!!), despite my wardrobe being 100% kosher al pi halacha, I do have a hankering to push the envelope. I'm not going to dress Bais Yaacov-y ever, so everyone else can just start looking the other way, as far as I'm concerned. Ban the "bump", I say. Heck, ban the snood outside the house, while you're at it...

So I'm requesting comments from you all about what you feel the minimum standard of tznius is. How much of the knee must be covered sitting/standing? How much to/past the elbow must the sleeve go? How much hair must be covered after marriage? And, perhaps my personal favourite, where do you hold on the stocking/tights issue? In short, what could a woman be wearing before you start tsk-tsking (not that you should, of course)?

Fire away, people!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

B'H' and Bli Ayin Hara!

So, in case you hadn't noticed, I haven't really been posting the last several months. For those of you who I've become friendly with online, you know the gory details. For random readers, let's just say that I was going through some major, uhm, life changes.

Divorce, job search, apartment move. It's been interesting. I'll start with the highlights since my post all the way back in late November.

My divorce was finalised. Yup, that's divorce #2. I actually have a future post about shidduchim related to that point, but I'll save that juicy missive for future reading.

I found a job, B'H', and bli ayin hara! The funny part is that I'm now working for a yeshiva. And not as a tech writer either. Yup y'all, I'm now part of the Brooklyn establishment. Indeed, post-Pesach, when I returned to work, one of the Rebbeim noted that they met someone who had been at a meal with me. Work for a yeshiva, and suddenly everyone pays attention to you. It's kind of hilarious. More on the career switch at a later date as well.

I decided I needed a change of scenery. Plus, let's be honest, my previous apartment was WAY outof control. Summons to the landlord taped to the wall? Neighbours who were so loud that they might as well have been my drunken roomates? Mentally unstable potheads as my other neighbours? And lest we forget: the illegal playgroup in the basement, the never-ceasing honking, etc. etc. It was oh so long overdue. So I moved to a different neighbourhood. And I'm looooooooooooving it. Sure, it has its pros and cons, like everywhere else. And yes, the apartment has some real doosies in the con department. But overall, I can only say B'H' and bli ayin hara!

Actually, that last sentence basically says it all!

A final development of note: I adopted a cat. She is HILARIOUS and really does brighten up my time at home. I mean, she bleets like a billy goat. No joke; she doesn't meow she bleets. And she is so smart, she literally rings the bell on her collar to get my attention. I should be blessed with such intelligence! ;)

Phew. This post was much longer than I expected. I may add a few posts to backtrack, but if not, these have pretty much been the pertinent developments. Very heady stuff indeed.

Oh, and in keeping with the theme of my blog, I've also been investigating further my comfort zone within yiddishkeit. Case in point, I wore a skirt today that just covered the knee. I enjoyed the change of pace, as did the various latinos and teenagers that I passed en route to and from work, lol.

That's all folks. For now...