Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests

Jewish Dating Advice — Confidential! (And Keep It That Way)

I’m kicking myself right now. An old friend from the East Coast got in touch with me about setting up her brother-in-law with an eligible and attractive single Jewish woman here in Seattle, and did I know of such a person. It turns out I sure do but then I blundered. I told my friend that the woman I have in mind is shomer Shabbat. She observes the Sabbath. Immediately my friend, the other go-between, was wary. The guy in question is Reform, not observant at all. I’m very annoyed at myself because I know perfectly well that in Jewish dating — and let all Jewish singles hear this well — this is the kind of thing — like being a Republican — that you have to keep secret in dating till at least the third date. 

Anyway that’s my view. And you?

My perspective is that unless you are talking about an exclusively religious dating scene — and this is not the context here — then there are some things, some beliefs and practices, that can only be evaluated in a person once you know him, or in this case her, personally.  You do not have to lay all your cards on the table on a first date. You should not do so.

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Alan Stillman

posted July 17, 2009 at 4:14 pm

something that is as important as this – a key component of one’s personal identity that has a huge impact on how one chooses to live life should be out in the open before dating. I think that no to do so sends the message that this is behavior that one is embarrassed about.
before I ever went on any date I made my intentions to have children (the assumption being that I would adopt) very clear. I did not want to waste my time, or my potential date’s time – getting to know one another when this was a non-negotiable desire. I passed on a lot of dates because the other guy did not want kids or was not sure.
I am glad that I did this. I ended up with a wonderful husband (legally married) and we have a once troubled kid who is on his way to becoming a pretty decent young man.

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posted July 18, 2009 at 8:26 am

I don’t agree with Alan at all, I mean we’re talking about twom people that haven’t even met and didn’t even know each other existed. The idea of declaring your regigious beliefs, or even political beliefs etc, to someone before you even speak to them seems a bit myopic to me. Even if it’s not 100% going to turn in to a relationship you could be missing out on meeting someone really interesting, you don’t know what you might learn from meeeting people so I would never rule someone out just like that and I’d just rather not know such details before I even know what they look like and what kind of mind they have.

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Your Name

posted July 18, 2009 at 10:24 am

from the Washington POST:
“I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time. I was like, ‘Ewww, get me out of here.’ ”
— New York Times columnist David Brooks on Washington’s “loss of dignity” Friday on MSNBC.
Your Name CORRECTION: Brooks misspoke. It was not a “Republican senator” who was responsible for his ‘thigh anxiety’- it was none other than the one and only David (“I like dancing with guys”) Klinghoffer!

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posted July 18, 2009 at 10:43 am

I agree with Alan… but it should not have been the decision of either David or his friend whether or not these two people even met. David’s friend should go ahead and set up the date and then if the lady in question wants to share that she is “shomer Shabbat” then it will be up to the gentleman in question to deal with it.
p.s. Congratulations, Alan… on your honesty, marriage, and son! You make me smile inside and out 😀

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Shoshana Jackson

posted July 18, 2009 at 5:34 pm

I think in most instances of the Wide World of Dating, I would agree with Mr. Klinghoffer – many people date to learn about themselves and get to know people with whom they might be interested in pursuing something more meaningful. Lots of those potentials might be turned off by the idea of something such as someone who is “shomer Shabbos” or someone who is stolidly conservative (or retentively liberal!) without fully understanding what it means to be that thing to the person who IS that thing.
My Judaism is critically important to me – I define myself as an “American Jew” rather than a “Jewish American” because of this. If I were to put this on the table at first meeting, I probably would never have dated some of the wonderful people I have. Hell, I probably wouldn’t have been able to marry my husband as he is largely opposed to most organized religion (too dogmatic for him). It was only through allowing him to experience what “critically important” means in the context of my life that he was able to accept and understand my Judaism as a large part of who I am.

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kevin alber

posted July 18, 2009 at 10:36 pm

i disagree on this one because something as important as Faith is foundational. If Faith matters to you, why date someone who doesn’t share your values? And especially a practice and observance like David describes that this girl keeps a proper Shabbat, which i think is awesome, but a lot of people might not, and waiting a few dates to reveal something that important i think isn’t fair to either person.
So in the meantime David, could you please set me up with this girl instead? Many thanks, and hope everyone had a great shabbas!

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posted July 19, 2009 at 10:31 pm

David, it is posts like this that make it clear to me that, despite your commitment to Orthodox Judaism (which I have no doubt is genuine and sincere), you still share the basic mindset of the non-Jewish world.
To me, the idea that a shomer Shabbos Jew would even consider going out with a non-observant Jew is simply ridiculous. Shabbos observance is not a minor ritual observance. It fundamentally transforms the way one relates to every aspect of life. Political affiliation does not affect where you can live, what jobs you can accept, and what your plans will be for every single weekend of your life. Shabbos observance does all this and more.
It would be ridiculous (and unfair) to begin a relationship with someone who does not share this commitment.

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David Klinghoffer

posted July 20, 2009 at 4:00 am

Welcome to planet Earth, LazerA. If I were a 41 year old unmarried Shomer Shabbat woman living in a Jewishly remote part of the country like Seattle, I would be one bloody little fool to refuse to date anyone not Shomer Shabbat like me, that is if I had any genuine interest in getting married.

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posted July 20, 2009 at 9:52 am

David, unfortunately, you are proving my point. You will search long and hard to find any traditional source that would endorse your approach to this issue. If a religious Jew is faced with the choice of Shabbos vs. marriage, then he choses Shabbos. This would be true even if it were not a virtual certainty that a marriage in which the partners differ on this most basic issue will fail.
Unless the woman you are discussing is not genuinely committed to her Shabbos observance, the path you are recommending is both religiously wrong and a recipe for marital misery.
You would do far better to advise her to move to an area where she will have less difficulty finding an appropriate mate.

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posted July 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Oy. So many objections, so little time. First, I’m in agreement with those who say this is something that both parties should acknowledge up front. Being shomer Shabbos does, indeed, color everything you do. Even being half-way shomer Shabbos does this–and David would be wise to consider that many of us move closer to or farther from such observance depending on a wide variety of other circumstances. This doesn’t make the observance any less important to us. (My partner recently reminded me about our experience trying to shop for a car, while both working full time _and_ not shopping or handling money on Shabbos, in a state that doesn’t allow commercial automobile sales on Sundays. Not easy.) And you know what? If you tell the gentleman that the woman you have in mind is shomer Shabbos, he may surprise you by saying he’d love to know more about someone who is clearly that passionate about her religious practice! At least give him the chance to say yes, no, or maybe.
Which gets me to the notion of Seattle as a Jewish wasteland. There’s actually a large, active Jewish community in Seattle. They don’t all affiliate Modern Orthodox or Chabad, which appear to be the only groups that David considers Jewish. There are followers of Reform, Conservative, Reconstrutionism, and Jewish Renewal, all of whom consider themselves authentically Jewish & observant. The liberal strains of Judaism are not Judaism Lite. Some members are even completely shomer Shabbos, kosher, go to mikveh, etc., just like the Orthodox. If the woman in question were willing to look just a little beyond the blinders of official orthodoxy, she’d see a lot of potential mates right there in her own city.

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