Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category

Make a Plan

by Haley Plotnik under JDate,Judaism,Online Dating,Single Life

To everyone out there who is looking for love, success, and happiness: I urge you to learn from your past, be mindful in the present, and embrace the future with openness. Recently, I heard someone say, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

Don’t wait for tomorrow to start living your life. Every moment that passes is a moment that we’ll never see again in our life. As much as that is cheesy, I think it hits on the importance of now. Now is the time. Don’t wait to start your life until you’re 20 pounds thinner, you have a master’s degree, or your loved one passes away.

I often hear people say, “I wish I had achieved success/gotten married/had kids while (insert name of beloved relative here) was alive.” Well guess what? If you wait for life to smack you in the face, it eventually will. And you may be echoing similar sentiments. Today is the day. Not tomorrow or next week. Set measurable, achievable goals. Reach them. Build your confidence. Your mind and body are amazing tools that can be used for so many amazing purposes: whether that be productivity or laziness. If you want to be the world’s most dedicated couch potato, go for it. It doesn’t matter what you do. Make something of your life and believe in your ability to achieve your goals. Being passionate is personable. We all want something out of our life experiences.

Through my many dates, I think what makes people attractive to others is being passionate. My friends sometimes call it “living intensely.” Give yourself permission to take chances, be incorrect, fail, regroup, and try again. Living is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. Plan something great. Even if you fail, you’ll do a lot of living in the meantime.


Facing Your Fears (A Guest Post by Richard Stayman)

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Relationships

Last month, I went to Israel. It was the first country I’ve visited outside the U.S. For the week leading up to the trip, I was incredibly nervous. Not only was it right around the time when the current conflict got heated, but I was also scared about other people on the trip not liking me — a feeling I haven’t experienced in years.

As an adult, I’m usually not self-conscious, but for some reason I was falling back into old habits from childhood. I went on the trip with my best friend, which oddly enough made me even more nervous. When I finally arrived in Israel, I had to face my fear of meeting 40 new people, and when I did, I became instant friends with everyone.

This experience led me to discover that if you and the person/people you’re meeting are all Jewish, you never have to worry about making friends. No matter how strong your social skills, it is significantly easier to make friends with a group of Jews than any other situation. Why? Because we all share that common bond of being in the minority, and being Jews. No matter your observance, if you are comfortable with yourself as a Jew, you can be comfortable with any other Jewish person you encounter.

So next time you find yourself nervous at a Jewish event, just remember: you are all from the same people, and already share a common bond. Start with that and see where it goes!

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Looking Up

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Relationships,Single Life

As I started to write this post, I began by doing a “control-f” across the word document where I keep my blog entries. I was searching for the phrase “negativity” and it came up with zero results. I was pleased to see I’d never used it… until now.

This would be an easy week for me to be somewhat negative. I’m out of a job at the moment, I don’t know what my apartment situation is for the next month, and life just seems to be coming at me quickly. Add in Robin Williams’ death and the growing crisis in the Middle East, plus our rainy weather in the northeast this week, and life can seem pretty daunting.

That being said, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve found what I was looking for in New York: an amazing girlfriend, a job I loved throughout the summer (and hope to be going back to once a position is ready), and a great life in the city where I’ve always wanted to live. It’s so easy to get swept up in the details, or to worry about the little things, but I have two beliefs that keep me from worrying:

  1. One is my belief that with enough action and little enough worry, things tend to work themselves out. For example, I applied to two hundred different companies in New York. After three months, the very first company I applied to wrote me and I received the interview invitation after my favorite “no-worry-time-Shabbat.” Life definitely warrants concerning yourself over things, but action without panic has been an approach that has helped me breathe easier.
  2. The second trick to my happiness (which is not always constant, don’t get me wrong) is having a vision of the future that keeps me secure. I’ve become very close with my girlfriend in terms of how often we see each other, and it worried me a bit that we’ll be spending a good chunk of the next two weeks apart, but it helps me to think about reuniting in two weeks and how happy I’ll be then. An eye on the future, without losing your enjoyment of the present, is very important.

Sometimes it can all look rough. And I may even be writing this to avoid more job application work from a Dunkin’ Donuts window seat. But, you never know what’s going to happen next — and that’s the beautiful thing about life. So good luck this week, I hope your dating life surprises you!


Changing Your Mind

by Tamar Caspi under Judaism,Relationships

When you’re dating, you will likely make pronouncements about how you feel about various topics, whether that be parenting, where you want to live, what you want to do with your life, how religious you are or want to be, what side of politics you lean towards, and so on and so forth.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind one day.

And if you’re in a relationship, that doesn’t mean your partner will have to agree or support your change of heart. Oftentimes you won’t realize how you feel about a certain topic until you’re in the moment when said topic presents itself. You are allowed to change your mind, but if it’s something pretty huge (like deciding you no longer want kids, want to move halfway around the world, or want to become an Orthodox Jew), then you can’t expect a significant other to instantly decide to change their life along with you. Follow your heart’s desire of course, and don’t decide not to change because you’re afraid your partner won’t approve or will break up with you. At the end of the day you have to be true to yourself.

That said, if you’re engaged, married or have children, altering your life drastically may be more of an issue, and it’s important to make major decisions like this as a couple.


If and When (Can Change)

by Haley Plotnik under Israel,Judaism,News

One of the many reasons I often feel like I’m not “Jewish enough” is that I haven’t been to Israel before. I was thinking about going some time in the next year if the opportunity presented itself. It likely would, but I don’t trust my luck. I have always had a sinking feeling that I would be in the one group where things go massively awry.

Right now, a lot of us have friends and loved ones in Israel. Most of the time, I do not really worry about their safety or well-being. So many American college students have an overwhelmingly positive experience in Israel, and many people in Israel probably live in safer conditions than parts the US.

Right now, however, I feel a bit uneasy. I know I would not feel comfortable going to Israel at present. But I feel as though I might be giving up an opportunity that I can’t get back. If I say “not this year” for too many more years, the programs won’t be available to me anymore.

I have to remind myself continually that stepping onto Israel’s soil doesn’t make me a Jew. I am a Jew regardless. Perhaps I feel that missing out on Israel is like missing out on Jewish sleep away camps all over again.


Freedom of Religion

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Judaism,Relationships,Single Life

No, this isn’t going to be a political post, don’t worry.

My friend has been dating a guy she met on JDate for a few months now. His profile stated that he is a Conservative Jew. She leans more towards the “Reform/Traditional” stream, but isn’t opposed to dating someone who is a bit more “Jew-ish” as she is understanding, respectful and has an open mind. Until this guy who – since they began dating – started keeping Shabbat, walking to an orthodox temple on Saturday mornings, turning off his phone, and keeping kosher both in and out of the home. Clearly he is becoming more religious, but he is also continuing to date someone who is on the other side of the spectrum.

I’ve often met couples where one was already more observant than the other — they came together knowingly — and they chose to either become more observant or less so as a couple. But to suddenly become more observant while in the relationship is a different situation. My friend is just sitting idly by as her boyfriend becomes more and more religious. What is she to do? Nothing yet, if she likes him, except wait and see what happens. This could be an experimental phase, or he could go all the way frum. In doing so, he risks losing her, but he needs to follow his spiritual heart and not sacrifice being the Jew he wants to be because of a woman he’s been dating a few months.


Call Me

by Aaron under JDate,Judaism,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

Initially, the last car wreck I was in seemed awful (no one was hurt, just my car). It was an accident, obviously, but I felt terrible. It was completely my fault and I had to get my car repaired using money I was saving at the time for grad school. My rental car, required while I had my car repaired, made me feel slightly better about the accident — it was a sleek version of my car, but newer and full of little perks like Bluetooth connectivity.

As I drove home on my first Shabbat with that rental car, I wanted to try every feature (yep, playing around while driving — probably why I wrecked my car in the first place). Specifically, that Bluetooth was fun, and I used it to start making calls. It was Friday afternoon and I had to drive home from Wylie, Texas back to my little town of Plano, a 45-minute commute on a good day, but an hour or more on this Friday afternoon. It started, as it now does every week, with a call to my Zeyde, who at the time was an hour ahead of me in Miami. Then my grandparents, and then a friend or two… I just went on and on, calling friends and seeing how their week’s went, even if it’d been a while since we kept in touch.

The list changes frequently; I’ll forget someone or substitute someone in that I haven’t seen in a while for someone I just saw. In the age of texting, Facebook, and email, I was connecting to friends at a larger scale than ever had before. My network didn’t lose touch with me as easily (relegated to liking goofy Facebook posts occasionally); if I had their number, they got a call.

Nowadays in New York, my roommates know Friday afternoons before Shabbat are for calls. They’re a little different now though. I call my mom, my dad and my brother, in addition to all of those old friends and family I don’t see as often. I call friends from home and friends in New York, keeping some friendships stable and growing others.

But most helpful was the way it grew my relationship with my current girlfriend. I always worry about keeping a relationship in this age of texting. We have to be on our game so often early on in relationships (i.e. Am I saying the right thing? Did I wait long enough? etc.) But Shabbos calls were different. My girlfriend and I still do it every week, she’s usually my last call before my phone goes off for Shabbat, and we typically finalize our Shabbat plans together.

The habit is very much so in the spirit of Shabbat: just a simple call saying you’re thinking of someone. For me it was Friday afternoons, but whatever you do, using the phone is a great way to build relationships, platonic or romantic, and I think you’ll be surprised by how grateful people are for that little call.


150 Seder Tables Ago

by Haley Plotnik under Judaism,Single Life

On Sunday, I went to my first event for Jewish young professionals. It was through a program in the Chicago area, and we went to the Oriental Institute at UChicago. I highly recommend seeing it if you like art history or archaeology. During the tour, something that came up struck a chord with me.

The tour guide referred back to an event that happened about 3,000 years ago.  “That was 120-150 Seder tables ago,” she said. It made me realize that all of the rich Jewish history that has been passed down for generations hangs gently in the balance. My grandparents and parents wouldn’t have dreamed of marrying outside the faith. But nowadays, a lot of people I know don’t really care whether they preserve the Jewish culture or religion.

Do we owe it to our father’s mother’s father’s father’s father’s mother to keep the tradition alive? I feel like I do. Family is about more than the individual, and Judaism is too. During my formative years, I was heavily immersed in Judaism. I started my education at a Jewish pre-school. Before I could read, I could recite the five books of Moses.

I recently went on a few dates with a guy who was very Jew-friendly, but not Jewish. He said he wanted to raise children without any religion. The museum and discontinuing dating this guy made me realize that I feel compelled to pass on the tradition. I can’t see raising kids without a Seder table. Being Jewish not only enriched me, but it gave me strength as a child and continues to do so in my adulthood. I think I owe it to my ancestors, and my children, to pass it on.


The Three Weeks

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Single Life

As I write this entry, I’m certain it will not come out grammatically correct, maybe not even as rational thoughts. Normally that’s not an issue as I write, but today it kind of is. The reason is that today, I am hungry.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to start playing sad music and show you starving kids in Africa, nor will I go on about food stamps. Instead, I am writing about a different cause of hunger: two fasts that begin and end the period in Jewish life known as “The Three Weeks.”

The Three Weeks always scare me. They started on Tuesday, July 15 (The 17th of Tammuz) and end on the evening of August 5th (The 9th of Av). These are three weeks that were very difficult for the ancient Jews (yes, even by Jewish standards these weeks weren’t easy). Some people don’t listen to music or get haircuts during this time of year.

For me, these weeks are always scary. I worry I’ll lose a job, a girl I’m dating, or worse. My brother returns from Israel in two days, but obviously having him there as I write this scares me as well. While I won’t get too much into it, the situation in Israel during this time of year is an obvious reason for worry right now.

But worry would defeat the purpose of these weeks, in my opinion. The Shabbat service I went to last Saturday discussed the reasoning for studying the rituals of the temple during these three weeks — not to mourn their destructions (both took place during this three-week span), but to hope for the days when we go back to the temple and have to use those rituals again.

Life is gonna kick you in the face sometimes, that’s how it goes. As a new guy in New York, it’s literally happened to me once or twice. But you can’t let it sway how you live. That means if someone turns you down on a dating site, don’t go on and on about it if you meet that person in real life. Don’t whine to others about how you’re always single.

What people really want is someone who will keep them upbeat. At any given moment, we are all just one or two complaints from a total kvetch-fest with the right crowd. Who doesn’t like to complain? But in this three-week period, I encourage you to make the choice to say nice things, to learn about the positive things around you. Destruction will always happen, we may lose the temple, but one day it will stop, and maybe the temple won’t be rebuilt tomorrow, but maybe we can make each other a little happier in the meantime. Have a safe and happy three weeks everyone — and if you’re fasting, may your fasts be easy as well.


JNF/JDate Singles Trip to Israel – Day 4

by Mark Feuer under Israel,JDate,Judaism,Single Life

New JBlogger Mark Feuer is joining several Jewish singles on an unforgettable singles trip to Israel! Mark will be sharing all about the sights, sounds, flavors and spirit of Israel on his unique and unforgettable journey! Here’s a little snippet from day 4:

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Off to the Golan!

After grabbing a quick breakfast, we checked out of the hotel. We were on our way to Golan Heights for a jeep ride. First we stopped by Metzudut (Fortress) Koah. We were within eyesight of the Lebanese/Israeli border and the contrast between the lush green Israeli side versus the barren Lebanese side was amazing.

The Lebanese/Israeli border

The Lebanese/Israeli border

Hula Valley Overlook

Hula Valley Overlook

On the way we met up with a group of single Nefesh b’ Nefesh Olim who would join us for the day and give us their perspectives and stories as new immigrants to Israel. Nefesh b’ Nefesh aids immigrants from North America with their transition to life in Israel and helps them cut red tape in getting benefits as well as help with integration into Israeli society.

Group meet-up

Group meet-up

We also did a bit of off-roading on the Golan Heights, overlooking the Syrian border:

JeepJeeps

Group shot on a tank left from the 1973 Yom Kippur War

Group shot on a tank left from the 1973 Yom Kippur War

Off to Another Winery!

From the Golan border to lunch and wine tasting at the Ramat Golan Winery. This winery produces over 6 million bottles of wine a year.

WineryWinery2

Onward to Safed!

We went on to go to Safed and went to a workspace used by Marc Chagall, which is now home to works of art by 82 different artists.

Chagall workspace

Chagall workspace

Lastly, we had a chance to do some shopping! It was a long day and I was glad to get to our new hotel at the Nof Ginosaur Hotel. Tomorrow we go to Jerusalem and I cannot wait as it is one of my favorite places in the world.