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Married at First Sight

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life,Weddings

The groundbreaking TV show Married at First Sight (airing on the newly rebranded fyi, network) brings together professionals and experts who set up three couples to get married the first time they see each other. It’s a social experiment to see if testing for compatibility does a better job at matchmaking than we do for ourselves. There’s definitely something to this, as research from Brandeis University shows that arranged marriages have more success than those that begin based on lust.

This is why you need to see past the profile photos on JDate and actually read the profiles to determine if there’s a possibility of a match before moving on.

Trust the process.


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.


Revealing Your Backstory

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

Not everyone has a backstory, but lots of people do. Positive or negative, when to reveal that story after you begin dating someone you really like is a normal worry — especially when you have something important to divulge.

I’ve written previously about being honest and addressing a physical disability from the beginning; and I’ve written about how to discuss a divorce and/or having children in a minimal way in your profile and on a first date; but how about a backstory that isn’t visible? Are you a cancer survivor or do you suffer from depression or were you abused or were you adopted or any other background that made you who you are… but no one would necessarily know unless you told them?

This type of backstory is not one to include in your JDate profile, or even to bring up on a first date, but you do need to open up relatively early on. If the story is too much for your date to handle, then let them leave — clearly it’s not the right person for you and that’s why you need to reveal your story sooner rather than later. Unless it’s relevant to a conversation you are having on a first date, then save your confession for your second or third date. This does not mean that you are ashamed of your backstory, just that you want to have prospects get to know you for you, and not your story, particularly if it is a sob story.


Take a Chance, Open Up!

by Haley Plotnik under JDate,Online Dating

I have a close friend who recently moved to a new city for graduate school. She’s looking to meet a Jewish guy, but isn’t sure how to navigate the Internet dating scene. I am usually shy about advertising that I date online. It’s not something I feel most people need to know about me, and I feel nervous about being judged as “desperate” or “weird.” However, online dating has fundamentally changed how I approach men (in a good way).

When I finally admitted to my friend that I’ve online dated, she replied, “Oh my gosh. Once I move to graduate school, I totally want to try!” I had been so worried about her judging me that I forgot how many of us out are curious about the online dating world. She wanted to pick my brain about it before choosing to ultimately join in on the online dating rollercoaster. It’s something that has now bonded us. My friend asks my advice about messaging guys, if she should reply, etc. And in a way, it’s strengthened our friendship. So, while I don’t wear a sign around my neck that says, “I Love JDate,” I’m more open to telling close friends about dating on the web!


Learn to Listen

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Relationships

Going on dates, being someone’s significant other, and just being an all-around good friend means that you need to be a good listener.

When you’re on a date, it’s normal to chime in with a “me too!” when you’re looking for commonalities, but make sure you allow the other person to complete their thought. When you’re in a relationship, it’s normal to become a sounding board and to chime in with advice — but sometimes it’s best to just be there as a symbolic shoulder. Being a good friend does not always mean needing to speak, but instead just allowing the other person to talk and feel heard.

Listening is a skill. Learn it. It will come in handy in your love life and many other areas of life.


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.


Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

If you like a friend of yours as more than a friend, and don’t tell them, and then they start dating someone else, you have no one to blame but yourself.

What have you got to lose? Chances are you’re not going to stay friends with someone you had a crush on if they get into a serious relationship with someone else, so why not tell them how you feel?

If you are in a relationship and don’t speak your mind about how you want to be treated, or touched, or teased, then don’t be upset when your partner disrespects you, or isn’t affectionate, or doesn’t know your limits… because you never made your expectations clear!

People are not mind readers, you need to tell them how you feel and what you’re thinking. If you are honest with your words (and your actions support them) and the feelings are not reciprocated, then at least you put it all out there and will have no regrets.


JNF/JDate Singles Trip to Israel – Day 3

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 3:

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Day 2

The day began with getting up and using the gym at the facilities at the Dan Carmel Haifa Hotel. I really have to say, JNF/JDate set us up at a great hotel.

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View from overlook near the hotel

After a quick shower and change, I met the rest of my tripmates for breakfast, which was typical Israeli fare. We spent the meal discussing the previous day’s events. We were glad that we had not heard a single Red Alert since the tour started. We were very lucky in that regard, but we know that our tour leadership would not knowingly put us in any danger.

Group Pic

Group photo

First Stop – Atlit Displaced Persons Camp – South of Haifa

Today we visited what was once a displaced persons camp where the British detained Jewish people trying to enter the land of Israel while it was under the British Mandate in the 1930′s and 1940′s. We went through the processing center, the barracks, and a replica of the type of ship used to transport Jewish people into the land. It was a powerful experience.

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Sleeping area at Atlit Displaced Persons Camp

Second Stop – En Nof Artists Colony

The next stop was the En Nof Artist Colony. We met with several artists, saw some beautiful artwork, and enjoyed some homemade ice cream to help cool down in the heat!

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Some of the great artwork we saw

Third Stop – Tishbi Winery

After the Artists Colony we were off to the Tishbi Winery for lunch and a wine tasting. Lunch was simply fantastic. Just when we thought that they were done serving us they kept bringing more and more food. Gnocchi, Ravioli, Pizza, Salads of all types and the wine kept flowing too. They took us on a tour of the winery after lunch.

Wine and chocolate tasting

Wine and chocolate tasting

Last Stop: Baha’i Gardens

We were heading back to the hotel but one last stop, literally behind our hotel was the Baha’i Gardens.

Baha'i Gardens

Baha’i Gardens

Bastille Day!

Today was Bastille Day, so there was a great block party down in the German Colony. Everyone there was having a great time, with live music and drinking. Security was high, but non-obtrusive. It was exactly the thing people needed to decompress from the tensions of the past week. The conflict of the past week was on everyone’s minds and this was a great way to blow off steam. When people found out that we came from the states they were always very appreciative for our support in coming.

Bastille Day Block Party

Bastille Day Block Party


Living in the Minority

by Haley Plotnik under Judaism

The other day, I met someone who had never met a Jew before. I would have been happy to tell them more about Judaism, but I didn’t get the sense that they were interested. Finally, they said, “You know what would make this night even more fun? If every time you said something obnoxiously Jewish, I took a shot.”

I thought about speaking with Yiddish accent words all night, but then I figured it wouldn’t be of any help. Sometimes people are ignorant. I know that this is not the first or last time I will be targeted for being “obnoxiously Jewish.” I didn’t even think I used that many Jew-isms looking back on it. I maybe said an “oy vey” or the like.

I go to a college that is very Jew-friendly. We are one of the largest minority groups on campus. I sometimes forget that when I leave the safe haven of my college that it may be in my best interests to tone it down. I spent my entire childhood toning it down though. I would like to live in a world where I won’t be called out for an “oy” here or a “gevalt” there.