Nothing is more awkward than the dreaded friend of the family set-up. As if dating wasn’t irritating enough, now you have various members of the peanut gallery suggesting future flings for you! So what do you do? Appease them, and spend at least an hour of your life wishing you were anywhere but here? I guess that hour beats an entire week of guilt tripping cate of every member of your family. But, to the rebellious jewish princess that more often than not dates everyone she shouldn’t, what exactly do you have to lose? In fact, one of these set ups may surprise you, and you could wind up with, dare I even suggest it, someone your mother would approve of! I know, that in and of itself is not exactly a turn-on, but not having to listen to fifty-five members of your family bitch at you about the sitch is reason enough. So give up an hour and you may be pleasantly surprised. You can always come up with some form of domestic emergency later if things don’t work out- like your cat decided to play in traffic, or the cupcakes you don’t even know how to cook up are burning and now your house is on fire. Just be creative, you don’t want him to know you’re ditching him to head home for a better date with your DVR.
It’s that time of year again. It is in the air, Halloween. A few weeks ago, while visiting my parents, I asked each one of them what Halloween was like for them as children. Their answers were completely different than what I had conjured up in my own mind about each of their childhoods.
My mother was raised as a Conservative Jew. Her father was very observant and did not believe in putting any time and/or energy into holidays that were not strictly Jewish. My mother who grew up in New York City wasn’t allowed to trick-or-treat. She never dressed up, felt the excitement all day at school, or got to look forward to the chocolate bar before bed on Halloween night.
My father was raised as a Reform Jew and was able to partake in trick-or treating. I always imagine his early years as Leave it to Beaver. He had an older brother, a working father, and a mother who seemed to be able to fix any problem in 22 minutes or less. His Halloween night was spent in costume going door to door collecting money for Unicef. Again, no chocolate bar before hitting the pillow for the night. But, what a concept; spending an evening with friends doing something for someone else. How many of us really, truly do that?
I grew up waiting for the one night of the year to collect as much candy as possible. My brother and I would compete to see who could get more. It is not easy to admit, but at times I’m still like this. Putting my needs, even if they are just a hankering for a good old-fashioned chocolate bar before someone else’s.
If for just a few minutes a day we were to all do something kind for someone else I believe this world would be a much happier, kinder and gentler place. Think about this next time you go on a date. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes for just a few moments. If you feel nervous imagine how the other person must feel. It takes a lot of effort to date and to put oneself out there. It makes us vulnerable which can be a scary place to be. Be kind with your dates. Honesty, integrity and helping someone feel more at ease are all signs of great character. Make these attributes part of who you are and treat people in a manner that you would like to be treated. In essence, collect for Unicef on Halloween night, instead of going out there for as much candy as you can get your hands on. You still get the pleasure of trick-or-treating without gaining an ounce, and you did something good for someone else. I imagine if we all took the time to do this all of our dates would have much happier endings.
Dear Gems from Jen,
My best friend of over 10 years recently broke up with her boyfriend of four years. When she called to talk to me about it, she explained that one of the main reasons that they broke up was because she started thinking about what their future together would be like and realized that they had irreconcilable differences when it came to religion and spirituality (namely that he wasn’t Jewish). She went on to tell me that she wanted to be single and see what was out there and maybe find a nice Jewish guy that spoke Hebrew. The conversation got me thinking and I started hoping that I was that guy.
There was a time when we first met that I was in love with her. Nothing ever came of it, but I have loved her as a friend for as long as I’ve known her. She’s smart, has an amazing smile, loves music and there isn’t a woman that I’ve dated since we’ve known each other that I didn’t compare to her in some way or another. I’m getting older and I feel like my window of opportunity is shrinking, but I wonder if it’s worth it.
In my heart, telling her how I feel seems like the right thing to do. I know it’s selfish and I know that she still has feelings for her ex, but I don’t want to live my life regretting not taking that chance. We don’t live in the same city and I’m thinking about visiting soon and telling her what’s on my mind. Do these ‘best friend professes love’ situations ever pan out or am I just a fool in love?
M in Love
Dear M in Love,
I believe that one of the most important components of a relationship is the best friend piece. Now, does that mean this will ultimately work in the way you are hoping? I sure hope so, but I can’t be sure. You have a lot to think about here. Are you willing to risk this friendship if she does not reciprocate your feelings? In my experience, it can become awkward when a friend professes love. When it has happened in my life I usually saw it coming, but for the most part, I haven’t been on the other end of the situation. However, this is my experience and her feelings may be exactly what you are hoping for.
Secondly, if things do go your way, what happens if the relationship does not last? Changing the dynamic of a friendship does tend to change everything. Is your friendship strong enough to bounce back from a romantic relationship if for some reason it does not work out?
Why is it selfish for you to be honest about your feelings? Also consider the timing of your revelation. Perhaps letting her have some more time to move on from her ex might make both of you feel more comfortable. If you chose to tell her how you really feel, don’t wait too long. The longer you take the more difficult it will become. Most people tend to over analyze the situation, which creates unnecessary anxiety.
My next question; if you have always had these feelings why have you held back for all these years? You never know, she could have these same feelings and is waiting for a sign from you. Living life with regrets is really no way to live. I cannot make you any promises, but I don’t want you to look back at this moment years from now and have thoughts of “what if…” Sometimes the risk is worth the potential fall.
Gems from Jen
Tootsie Rolls, Bazooka Bubble Gum, Abba Zabba, Easter Peeps and Ring Pops are all iconic American candies, but did you know they were all created by Jewish people? Over a century ago, most candies were generic penny candy you could pick out of a barrel or in a jar at your local five and dime. Most of these sweets were created and distributed by Jewish immigrants who made the inexpensive confections in their homes. The old adage that “candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker” may sound great, but many a turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrant would beg to differ. Most Jewish immigrants came to America with nothing but the shirt on their back and a wealth of entrepreneurial spirit, so many were drawn to selling candy because the ingredients were inexpensive and they could use trial and error to perfect their recipes without wasting large amounts of money on costly experimentation.
The Tootsie Roll was created by Austrian immigrant Leo Hirshfield who opened a candy store in New York City in 1896. His most successful penny candy was a chewy cross between fudge and caramel that he named after his daughter Clara, affectionately known as “Tootsie.” Today, the company is still ran by Hirshfield’s descendants and Tootsie Roll Industries churns out over 62 million of these sweet little barrels of joy every day!
Sam Born arrived in the U.S. from Russia in 1910 and invented the process for creating the hard chocolate coating on Eskimo Pies, a machine that inserts sticks into lollipops and a chocolate-sprinkle producing machine that creates Jimmies (named after the machine’s operator). Born, along with his brothers-in-law Irv and Jack Shaffer, would go on to create Mike and Ike candies, Hot Tamales and Easter Peeps. Other notable Jewish confectioners include Abraham, Ira, Philip and Joseph Shorin whose company, Topps, led to the creation of Topps Baseball Cards, Ring Pops, Push Pops, Bazooka Bubble Gum and comic book icon Bazooka Joe.
Today, due to the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants from Old World Europe, prominent Jewish families have become central to the candy trade. Not only has this resulted in world-recognized brands and generations of wealth, but millions and millions of happy children and more than a few unnecessary visits to the dentist.
I must be doing something wrong here. I need decent feedback. I would like to date a Jewish girl, but find myself anything but …
What am I doing wrong?
Dear I Must Be Doing Something Wrong,
You have given me very limited information, so I’m going to do my best with what you have provided. Your first move is to make sure your JDate profile is up to date. Make sure your pictures are recent, your information is correct, and you are honest with what it is you are looking for in a potential match.
JDate is the place to find a nice Jewish girl, with that being said, do not give up. Instead of viewing your situation in a pessimistic light, try viewing it as an opportunity to start anew. Spend some time re-working your profile. Really consider what it is you want and do not settle for someone who is not a good fit. If you only want to date Jewish girls then by all means only date Jewish girls. I realize it can be more difficult than it sounds, but make that commitment to yourself.
Be sure to reach out to all of the women that spark your interest on JDate. Spend some time writing personal emails. Read their profiles carefully and make a personal connection in your correspondence. We all have daily routines, make JDate one part of your routine. Your dating life is just as important as work, family and friends. We all tend to make time for these aspects and sometimes we put our love lives on the back burner. Don’t put it off any longer. Set a time daily that you use to access the site and make connections. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Gems from Jen
I have read a few blogs of a similar nature…….why don’t I get many responses. Is there a mentor or coach who could critique my technique?
I am just looking for a nice Jewish girl.
Dear A little Assistance,
I would be happy to look at your profile. Go ahead and send the link to me under ask our expert a question. Before I look at your profile go through it and read it carefully. Are you being too rigid in what it is you are looking for? Some women will pass right by a profile that leaves no room for compromise. Are you making sure that your profile describes who you are in a positive way? If your profile appears pessimistic, change it. Most people are attracted to someone who views the glass as half full. Are you being too general in what it is you are searching for? A lot of women tend to view generalities as not having a true direction. It is a fine line between generalities and specifics when creating a profile. Make a list of the items you are unwilling to compromise about and keep only those as specifics. This way you come across as being flexible with a strong character. This, in my opinion, is a very attractive quality.
Are your pictures up to date? Do they allow your personality to shine through? If your profile states that you love the outdoors and your pictures show you only sitting at a desk that it can come across as incongruent.
I look forward to viewing your profile. I hope to hear back from you soon!
Gems from Jen
Little ditty about Jon and Diana…two Jewish-American kids growin’ up in the heartland…oops, wrong story.
Saturday evening I attended the wedding of a dear friend. Having witnessed several of her close calls over the last five years, it was an absolute joy to witness this obvious perfect union. The mutual love and admiration was felt by everyone in the room. Although Jon and Diana both utilized JDate for years, they met in person while volunteering. The fact is they would have never met on JDate because they didn’t fit each other’s preconceived search criteria. At 5’5” he is three inches shorter than she and at 39 she is two years older than he. But when they met, all the criteria fell to the side and within four months they we’re engaged and four months later, married. Talk about certainty.
Having witnessed several of Diana’s past relationships, I truly feel this imperfect (i.e. didn’t fit their original expectations) match ended up being the most perfect match possible. Mazel Tov J and D – your love for each other permeates and brings so much joy to your family and friends!!
A) Be open to throw away that checklist. You may discover something better than you ever had hoped for.
B) IFFFF you can’t be open-minded, then stick with your checklist. You may (though unlikely) find that made-to-order person. Relationships are fragile and having an excuse to jump or the stress of an obstacle/checklist to overcome puts unnecessary stress on any relationship. It is not worth it. Be truly open or stick with what you feel you need.
C) My friend was committed to finding the “one.” She made her search a second job. Whether it was timing, the right one, a combo of both, who knows… But she is happier than I have ever seen her. I’m sure Diana wishes she met Jon three years ago but she wouldn’t have gone through the journey she did making the end reward all that much sweeter for the both of them.
I don’t know much, but I do know both rain and sunshine are necessary for a rainbow. Enjoy the ride, treasures are guaranteed on the other side…or at least a funny looking leprechaun.
As I mentioned previously, one of the best parts of my job as Founder of JewishWeddingNetwork.com is hearing all about how people meet. This next story is by far the best JDate success story that I’ve heard.
Artist Maya Escobar was a senior at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, when she attended a performance art class in which she discussed how differently she was perceived by Latino men, as compared to Jewish men. Jewish men thought she was exotic and labeled her a Latin sex symbol, while Latino men would be impressed with her accomplishments and goals. Her professor suggested that as part of her studies, Maya set up profiles on a Latin dating site and a Jewish dating site, and document the process.
Maya joined JDate as part of a performance art piece, but that only lasted until she received an email from a guy named Loren. Loren had his profile up on JDate for two years, but didn’t pay for an active membership until he saw Maya’s profile. Ironically, Maya had seen Loren’s profile a year before when she was just perusing the site, and thought to herself that if she were to meet someone on JDate, he’s the guy she’d want to meet. Maya was attracted to Loren on many levels – he’s a musician and an artist like herself and it turned out that Loren had been head of UIC’s Hillel, where Maya’s brother went to school. The couple went on to graduate school together at Washington University in St. Louis, where Maya got her MFA and Loren is getting his law degree.
Yes, Maya broke the code of her project, but in a sense she didn’t. Maya’s soul mate turned out to be the one guy who didn’t treat her in a stereotypical manner.
Maya and Loren recently wed in a ceremony that incorporated both the Jewish traditions and the Guatemalan traditions of Maya’s heritage. You can read more about Maya and Loren’s wedding story at JewishWeddingNetwork.com.
One of the best parts of my job as founder of Jewish Wedding Network is finding out how couples meet. I never tire of hearing the stories! I know a lot of people meet on JDate, but I don’t think I really realized how many couples meet on JDate until I launched a Jewish wedding planning website.
Mara and Adam are one such couple, but their online meeting was anything but ordinary. In 2003, Mara was just out of college and decided to dabble in JDating. She signed up for a subscription, but two months later let it lapse –and that’s when she received an important email from another JDater. When she looked at the sender’s profile, she thought he looked familiar. The subject line of his message? “You look familiar.” As it turns out they went to the same college, at the same time, were amongst only a handful of Jewish students, and had loads of friends in common, but had never actually met! Doesn’t fate work in mysterious ways?
Mara and Adam are an official JDate Success Story and are now planning their November 2009 wedding. You can follow Mara as she blogs about her wedding planning journey at JewishWeddingNetwork.com
My friend Polina and I go way back–all the way back to the 10th grade. When you’ve known someone this long, you’ve really experienced life’s ups and downs together. And in our case, we’ve been there for one another through the ups and downs of dating.
Last year, Polina called to tell me the great news – that her little sister was engaged. At the time Polina was single. I had a funny premonition and told Polina that I bet she’d be engaged by the time her sister’s wedding rolled around. She laughed at the mere thought of it.
Just a few months ago, I had the satisfaction of saying “I told you so.”
Soon after our conversation, Polina met Jake on JDate. From the moment she mentioned him to me, I had a really good feeling. They are both Russian and come from the same cultural background, and neither one of them had seriously dated other Russians. Also, she loves outdoor activities. He loves outdoor activities too. Um…did I mention I had a good feeling?
Fast forward eight months later and Polina and Jake are engaged. Their wedding is planned for September 2009 – three weeks after Polina’s sister’s wedding. Of course, her parents couldn’t be more thrilled with having a b’nai mitzvah – two daughter’s getting married within a month! As I predicted – Polina will be bringing her fiancé to her sister’s wedding.
Follow Polina’s story on Jewish Wedding Network as she plans her September wedding to Jake.