Monday, December 27, 2010

SWF, 41 hasn't given up like I have

I came across this article online about a woman named Tamar. She was desperate to have somewhere to go on Shabbos. She wanted a family to make her a weekly fixture at their Shabbos table.

NO ONE replied.

I take that back. A man replied. The article doesn't really say why she turned the man down after spending 45 minutes on the phone with him.

I've seen many single women who are BTs and converts pushing their way into a family they borrow on Shabbos or Yontiff. I tried to find a family of my own like that but, too many times did I see others who weren't really welcome to intrude upon the family they think has adopted them. One woman says to me about another convert that frequented her Shabbos table, "she thinks she's a part of our family..." Yet another convert gleefully told me about a month post-conversion that she figures one of the families she goes to for meals will find her a man. Little did she know the family she mainly went to thought she was about twenty years older than I am and she's actually younger. I don't know what happened with that, perhaps she did find someone through them or another family that had her to their Shabbos table.

Seeing all of this, I thought to myself, if this is what they are sharing about another convert, what do they think of these other converts that they aren't slipping up and telling me? I can only imagine! Furthermore, as an intelligent women, I drew conclusions about what they would be saying about me and even more so about what they don't EVEN say about me but that they think. I know husbands and wives sit around and talk about their Shabbos guests they don't like after they leave. They will deny it, too.

So, I commented on this article and explained to the woman that no one is going to "adopt" her, as she wants. People feel like it's on us single women to find someone. The problem with that is that most men aren't really trying to get married. So, who are we supposed to marry?


  1. I disagree with the premise of the post: single people, converted or not, should not be looking to get 'adopted'. Children get adopted, and G-d knows that we've infantilized singles enough in this community.

    Of course, when one reads through the article you linked, one finds 'issues': she's got major health problems, she's been arrested, and more.

    I believe it's counterproductive to be 'adopted' by anyone. Sure, it's nice to be part of a community, but you shouldn't have to -- nor should anyone even WANT to -- check your self-sufficiency at the door.

    I also think that you believe similarly, and it's that very attitude that's giving you such difficulties. Today's frum community isn't too comfortable with such free-styled thinking.

    But, the real challenge is 1) not to let the community change who we really are, and 2) not to become so broken and negative because too many people can't stomach who we really are.

    It only takes a few (or even one) close friend(s). And they usually will make all the difference.


  2. I agree with most of what you say but an additional fact I should have mentioned but failed to is that I feel it's hard for me to find other singles to be friends with because most of the ones my age don't want other single friends. They want to be "adopted" by a family. I have invited singles over to my house for Shabbos many times and the response I repeatedly get is that they want to go to families.

  3. Why do you feel you have to go to the same person every week. When I was single I went to a different person every week, never eating the night and day meal at the same 'table'. It came out I went about to the same person once a month. That way I was always welcome, I always had some 'news' to bring. People even begged me to come. I really cant understand this idea of 'adoption'.

  4. I can so relate, it would be so nice to have a regular meal to go to rather than trying to figure out plans or wind up alone.

    My first few years in NYC were like that. I did try twice try to start a shabbat meal group in the neighborhood, but I had little interest and a bunch of flakes at the last minute. I'd offer to host other women from out of the neighborhood-- repeatedly they'd go off and make their own meal plans and just use my space for sleeping and not bother to interact with me!! I found a lot of people only wanted to go to families or huge singles meals. Not just have a small table with 3-6 other people each bringing something. Really I found people would rather stay home alone than have a little company. I found this very discouraging.

    However, things have changed recently. It has taken me a while, but within the past year, I finally made a couple of "shabbat buddies." It has indeed made a world of difference. Just a few folks and have simple potluck meals or takeout. Or once in a while, the hospitality committee will find a host family to have a meal with, but it's not a steady thing. The shul I usually goes to just started having monthly dinners which helps too. So I do have most meals covered and don't feel bad for the once in a while I wind up on my own. I visit a couple of older people too or go to the nursing home in the afternoon. So it's not quite so lonely.

    If you ever want to venture up to upper Manhattan area, I'd be happy to host. Nothing fancy about me or my place, but you'll have company and food :) Let me know and I'll provide my contact info privately.

  5. Rivky, yes, click on my profile here and you can Email me. I would love to come for Shabbos. I know exactly what you mean. I used to try to go away sometimes and host sometimes but when I would host these girls in their 20's think it's ok to just not show up or cancel on Friday. I guess maybe that's not a big deal for a family but a single person doesn't have a family eating leftovers so if I cook for 4 but it ends up being just me then half of it goes bad.

    Another thing that pissed me off was that then girls would call me on Friday afternoon asking "whatcha doin for Shabbos?" We are talking about them doing this an hour or two before Shabbos.

    Then there's the fact that people would INSIST on trying to help in my kitchen but they would put things whereever they wanted, including dishes into the traif sink. It's one thing when my Asian tutor does it, but when they would insist and I would finally say it was ok, I would say, "make sure you don't put it in the sink, make sure you put it in the fleishig bin." yet somehow, I guess their ears don't work?

    Anony, while it can be nice to have variety for you, others like that certain stability that comes with knowing where you're going and knowing the people you will eat with.

  6. I haven't done that which you accuse me of. When I used to go to people I was very quiet and laidback, but people just shoot me with this automatic rifle of nosy questions. They talk about me behind my back and then get on the phone with everyone else and discuss me.

    I did think this woman was odd. Normally, you get meals through rabbis and if the rabbis decide they don't like you, you're screwed. I spend Shabbos alone. I have plenty of non-Jewish friends but it seems that Jews are very hard to be friends with. Perhaps it is the abrasive form of "etiquette" or lack thereof that's part of the culture....

  7. Maybe you should revise your idea of what is considered a nosy question. Or at least react differently. I don't know your story and I'm not that keen on knowing, but you can always reply with the basic stuff. Like what you wrote as your profile. That's not particularly nosy. And honestly, what do you expect? To sit there talking about nothing? When you meet someone new, you want to get to know them. For a convert, whether you like it or not, finding out just a little bit about it is what they expect. I don't see anything wrong with that. You can't expect to get close to someone and not tell them things about yourself.

    I honestly don't know what kind of people you're going to for Shabbos. Ever been to Far Rockaway? There are some very special people out there. People in Brooklyn also. I can ask a few friends of mine if you're interested. They'd be more than happy to have you over.

    Rarely have I gotten a meal through a rabbi. Ask someone you know to hook you up with the most special people that they know. Maybe that'll do it....? And work from there.. People you know that know other people. Etc etc.

  8. I consider it nosy to ask people if they are a virgin, how much money they make or give unsolicited advice. When there is 10 or more people at a table, there is absolutely no reason why the host should sit there and ask one guest personal questions.

    I don't want to go to your friends. In fact, I don't want to go anywhere. I have given it another chance far too many times and been stuck on Shabbos at the home of a stranger who doesn't have a clue what hospitality means.

    There is a difference between getting to know someone and intruding into their lives. What Jews do is like repeatedly asking a girl to lift her skirt or something.

    You know I was studying in a group and this Jewish kid asked one of my friends if she was a virgin. What kind of community is the Jewish community that someone thinks this is ok. When I study with non Jews they don't ask me personal questions-we study. When I study with Jews, they want to know my business.

  9. Apparently you have been hanging around the wrong people. That's really all there is to say. It doesn't matter how many people's houses you've gone to, you've made some pretty horrid generalizations. Have you gone to ANYONE who hasn't done or said things that are completely inappropriate? From the sounds of it, you haven't. I've had some unpleasant Shabbos meals since I moved to NY, but again, I don't know who you've eaten by that you have this impression of the frum world.

    As well, in the future, you should limit your antagonistic comments to those who live in NY. People in Brooklyn (not everyone, but a lot) are KNOWN to have a different idea of what is considered socially acceptable. Have you been to Los Angeles? Toronto? Miami? Chicago? Baltimore? Detroit? Far Rockaway? Or any of the other virtually countless Jewish communities out there that you're painting the entire Jewish world this way? Spent a Shabbos there?

    Basically, you've had a lot of bad experiences. Giving up isn't going to get you anywhere aside from bitter and getting completely disenchanted with Jewish people (if you aren't already).

  10. No, I have gone to people who weren't so bad but those are the exceptions to the rule, not the rule.

    Everyone defends the Jewish community, yet you see here that you admit that Brooklyn Jews have their own version of what is proper etiquette.

    Also, why is it that I have non-Jewish friends no problem. It's only Jews that I have a problem with. Actually, Brooklyn Jews who have no tact and too much time on their hands to ask nosy questions. It's funny that no one I've met through the Hillel has asked me nosy questions about myself and in fact, they haven't found out that I bear the scarlet letter "C". It's hi how are you and they don't feel the need to grill me to know my business. It's just that people who like to be nosy like to host... they like to host so they can get in people's business not because it's a mitzvah.

    I had a shitty Shabbos in Teaneck, too. One of my worst. I gave up because if I go to another person and I'm trapped while they drive at me with questions in a sick twisted attempt to discomfort me and delight in it, I'll scream, so I'm not going anywhere.

    Why can't you comment on my post about the weather?

  11. As I said before, you're going to the wrong people (hence my offer for you to go to people that I know do not fall into the category of "Brooklyn" type people).

    Everyone defends the Jewish community? You're surprised? Would you like it if someone attacked you, your neighbors, etc? I think not. People are biased towards their own kind, it says so in Chazal. No matter how bad a place is, if it's your home, you'll try and find the good in it.

    It's easy for me to say whatever I want because I'm not from around here. So I have an outsider's unbiased perspective. Something you also have but most people in Brooklyn don't. I'm not sure why that surprises you.

    Non-Jewish friends are nosy about other things. You may not feel that way, because you don't mind talking about those things with other people.

    People in Hillel owe you nothing and you owe nothing to them. People who host you for Shabbos expect some sort of reciprocation for the chessed that they're doing. Happens to be, you have nothing to offer them aside from information about yourself. As I said earlier, if you could sum up your conversion story in a sentence or two and change the subject, you'd probably enjoy yourself a lot more. Also, what kind of friendship do you have with people in the Hillel? A "Hi. How are you?" (in their mind they're thinking "I couldn't care less")kind of friendship? These people are feeling the waters to see if they want to have you over again and get to know you. The comparison is completely inaccurate.

    So instead, you're going to stay bitter and have a negative feeling towards your people? That won't serve you well at all in the future, trust me. Well, don't trust me. Just think about it. It makes no sense.

    Lol!! I didn't read it. But I will. And if I have something to add, I will. But the reason I didn't is because I don't think I'm going to find anything major in there. You have a very negative view on Jewish people and that bothers me. Ya, we have our flaws, but we also have our strengths. And you seem to miss that. You rant about everything wrong that you see but do you talk about all the beautiful things that you see? (Maybe you do and I just haven't seen those posts. Maybe that's what your weather post is about...?)

    I've found myself disenchanted at times by things I see going on in the Jewish world. The idiot who's honking the driver in front of them before the light turned green; the "frum" woman who walks down the streets of Boro Park when she should be in the red light district at 2 AM; the guy who answers his phone in middle of davening; the people who rant about other's shortcomings when they themselves don't follow halacha. Ya, I see that too! And ya, it bothers me! But I also see the beauty of Judaism that maybe you're overlooking just a bit.

    Hm, this is post length lol. Whoops :)

  12. It would be a dream to have regular monthly invite from several different families. However, I do feel blessed that by having a few girls to have regular joint meals with has greatly changed Shabbat and yontiffs. We are happy to expand our circle to even if it's just a once in a while person that wants to come. Also the monthly community dinners do also make a world of difference and I wish more shuls did this.

    At least in the couple of NY area communities I've lived it, it's not just converts having difficulties getting invites. Both of the neighborhoods are considered very friendly to young singles at that! Two of the girls in my little shabbat circle are out of town ffbs, but they don't have relatives or contacts in this community. A couple others are a bit "older" or the children of BTs or converts so they have few connections as well. All of us are very nice people, pleasant to be around and help out, and bring generous hostess gifts, but we lack connections and are not popular. When we do get invites, we do have a good experience, it just doesn't have happen often enough.

    All of my shabbat buddies grew up in more "open" style homes and regularly had people over, so it was a shock for us to find out that the in NY area it is different and so closed. Being a friend of some cousin's classmate seems to be the key to be extended a meal invite around here. Or I'm told that many families feel more comfortable inviting male guests so the husband and sons have people to talk Torah with.

    Once in a while, the shul's hospitallity committee does comes through, but as they tell us, "people just like to host their friends instead of new people," so often they don't have meals to offer. The other shul I'm also a member of (the one that started communal monthly dinners), the rav and a few of the board members also will also invite a few folks from the shul to their homes most Shabbat meals, but the rotation comes out to be one invite every few months.