Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another nebach bothers our friend the guest poster

This probably is funny to read if it hadn't happen to me....

One bad but brief encounter with an older man...

Up until abut two years ago, I regularly attended Hineni because I love Rebbetzin Jungreis since I was a teenager. I still listen to hear recorded shuirs and sneak in once in a while. I wasn't purposely going for shidduch purposes, but I admit it would have been nice. Everyone talks how it is THE place to meet and I love hearing the success stories--they make me smile, but it didn't work for me. For a while I was going twice a week showing up early to get the front row, until my work schedule prevented me going both nights I had one encounter with a normal age man who wanted to meet up for coffee, but he never followed up. I have also taken men I briefly dated there, but they didn't like it and things didn't work out shortly after. Once a matchmaker there saw one of the guys I was with, recognized that he use attend years ago and wanted to set him up right in front me! He told me he was never set up by anyone there because they said he was too yeshivish for the crowd. I've learned that if I am dating someone I like, never go to a singles friendly shuir as if he seems like a good guy, he'll be presented with a better offer, ie. non-convert. Too bad because a shuir should be a great date idea.

So one time after the shuir, I saw an older friend, also a convert, I haven't seen in a while. Normally I don't go downstairs for refreshments because I'm not a crowd person, but wanted to catch up. The space at the refreshment table is very tight and crowded. My friend was ahead and went to find a place to sit down. I'm waiting for my turn for the Diet Coke to be free and this very large unkept imposing man in his 50s blocks me and the cups and soda. In a loud voice, he asks if I'm kohain-eligible. I answer a quick no and try to squeeze around this guy, without a drink. I felt no further explanation is necessary, certainly in front of everyone around the table. I remember thinking in this split second “Too easy!”

It indeed was. As I'm getting past him, then asks in front of everyone “So, you slept around with non-Jews!” Really, I was too shocked to say anything and ran to find my friend at the end of the room. This guy follows and sits down at the table. The man told me, “No problem, I'm not a kohain, I just wanted to make conversation.” The irony that stabs deep with me being kohain ineligible due to conversion is that being the shy nerd girl I am and the age I got Jewishly involved during college, I've never been with anyone, Jew or gentile. Yet FFB girls, some known to be wild are automatically assumed 'kosher' and I'm assumed and treated like I'm the former prostitute. I've hosted Bais Yaakov girls who try to bring random men into my apt and my “guy policy” is one of the first questions some looking to rent my spare room have asked. I guess divorced women through no fault of their own feel the same way at this halacha. At least divorced women have possibility of having their prior marriage annulled and then eligible—I've heard there have been such cases. I'm stuck with the label as "assumed woman of ill-repute." I actually inquired about this both before orthodox conversion in my reading of people's experiences and shortly after when I had a rude comment said to me, I was told by my rav, normal people think no such things towards a convert's virtue and stay away from the few that do. Earlier this year, I had a similar conversation and was told "well you were warned that some Jews wouldn't accept you." I accept that completely some people--that's life, but that the majority of Jews (at least of any reasonable quality) wouldn't consider marrying me due to a false assumption stings.

Anyways, back to the situation, I tell the man I'm not interested, wish him luck and tell him I want to catch up with my friend I haven't seen in months. He continues to sit there trying to interject into the conversation, telling us about how he's divorced, was living in Israel, just random bits to draw attention to him. Apparently he'd met my friend before who was claiming not to know him, knowing what a jerk he was. He knew she was a convert and put two and two together and then asked if I was. It was clear he wasn't going to leave, so my friend and I excuse ourselves. I get up, and he again uses his size and the narrow space in between nearby chairs and tables to block me. He wants to know why I'm not being friendly and wanting to know him. Again I tell him I'm not interested and I need to leave.

I continued to go to Hineni regularly for a little while longer, had a few more encounters with older men, but not as bad as this. I stopped going regularly, (though I go once in a while now no longer coming early and now quickly leaving to avoid people) after I was getting pressured to date an OTD chassidishe man someone knew and wanted me to travel to meet. This was the single introduction I had in the time I was going there. I was told repeatedly how “lucky” I would be if he liked me (what, it doesn't matter if I like him?) and how he “could teach me so much!” What?!? How to go OTD???

Some people just don't get it.....


  1. >" I'm waiting for my turn for the Diet Coke to be free and this very large unkept imposing man in his 50s blocks me and the cups and soda. In a loud voice, he asks if I'm kohain-eligible. I answer a quick no and try to squeeze around this guy, without a drink."

    Who ARE these people????!!!!

    I'm serious, this kind of behavior is shocking. I don't understand how such people continue operating in the frum community. Doesn't anybody ever tell them to..... stuff it?

    FWIW my experiences (being a guy) in Baltimore and DC were far more normal and humane. My impression is that Boston is also relatively normal. There are "out of town" locations that have the benefits of being outside NYC while also having an active frum community (i.e. not the sticks).

    Maybe it's a good time for a short vacation?....

  2. Chaim1 says
    I get it ok. How anyone can be so stupid or desparate to talk to such really dirty old men is beyond me. Is that the way to start a conversation asking personal questions from a woman one has never met. I dont know what these hineini sessions are all about, but they certainly arent about good manners. I would have gone to this R Jungreis and told her instead of speaking about torah or whatever she should speak about derech erets which ought to come first. You do surprise me

  3. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

    Aiiiiyeeee! Terrible, horrible, awful! I hope you all meet the man of your dreams without ado and under pleasant circumstances.

  4. Michal, as i said once about converts, you are a brave, brave soul. People can be such F*ckt*rds.
    Seriously, what was this dude's damage? This makes me dislike the ill mannered frum folks more. I know several well mannered frum folk. But they are few and far between. I wish i had a good piece of staircase wit for you.

  5. ahm....why would anyone as a convert have to acknowledge it publically they're not cohen eligible since that means they have to say they're converts? what if you don't want to say you're a convert but you don't want him to think you're ineligible for another reasons? next time they ask just tell them instead you lack interest in marrying a cohen. don't give it out so easily that you're a convert. don't let them take advantage. so don't tell them. and if they ask you if you're cohen eligible say instead why do you ask, you think i'm a prostitute/woman of ill repute? or tell him, i for sure am not interested in you, so therefore only b/c you ask a question that doesn't mean i'm obligated to answer. as directly as this sounds, you have to basically cut their argument from the beginning not let them go further.

  6. also, just wanted to say i disagree with this halacha of forbidding a convert to marry a cohen b/c a convert would not be on the same spiritual level as a cohen....this is nonsense.

  7. ps: or before you even answer go like "don't worry if i'm eligible or not in marrying a cohen, b/c either way, i definitely would not marry a cohen like you!" (that does it since he later said he was not a cohen....)

  8. Yeah, see these sound similar to my kinda answers. I have no problem giving a man a piece of my mind.

  9. I'm the guest poster. I've complained about such questions/remarks before. It's been brought up at shabbat meals and by wannabe matchmakers in loud voice in front of people. Not as often as the 'why did you convert' questions but this has happened before. I get told that this is such an important issue that although it would better to asked privately, I shouldn't feel embarrassed in the least. After all, there are a number reasons why a woman would be kosher for a kohain that aren't eyebrow raising. Although I agree this is crucial for a kohain (and only one) to know, it doesn't give a license for every nosey person to ask "just in case" they come across one and to ask in earshot of other people.

    And in regards to men that I'm not interested in being inappropriate such as this man, I've been told over and over to 'give him a chance' and how I've 'misunderstood' which just makes matters worse. Or that *I* should be 'judging favorably,' the man could have been asking for his son, neighbor's friend's cousin or such.

  10. Yep, women are supposed to be "good" and "nice" while men can be jackasses. I would have told him, "why? do you know a kohain who is AGE APPROPRIATE for me?"

    They pulled that crap on me, too. It's why I don't talk to most Jews anymore. I'm sick of them trying to bully me into dating men I'd not give the time of day to.

    You think I'm kidding. Once a guy came to me asking the time and I wasn't interested. I took my watch off and put it in my pocket. He asked what that was about. I said, "you know that old expression, 'she wouldn't give me the time of day'? Well, I am that girl not giving you the time of day."

  11. chaim1 says
    I will also say that most BT cohens and many MO ones are not really cohanim at all. They are called 'chollol' and are allowed to marry a divorcee or giyoret or a real zona.
    Something you never thought of.
    So you should be answering him 'are you sure youre a kohen and not a chollol'. He most likely wont know what youre talking about.

  12. I know what a hollol is. It's essentially a defunct kohain because someone married out/to gyoress.

    Anyway, the point is that she didn't want the dirty old man who was nasty to her and tried to embarass her. I don't go to these shiurim anymore. They are the biggest waste of time. You don't learn anything. You just hear the same old message, "now girls, be good.... be nice" then there's refreshments where dirty old men harass you and you finally get home at 11:30 at night because these stupid things never start before 7 or 8 and they usually don't start on time either so they don't end on time.

    My time is very valuable these days.

  13. I'm surprised that the mingling of both genders actually happens at the shiurim you attend.