I was at another gathering of intelligent Jews committed to Jewish life, identity and spirituality, all of them networking and talking about the issues that brought us together, when I heard a familiar sentence. “I’d lived on the Upper West Side for nearly 20 years before I found the perfect one.”
I recently came back from a West Coast tour of sorts, which included participation in an L.A.-based conference for Jewish leaders in their 20s and 30s. The Professional Leaders Project (PLP) called participants “talent,” in perhaps an intentional evocation of “the industry.” But our talents were celebrated and cultivated in a very un-Hollywood-like way: through intensive peer leadership, networking and professional mentoring. No casting couch required.
Good food, candlelight, wine and conversation after a long week is the quintessential (hoped-for) weekend plan, whether it’s for a night out, or — as it is for many Jews — for a Friday-night dinner. But for married couples that host weekly Shabbat dinners, each Friday night also represents an opportunity to help singles who might otherwise go unfed physically, spiritually or romantically.
Half a world away from her home, a bronchitis-stricken American writer stumbles into her cousins’ apartment in Jerusalem to recuperate in the embrace of her Israeli family. Technically a guest, she feels more like a patient, but in this moment, certainly not a singles columnist. She sits in the kitchen, drinking tea, which is pretty much all her beleaguered throat can handle right now. And as the veil of Hebrew pulls back and her ear adjusts to the language, she slowly becomes aware of some oddly familiar phrases.