With all of its obstacles, complexities and quirks, the search for a soul mate is one of the most exhausting and frustrating processes in modern Jewish society. In celebration of this past month’s Tu B’Av holiday, JInsider commissioned an anthropological study on the mating habits of North American Jews. We wanted to better understand the miracle of finding bashert (romantic destiny) from the text and in-field research. We assigned an undercover intern to research and scientifically document patterns of initial communication implemented in the NYC Jewish dating process. She also researched biblical sources for insights.
“And [if] she will say to me, ‘You too may drink, and I will also draw water for your camels,’ she is the woman whom the Lord has designated for my master’s son.” (Genesis 24:44)
From the moment Rebecca poured water for Eliezer’s camels, Jewish culture has taken matchmaking and expanded it into a hobby, an occupation and even a religious obligation. Finding someone a shidduch is considered the highest kindness one could do for another person, but even our ancient rabbinic literature tells us it’s no easy task. The Talmud famously says matchmaking is as challenging to God as the splitting of the Red Sea itself.
Field Research Report
Field Research Setting: Riverside Park, 8 p.m. Bangitout.com’s annual Tu B’Av party, where over 800 “fun-loving heebs” came out for an evening of cocktails, shmoozing and bashert-hunting. Party rules required guests to come dressed in traditional Tu B’Av white, each receiving a label with a number on it. And, not unlike customers in a furniture store, guests were each given match cards, on which they were to write any numbers down that interested them. Party organizers then promised to connect those with mutual interests within the following week.
Field Researcher: Jinsider intern. Russian-speaking, Modern Orthodox, journalism and honors student at Stern College for Women. Any matchmaking suggestions for this great future family member will be reviewed. Adoring parents or grandparents can forward photo and why he is a good boychick to firstname.lastname@example.org If there is a shidduch, JInsider will provide air travel
for honeymoon trip to Israel.
Research Findings, documenting patterns of initial communication:
Overall Advice in Relationships
“Don't look for the passionate love that Hollywood has so drilled into us to find. It's not real, those instant fireworks; if there's fireworks and passion from the first moment, 99 chances out of 100 it's not going to last. Find someone who interests you, who cares about you and whom you care about, someone with similar goals and life dreams.”—Single Male (SM), Brooklyn
“The best is when a guy walks up to you and says simply, ‘Hi, my name is So-and-so, I’m from This-Place. What’s your name?’ It’s nice and not overbearing. Girls want to see that a guy is direct, interested and honest.”
— Single Female (SF), Upper West Side
“The best lines that help start a conversation are those that “grab a girl’s imagination”, while still reflecting one’s own personality.”
— Single Male (SM), Brooklyn
So. What’s your sign?
Can you cook as well as my Russian mother?
If I could rearrange the alphabet, I would put U and I together.
Girls to guys: So, you went to the Mir [Yeshiva]?
How could such a beautiful girl be unmarried?
What movie did I see you in?
And, of course, the winner: Can I interview you for an article I’m writing?
Well, there’s no arguing with the Sages. When they say that matchmaking is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea, they mean it. So perhaps when scientists discover the exact science of the biblical Sea Crossing, we’ll get a hint of reason in the world of bashert-finding. But until then, finding a soul mate is indeed nothing short of an unexplainable, modern-day miracle
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