“When are you getting married?”
This single-phase is the bane of my existence. How about “when I find the one”? But where? While matchmakers have been made infamous by “Fiddler on the Roof” and still exist, Jewish singles can play a role in finding their “beshert” (Yiddish term for destiny) by beginning their search very close to home: synagogue.
Unlike other houses of worship, synagogue, also known as temple or “shul” (Yiddish term for “school”), actually requires a membership. Dues are collected yearly with a fee charged for each member of the household. As a result, many Jews don’t actually “belong” to a temple, making it somewhat more difficult for Jewish singles. Furthermore, as Jewish singles begin their own lives and move away from home to large cities, they find themselves displaced and without a sense of belonging with no temple to call their own-a fact which, like a pimple on prom, rears it’s ugly head in the fall.
Annual Jewish Singles Event
The annual Jewish singles event as sanctioned by Judaism, otherwise known as the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), is the one time of year Jews attend temple en masse. Some Jews even call themselves “High Holiday Jews”-that’s the only time they practice the religion. Think the Oscars! It’s once a year, everyone’s watching, and yes, you are being critiqued! Another year has past and all those who are still available are on display…call it “leftovers” or “slim pickings” depending on your age group! If one belongs to shul and attends services with one’s family, an introduction could be made to other families’ members or friends. My aunt often begged me to go to the temple with her on the High Holidays since there was a “nice boy” who sat in front of them every year. I never went!
Jewish Organizations with Singles
For those singles who are away from their families/live in cities, numerous temples open their doors and make tickets (yes, I said tickets!) available. Most singles opt to attend what I consider “ad hoc” services-services created by Jewish organizations with singles in mind, the number increasing yearly, the price somewhat more affordable than a ticket for the temple. Information can be found in newspapers and on the internet with some services for specific age groups. Held anywhere-from hotels to office conference rooms to yes, churches-some groups offer a pre/post-holiday meal which allows for mingling. Local groups like Manhattan Jewish Experience and nationally Aish and Chabad can always be depended on. Year after year, my mother repeatedly implored me to search for a dance to go to, held by a shul or group at the end of each holiday-cause that’s what they did when she was young. Well, Ma, I’m still looking!
While you have to belong to a shul/buy tickets for High Holiday services, Shabbat services (Friday night/Saturday morning) are free. Synagogues also sponsor Friday night services/dinners for singles. Both in New York and Los Angeles, an event targeted at singles and young Jews known as”Friday Night Live” is held one Friday evening monthly. During the service, an invited speaker, not necessarily Jewish, presents a topic about something interesting/relevant to the community-again, doesn’t have to be Jewish in nature. I once attended a Friday Night Live where the speaker was a writer/producer and spoke about his show and adventures in the entertainment industry. A kiddush (a blessing which is said over bread and wine, but in this case, refers to refreshments) is held after the service which allows singles to mingle-sometimes, depending on the level of observance, music is played while Israeli dance is taught.
Just in case you’re wondering, in all my time as a single Jewish woman, I’ve never met anyone at temple-sure I’ve looked and been looked at, but nothing to speak of. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen-I know a number of couples who met in the temple. My mother always said, “You’ve gotta be in it to win it.”