Disaster Out of Town

This was originally written for publication in the TC South newspaper, but like everything I write, wasn’t quite sensitive enough for the audience. I present it here in all its harsh glory, wishing myself better luck next time.

When I first heard about Touro College South I worried. It seemed to me that if the college succeeded, it would be a disaster. Bringing kosher college to the wilds of “out of town” could only cripple the chances of its students. Because then they can’t come to New York anymore. And deep down—though they all protest otherwise—they all want to be in New York City. Because they have to be. Here’s the view from Brooklyn:

When an out-of-town girl leaves to seminary it is a huge event. Ostensibly, she is leaving for ten months of study in the Holy Land, but in reality, this is the last time she steps across her parents’ threshold as their child; after this, she is an adult, seeking her own way through life, far, far from home. For when she returns, she will aspire to higher education, and because she will want it in a religious environment (if she doesn’t yet, she will soon), she will tread the path many have tread before – heading to the big city to seek her fortune via wisdom acquired in either Touro or Stern.

And so, her pre-seminary goodbye is an emotional one. Her parents are tearful, because their little baby is all grown up (and because how will they ever get the rest of the family to take over her chores), while her younger siblings grimly look forward to the contest over who will claim her newly vacated room and what contents they think she won’t notice are missing when she returns—oh so briefly—in the summer.

After a year or two of spiritual study, our Wandering Jewess’s path leads where all roads lead for the young and ambitious – to New York City, capital of the world. There, she will cram herself into an attic or a basement or an apartment with too many other young ladies just like her, earn her rent and sustenance money by day working as an assistant teacher or secretary, and study by night to be a variety of therapist or social worker, and dream of the day when she will leave New York for more friendly environs.

If, like myself, you have the fortune of having been born and bred in Gotham, you have ample opportunity to host these young ladies for Shobbos, and hear about their lifestyle that so resembles that of a Mexican worker.

Why do they do it? One can’t help but ask. “For the environment,” they reply simply. They leave out so much. Because it can’t be just for a kosher undergraduate degree.

When they finish their bachelor degrees, they go on to get graduate degrees from Hunter, NYU, Columbia, Downstate… all non-Jewish NYC universities. Why don’t they go home to Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia to finish their even-higher education? There must be another reason they’re here—a reason they won’t confess to, but is easily discovered by observing the out-of-town single in her non-native habitat.

There is one thing this young lady will do aside from work, study, eat, and sleep. There is only one other subject that occupies her thoughts and permeates her conversation. And it happens to be related to the largest advantage the New York Jewish community has over any other.

Dating. NYC is within driving distance of almost every major yeshiva and religious study program in the United States, and a whole lot of minor ones. When Single Men decide to settle down, they turn their eyes toward the nearest (and largest) concentration of religious single women in North America. And every eligible bachelorette wants to be there among the masses, jumping up and down shouting “Pick me!” when these young men scan the crowd, seeking their future bride.

That’s really why they come to New York. Touro is just an excuse. But with a Touro now in Miami, that pretext—at least for Miami residents—has been eliminated. No longer do they have a reason for living in high densities in New York apartments. No longer have they a reason for living on the same prairie as large herds of Single Men. How will they get married?

Do they?

How?

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18 thoughts on “Disaster Out of Town

  1. When Single Men decide to settle down, they turn their eyes toward the nearest (and largest) concentration …
    This refers to NY boys only – boys from out of town are more open to girls from out of town. And NY boys want girls who are not only in town, but from in-town. NY boys and/or their mothers can’t deal with a wedding out of town (okay, I promise if the shidduch goes, we’ll make the wedding in NY) or leaving town for yom tovim.

  2. Yep, G. Someone’s taste doesn’t concur with your own. 😛

    Loads of those OOT guys are in the neighborhood too. I didn’t say they were within walking distance of the guys – just driving distance. As for what in-town boys do and don’t want… now that’s a generalization.

  3. Sorry, but the statistics don’t bear out your assumptions. If we follow you to your logical conclusions then all oot girls are marrying New Yorkers–not happening. If a large number of out of towners do find themselves in NY, both males and females, I would posit it’s for the purpose of meeting each other in a convenient venue rather than crisscrossing the country for dating. [Note: quite a number of Touro/YU/Stern marriages being made, which would support this contention.] Checked with 9 past oot students, males, who are now married; 8 of the wives are from oot, from cities other than where their husbands come from. The one who isn’t wanted out of NY and the couple will be moving to Seattle in June.

    Touro has had 2 divisions in California for some time. No data available as to if that slowed the California winter migration to NY.

    Interesting note from the Boomer Generation. Even where oot couples or mixed oot and NY couples have been living in NY, more than half have already purchased retirement places oot. They and their discretionary spending dollars won’t stay here if they can help it. Huge numbers go home to Israel. Others head to the sunshine states, particularly ones without state/city taxes. You can take the boys/girls out of town to NY but you can’t take the out of town out of the boys/girls.

  4. How do you explain the fact that my out-of-town friends (who did NOT go to school in NY after seminary) get more shidduchim than I do, and an approximately equal percentage of my out-of-town and in-town friends are married?

    While it’s true that people come to NY with the idea that they will get dates more easily, the facts don’t uphold that theory. Dating might be easier in NY but it isn’t more effective.

  5. Here’s the view from Brooklyn: – meaning, I can only describe what I see in Brooklyn, and not what happens in LA. However, what I’m describing is pretty clearly what I see.

    I have plenty of OOT friends from places like Chicago, Silver Springs, Atlanta, etc. And many married guys from OOT, from places like Boston, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. But those guys were not in Boston, Pittsburgh, and Detroit when they were dating these girls. They were in Lakewood, Monsey, and Queens. And after marriage, most of them are still in Lakewood, Monsey, and Queens.

    I am not offering statistics. Only an ironic description of the logical conclusion of a common perception that drives many singles to NYC. Of course, plenty also wind up in Baltimore, probably the second biggest hangout for people waiting to get married. But there’s no Touro there, so they don’t even bother to pretend.

  6. OOO, bad4, you made a really ITish mistake (actually, one that people from anyplace else in the world make, for that matter) — Silver SPRING is not plural.

  7. Baltimore has Maalot for girls, which is basically the same idea as Touro. And Ner Yisrael guys go to regular colleges that coordinate with the yeshiva.

  8. Pingback: A Conspiracy Theory « Bad for Shidduchim

  9. on the picky macheteinesta list out of town is the worst. except montreal which somehow raised itself into the sect of maybe they have money so its worth it lol

  10. Pingback: Repost: Touro Ruins Florida Girls’ Shidduch Opportunities | Bad for Shidduchim

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