Congrats to NEF #21

Okay, I made that number up. I don’t know what number she is. But she deserves a special public congratulations, because according to her high school teacher, she wasn’t ever supposed to get engaged.

You know how bais yaakov teachers roll. It’s all “Do what I say or you’ll never get married!” Heck, I had a Tefillah teacher in 12th grade who told us she got a shidduch call about a girl who didn’t pay attention in Tefillah class and, well, “I just couldn’t think of anything nice to say about her.”

I can’t think of anything nice to say about that teacher.

So, moving right along. NEF #21 really wanted to go to Michlala in Israel to study for a year. But her teacher told her that if she didn’t go to a bais yaakov seminary, nobody would ever want to date her.

NEF thought about that a bit. She realized that, in fact, people who study in Michlala do not comprise the entirety of the “shidduch crisis” pool. Moreover, if she went to a bais yaakov seminary, she’d probably wind up dating the wrong kind of people. The type who think like her teacher, perhaps. So she went to Michlala, learned a lot, had a great year, and now, guess what? She’s engaged!

I Think I’ve Seen You Before

I’m not much of a dating website person. As I’ve noted in the past, whatever it takes to create a compelling profile, I ain’t got it. The few guys I’ve messaged never replied, and the guys who messaged me were less than compelling. I have actually had a conversation that went like this (note: he initiated):

Me: So what do you do?

Him: Oh, this and that.

Me: Like what? Just give me an example.

Him: Well, I’m flying to Colorado on business this week.

Me: Cool. What for?

Him: Oh, this and that.

Me: So you deal weed?

Him: What? What are you saying? Why would you think that? Can’t a guy fly to Colorado without being accused of dealing marijuana? What kind of girl are you?

Me: The kind that likes non-evasive answers.

My singles event experience (only one!) wasn’t much better. Not that there was anything wrong with the event. I just tend to get quieter in inverse proportion to the number of strangers in the room, and there were about two hundred of those. There’s also a distinct bias at these events against people who aren’t preschool teachers and social workers, and that doesn’t help my case. But most of all, there seems to be a bias in who shows up.

There are three types of people in the world: those that go to singles events, those that have gone to one or two and will never go again, and those that don’t go to singles events.

Every event is a mix of groups one and two, and as a result, you tend to see the same people over and over again. In some ways, this is nice: it’s like meeting old friends. Also, it narrows down the field you have to play. (It also increases the competition, as you all avoid eye contact and rush to corner the new blood.) At the same time, it narrows your world. “Is this it?” you wonder. “Are these 30 men all I have to choose from?” It gets depressing.

Whenever a new venue opens, everyone who goes to singles events perks up. “Hey, it’s a new event by a new organization!” they think. “Maybe there will be new people!” And they all rush off to sign up. And there always are new people. But there are always the old people too. “Seriously,” you think. “That socially awkward guy must go to every event. He doesn’t have a chance. He should just give up.” Then you realize that someone might be thinking something similar about you.

Dating websites, I hear, have the same dynamic. “You’ve got mostly the same people on Frumster and JDate,” a friend explained. “Like, 40% overlap. And then I joined ZivugZone thinking it would be new people, and it mostly wasn’t. They just had different usernames.”

Maybe it’s time for us to just admit it: there really just aren’t a whole lot of frum Jewish singles in the world. You’ve seen the selection. Now make a choice. You can settle for someone in marriage, or you can settle for being single. Or you can keep marching the singles circuit forever.

It’s Not Just Me

I bought a friend a copy of Lori Gottlieb’s book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. Not because I believe in settling, but because I knew that she wanted to. She kept going out with all these guys who were perfect except… for one fatal flaw. And she’d wonder if she should stop caring about these things because she’s twenty-seven and is three children behind her classmates, and all she wants is to be married.

So yes, she’s definitely the target audience. I bought her the book.

“Guess what,” Gottlieb says. “There is no perfect man. Kind of how you’re not a perfect woman, so ditch that mile-long shopping list of pointless minutiae and find someone good enough. Then deal with it. Because at least you’ll be married.”

Well, Friend loved it. She kept reading passages aloud about how picky women are, their ridiculous demands, and how few things are really important in a marriage.

“You should read this when I’m done!” she enthused.

“Not a chance,” I replied. “You know I don’t want to settle.” You see, the premise of Lori’s book is that most of all, every woman wants to get married. It’s only a false sense of entitlement that prevents us from picking out the first non-psychotic y-x chromosome pair that strolls past.

And there are certainly many women, like Friend, who feel this way. Their goal is to Get Married. They just need to find someone suitable to do it with. Then they can relax into marital bliss and babies with an easy sigh, knowing they have secured the most important accessory of the rest of the their life.

There are even married people who agree with this. “I’m so glad I married young,” they smile blissfully. “I could not have handled being single this long.”

I usually gape at them in astonishment. Is this the well-adjusted, multi-interested, adventurous person I knew in high school who never had a bored moment in her life? Saying she couldn’t have handled being single? Then I decide that it must be like me saying I couldn’t have handled being married that young. We’re all happy with what life has handed us because we have no idea what the alternative is really like. That’s not a bad thing.

Still, it bugs me.

Because I’ve never felt that way.

I can see the appeal of a committed relationship and the joys of offspring (at least between years 1 and 12), but the tug of the institution of marriage itself has never been a desperate need that overrides my desire for independence or self-sufficiency. I’ve always felt rather alone in this way.

But the nice thing about Gottlieb’s book is the overwhelming negative reaction it’s gotten from lots of women. Some just don’t like being told that they’re picky. But some don’t like the idea of settling. Like me, they do not fear a future in which kindly relatives give them cats for their birthdays. At least, they don’t fear it more than they fear being institutionalize with someone they discover they have trouble respecting.

Now, I happen to agree with Gottlieb that disrespecting someone because they haven’t read Kafka or “aren’t romantic enough” is kind of dumb. But I would also like to point out that there are many happy marriages based on equally dumb points of attraction. A teacher in seminary bragged to us about a match she made between a rich, trophy-wife hunting man and a beautiful, gold-digging woman. “Maybe it seems shallow,” she laughed at her horrified, idealistic, not-yet-dating class. “But it works for them. So what does it matter?”

To which I say, exactly. And if you’d rather stay single than spend the rest of your life with someone who is ugly, or poor, unromantic, or disinterested in existential literature, well, that’s a deeply personal thing, and certainly your priority to make.

Just make sure that you are okay with that. Because otherwise you should probably settle.

Not me, though. I don’t believe in settling.

More Classmate Statistics

A while ago I posted a breakdown of my high school class’s engagement record, complete with histogram. (Go on, click through. You know you want to see it again.)

In response, a reader sent me the statistics from her class. Talk about depressing. I don’t know how she gets out of bed in the morning (if there’s no date to prepare for).

Oh wait, she probably has school or a job or some other fulfilling aspect of her life. I forget that can exist.

Anyway, here are her numbers:

Graduation year – 2008

Stats taken  – 2013

Number in class – 76

Number taken – 53

Percent married – 70%

Not bad. The stats for my class were 74% gone by year five. I wonder if this is a standard for the Ultra-Orthodox community?

Does anyone else have statistics to contribute.

Marry Younger, My Son, Marry Younger

This isn’t new, but I was hoping I’d feel capable of providing a comment other than “oy” when I posted it. After sitting on it for a few weeks, I’m just going to go with “oy.” (It’s such a perfect, general purpose word of despair.)

A kol korei signed by a whole bunch of big names calls for boys to marry by the age of 22.5 (yes, highly specific it is). Boys being the right word, given their age. The actual words in the text are “bochurim” and “girls.” (In the Hebrew it’s “bochurim” and “banot.” Why did I title this post “my son”? It should be “my bochur.” Am I being an angry feminist for thinking that the females should be given the honor of being referred to as “bachurot” or something equivalent?)

I suppose, from some perspectives, it makes little difference whether you’re in yeshiva at 23 or in kollel. Certainly, there are plenty of people who marry at 22 and manage pretty well. It might even get some young men ahead of things; instead of discovering they have three starving children and need a job at 30, they can do it at 25. And, most obviously, looking for a wife at the age of 20 doesn’t mean you’ll find one. Honestly, I don’t know why this bothers me at all.

…Oh wait. Could it be maybe that this is a rather crazy controlling reaction to an alleged shidduch crisis? (I mean, must we control our children down to the 0.5 year they marry? Really?)

 

HT to the Overland Parker

Dear Sir: This May Be Why You’re Not Married Yet

It’s very convenient, not to mention traditional, to let your parents take care of your shidduch research for you. However, before you do, you should make sure you’re on the same page as them about what you’re looking for.

I’m copy-pasting this from an email  I got from a friend we’ll call Sfati. Here’s a quick introduction:

A couple of months ago her mother asked Sfati if she knew any single girls who would work for the son of a sister of a friend (exhale) who was working on a Ph.D in medieval Jewish history at NYU, with the goal of becoming a professor. Sfati says, “Gee whiz! I have a friend who just started a PhD in renaissance Jewish history at Columbia. I think she wants to be a professor too! They should have something to talk about.”

“Send her info!” Sfati’s mother encouraged.

So Sfati emails her friend, who responds with a standard shidduch profile containing no content of interest: some basics about her family and schooling, but nothing about who she is and what she’s looking for. Sfati wrote back, asking her friend to compose a more descriptive paragraph, which she then appended to the document and forwarded to her mother, who forwarded it to the mother of the boy.

“She’s a real Hungarian mother,” Sfati’s mother warned her. “Always perfectly put together, you know?”

“That bodes ill,” Sfati frowned. “I mean, my friend isn’t a shlump, but she’s not a dressed-up doll either.”

A couple of weeks later, Sfati received a phone call from this Hungarian Mom. The transcripts go like such:

Mother: So is she funny? Her resume was a little funny.
Me: (Oh, no. So much for my great idea.) No–her resume was a standard resume and I asked her for more information–I put that on there.
Mother: But she wrote it, right?
Me: Yes.
Mother: Cause my son would think it’s a little funny. [Note her son does not appear to have read it.] Is she funny?
Me: No, she’s not funny. I mean, she is very intelligent. She’s doing her PhD in History, which is not something most Bais Yaakov girls from Boro Park do, so she’s obviously very intelligent, but no, she’s not funny.
Mother: Ok. Is she Litvish? Because I get the impression from her resume that her family is Litvish, and that’s not going to work. We’re Chassidish. I mean, my son is not going to wear a shtreimel or anything, but he’s going to wear a bekeshe or something.
Me: (don’t think there will be much of a difference between your families no matter what what you wear) I actually don’t know. I never saw her father or brothers.
Mother: Ok. Sometimes people who are very smart, they kind of don’t have friends. I mean, my son is very smart, but he–did she fit in, did she have friends?
Me: Yes, definitely. I was part of her chevra (deliberately using a frum word to be establish myself as part of her in-group, as much as I can be while living in Overland Park, KS). She had a lot of friends.
Mother: Does she have good middos?
Me: Yes. She is very smart, so she understands people, and can be sensitive to their feelings.
Mother: Ok. How does she look?
Me: She has dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes, big eyes…
Mother: Is she thin or is she chubby?
Me: (she is chubby but somehow I don’t think this is a good thing to say) She’s not thin but she’s not chubby either.
Mother: Is she big?
Me: Well, she’s not big. I don’t know exactly how tall she is–
Mother: She’s 5’3, it says so on her resume.
Me: Ok. Well, she’s not big–
Mother: So she’s full.
Me: Yes, she’s full.
Mother: (with a tone of finality) Well, that won’t work.  My son, he never asks if the girl is beautiful or what she looks like, but he needs someone who is skinny. He’s very skinny, my son.
Me: Oh. Well–do you want to know more about her, just in case?
Mother: What I would really love to do is see a picture of her.
Me: (Hoping this won’t be another strike) Well, she’s on Facebook.
Mother: Oh, really? (thankfully, doesn’t seem to be bothered) Ok, under her name?
Me: Yes. Do you have any more questions?
Mother: Does she have a stable family?
Me: Well, I never really went over to her house. I met her mother once and she seemed very nice, and she herself is very emotionally stable.
Mother: Ok. Well, thank you. I’ll look at her picture on Facebook. Thank you.
Me: Thank you, bye.

 

Does Age Matter?

I happen to agree with the message of the video. People who get hung up on slight differences in age are, quite frankly (imho) stupid. (Sorry, friend who won’t date someone even a few months younger.) But then again, is it different than getting hung up on hair color or something like that? Dunno.

Anyway, the fact that it needs saying is kind of embarassing.

Oh, and the rest of it. (Is it assur for Orthodox Jewish men to powder their noses for the camera?)

Thursday Link Early: Marry Young, My Son, Marry Young

Not going to have a post ready by Monday, so here’s this to keep you busy:

Living OOT and not getting too many Jewish publications, you miss some of the more entertaining  notions people come up with. So I was unaware that men going to Israel at 21 is depriving poor spinster girls sitting back in the USA trying to get married. (What is wrong with marrying a 23-year-old boy, I’m not sure yet. Does anyone have an article detailing this particular solution to the “crisis”?)

At any rate, someone is calling them on it.  Controversy ensues. Arm waving, yelling, someone throws a tallis bag… Whattaya think?

In case the link becomes defunct, here’s a page with the full text of the letter (but none of the comments).

Back of the Class

I am very lucky: my high school class has an excellent archivist. So when there was a sudden and unexpected flurry of engagements this year, I was able to request the data.

Here’s what I wanted to know: how many of us are still single?

There were 66 students in my graduating high school class. Of those, 59 are married or engaged. For those who don’t care to reach for their calculator, that’s 89%. Which is to say, 10.6% are still single.

Well, we all know the 10% statistic. So, as a member of the 10% of my high school class, I think I can officially give up.

Yes, I know, it’s a statistic, not a rule. Of course it’s not a rule! I have a friend who is the last in her class still single. Although, granted, at a class size of 15, that may not be a significant variance from 10%. I don’t know – I haven’t got the time to figure it out.

It should probably be disheartening to think that I’m now a statistic. But the truth is, everyone’s a statistic. If you’re not in the 10% single then you’re in the 90% married. Honestly, what’s the difference? We can all be distilled into numbers one way or another.

So I kept adding columns to my spreadsheet. This time I was curious about rate of marriage. Is it sort of bell-shaped, or is there a tail? That’s really what set off my quest in the first place.

And so, I present to you, a case study of a Bais Yaakov High School, marriage rate, sample size 66.
Marriage Histogram

 

As you can see, there’s a slow start, as most of the sample was in Israel, and had a delayed start entering the marriage pool. But those who stayed in New York City lost no time at all in engaging themselves to the local male populace.

Once the Israel-seminarians returned, they too threw themselves into the marriage market, marrying an astonishing 18 of themselves off in the first year alone! This rapid rate of pairing slowed only marginally for the next two years, before dropping precipitously.  This may be due to the fact that a grand total of 71% of them were now paired off and busily reproducing themselves. The remaining 29% were slower and more circumspect. However, eventually another 20% of them also found a mate. These pairings were slower, more gradual, and illustrate undramatically on the histogram above.

You may be wondering: yes, there is a rapid marriage rate. But what about the divorce rate?

Well, I reassure you, the class currently stands at zero divorces, which is a rate of 0%.

Thursday Link: Soulmate Math

Enpey sent me today’s link ages ago.  It’s a rather bizarre xkcd post about soulmates. It takes a few leaps of logic that don’t strike me as very logical. All in the name of proving that the whole soulmate idea is kinda ridiculous.  Too bad the agenda is too obvious to permit the post to be credible.

I didn’t post it because I wanted to do the math for frum Jews. Calculate how many Jews there are in the world. Where they live. How likely you are to meet them. How many you’d have to meet to find your soulmate.

But somehow, more interesting things kept getting in the way – like trying a new carrot ginger soup recipe, or attending a kayaking club meeting.

But a quick google right now brings up an estimate of 1.6-1.8 million Orthodox Jews worldwide. Maybe 500,000 of those are chasidim. Probably an equal number are modern orthodox, yeshivish, heimish, Mizrachi, or some other group you’d be able to share a life with in a million years. So take off 1 million.

There are about 550k in Israel and 120k in the rest of the world outside the USA. Let’s assume that most of those are in countries that don’t speak your language and who you’d be highly unlikely to communicate with. Nix another 600,ooo.

Let’s say about a third of the population is too young for you and a third too old for you. Divide by three.  That leaves 133,333 people that you’d have to date to find your soulmate.

If you have 15 years or so for dating (on the assumption that when you hit 35, if you don’t add “froze my eggs” to your profile, you won’t get any more dates), that would be 8,889 guys per year.  If you freeze your eggs or find open-minded guys, that’s 5,333 guys per year.

Wow. I am so behind.

Daydream

“You know that awkward feeling you get when a woman is going on about the shidduch travails of her 21-year-old daughter, and you realize that you probably shouldn’t mention that you’re 25?”

Thus questioned a friend, caught in  a waiting room with a distressed mother.

“Yes,” I agreed. And immediately my mind drifted into snarky mode, and I started imagining what I might say in that situation, if I had been there, and if I wasn’t a sweet, mild-mannered aidel maidel.

I would lean forward, nodding gravely. I would agree that it’s very difficult for a girl to get a date. “And it only gets worse,” I’d assure her. “When I was 22, they started setting me up with all rejects–the guys who’d already been rejected by every girl in the tri-state area, and for good reason. It’s a boy’s world and a young girl’s world. Unless an older girl has connections, she can’t get a date with anyone less than neurotic.”

Or maybe I could take a more comforting tack. “It’s not so bad,” I could tell her. “I’m friends with many normal, beautiful, successful, well-adjusted women who are–” [lower my voice] “Thirty or even older who have great lives, even without husbands. They live together in crowded apartments and talk about dating at least once a day, but I don’t think too many of them cry themselves to sleep at night. Not too many. And they have such great careers. They go on exciting vacations. They bike and run for tzedakah organizations to get out their frustration. Sometimes, I think my married friends are secretly jealous. Who wants to be pregnant anyway? It looks so uncomfortable.”

Or I could be holy: “Maybe it’s just not meant to be. Not everyone has the same tafkid in life, you know. Maybe Hashem is saving her for something grander than marriage.”

Or I could…

My mind wanders, imagining the most obnoxious ways to comfort a woman who thinks single and 21 is a tragedy. But of course I could never say it. After all, she really believes it.

So, what do you tell someone who thinks her daughter is suffering at 21? What can you tell someone to convince them that life is not over if you’re still single at 23?

 

 

Classifieds in New-Shidduchville

My Shidduchville correspondent got married a while ago and went to where all Shidduchville graduates go. Recently, she spied a classified in a local circular.

Wanted – Looking For a Shidduch for my amazing friend.  no space to describe her. Do you know of a great guy around 30, a ben torah,  who wants to live in israel? lets talk.

Well, there’s details for you. Although, truly, this seems to be how very many dates are set up. “Amazing Friend, meet Thirty-Year-Old Ben Torah. Talk about how you both want to live in Israel.”

Then again, I shouldn’t complain. There are shadchanim that require you to fill out multi-page questionnaires that include everything from where your parents grew up (Relevance, any?) to what school you want to send your children too (Because that will never change).

Is there a happy medium somewhere? I think so. But don’t ask me for details. I’m currently writing a mini-essay on The Role of My Rabbi in My Life for a shadchan.

“I Just Wish I Was Dating”

The bais Yaakov high-school graduate is suddenly handed a dizzying range of control over her life: what to wear Monday through Friday, how late to stay out at night, what ice cream to have for supper, what subjects to study in college.

Giddy on independence and control, the young single woman sees nothing but promise ahead—a life crafted to her desires, perfect by her own design. She has it planned out, step by step, from volunteer summer job this year to the influential career down the line. She knows exactly what it takes, and she knows that she’ll get there.

Except for one thing. The marriage factor. She’s not really sure where it fits in, though she’d be happy to adjust for it at any point. But neither does she know how to make it happen. And while she’s confident that she’ll achieve it, she really wishes she could see, just a little more clearly, how.

The phrase “career-path” is well-known. The phrase “marriage-path”—not so much. Even though we exercise reduced control over our employment, there are tried and true techniques for job hunting and ladder climbing. We know that if we keep at it, we’ll eventually meet with some success.

Not so with dating. Network at weddings, harass shadchanim—there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get to sit across from a nervous young man and sip coke.

It’s disconcerting. Disheartening. Disgruntling. The most frustrating part of being orthodox, female, and single isn’t being single—it’s not being able to do anything about it. Men, at least, have their lists to occupy them, to maintain that façade of control. But women… well, how else to explain our inexplicable attachment to those SYAS accounts?

But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. With all the control we have over our lives, it’s easy to forget that we don’t make our own fate. Not to start quoting “kochi vi’otzem yadi” at you (or anyone—I’m talking about myself here… oh God I just sounded like a high school teacher twice in one sentence), but sometimes you need to ram into that wall to force you to stop, breath, and refocus. My dating status is out of my control, and so is everything else. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, and stop backseat driving for God.

 

 

 

Open Letter

Dear Girlfriends,

You put up with a lot of criticism when dating. Even if you staunchly stand against nose jobs, it can’t help but get to you: all that disapprobation of how you dress, how you look, how you do your hair and carry yourself. What you say on a first date and what you shouldn’t have said. Some say you’re not modest enough. Some say you’re too modest—you’re not in high school anymore. Some say be yourself; some say don’t lay it on too thick at first. Whatever you do is somehow wrong, and that’s the reason you’re still single.

Well, I think you’re great. I love how your funny texts make me stifle a laugh at work. I love how those thought-provoking articles you send me lead to month-long email conversations. I love how we can spend Shabbos afternoon flopped on the couch discussing everything from the social effects of microfinance to the use of taupe in eyeshadow. I love how you’re up for everything, from winter camping and art museums to sledding and Nerf skirmishes and splashing through puddles in thunderstorms. And I love how you bustle in to look after me (or our other friends) when we need a little tender loving care.

You’re smart, you’re funny, you’re kind and considerate. You’re adventurous, thoughtful, and completely unique.  (Your grandmother agrees with me about this, by the way.) I’m proud to count you as my friends.

Don’t let those other people get to you. They don’t know you well enough, and they’re too shallow themselves to delve beyond your surface. Those guys who complained about your hair, your makeup? Too busy keeping artificial scores to experience real life. The one who ditched you because he worried you weren’t pretty enough to show his friends? He’s the one who should be self-conscious, not you. (Your grandmother agrees with this too.)

All of that is not why you’re single. Ignore it like the static it is. One day, a guy won’t ditch you after a second date. One day, a guy will take the time to get to know you like I know you, and appreciate you like I appreciate you. Then you’ll realize how wrong all those other people were. And you’ll giggle at his texts, send him your favorite articles, and shoot him with your Nerf gun when he comes home at night. (For the eyeshadow debate you can’t replace us.)

Because, though often repeated, it’s also true: you aren’t married because you just haven’t found the right guy yet. Somewhere, out there, is a guy as smart, funny, thoughtful, and deep as you are. And you’ll find him, eventually, because you deserve to.

I know this is true. Even your grandmother says so.

With love, your friend,

Bad4

Oh Why Not: More Nose Job Links

I am posting these links because I think they have started an intriguing conversation on how much pretty is enough? How much is too much? When do we blame the girls for being ugly?  When do we blame the guys for being shallow? When do we blame the system that produced both cases? When do we turn the tables and let girls start demanding rich men or best bochurim? What is an okay cosmetic surgery to have? What isn’t?

Let me know if I’m missing anything good.

I like this one because the guys making the demands are usually not candidates for the leading role in a blockbuster. I have heard guys complaining about a girl’s hairstyle (“I don’t like those pouf thingies,” or “It wasn’t done nicely enough”), clothing (“Tell her not to wear all black”), and makeup (“She wasn’t wearing enough”) when they themselves were bald, wearing the same boring suit to each date, and had impressive equators. Hey, women may not be as visual as men, but we’re not blind.

  • Rabbi Fink says our young people are too insulated to know how to look pretty or to look for anything else in a spouse, and says he nose how to fix things: a little inter-gender mingling. There’s something to be said for this. Shidduch dates are artificial and rarely give anyone a chance to shine. IRL, it’s often surprising who you get along with and to what degree. This would explain otherwise implausible non-Jewish marriages. We never get a shot at it.
  • Rabbi Farber points out that forcing guys to describe their ideal girl beforehand, we force men to create ridiculous checklists that in turn lead to the sort of situation described in the article. I think he’s agreeing with Rabbi Fink.
  • Rabbi Abromowitz of the OU writes a lengthy drosha that I only skimmed because there were too many parenthetic citations, but this caught my eye:

But how would it fly if she were advised that her son could attract far more beautiful girls if he gave up his studies and focused all his efforts on making as much money as possible?

Yay! Permission for girls to be shallow! The pretty ones, anyway. Oh wait, was that not his point?

Rabbi Boteach suggests that instead of making prettier women, we should make men more mature. I think it’s telling that the indignant male respondents tend to be over the age of 35. So, maybe we should let them become old men before agreeing to date them? I was  however, a little disturbed by his description of femininity:

They’re supposed to be influenced by its values and judge a woman’s beauty not just by her hourglass shape but by her incisive opinions, graciousness of character, and spiritual glow. It’s the feminine which draws the masculine, and the feminine is something subtle, noble and refined. It is vulgarized when it becomes entirely about the physical form and rapidly loses its appeal.

Wait, wait. Now I have to be subtle, noble, and refined? I have a better chance with the nose job. How do I get in touch with that Floridian doctor dude?

Thursday Link: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Nose Jobs

I don’t  want to fan flames that don’t need help, but I really liked parts of this response article by Rabbi Boteach (HT to the Kansas Rabbi again):

…perhaps the young women felt relieved that they were actually going to meet creatures with greater depth than some shallow guy. In attending a shidduch event where they would meet Moms, rather than immature men, perhaps they felt relieved that they could actually be themselves. Maybe, just this once, they would be looked on as a man’s equal, someone who is judged by how much she has developed her intelligence and emotions, rather than bust size, cheek bones, and leg length.Alas, it was not to be. Even the women, even the mothers, have had their ideals corrupted. And if these are the values with which orthodox Jewish mothers are today raising their sons, then it’s no surprise why their sons are so shallow, immature, and lost.

Not Something to Sniff At

I suppose I should weigh in on this Jewish Press article that has so many people in a tizzy. (Thanks Mother for alerting me; thanks O and everyone else for producing it.)

The article, in brief, is about a mother of a short-term learner who went to an event for hopeful wives of long-term learners, and was affronted by how little glitz she saw in the room. The aidels were barely wearing makeup, most had not chemically straightened their hair, and none seemed to have a nose job or stomach staple. Really, how did they expect to get married?

She goes on to describe how her life changed once she put her own proboscis under the knife, including her switch from single to married status.

Well, you can imagine the resultant horror among the JP readership. She lopped off her nose? Our European ancestors, in the alte heim, were persecuted for that nose! And she just ditches it because it became inconvenient?  The very idea!

Moreover, that nose she discards so carelessly was once considered quite regal. It was good enough for Caesar. It was good enough for Augustus and Octavius. It was even good enough for Caligula, who had no compunctions about taking a knife—or even a sword—to anything he didn’t like. And he left his nose untouched, thank you very much.

Caligula's Schnozz

Caligula's Sniffer

But it’s the betrayal that bothers me the most. I don’t know how you feel about it, but my nose has been with me since birth, through thick and thin. It’s the first thing to greet me when I gaze into the mirror in the morning. It has always let me know when my mother was baking, so that I could sneak into the kitchen for a sample. It warned me when the water in camp was sulfuric. It keeps tabs on the milk in the fridge, alerts me when the veggies I forgot in the crisper pass over to the other side, and lets me know when someone has made a fresh pot of coffee in the office.

We’ve grown from these experiences together (although not always at matching rates). I consider my nose an old friend. What kind of person is so cavalier about excising such a loyal companion? If this is how easily she lops off a friend who has been at her side (so to speak) for her entire life, imagine how she treats friends of lesser duration when they become inconvenient. I’m so relieved we didn’t go to school together.

Besides, there is more to a nose than its mere physiognomy. How it is treated, presented, and carried, indeed, the very attitude of its bearer toward it, will create the overall effect of the nose much more than its actual topography. A charming, graceful, feminine woman can carry off a beak of less delicacy than herself. The trick is not to walk around with your head hanging in shame, as if your nose is weighing your face down. Carry it with pride! Pride for your heritage, pride for its regal cast, and pride because it’s a part of you—and you’re worth being proud of. However, I will concede, that if a woman is still single at 23 she should probably go to charm school to learn a more demur carriage and delicate bearing.

Cleopatra's Beak

Cleopatra's Beak

Another technique is to remove the focus from your nose entirely by being so lively and flirtatious that nobody can spare the time to focus on your schnozz. There is an ancient Egyptian saying: “She who can flirt with the pros can rock any nose.” It dates back to Cleopatra, who, according to legend, was well endowed in the nasal way. And yet she was a talented seductress, seducing no less than J. Caesar himself, who had no shortage of beautiful women chasing him.

How did she do that? Legend relates that when Caesar came to town, Cleo didn’t wait for an invitation. She had herself rolled into a rug and delivered to Julius as a gift. When he unrolled the rug, out she popped, batting her eyelashes, patting down her hair, and asking to hear in person about how he tamed those Gauls.

I recommend that the self-consciously benosed maidel try something similar for her next date. Instead of shyly sidling nose-first into the dining room where your date is making polite small-talk with your parents, wrap yourself in the living room rug and roll in with a bang! Leap out and announce, “I’m he-ere!” Ask him something flattering and personal. Start the date like this and do you think he’ll even glance at your nose for a second? I sincerely doubt it.

JP's unairbrushed schnozz

JP's unairbrushed schnozz

There is one more non-surgical treatment for an unbeautiful nose. Think of the many famous people who have had unartistic sniffers. Due to rhinophyma, JP Morgan’s nasal organ was a different shape and color every day. Yet he was well beloved by his two wives, four children, and the ever-insolvent US government. And consider one of the more famous big schnozzes of the silver screen: Barbra Streisand. Although her nose was the subject of public criticism, she married twice. From this we can derive a very simple solution to the nosily impaired—one simple step that will have men beating a path to your door: become rich and famous. Because, it is well known, you cannot be both rich and ugly at the same time.

And that is the real way to solve the shidduch crisis.

Beautiful Barb as God Bequeathed Her

Beautiful Barb as God Bequeathed Her