Thursday Links

Frumanista meets a wannabe Woman in Black. Or shall we say a Woman in Gray? The basic assumption of this woman was that a Single woman in possession of a wedding place card must be in want of a seat next to a shachan. I think the most appropriate response would have been to sit down, lean over, and whisper, “I don’t know anything about diets myself, but my friend over there is a nutritionist and personal trainer.”

Someone here would like you to support professional standards in Jewish publications. Notably, that of giving credit where it is due, even when the credit goes to someone non-Jewish on the shminternet.  Go there, send an email, bake the cookies, and mail me samples.


Friday Repost: More Shadchanim

Personally, I think trying to discuss your ideals in marriage at a wedding is a recipe for disaster. (See this item about sign language.)

But sometimes, it’s just the people you’re talking to who are a disaster… Like this poor friend of mine, who I’m glad to say, has since married a guy who matched her description exactly, and the Women in Black’s not at all.

The Truth is They’re Out There

I’m talking about the Women in Black.

They warned me about them when I returned from seminary. These women would be watching me at weddings, on the street, at casual events… they’d be taking notes, and if they liked me, they would marry me off. My fate was in their hands.

I didn’t believe in them.

My argument was rudimentary: I didn’t see them, ergo they didn’t exist. None of them ever asked my name from me or any of my friends. I went to weddings, marched the streets, and attended events without once feeling their gaze penetrating the back of my Little Black Suit. So I discounted their existence.

Well I was wrong. They do exist. But I don’t merit their attention. That’s the sad fact.

I know they exist because a younger friend of mine recently entered shidduchim at a belated age. And she can’t seem to get away from the Women in Black. They’re the neighbor in her friend’s living room. They’re the woman who gives her a ride home from a wedding. They split a piece of seven-layer-cake with her at the kiddush.

She tells me with a startled delight about how she just asked this woman for a ride home from a wedding and in the car it turned out the woman was a shadchan and had asked for her information and thought she had a boy for her. She tells me about the woman she met in a living room who makes shidduchim and will certainly be on the lookout for her. She recites a veritable litany of “accidental” meetings with Women in Black. But oh – I know it’s not accident. No: when the Women in Black want to find you, they find you.

It’s depressing.

The only time I ever met a Woman in Black at a wedding was when one asked me the name of one of my friends. I thought it was a fluke. But no, it’s not them. They exist. It’s me. I don’t exist. Not on their radar, anyway. The Women in Black have seen me and they did not care to dwell on what they saw.

Yeah, that’s depressing.

And liberating. The Women in Black aren’t keeping tabs on me! Wahoo! No need for obsequious kowtowing to their standards! Let’s go running down Avenue J with pajama pants sticking out from under our denim skirts!

Sinister Secret Society

Welcome to the Secret Society. There are rules. There are regulations. There are expectations of how you will behave and comport yourself. We will tell you all about them after you take the oath.

Are you one of us?

Well of course you are. You’ve been waiting for this day. Talk about “na’aseh vinishma” – we know you’re in, so we can make demands.

Someone will tell you all you need to know.

Several someones.

You won’t know when. There will be no warning. But information will be imparted and you will know it. After which you are expected to behave accordingly.

Are you ready?

That was a rhetorical question.

Welcome to Shidduchim.

That old high school classmate who suggested you start ironing your hair daily? She was an agent. Listen and obey. That nosy neighbor who gave you the elevator eyes when you were taking out the garbage? She was an agent. Listen and obey. The former teacher who told you that story about the girl who dressed up on the day she happened to meet her future mother-in-law? She was an agent too. Listen and obey to climb in the order. Disobey and risk the shame of being an eternal novitiate.

Three women – two of them young – sit in a living room.

“You should at least iron your bangs,” says the older young one, flipping her perfectly straightened hair. “Now that you’re in shidduchim, you need to look nice for people.”

“I know,” says the youngest, self-consciously tugging a curly lock. “I just don’t have that time in the morning.”

“You’ll wake up a little earlier. It’s worth it. This is important.”

The older woman stands up and excuses herself. The straight-haired young woman nods after her. “My aunt? She’s a shadchan.”

The curly-haired one looked horrified. “And I was sitting here like this–!” her fingers flutter over her messy bun.

“Yes,” the other says. “But she’ll be at my wedding next week.”

“So I have another chance,” the first sighed in relief. The testing had begun. She would not fail again.

An Out of Mold Experience

My friend – let’s call her Shira – went to an out of town wedding. Since she is an ‘aging single,‘ (read: going on 24) her mother arranged for her to meet a garrison of shadchanim at the wedding. (Because what young lady can travel strictly for pleasure these days?)

So there they are, standing in the corner of the room, music blaring, people in black are dancing, waiters refilling the diet coke… and a jury of shadchanim is interrogating Shira.

“So what are you looking for?”

Argh. She begins describing the guy she thinks would fit her. He would have to be a a chareidi black hatter (apologies to the EndTheMadness readers: meaning he follows the Mishna Berura, has a rav, and attempts to conform to the norms to a certain extent), but not a full-time learner. She knew her lifestyle was too expensive for kollel.

Now, Shira is an aidle bais yaakov maidle. She attended a bais yaakov all her life, went to seminary like any good little girl, and lives in Flatbush. Like all such ‘fine’ young ladies, her father has always worked, but hopes his sons will learn. But while Shira can accept that a ‘lifetime learner’ is a wonderful and desirable trait in a husband, she is fully aware that she as and individual is not cut out for it.


Back to the wedding hall.

Shira howls over the music that she wants a chareidi black hatter who is capable of getting a job.

“So you want a learner,” shadchan #1 says.

“A lifetime learner or a ‘ten years and then become a rebbe’ learner?” shadchan #2 asks.

“Well of course he should learn his whole life, but he has to w*rk too,” Shira explains loudly.

“So you want a dayan or a rabbi who is in kollel now,” shadchan #3 understands.

“No! I mean, no kollel for me,” Shira shouts.

“Five years and then w*rking in Torah,” shadchan #1 says, in a moment of revelation.

“That’s not what – ” Shira protests.

“Give me a copy of your resume,” requests #2.

“Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” says #3 pleasantly.

And with that, the interview closed. Shira removed her powder-blue-suit-clad self to the street for some air and convinced herself not to scream.

Must we all fit a jelly mold for the sake of shidduchim?