Monday, October 31, 2005

Seven Things I Learned from Dating R.

1) How to say "conscience" in Hebrew (mahtz-POON)

2) Confirmation of what I've been saying for years:

A man who is not calling, is a man who is not interested.

3) Confirmation of something I have often suspected, and now realize to be true:

If you are constantly making up excuses for a man, and giving him the "benefit of the doubt" . . . he does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. No, he's not in a hospital somewhere, comatose, with worried neurosurgeons hovering over him, his cellphone lying useless on a chair next to him. No, he's not too stressed out at work to call you or be nice to you. No, the mean things that he says are not because of cultural differences. It is because the relationship is not working and he is being a jerk. Run away. Far away!

4) I really, really love being an Ashkenazi. Not because of feelings of cultural superiority (believe me, I'm the first to say that whatever cultural "superiority" we may claim to have is in very short supply), but because I really, truly, deeply love gefilte fish, tzimmes, and not taking everything the Rambam says literally. To me, gefilte fish, tzimmes, and not doing everything the Rambam says just . . . say . . . home.

I'd be perfectly happy to date a Sephardi Israeli again. Seriously. But when I mention that I love gefilte fish, the response must be, not a look of disgust, but the following words: Ah! Gefilte fish! A precious delicacy more valuable than rubies!

5) Sometimes, there is justice in the world, if only briefly. When I was 18 and studying in Jerusalem, I was completely befuddled by my many female peers who flirted shamelessly with Israeli soldiers and sometimes even snagged dates with chayalim. Remember, I am notoriously not cool that way, and so I wondered how in the world they did that. Now, 15 years later, my good fortune caught up with me and I dated . . . not the soldier, but the commander. The experience was brief and not, obviously, always pleasant. But a part of me feels that my teenage self has been vindicated.

6) I love speaking in English.

I'd be perfectly happy to date another Israeli who hardly speaks any English. Seriously. But you know what? I love speaking in English.

7) If I can ride a "roller coaster to nowhere" for a few months entirely in Hebrew, my Hebrew must be pretty good! Unless, of course, all this time, when I thought I was saying "R, I really like you. You are smart and funny. Thank you for dinner," I was really saying "R, it seems to me that your liver would taste great with Fava beans." Which, of course, would explain a few things about why I now know how to say "conscience" in Hebrew.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

On Why It's Not Worth it to Cry Until It's REALLY Over

For those who have not been following this blog, before the disengagement from Gaza, I dated a man named "R." for several weeks. Things were great. But then the disengagement happened and we went on hiatus (he's an army officer).

(I should mention here that no one in my life who knows R's real name has ever met him. And those who know R., even if they read this blog --which for various reasons is quite unlikely-- would not know that he is the R about whom I am talking. I have never been in the habit of writing about specific men I have dated, not in a way that the stories could be traced to them, and I have no intention of starting now.)

After the disengagement, lo and behold, R. actually called me again! Wow! A man who calls! It's a miracle!

For a few days, things were great.

Then they got bad. He was acting very strange, had mood swings, and finally, finally made the pretty much unforgivable mistake of not calling me for a week and a half. He had the gall to say that he'd been "busy." Right.

So, we broke up. I was disappointed and hurt, but chalked it all up to "post-traumatic stress" due to the disengagement, ate a pint of Ben & Jerry's, and tried to move on. I contacted 13 men on Dosidate (from which no dates have resulted), and cleaned my apartment, a lot. My apartment was so clean, I could have hosted the Queen of England. My apartment was so clean, my mother-in-law would have approved, if I had a mother-in-law, but then, of course, if I had a mother-in-law I wouldn't be worried about dating, now would I? Pass the Chunky Monkey.

Anyway, last Saturday night I got a call from R. He'd spent Shabbat in the Old City, and did I have time to meet? Because he wanted to talk. And, he was going to let me talk. About anything I wanted.

I was more than happy to try again. Because, you see, for all that R. had acted badly, I still really really liked him. He has a lot of qualities I've been searching for but rarely find. We had a great rapport. I felt connected.

So we met, and we talked. For four hours. We got a lot of "issues" on the table. It was a very productive, very positive and deep conversation. It included the words "You are so beautiful, and nice, and smart. It would be a shame to lose you." Hey, that's enough for me. I'm a sucker that way. I allowed myself to start to feel hopeful again.

For about three days, things were fine.

Then they got bad. Suddenly. One day we're having a normal conversation, the next day he does not call. Nor the next. Nor the next. Nor the next. Nor the next.

I can take a hint. Last night I was up until 2 am, weeping. I cried so hard that I went through half a box of tissues. I cried so hard I almost threw up. I cried so hard that at 8 am, when I was getting dressed to go to my first day of classes at Pardes, I couldn't get my mascara on correctly because my eyes were too swollen.

Today I left R. a message saying, basically, that the relationship is obviously over, and I wish you'd told me instead of ignoring me, and thank you for all the nice things you said to me, and goodbye. Then I crawled into bed and wept some more, convinced not only that there must be something horribly wrong with me, but that I'll never find a good relationship, never, ever, and what if R. was the best there would ever be? I thought about being 80 and alone, and my nephews having to care for me, their spinster aunt, and I soaked my pillow with tears and snot.

One hour later, R. called. The first thing he said was "I was surprised to get your message. I thought you were smart enough to know that if a man does not call you for five days, he's trying to tell you something."

Well, duh.

He then proceeded to tell me that in the three days after our long, deep, positive conversation, he came to the conclusion that I have a fundamental character flaw and that therefore he does not want to be in a relationship with me. To be specific, he concluded (based on what, I have no idea), that I "have no conscience."

. . .

. . .

What do you say to that? I said nothing. There was a silence for a few seconds, he wished me well, I said "you too," and we hung up.

No conscience?

Now, I'm sure that there are people reading this blog who have seen me in my worse moods, who could recount my not-so-fine moments. But no conscience? Hitler had no conscience. Me, Chayyei Sarah? Had R. ever spent more than five minutes with me, or was this his evil twin doing the talking?

It was so absurd that I'm no longer sad. I'm simply stunned. Stunned that anyone could be that thick.

I have a deep temptation to "bench gomel" this week (say the prayer in synagogue thanking God for helping me pass a dangerous situation safely).

My pillow might be full of tears, and I might be running out of tissues, but, thank God almighty, I am free at last of "Mister I-have-issues-that-I'll-deflect-upon-you . . . I can't hear you, la la la."


One day later: I feel a bit the way I felt after my last day as a teacher in a huge Bronx public high school. A bit wistful about the good parts, but knowing -- really knowing -- that I just got out of something that was very, very bad. Yael called me this morning to "check in on me," and after a minute she said "Sarah, you sound better than you've sounded in weeks."

Well, then. There you go. Nothing to mourn over. Nothing! Best break-up I've ever had. Anyone want to set me up on a date?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Daman/Wasserman Shiva Info

FYI, for those who are interested:

The family of Michelle (Daman) Wasserman, z'l, including her parents, brothers, and husband, are sitting shiva at her husband's home in Highland Park, NJ. Shiva will conclude on November 1. More details were left by a commenter, two posts down, under the post entitled "Bad News."

May we share happier occasions in the future.

[PS My yom tov was very nice. More about that, and perhaps some Israeli-Palestinian stuff, to come in later posts.]

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hey! No fair!

How come no ever made up a dance about my blog?

Perhaps because a blog by someone who sits at her computer all day trying to block out the sounds of the Piano Playing Kid does not lend itself to innovation in the performing arts?

Still, one can dream. I can see it now: "Coming up next on MTV: Paula Abdul and Justin Timberlake on the newest dance craze, The Chayyei Sarah. Don't go away."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bad News

My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.

--"Rabbit Proverb" [from Richard Adams' Watership Down]

Another one of my friends died this week.

Michelle (Daman) Wasserman z'l passed away on Monday due to complications from breast cancer which had metasticized to her liver. She died at home, just a few days after her 33rd birthday. She was wife to Ethan Wasserman and mother to Eliana and Leora, ages 3 and 5. The funeral will be held today (Thursday) in Highland Park, NJ.

Michelle and I met in 10th grade, at an NCSY shabbaton. I actually remember the very moment we met. It was a "Leadership Training Seminar" in Norwalk, Connecticut. I was hanging out in the huge social hall in Norwalk's Orthodox synagogue, when the contingent of chapter officers from West Hartford, including Michelle, arrived. I went over to the main entrance and welcomed them -- they were a newly revived chapter, and so they didn't know anyone else at the event. The West Hartford "crowd" and my group of friends from Maimonides soon became fast friends. For the rest of high school, Michelle was one of my best friends, and we exchanged letters, phone calls, and visits often. In particular I remember the great time we all had when a group of us from Boston went together for a weekend in West Hartford, and all stayed in Michelle's house, watching movies, listening to music, playing ping-pong and eating pizza in her basement, and just generally having a great time being kids. The Damans must have been very patient parents! Those were good times.

After we all finished high school, I visited Michelle a few times at Machon Gold and then at UPenn, but eventually we pretty much lost touch, especially once she started working toward her Ph.D. in psychology. I visited her once for Shabbat a few years ago, shortly before my aliyah, and was very proud of her professional accomplishments as a therapist, but once I moved to Israel we lost touch again. The only reason I even knew she was sick was that a mutual friend [actually, the wife of Efrex] kept me updated about her health. I knew the end might be coming, but I never called to say goodbye. . . .

So, it's not that Michelle and I were close, but that we used to be close. A piece of my past has disappeared. And she was so young.

I can only give my condolences to her parents, who hosted me so often for Shabbat when I was a teenager, to her brothers, and to Ethan and the girls. May they be "comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."

Baruch Dayan Ha-emet.
Good News

Last night, Saw You at Sinai hosted a party for singles at a private home in the German Colony. As usual, I signed up to go, because one has to put in one's hishtadlut (effort) to find a partner, right? And the party is within walking distance, right? And it's free, right? So I have no excuse not to go, right?

But going, and wanting to go, are two different things. While getting dressed and blow-drying my hair beforehand, all I could think was "uch, uch, uch, I soooo do not want to go to this." Because what usually happens at a singles party? Well, it could be that the crowd will be sort of "bleh." Or that it will be a great crowd, but none of the men will look at me twice.

In fact, usually the best kind of singles event is when there are hardly any men at all, but a lot of terrific women, so I can make new friends in this new country of mine.

So I just told myself "you are not going to try to find a husband. You are going to make new female friends. And so that no one can say that you aren't putting in effort." Have I become jaded, or what?

But I get to the party . . . and there are easily 200 people crowded into this beautiful home (and its adjoining sukkah), and it's a normal crowd, and the ratio of men to women is pretty good, and I spoke with a nice, normal guy who took my contact information, and I saw a few female acquintances whom I was happy to see. All in all, it was a great party! Wow!

Interestingly, there were not only a lot of English-speaking olim, but also quite a few native Israelis and a significant minority of American tourists. Actually, by the end of the evening, there were about 300 people in the house, and so many faces I recognized from the Upper West Side that I joked with another Manhattan transplant that it feels like we never left. I started to feel very trapped and overstimulated, and left after about an hour. But, I have to say, it was a good hour.

As I told one of the tourists who was asking me whether all singles events in Jerusalem are like this, it seems to be hit-or-miss. You can go to a singles event and have it be the worst experience of your life (see my posts from December 2004, about the shabbaton in Tiberias), or it can have a really great crowd and be lots of fun. There is no way to know in advance. And so, we keep truckin' along, blow-drying our hair as if the event will be great, but telling ourselves "I'm only going to make new friends" as if it will bomb, hoping against hope that the day will soon come when we can spend a cold, rainy October evening indoors with someone we love, rather than playing Singles Party russian roulette.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sukkot Happenings

This is the first year that I am a) in Israel for Sukkot and b) not sick. And so I went through Billboard, the entertainment guide inserted weekly in the Jerusalem Post, to check out events for the week. Since many Israelis have a lot of time off from work, and all kids are off from school, there is a lot going on.

For the benefit of those who are here, I'm sharing some details of events I might attend, since perhaps you'd be interested, too. And for those who are abroad . . . poor you! You should have come to Israel for the holiday!

  • The International Tango Festival will be performing (and giving Tango lessons) in various Israeli cities from October 19-25. The JPost did not give the dates/times for any specific city, and the number they gave (03 602 4020) is a fax number. I did some Googling and found an alternative number to call. If/when I hear back with a detailed schedule, I'll probably post it here.
  • The annual sukkot ICON Festival (science fiction, fantasy, imagination) is taking place at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. Damsels in distress, trolls, orcs, and knights will be performing throughout the day, and there will be films, workshops, lectures, etc. Information here. I sent in an email asking for a detailed schedule of workshops and other "featured events." Again, details (probably) to come if I get them. Meanwhile it sounds like a good time can be had simply by showing up there and seeing what's going on!
  • The Archeological Gardens in the Old City will have performances, food, and fairs connected to the Biblical-era tradition of going to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices on the holiday of Sukkot. There will be "farmers" and "priests" walking around and performing, and an open-air market selling spices, oils, perfumes, and other Biblical-type things. 10 NIS entrance fee. The phone number to call for information is (according to the JPost) 02 627 7962
  • Wednesday night (tomorrow!) there will be a Saw You at Sinai singles party from 8:30-10 in the German Colony. I am pretty sure you have to be a member of SYAS to be invited, but sign-up is free, so why not? There will be shadchanim at the party as well. Event is from 8:30-10.
  • Various kite-flying events (kite-making workshops, kites to buy, and lawns to use them on) at the Botanical Gardens on Thursday October 20 from 9-3. Information: 02 679 4012.
  • The poetry magazine Mashiv Haruach is sponsoring an event at which will be shown a series of student films about the observance of Shabbat in Israel, followed by a panel discussion. Jerusalem Cinematheque, Oct. 20, 4 pm. Information here. Phone number given in JPost: 02 625 2651. Phone number given on website for ordering tickets: 02 565 4333 (Note: I recently discovered the hard way that the Cinematheque reserves tickets in advance only to members. Non-members must come 20 minutes before the show and hope there are still seats. I'm not sure what the situation is with this particular program. Just warning you, the tickets may not be reservable.)
  • Who knew there is a science museum in Jerusalem? And they have an exhibit going on called "Toys and Physics." Sounds like my kind of program. Their hours vary; phone number according to JPost is 02 654 4888. The Bloomfield Science Museum is in Givat Ram.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: THE JPOST MESSED UP THE DATE OF THE "SHLOMO FESTIVAL." It is not taking place on October 24 (which is Erev Yom Tov) but rather this Sunday, October 23, from 4pm-midnight, in Moshav Me'or Modiin. Concerts with music by Shlomo Carlebach, crafts, food, storytelling, etc. I've seen posters for this all over Jerusalem; looks like it will be a huge event. Rides from Jerusalem can be organized by calling 054-687-8217. Tickets are 80 NIS at the gate, or 60 NIS with advance reservation. To make advance reservations, call 03-527 6677 (for groups of 1-4) or 052-473-7156 (for groups of 5 or more).
  • FYI, three movies I've been wanting to see are playing this week at the Malcha Mall Globus movie theater: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; The 40-year-old Virgin; and Mary Poppins (with Hebrew dialogue). If you are interested in seeing any of these with me let me know!

To all those readers who are celebrating Sukkot this week, have a very happy holiday.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The 7 Meme

I'm not sure what a "meme" is, but Dov Bear seems to have "tagged" me with one, and apparently I am now bound by the Blogger Code of Duty and Ethics to fill it out. I so do not have time for this. I have an article that is very late for a very important client, cooking to do, all my winter clothes are in storage over my closet and I'm not tall enough to get it down even with my step-ladder, I haven't showered yet, and half my hosts for the next week don't know yet that I'm joining them for meals. But, here we go anyway:

7 things I can do:

  • Speak in public without getting nervous
  • Read the Hebrew magazine L'Isha and understand almost everything
  • Give really good hugs
  • Identify the one man in a crowded room who is wearing Drakkar Noir
  • Dance
  • Beat almost anyone at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit
  • Draw pretty well

7 things I can't do:

  • play an instrument
  • conjugate Hebrew verbs in the Nif'al construction
  • play petty politics
  • tie a cherry stem with my tongue
  • roller skate/ice skate
  • drive a stick shift
  • bake challah

7 things I hope to do in my life:

  • Get married
  • Have kids
  • Publish a book or two
  • Engage in social activism
  • Move to a bigger apartment, with a porch
  • Go on an RV trip around the USA
  • Reach my goal weight

7 celebrity crushes (not in Dov Bear's version, but it's fun so I'll do it):

  • Colin Firth
  • Ewan McGregor
  • Cedric Diggory
  • Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau (Is that OK? There are "blog crushes." Can't there be "rabbi crushes"? I might write a post about this)
  • Natalie Portman (non-sexual)
  • Young Harrison Ford
  • Young Matthew Broderick

7 people I'd like to infect with this meme:

  • I don't believe in this. I don't forward chain mails, internet rumors, or jokes, and I don't "infect" or "tag" people with "memes." However, if my sister feels inclined to fill out the questions, I'd be very interested in seeing her answers.
To all my readers who are celebrating the holiday of Sukkot starting tonight: Have a very joyous holiday! May the pleasant weather be abundant and the honeybees few!
A few things

. . . before I go to sleep.

1) Tonight I went to a fairly interesting panel discussion about the future of Religious Zionism, sponsored by Yeshiva University. I will try to write more about what was said in a later post, unless I get a paid journalism gig about it. It's a very important topic right now, since the disengagement from Gaza pretty much caused huge chasms within the movement. The disengagement was widely seen in Israel not as an expression of right-wing/ left-wing political divide, but rather a religious/secular divide. To Religious Zionists, it was seen as a tremendous slap in the face (which it pretty much was, given the lack of planning by the government and continued troubles the evacuated settlers are now having getting their lives back together . . . and it's not ONLY because they themselves refused to plan in advance). If the Religious Zionist sector wants to have any say on what happens to the West Bank, they'll have to galvanize and re-unite very quickly.

One possible positive aspect of the disengagement is that it woke up the Religious Zionist sector to realize just how marginalized they had become within Israeli society. As one of tonight's speakers said "The disengagement from Gaza was the second disengagement. The first disengagement was the self-isolation of the Religious Zionists from secular Israeli society." There is definitely a strong awareness now among Religious Zionist leaders that if they ever want to have a significant voice within Israeli society again, they will have to re-engage with secular Israelis. That means living in the same communities; providing palatable programs on Jewish history, culture, and religion; displaying respect for secular Jews; and ceasing to be a one-issue movement (focused on settlements beyond the Green Line) and instead producing religious scholarship on issues such as social welfare, foreign policy, education, and other issues which affect Israelis on a day-to-day level.

2) As most of you probably know already, four Israelis were killed today in two separate terrorist attacks, one in Gush Etzion (close to the home of Treppenwitz) and one in Eli (I think). May the memories of the dead be for a blessing, and may their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion. There was something on the radio about there having been some sort of tension at the checkpoint through which one or more of the terrorists had gotten through, apparently (as I understood with my less-than-completely fluent Hebrew) between Israeli citizens who were angry about the lax security after the terrorist attack. I'm not sure I understood the radio report, though. If anyone has seen any written news reports about the attacks and their aftermath, please post links in the comments.

3) On a less serious note . . . . When it comes to being taken out to eat, making aliyah is a win-win situation.

When friends come from America to visit me, they take me out to eat.

When I go to America to visit them, they take me out to eat.

Like I said, win-win. I win, and then I win again!

(Thanks, Lisa A., for a fabulous dinner last week at Olive.)

4) A funny thing happened this morning. As I've mentioned before, there is an overgrown garden just below my window, which currently is covered with wild shrubs and bushes about as tall as I am. Within this garden live a few of Jerusalem's many, many street cats. It often happens that I am kept awake by the cries of cats in heat. But this morning at around 8:15, there were two cats who were "doing their thing" so loudly and for so long, I started wondering what kind of "kitty porn" they were filming down there. It was unbelievable. They were going at it for ages, with absolutely no inhibitions about who could hear them. I'm telling you, they must have been on some sort of pet Viagra.

Suddenly, BLASH! A bucket-full of water came cascading down from the apartment above me, right onto the cats. I myself gasped in surprise, but the cats both made this sound that clearly meant "what the - ???" in feline.

Well, that ended their "filming" session. Talk about taking a cold shower!

5) If you have not visited my sister's blog lately, I recommend doing so. She's on a roll. And please leave comments -- if only so that she'll stop complaining to me about how no one ever does!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Too picky or just slim pickin's?

A few days ago, a blogger who calls himself "Not the Godol Hador" wrote an angry tirade about singles who complain about being alone, when actually (according to him) the problem is that they are too picky and they should just "get married already." He writes:

Any older single who tells you that they just can't seem to find their bashert is being too picky. I absolutely guarantee it. Either that or they have emotional problems and need some serious therapy. Or more probably both.
Later, he writes "What the vast majority of older singles need is a good kick in the butt."

Gee, thanks, Godol. How kind of you.

In his compassion to, and deep understanding of, older singles, he actually names two in particular as the targets of his ire, singles columnist and blogger Esther Kustanowitz, and the more-open-on-her-blog-than-I-will-ever-be Nice Jewish Girl. Never mind that Nice Jewish Girl has already explained her whole dating history (link to come if I can find it), which includes: the one man from ages ago she was too picky about and regrets not marrying; the guys she could have married but they dumped her, sometimes without even giving a reason; and the guy she dumped because he was a gambling addict. Which of these suggests that NJG is "too picky"? (As for me . . . let's just say that the concepts of being dumped and doing the dumping for very good reasons are all too familiar to me.)

The most glaring flaw in Godol's theory, that the main problem is one of pickiness, is that he assumes that:

All of these people have dated hundreds (if not thousands) of prefectly eligible people and have rejected them all, except for some really hot ones who of course rejected them first, because they were too picky.
Hundreds of dates?


Ha ha ha ha ha!

Haaaaaa haaaaaaaa!

::Chayyei Sarah wipes tears from her eyes and tries to stop laughing.::

Oh, ha ha. ::sigh:: Hm. Ha.

Thanks for the laugh, Godol, I really needed that.

I am not going to go into the specifics of my own dating life, but I can attest, from my own experience and that of my many single (female) friends, that getting a date once one is out of college, and particularly once one is past her mid-twenties, is not easy, particularly if the woman has anything "unusual" about her, such as an advanced degree. Or a personality. Or any sort of physical flaw, such as not looking like Christy Brinkley did in 1983. There is a reason that people say "in dating, a man needs a secretary and a woman needs an agent."

And when one does get a date, a woman might be excused as not being "too picky" if the man never calls again. Or if she, say, chooses not to go on a third date with a man who talks relentlessly about his mental illness and how he really has it under control now. Or the man who talks for 85 minutes straight without letting the woman get a word in. Or the man who, in addition to having all sorts of important differences with the woman, for both of the first two dates, has breath so bad she can smell it from across the table and she wants to gag. Or the man who spends the whole first date talking about how much he hates his family, and then does deep-breathing exercises at the table because "after a big meal, I like to let waves of pleasure wash over me."

Is a woman "too picky" if she went on two dates with a man who was paralyzed from the chest down and actually really liked him, and would have dated him again, except that he wouldn't go out with her, ostensibly because she is three years older than he? Or if she goes on 6 dates with a man with Cerebral Palsy, and really gives it her best shot? Is a woman "too picky" if the smart, otherwise nice man she went on several dates with and really likes tells her that he "just does not want to have the responsibility of having to call her"?

Not that any of those things have ever happened to me. No. Of course not. I just made those up . . . um . . . from my fertile imagination. By the way, I'm also making up all the shadchanim who tell me and my women friends, straight up, "it may be a long time before I call you, because there aren't a lot of good men out there." And I'm also making up the singles events with 15 women and 2 men. And the singles events I've been closed out of because dozens of women were on the waiting list, and not enough men signed up. And the many friends who say "I wish I could think of someone to set you up with, but I don't know any guys. None I would set you up with, anyway." None of those things could really be true, because obviously most singles get their hundreds (if not thousands), of dates from somewhere, right?

Let's move on to the internet. I've actually had quite good experiences with the Jewish dating websites, as far as they go. Meaning, I've gotten several dates out them, and most of those dates were very reasonable (except the one with the man who talked for 85 minutes straight, who was one out of maybe three who ever contacted me again). Actually, I met R. on the internet, and he was fantastic . . . until after his involvement (as an army officer) in the disengagement from Gaza, when he started exhibiting signs of post-traumatic stress before unceremoniously dumping me (I say this, actually, with complete sympathy for him, given what I know was a horrible experience for him. But just because I feel bad for him doesn't mean I can date someone who has dumped me).

But, anyway, let's look at Sarah's most recent foray into internet dating. Perhaps this will help illuminate the current situation for older singles, at least for women. Recently, I bought a one-month subscription to Dosidate. Within that month, I contacted 13 men whose profiles led me to believe that they might be reasonable matches for me. Here are the results:

Three men never bothered to read my message (the system tells you whether the message has been opened).

Three men read my message but never bothered to reply to me.

Two men wrote to say simply that they are not interested.

One man wrote to say that he is not sure and he'll think about it. Um, OK. Never heard from him again.

One man, from Haifa, wrote to say that his last girlfriend lived in Jerusalem, and he found the long-distance traveling to be too difficult, so he's not interested.

One man who lives in Tel Aviv said he'll be happy to meet me . . . the next time I'm in Tel Aviv.

One man said he'd like to call me. I gave him my number. He never called.

One man -- out of thirteen -- responded positively and called. We've spoken twice and both conversations went well. We'll meet "as soon as he can come to Jerusalem" (he lives in Netanya). I am hopeful, but it ain't over til the fat lady sings. To make things easier for him, I might offer to meet in Tel Aviv instead, since he works there, but again . . . you can't count your dates until they've hatched.

Meanwhile, two men initiated contact with me. One, who is 43 and divorced with children, sent a message saying that I have a well-written profile, but he didn't ask me anything or say anything that led me to believe he expects me to write back. It was very odd. And the second, who looks eerily like my father (I get this a lot), lives in Queens, New York and has no plans to come to Israel any time soon.

Of course, Godol may simply argue that I'm not, in fact, too picky, I'm just one of those people who "have emotional problems and need some serious therapy." Because that would explain why I'm still single, given that everyone who does manage to fall in love and develop a stable relationship and get married is, by definition, perfectly emotionally healthy and doesn't need therapy at all. They give you a marriage license only if you are completely free of hang-ups. It couldn't possibly be that I'm simply unlucky, or the victim of other people's pickiness, or that I have an unusual set of qualities that makes me hard to match up, or that there is some wider social problem going on that I would happily escape if I could.

If I didn't have "emotional problems" before, I probably do now. You would too, after hundreds (if not thousands), of dates.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Yom Kippur Thoughts

Happy new year, everyone. I hope all my readers who celebrate Yom Kippur had an easy and meaningful fast, and that you were all "inscribed in the book of life."

Here's a peek into my holiday:

Charitable thoughts that crossed my mind during Yom Kippur:

It's Yom Kippur, and I'm in Jerusalem! And I live here! I am the luckiest person in the world!

My rabbi is really funny and very inspiring. He said just the right things during his speeches. We'll keep him.

I'm so happy that I go to a synagogue where women who wear pants and married women who do not cover their hair feel comfortable coming, because everyone is seriously welcome here.

Wow. Hundreds of people in white, flowy garments. That looks really cool.

There are a lot of very cute little children in my synagogue. They are so adorable.

I just love that all the streets in Israel are closed to traffic on Yom Kippur, and that everyone, regardless of religious affiliation, is out taking walks or riding their bicycles on the otherwise empty streets. What a special day. I know it's no fun for the people who are very secular and would prefer to be able to drive, but from my perspective it's a wonderful thing.

I love the parts in the prayer services for Yom Kippur when we get down on our knees to bow. Especially when we kneel all the way over with our faces on the floor. Besides being a good chance to stretch, it feels really holy and . . . supplicative. One feels truly like a servant of God when one is on the floor proclaiming His glory. Plus I love envisioning the way the Jews did it in the Holy Temple thousands of years ago, as described in the service. Knowing that we are praying just as they did makes me feel a deep connection to my ancestors.

Uncharitable thoughts that crossed my mind during Yom Kippur:

If those kids just outside the sanctuary don't keep the noise down, I'll have to kill somebody.

There is no doubt that one of those kids on the bicycles is going to run someone over, probably me, because they are so not watching where they are going. I may have to kill somebody.

That man and woman over there . . . are they a couple? . . . My God, they sure look like they might be a couple . . . and that would make total sense because . . . they are two of the most annoying people I know! They are perfect for each other! I can't believe I didn't think to set them up myself!

Can someone please invent a good tune for "v'chol hama'aminim"? One that doesn't put me to sleep after three verses?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pretty in Pink

Several weeks ago I posted pictures of sandals I'd bought that week, including a fancy white Italian pair with a wedge heel. I've been wearing that white pair every single Shabbat, all summer, and it crossed my mind that they won't last long that way. If I get another white pair for Shabbat and rotate them and otherwise take good care of them, then my shoes will last much longer. And if I buy it now, I can get it on sale since it is the end of the summer season, and that way next summer I'll have a new pair of shoes. (Yes, I know, this is an incredibly JAPpy topic for a post. Note to Anne in New York: Sue me.)

So last night I headed to the mall with Beth and her three little kids so that we could all go shoe shopping: Baby Sophie got her first pair of shoes ever (so adorable: little white ones with pink flowers. She stood there smiling and looking at her feet, afraid to move but clearly tickled at these new funny things on her feet), Eli and I had a marvelous time watching the glass elevator go up and down, and I scoured the mall in vain for white sandals that looked good on me, had a heel that wouldn't kill me, and came in my size. No luck.

But I did find these. Couldn't resist them. They are on my feet right now.
Losing my Touch

A few things have happened recently that have led me to believe I need to do some serious thinking about the direction of this blog. I've been vaguely aware for a while that, since pretty much "outing" my real name completely a few months ago, I've been withholding a lot of things from this blog, mainly out of a desire to protect my privacy and, in some cases (not all, of course), because I am not in the mood to be attacked by people who disagree with me. Mainly the problem is that I've had some unpleasant things going on the last few months which I do not feel like sharing with the entire blogosphere, and if I can't write about those things there isn't all that much left for me to write about. I haven't done anything terribly exciting, haven't gone anywhere interesting. Just been keeping my nose to the grindstone, trying to work out my feelings about the news (but not writing about it because this was never meant to be a mainly political blog) and trying to block out the Piano Playing Kid across the street. It's not a bad life but it also does not make for compelling blogging.

But now things have come to a head and I need to make some decisions about how to avoid plummeting into blogger mediocrity.

First, I noticed that for three weeks in a row, my blog was not mentioned in "Havel Havelim," the weekly round-up of links to Jewish blogs hosted each week by a different blogger. It used to be -- and I say this as a statement of fact, not a bragging point -- that Chayyei Sarah was mentioned every week without fail. But, yes, it is true, lately I have not blogged much of substance, nothing worth linking to anyhow, though it may be entertaining reading for my more loyal "followers" and friends back in the US.

Then, in a discussion about the "halcyon days" of Jewish blogging (in the comments section of this post), Dov Bear wrote: "The golden era of j blogging was definately summer 2004. Protocols didn't suck. Aidel was hot. We had Mo. CS was a regular poster." (Hey, Dovie, see, I really do read your blog!)

I hang my head in shame! I mean, yes, I am touched that Dovie would list my blog in connection with a "golden era," and yet the obvious conclusion is that I am no longer a regular poster. And he's right. Posting often does not equal often posting something worthwhile.

And now today I got the ultimate punch in the stomach, though it would not hurt so much if I focused more on from whence it came. Over at the blog of Laila, Mother from Gaza (see the comments again), one of Laila's readers (and I emphasize that it was a commenter who wrote this, not Laila herself) wrote that after reading my comment she checked out my blog and "found it almost unbearably cute, like something a young teenage girl would write."

Holy cow. Unbearably cute?!?

Well, yeah. If I don't write about the real juicy (dark) stuff going on, and I don't write about politics, there's not much left but the unbearably cute. Actually, I think a lot of people appreciate that my blog, like me, is generally upbeat and tries to focus on the positive. There are more than enough bloggers out there who do nothing but yak about how much they hate the government, their communities, their religion, etc.

But still, I also have to be aware that there are people who come here seeking a window into "life in Israel," and the truth is that my blog has not been doing a good job of representing real life. Not my life anyway. My life includes reading the news headlines every half hour and trying to process all the crazy political, military, and social changes that happen here seemingly every 5 minutes. My life includes trying to reconcile all my different identities: Jew, Israeli citizen, American expatriate, woman, journalist, human being, etc. My life includes daily (albeit small) decisions about how to confront all the various bigotries in which my city is saturated. My life involves having to resolve a lot of internal conflicts while also figuring out how to prevent, smooth over, or avoid external conflicts -- and while also making a living and trying to conduct a "normal" life. And my blog has not been doing the job of showing those things, because one of my internal conflicts is about how much of my inner life I'm interested in sharing with the internet.

By the way, please don't go over to the Gaza blog and flame the blogger or commenter. There are enough people over there slinging insults at each other as it is. It's so pointless, and the pro-Israel flamers certainly are not doing anything constructive to help Israel's image. But in any case, a few people already commented over there to "defend" the quality of my blog, which I appreciate. Thanks, Lisoosh, Lisa, and Fay.

So, the conclusion I've come to is that I either have to
a) start blogging more seriously with my observations about the news and/or the world around me and/or my internal life, and suffer the consequences (huge time commitment, possibility of losing clients, having to deal with more flamers, further loss of privacy), or
b) settle for mediocrity when I know I am capable of much better, or
c) put a huge disclaimer at the top of my blog that says "this blog is fluff only, if things that are unbearably cute make you gag, go away," which is a way of settling for mediocrity but at least alerting people that I'm not a hypocrite about it, or
d) stop blogging.

D is out of the question. So is B. That leaves A or C.

New Blogger Baby

Mazal tov to Efrex (the Orthodox Jewish Straight Theater Queen) and Mrs. Efrex on the birth of their son! May baby Efrex grow up to be every bit as sociable and talented as his parents (who are personal friends of mine).

Blogger kiddush! Blogger kiddush!

[Oh, and in other good news, I found out tonight that Tinok ben Efrat -- the baby from a few posts ago-- is doing just fine and no longer needs our prayers. His bris was last week and they named him Uriel. Mazal tov!]

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Bloggers stepping up to the plate

Three of the "blogs I wish were updated more often" (see blogroll to the right ----->) have been updating more often!

My sister has been blogging up a storm recently. Read her never-to-be-humble opinions here.

Rich Brownstein has been gone a while, but makes up for it with a 20,000-word manifesto on the disengagement. Lots of interesting material. Most people will agree with some and disagree with some. Please be respectful when commenting -- Rich is one of my favorite Shabbat hosts. And yes they really do have both blue (pro-disengagement) and orange (anti-disengagament) ribbons hanging from their car. As indicated in his manifesto, Rich's wife Sara has very different opinions from his. Somehow they manage to stay married. They could give achdut (unity) lessons to the rest of us.

Nice Jewish Girl put up a new post a few hours ago. This is one very spiritual and very conflicted chycky.
Hey, it can't hurt

I just got this announcement via email (translated to English by moi, but without the Biblical verses):

With the help of God
In light of the painful situation of many many
who have not yet established a home and family
we call upon the community to participate
Together we will pray and request the removal of the obstacles and delays
and that we will soon be blessed with the voice of the bridegroom and voice of the bride.

The prayers, with participation of rabbis, will take place with God's help
Monday October 10
At 6:30 pm at the Western Wall plaza
The nusach of the tefillah will be advertised here soon.

With God's help this year we will all meet for happy occasions
May you be written and inscribed for good

So the question is, do I attend the prayer for singles, or do I attend the piano concert at my neighbor's house?


I forgot! My friends are having a chanukat habayit (housewarming party) tomorrow. Guess that answers that question. But those of you who live in or near Jerusalem: head thee to the Kotel tomorrow to pray for me and all your other favorite singles!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Neighbors I

[Public Service Announcement: Tonight at 2am Israel time, Israel is moving the clocks back one hour. So for those of you in, say, Eastern Standard Time, instead of being 7 hours behind us, you'll be only 6 hours behind us. Those on the West Coast of the USA will now be 9 hours behind us. FYI]

A couple of weeks ago I told you about this kid in my neighborhood who plays the piano all the time, and that he'd (she'd?) finally learned to play chords, and if I had to listen to some anonymous kid practice piano at least now I wasn't going to be hearing "Hatikva" plucked out one annoying note at a time.

How wrong I was.

First, it seems that there are not one but two kids involved, because one of them plays songs one note at a time and the other plays chords.

Second, they have taken to practicing their music lessons at 6 in the morning.

Third, their repertoire consists solely of Jewish liturgical and wedding music and Israeli standards. Played in meddlies. Avinu Malkeinu. Am Yisrael Chai. Al Kol Eileh. Various tunes for Lecha Dodi. David Melech Yisrael. Ofra Haza's "Chai." All played at speeds too fast to sing along.

If they'd only play some Billy Joel, maybe I wouldn't care. But after hearing Avinu Malkeinu for the 14th time in two days, I'm sure I'll burst into flames when they sing it in my synagogue this Yom Kippur.

Tonight, after Shabbat ended, I got into my pajamas and started cleaning up. And then that kid started up again. After an hour I couldn't take it anymore and got dressed again so that finally I could go outside and try to figure out which building the noise was coming from, and ask the family to close their windows when the kids practice. I pulled on my sandals, thinking "I will be polite. I will be polite. The words 'Chinese water torture' will not pass my lips."

Wouldn't you know that as soon as I got outside, the playing stopped?

Grrrr . . . .

But this time I was smart. I kept my clothes on. And sure enough, after 20 minutes, that sneaky kid started playing again. But he can't escape Chayyei Sarah. I went out and followed the noise across the street and over two buildings to a first-floor apartment with all their windows open and someone obviously playing Hatikva on a piano just a few feet away from me.

I knock.

The playing stops.

I knock again.

I hear footsteps.

I hear a key in the lock, locking the door.

I ring the doorbell.


Ah hah.

The sneaky Piano Playing Kid thinks he can escape me, but he errs! The family's last name is on a plaque next to their door! I go home and look up their number in the phone book, and I wait!

Ten minutes later: Hatikva. I run outside. As soon as I reach their building, the playing stops. They have stationed a lookout! They think they can outsmart the Chayyei! They do not know just how much the Chayyei does not want to hear Hatikva anymore!

I sit down and blog up until the paragraph that says "Ah hah."

Hatikva. Again. He can't escape! This time his chords are mine!

I run! Like the wind! He is playing Ani Ma'amin! The door is open! The man of the house is stepping out, and his wife is behind him, about to close the door! They can't get away!

I was very nice. I said "Hi, I live across the street. I hear every day that your children have talent on the piano and . . . "

And then the kid came over to say hello and shake hands. And you know what? He's about 15 and obviously has a developmental disorder. In the ten minutes that I was talking to his mom, he came over to shake hands about 6 times, with his mother trying to get him to stop each time. Turns out that playing the piano is one of the highlights of this "special" kid's life.

So now I felt bad, because this lady has a lot to deal with, obviously, without the neighbors complaining about the noise. But what can I do? I still have to concentrate on my work. I told her that I acknowledge that he has every right to play, but I work from home and the music makes it hard for me. Also I sleep late and when he plays in the mornings it wakes me up.

In the end we agreed that except when he's taking a lesson, she'll put down the "soften" pedal, to lower the noise, and when it's not too hot out she'll close the windows. She'll also make sure he doesn't practice before 8 am, which is a heck of a lot better than 6 am!

I asked if he reads music, so that I could bring over sheet music of songs that I like, but she said he plays by ear. Based on the way she and her husband were dressed (quite ultra-Orthodox-y), I don't think she'd appreciate it if I brought over my Billy Joel tapes. Maybe I'll buy him some Mozart.

Since she seemed sensitive to my concerns, I guess I'll just have to wait to see if the situation gets better, and try to be a little more patient. Ani Ma'amin. Ani Ma'amin.

They invited me to a concert at their house this Monday night. I just might go.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Chance to do a Mitzvah in the New Year

Welcome back to a brand new year in Chayyei Sarah (and Chayyei You). May we all be sealed for a good and sweet year full of blessings.

OK, folks, here's a chance to do a big mitzvah, if you are lucky enough to live in our holy city of Jerusalem. These two fabulous bloggers are coming to Israel (one of them is a "refujew" from Hurricane Katrina, a Tulane student who is now going to Hebrew U). They are arriving tomorrow and neither of them has a place to stay yet! They need places to crash until they get an apartment! So, if you have a guest room or just a couch to loan out, now's your chance to earn brownie points before the Day of Judgement. Click on the link and offer them a roof and a smile!

My Rosh Hashanah was extremely meaningful and extremely filling. Somehow in between all the challah, honey, meat, kugels, chicken soup, rice, chocolate cake, pecan pies, pomegranets, and fish heads, I managed to actually think about God and repentance and growing and all that good stuff. I attended services with Shir Hadash, where once again the heat was enough to make one faint (though no one did) (there was, according to rumor, an air conditioner on, but I for one did not feel anything but sweltering heat) but the ba'al tefillah did a nice job. This year the ba'al tefillah for mussaf was Ahron Razel, who apparently is a big name in Jewish music -- I'd never heard of him -- but the key is that, especially on the second day (which was better than the first day) he kept everything moving while still sounding sincere, humble, and on-key. Kudos.

The other key is that there was a kiddush before shofar-blowing on both days, and we finished before 1:30. Thank God.

If they could just get the air conditioner to have an impact, it would be a really fantastic davening. Without a better a/c situation, though, I give it only a B+. I hate to say that when the Rabbi was nice enough to invite me for a meal on the last day, but hey, heat is heat.

In other news, I have absolutely no Shabbat plans. Hint, hint.

And finally, please keep an as-yet-unnamed baby, Tinok ben Efrat, in your prayers. He was born a few days ago here in Israel and, though he acts perfectly normal, seems to have some sort of abnormal pressure going on in his brain. They do not yet know whether it is serious or "nothing." Let's pray that it turns out to be the latter. I will try to keep you updated, if I get any updates.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Thank God for Kinja,

the wonderful site that informs me when all my favorite blogs are updated, for letting me know that after being inactive for over 3 months, Nice Jewish Girl has written not one but two new posts, and they are both very interesting (particularly the second -- glad to see someone has good news in the dating world). Warning: Some of the information is a little, uh, graphic. Squeamish and very religious people, beware.

And as long as we're on the topic of "blogs I wish were updated more often" (see my blogroll to the right), my sister has also written several new posts lately. I'm glad she has a blog. I find out so much information I never would have known otherwise. For example, I never knew she was such an angry feminist. And here I'm the Barnard alumna!

A little update about me: I had a nice Shabbat at the home of old friends, and came home to emails from two different editors offering me work. One story is due before Yom Kippur and the other on November 1st. It's always nice when the editors come to me, instead of my having to hustle for income. I hope this bodes well for the upcoming new year.