Sunday, December 12, 2004

Singles Shabbaton Chronicles Part 6

Friday 4:45 pm

Great. The prayers are following the rituals and tunes of Edot Hamizrach (Jews from the Middle East and North Africa). Intellectually I have no problem with this, but I’m not used to it and feel unsettled to be “davening out of order.” In the middle of the services, someone (I can’t see who, through the partition) makes an appeal for his organization, which helps religious teens who have “left the path” and are now on the street. They are auctioning off tomorrow’s aliyot for charity. Boring, boring, boring to listen to this through the mechitzah.

My mind wanders. I survey the other women. The old ladies are behind me. In front of me are a few other women in their 30’s. None of us is stunningly attractive, but Miriam and I are the most put-together in terms of clothes, hair, nails, shoes, etc. One woman seems to be wearing no makeup other than blue eyeliner on the bottom lid only; she could use some mascara and lipstick. Another woman, also without makeup, has her hair back in a scrunchy. It would look prettier down around her shoulders. I think of what a friend once told me: There are no ugly women, only lazy ones. I think about the fact that “it only takes one,” that beauty is skin deep, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that any one of these women could end up with their bashert at the end of the Shabbaton, if she happens to match up with someone who likes her looks and personality (and vice vesa). But how many people bother to look beyond the “not stunningly attractive” to the “perfectly normal and attractive person”? How dare I let myself feel superior in an Israeli group because I’m displaying some degree of Manhattan-style sophistication, when some of these people have never set foot outside of Israel? How dare I compete with other women, when we all want the same thing, when they are more like me than not like me?

And what difference does it make to me, anyhow, when most of the men here are at least ten years older than I am? And the ones my age . . . how many speak no English? how many have never gone to college, or have never been to America, or for whatever reason have no clue where I'm coming from? What are the chances of a man being here who "gets" me, when here I'm the alien?

I’m starting to feel depressed and tired.

Friday 6:15 pm

I’m sitting at a table with the following cast of characters, listening to kiddush:
A woman in her 50’s
A woman in her 30’s named Ronit, who has a developmental disability of some kind.
Two relatively normal-looking men in their 30’s.
A scrawny guy, Daveed, with a shaved head who clearly has suffered from facial burns at some point.
A young hottie named Paz who looks to be around 23, with huge blue eyes and long eylashes. I wonder what he is doing there.

None of us looks very happy to be here.

The rabbi makes kiddush. One of the 30-ish men has been holding the kiddush wine for our table. He pours from his glass into the glasses of the two people next to him, then takes a sip. The rest of us make startled noises, like "hello, what about us?" and he looks surprised, like he'd forgotten that we were there, and then pours for us from the glass he'd just drunk from.


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