The Singles Shabbaton
Well, I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that the Singles Shabbaton in Netanya last weekend was actually pretty good, despite the fact that, to my initial horror, it turned out to have been co-organized by the same people who organized the Shabbaton From Hell in Tiberias (see Archives for December 2004). When I saw "Avi" there, my first thought was "Oh, God, this whole weekend is going on the blog . . . again." Fortunately, it turned out that his main responsibility was not in planning the program, but in organizing the hotel and registration. Phew!
My friend Miriam came with me, which made a big difference on its own.
The other co-organizers, Makirim (which is really just a married couple trying to do their part to set people up), who I had thought were the only organizers, turned out to really know what they were doing. The activities were appropriate and interesting, and they treated people with real respect.
There were about 100 singles there, from all parts of Israel, all walks of life, and all Jewish ethnicities (though the group was homogenously Modern Orthodox/ Traditional - which for me is a good thing). Most were normal! Overall there was a very nice atmosphere, with people really mingling, shmoozing, laughing, joking around with the waiters, etc.
The weather in Netanya was beautiful. On Shabbat afternoon, the whole Shabbaton went for a walk on the boardwalk, sans jackets, and some of us went down to the beach to walk by the water.
I have only two small criticisms:
One, that the hotel, the Blueweiss, was not the prettiest in the world. On the other hand, for the price, it was tolerable, and the (kosher l'mihadrin) food was not bad. Miriam and I also had a beautiful view of the Mediterranean.
The other criticism is the the non-Makirim organizers, the ones from the Shabbaton in Tiberias, have a penchant for speaking at length about all their accomplishments, all the Shabbatons they've planned in the past, how important it is to help singles, blah blah blah. Also, "Avi" spoke from the men's section after prayers on Friday night, and didn't bother having the women move the mechitza, so we had no idea who was even talking unless we strained our necks to peer around the side. The Makirim guy, in contrast, got up after that to speak, and the first thing he did was say "please move the mechitza so the women can see." It's small things like this which make a big difference, and symbolize larger issues.
In short, I'll definitely put myself on Makirim's mailing list. They were cool, and the Shabbaton wasn't a horrible investment of 310 shekels, though I'm not sure I'll exactly come out of it with a man. I did make a new girlfriend though-- a woman from Petach Tivka with whom I got along splendidly-- and had a nice walk on the beach in mid-February. So, all's well that ends well.
The bad news is that this is probably the only post about the Shabbaton. No saga this time. Sorry.