Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jumping Back In

Last night I dreamt that I had been set up by a matchmaker with a Chareidi (Ultra Orthodox) man, and after that one date, apparently we got married, in my parents' house.  And then almost immediately it was Sheva Brachot *, and that man who sat next to me was the not the man I had been married to, although the details of the ceremony were fuzzy at best.

Then ensued a whole argument with this man, me saying, "You are not the man I married!" with him insisting otherwise.  I remember thinking to myself in the dream, "The other guy was not appropriate for me because of religious issues but this guy is such a schmuck, if I had to take one over the other, I would choose the Chareidi man. Though neither is an ideal mate for me by any means."

This morning, a Chardal# friend of mine, the mother of one of Raphaela's friends, gave me a heads-up, that she had given my name and phone number to a friend of her husband's as a potential match.  "He's Chareidi, like us, but he is a photographer, open-minded, with a good heart."  I expressed hesitation, that my spiritual and religious beliefs fall no where near their world view, but she felt certain that this man and I could find common ground.

He called soon after, and spent the first three minutes of the conversation asking me about my work as a Chiropractor; what techniques do I use, how many patients do I see, how much money do I make etc.  If a potential date chooses to delve into my financials instead of Me, I immediately lose interest; this rule has developed over time and experience.

For the next and last two minutes of our phone conversation, he cut straight to the point, "Where do you stand religiously?"  I told him that I don't fit neatly into any one box, that Jewish values, Shabbat and Kosher will always play an important role in my home, but that I also wear pants, watch television and movies, and go mixed swimming.

"Glad I asked." his tone changing quickly, I could hear in his voice that he had stopped smiling.  "I am sure you are a spectacular person," he continued, "but I could not physically or emotionally attracted to a woman who wore pants.  I am looking for a woman who will embrace the Chareidi lifestyle and keep a proper Jewish home.  That's not you, I don't want to waste my time, best of luck."

He hung up, and I took none of it personally.  I called my friend just to let her know that her sense of this man and his supposed openness was incorrect.  Rather than moving on from the experience, my friend gave me a ten minute lecture, "You are not where we are [religiously] YET, but we still communicate well and our daughters are friends.  I am sure you misunderstood him, so I am going to have my husband speak to him and get his side of the story and his perceptions of your phone call."

Then the cherry on the icing on the cake, "And would it hurt you to stop wearing pants and become Chareidi if it meant you found your soul mate?  Change hurts, but it can bring you to a better place." [ I took short breaths to stop myself from shouting down the phone, "I am a good Jew, I do not need to be upgraded!"]  She continued, "Not that I am judging you in any way of course.  Why just this week I gave up the Internet because my husband told me to; it drives me crazy but at least we have Shalom Bayit!"%

Despite my assertion that a healthy relationship is one in which the two sides accept each other unconditionally, that I should not have to change the essence of my belief system for a man I don't know, I felt that my friend was barely listening.  When I said, "There is compromise, and then there is loss of identity," she said that I was being inflexible.

Yeah, this dating gig is going to be a blast.


*Sheva Brachot = Seven Blessings in Hebrew, the week long meal-fest for family and friends after the wedding, primarily to invite those who did not make the cut on the A-list

#Chardal = Charedi Dati Leumi in Hebrew, meaning Nationalist Ultra Orthodox, a level of religiosity somewhere between Orthodox and Chareidi.  Also coincidentally the Hebrew word for mustard.

%Shalom Bayit = Peace in the House in Hebrew, implying less conflict and struggle between a husband and wife


Commenter Abbi said...

Wow, that's a really breathtaking conversation. :(

New to this whole grad school thing said...

I am proud you stood your ground. You are so tactful because I would have said something fairly rude given her comments!

Commenter Abbi said...

The more I think about it, I wonder if she's jealous of your freedom and this is her way of literally "reigning you in", either in a conscious or unconscious way, to relieve her jealous.

Also, I lived in J-m for 6 years and there is an atmosphere there, among certain circles, that you're either on some kind of charedi spectrum, or you're chiloni. Even though there are plenty of modern communities to some people it's either black or white. I found that after I left J-m and lived in other towns in Israel, there was much more general acceptance of the range of religious practice among all groups and less pressure to conform to some charedi ideal.

Frankly, I found it a great relief to not live with that unspoken and even unacknowledged pressure floating around in the air, even when living in a non charedi neighborhood.

Midlife Singlemum said...

Hahaha, love it how they are so sure that they are the 'proper' Jews whereas we're all doing wrong. And therein lies my biggest turn-off about the Chareidi world.

Doc said...

Post Script: my friend called me yesterday, telling me excitedly that she has spoken to this man and he had agreed to give me "another chance." I told her NO! and then advised that she drop the whole subject if she intended to save our friendship.