September 23, 2004
Teshuvah for Two
There's nothing more romantic than a cantor's serenade, a symphony of grumbling stomachs, and an oversized sheet of dry honey cake.
Which is why I might invite new guy Austin to spend Yom Kippur with me.
Austin and I met last month on a great blind date. He's cute, he's kind, he had me at shalom. Together, we've motored through the top 10 romantic things to do in Los Angeles: a hand-held stroll on Venice Beach, a moonlit flick on Santa Monica Pier and a quiet night at home -- just us, his friends and "Madden Football." So what's left to do but join 1,000 starving congregants for an all-you-can-pray buffet?
Yom Kippur can really light a fire under a new relationship. Not that I'm supposed to light a candle, brush my teeth or, for that matter, bathe on the holiday, but personal hygiene aside, a girl can really work it on the holiest of holies.
Take the religious-casual dress code. (I don't follow the whole Yom Kippur practice of wearing white for purity. Who wears white after Labor Day?) It's no coincidence the High Holidays coincide with London's Fashion Week. Yom Kippur is a great excuse to dress up for my guy. I've got a long skirt and some pleather shoes, which are guaranteed to knock his tallis off. It's hot. OK, maybe not, but after 25 hours of fasting, my stomach's so flat I'd look svelte in a kittle.
And tag team teshuvah can really bring two people together. I'm sorry for the sins I committed against you, with you, and ... why is there no air conditioning in the sanctuary? Good times. Tapping my chest during Al Chet will draw Austin's eyes to the right place. And I can put my head on his shoulder during the rabbi's sermon, the board's building fund appeal and the sisterhood's announcement of every upcoming event from now 'til Purim. Who wants to hear about tot Shabbat when the sun set 15 minutes ago?
As for break fast, they should change the name of this happy meal to the flirt n' fress. Forget beer goggles; it's all about hunger goggles. Know how everything in the grocery looks good when you shop on an empty stomach? Well, women all look good when men flirt on an empty stomach. If you're the one to hand a Jewish man his first plate of post-fast food, you could be his mate for life. My future with Austin may be sealed with some Tam Tams.
Still, holidays are a straight up DTR (defining the relationship) issue. Spending YK together could take us from zero to couple in three Amidahs. Are we ready for that? Are we even a we? By inviting Austin to services, he could feel I'm moving the relationship along too quickly. Machzor, than marriage, then kids -- oh my! But in not asking him, he could feel hurt, left out or wonder if I'm blowing another shofar. Most singles face this life or date decision at Thanksgiving or New Year's. But I'm looking at a Day of Atonement dilemma. Do couples that pray together stay together?
According to the Homeland Dating Advisory System, holidays can catapult a couple into risk-level red. You can't just do dinner and a Musaf. It's complicated. Do we hit his shul or mine? Who pays for the tickets? And what if he learns of my past sins? Carin, you got some 'splainin to do.
There's also a rumor his mom wants him home for the holiday. If he stays in Los Angeles with me, I'll be forever known as the girl who stood between him and his mother's brisket. That's never good.
To be honest, my past fast dates haven't faired well. A few years ago, this guy Ezra took me to -- I kid you not -- Tisha B'Av. On a Saturday night. He said it would be better than dinner. I don't know about better, but it was certainly cheaper. Our date consisted of sitting on the floor, mourning the Temples' destructions and observing the post-service fast. Ezra was upset about the Temples, but elated that the date cost him nothing. Twice on the way home he mentioned how pleased he was that he didn't drop a dime. I dropped him the next week.
Rabbinic scholars would argue that there is no debate. On Yom Kippur, we're not only banned from consuming food, but from consuming each other. No kissing, snogging or heavy petting permitted. Even lotion is explicitly banned. So in some Jewish circles, if attending services with my new crush would distract from solemn prayer, it's a no go.
But to me, attending services with a new beau is key. As a single Jew, I want to date guys who value Jewish holidays and traditions. I want Jewish life to be a part of our life. I want to check him out in a suit and tallis. I want to stand next to him in shul. So I'm going to ask Austin to escort me to the big Yom. That way, we can kick-start this year's sinning with a little post-Kiddish kissing.
Carin Davis, a freelance writer, can be reached at email@example.com.