Posted by Ilana Angel
If you could change anything about yourself what would it be? Would you be taller, richer, thinner or perhaps younger? While I have been known to make a list of what I will spend my lottery winnings on, I rarely think about what I would change about myself. I suppose it’s because at this point in my life I think it’s easier to win the lottery than it is to change.
If I actually had the ability to change something, I could make a list of at least 100 things that I would physically alter and by 100 of course I mean I would be able to create a list with about 23651 things on it. It would be impossible to pick just one so let’s move on to non-physical items.
I would want change how sensitive I am. The smallest thing can make me cry and hurt my feelings. It can be anything from a commercial for Kleenex, to an unkind word from a friend, to a look of disappointment from my son when he is upset with me. I literally burst into tears at the drop of a hat.
Yesterday my blog was about Jews having Christmas trees for the holidays. It was just my opinion. I wrote that everyone was free to do what they wanted in their homes. I mentioned that I grew up with a Christmas tree in my house as a kid. I don’t think it was particularly judgmental, just my two cents on a topic that I did not know was so sensitive to people.
If it is written in the Torah that Jews celebrate the holidays with a Christmas tree, then I ask that you send me where I can find that. Furthermore, if you can find the place where it states that Jews are not allowed to have a Christmas tree, then please, do send me that too. I was just sharing my thoughts. That’s what I do. This is a blog written by me.
A friend of mine was so offended by my blog that she decided to have her children, who my son counts among his best friends, un-friend me on Facebook. It’s ridiculous and silly and childish and high school mean girl crap and what it did was simple. It made me cry.
I appreciate that not everyone is going to like what I write or agree with it and that is fine. I would hope that if people take issue with my blog they would write me on my blog not plaster their feelings on my Facebook page. My feelings are hurt and it’s a shame because in the big scheme of things, this is beyond a silly thing to hurt my feelings.
I worry that my son will now somehow have consequences for my blog and for that I am sorry for him. All will be fine and life will go on. This will eventually not hurt my feelings anymore and hopefully any feelings that I hurt will also heal and none of it will matter in the long run.
I meant no offence to anyone, I still believe that Christmas trees for Jews makes no sense and at the end of the day all I can do is toughen up, not take it all so seriously and keep the faith.
5.22.13 at 6:34 am | I am forever touched by this young man.
5.19.13 at 5:43 pm | JDate should be more of a mensch.
5.17.13 at 5:27 pm | I am never going on another coffee date.
5.14.13 at 4:36 pm | Love needs a kick in the ass.
5.11.13 at 12:44 pm | My Mom gets the day off because this one is on me.
5.9.13 at 4:10 pm | Love s certainly a game, but it does not need to. . .
5.14.13 at 4:36 pm | Love needs a kick in the ass. (390)
5.17.13 at 5:27 pm | I am never going on another coffee date. (383)
5.19.13 at 5:43 pm | JDate should be more of a mensch. (325)
December 15, 2009 | 1:53 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I happen to think that having a Christmas tree for the holidays is not cool in a Jewish home. I don’t care if you decorate it with blue and silver and call it a Chanukah bush, it is still a Christmas tree and Jews don’t have Christmas trees. Let’s clarify that this is just my two cents and everyone is free to have their own opinion on the subject and people are able to do whatever they want in their own homes.
I always get just a bit resentful around Chanukah because this time of year is geared towards Christmas and we are lucky to get an honorable mention here and there. I asked my brother why he thought there was no advertising for Chanukah during the holidays and his response was “Because Jews don’t pay retail Ilana so why should they waste their marketing dollars?”
My nephew Ben, who is five years old and delicious, goes to a non-denominational school for kindergarten. In their winter pageant there were no songs about baby Jesus, just holiday songs about snow but the kids were asked to wear Santa hats and write Santa a letter about what they wanted. My nephew, who clearly takes after his Auntie, refused to write the letter.
He told the teacher that he was Jewish and Santa did not come to his house. While the teacher did not get what the big deal was, he did not have to write the letter. When it was time for his class to perform their song, Ben could not find his Santa hat and had to sing without it. It’s was a Christmas miracle! Santa threw a bone to the Jewish kid.
When I was growing up we always had a Christmas tree. We grew up in places where there were not a lot of Jews and my father did not want us to feel left out from our friends so we always had a tree and I always thought it was weird. He called it a Chanukah Bush which was even more weird. I look back at it now and think it’s almost cute of my dad, but still confusing and dumb.
The woman who married my son’s dad is not Jewish and they have a Christmas tree in their house. My son understands that it is not his holiday and that is great. He can enjoy the holiday, just not in our house, because it’s not our holiday. If I told my boy I was going to have a tree he would insist that we did not. He defines himself as a Jew, because he is a Jew, and Jews don’t have Christmas trees.
I’m laughing as I write this because I know people will get mad and write to yell at me, but I keep writing. I don’t think it’s funny that they are mad but I do think it’s entertaining that Jews have Christmas trees.
Tonight is the 5th night of Chanukah. It’s been a lovely holiday filled with friends, laughter, parties and latkes. I’m looking forward to December 25th so I can see a couple of really great movies and grab some fabulous Chinese food and to those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope it is a wonderful day of joy for you and your family.
However you celebrate the holidays, be safe and kind. Be generous of spirit and help those less fortunate. I wish you all a Happy Chanukah and remind you all to Keep the Faith.
December 14, 2009 | 1:40 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I had a brutal weekend. I tweaked my back at yoga, my cat decided that she likes the taste of my couch, I was let down by someone that I trusted and to top it all off I had the most horrific date ever. With all the rain I should have just stayed in but instead my search for love won out.
If you took a poll of a million people from all corners of the earth and had them share their most disgusting dating experiences, I think mine would win. I went back and forth about whether or not to even talk about it because it’s truly mortifying but at the end of the day this is a singles blogs and so I must share.
I got an email on Saturday morning from an online dater who seemed like a nice guy so we decided to be spontaneous and meet for lunch. I was 5 minutes early and he was 15 minutes late. He look disheveled and appeared to be drunk. I wanted to leave but hung on because I didn’t want to be rude or judgmental.
He sat down, ordered a drink, the waitress brought it over, he took a sip, told her it was watered down, she told him she was sorry and said she would have the bartender redo it, he started yelling that she was a stupid b*&%@. I was stunned, she started to cry and I got up to leave.
I walked with her to the front, told her I was sorry, gave her $20 and headed out as the manager was asking him to leave. I handed in my valet ticket and prayed the car would come quickly. I’m waiting with the valet guy when Drunky comes out and starts begging me not to go. He tells me to come back in and that he is sorry he was rude.
I tell him I’m leaving and he tells me I’m cold and to get lost. I’m now dying and want my car. The valet guy puts his arm around me and tells me not to worry. I feel a tap on my shoulder and Drunky is there to ask if he can borrow $100. The valet guy tells him to step away and he will make sure he gets home.
I thank the valet guy, hug him, give him $20 and as I turn around to walk to the car, Drunky bends over and begins to vomit on my boots. He is now throwing up on my boots. I look at the Valet guy, he looks at me, I start crying, he calls for back up and Drunky is laughing.
They bring out pitchers of water and clean off my boots and call the cops to come help Drunky. I’m in shock, stunned by the entire exchange and Drunky is sitting on the ground telling everyone he is not drunk and that the waitress was lying about putting vodka in his drink.
I want to be in the Guinness World Book of Records for having survived this one. I find it hard to believe that anyone has had a worse date but if you have, let me know. Drunky has called to apologize but I’m not taking that call. I hope he is well, appreciate the apology and think I might change my number.
There is only place you can possibly go after a date like this. The one special place that can make it better and take the sting out, is The Cheesecake Factory. My friend Geri and I went to the Sherman Oaks Galleria location for Sunday brunch. Our waitress, Erica, was perfect. I explained I had a rough date the day before and she ran with it and could not have been better.
I asked to speak to a manager because it’s important for them to hear when things are good not just bad. The manager on duty, Mark, came over and agreed my date wins the Worse Date Ever Award and my prize was a complimentary piece of the world’s greatest cheesecake. He was fantastic and I adored them both.
The world is full of very strange people and sometimes it’s the kindness of a stranger that makes a difference. At the end of the day I will be fine, Drunky will hopefully get it together and if you need a great place to eat in the valley, you can go see Erica and Mark at the Sherman Oaks Cheesecake Factory.
Thank you to Geri for making me laugh, reminding me that tomorrow is always a new beginning and that all we need to do is keep the faith.
December 11, 2009 | 12:45 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Most people who are single and looking for love would agree that dating is hard, and by hard I mean a total nightmare. Finding ways to meet people isn’t much easier, especially in a city like Los Angeles. For a select, bold group, the quest for love — and possibly fame — brings them to ABC’s hit dating experiment, “The Bachelor.”
Series creator Mike Fleiss invited me to the set as season 14 started shooting (the first episode premieres Monday, Jan. 4). The next bachelor, Jake Pavelka, a fan favorite from season five of “The Bachelorette,” is charming and handsome. But what I discovered during my visit is that the sexiest part of “The Bachelor” is host Chris Harrison.
Harrison, 38, has been married for 16 years to his college sweetheart, Gwen, and the couple has two children, a son and a daughter. There is nothing more attractive than a man who loves his wife and believes in his fairy-tale match so much that he wants others to experience what he has.
Hosting shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” could easily leave someone jaded or perhaps contribute to a wandering eye, but Harrison says it has had the opposite effect — making him a better man and husband. He told me that hosting the programs since 2001 has taught him to be grateful for his wife and children, since contestants are presumably on the shows looking for the same life he already enjoys.
But he cautions that contestants who go on the show to find fame ultimately fail. Harrison draws a comparison to those who go online with the aim of serial dating. Ultimately, he says, they will only attract other serial daters. “When you are sincere in what you are looking for, you will attract sincerity,” he said.
Harrison wouldn’t hesitate to let his own brother appear on “The Bachelor,” because he says it’s no different from an online dating service or a bar. The chances of finding love in those situations are a crapshoot, he says, and one could argue that statistically you are more likely to find love on “The Bachelor.”
When asked what advice he would give to people looking for love, his answer was simple: have guts. His most recent example was when his 8-year-old son received a note from a girl at his school, which said she had a crush on him. Harrison spoke to his son about how much courage it took for the girl to express her feelings, and he advised him to tell her “thank you.”
Regardless of how old you are, the advice remains the same: be bold, brave and kind, because love will not find you; you need to go out and find it. And if you put yourself out there, you increase your chances. Fear will stop you, and regret will crush you.
While Harrison’s mother’s side of the family is Jewish, he and Gwen are practicing Episcopalians. He says his kids are aware of their Jewish heritage and celebrate the holidays.
I spoke with Harrison about my personal search for love. I explained that I only date Jewish men, because I feel it’s important to share faith and have the common connection of tradition. While he appreciated my position, like most of my friends, he thought this restriction was limiting my options and that I might be missing out on someone great.
His question was: Would I rather be with someone who was Jewish or someone who was Jew-ish? He explained that there are people who are born Jewish and live secular lives and there are others who are not born Jewish but are open to practicing Judaism. This begs the question: Which is the better match for someone who values faith?
Chris Harrison is smart, funny, cool and sexy and even though it’s his job to look that way on television he is even more so in real life. I hope to have the same type of relationship he has with his wife one day and by one day of course I mean if you’re my Beshert and reading this, call me. I’m planning to stick to my plan of marrying a Jew, and, if I’m lucky, you’ll be both Jewish and Jew-ish.
As I left the “Bachelor” set, it was clear that Jake will be a fabulous bachelor, women across the country will undoubtedly fall in love with him and we will hold our collective breath as he holds the final rose.
In the end the lucky woman won’t be a contestant on the show. It will be Gwen, Harrison’s wife, because she already has what so many of us want — a man who believes in fairy-tale endings and always keeps the faith.
December 10, 2009 | 2:14 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I joke a lot about giving up on love and becoming a cat lady. I am so discouraged with my dating life that covering my furniture in plastic and turning my home into a cat sanctuary is almost attractive. This week I had three people approach me about adopting a cat they had to find a home for. Is it a coincidence or a sign? Rather than joke about it, perhaps I should take the must needed next step in becoming a cat lady and get another cat.
Could it be the holidays that makes single people reevaluate their lives and want to create a new path? It’s hard to be alone at the end of the year. I realize this admission is not cool and may be perceived as pathetic, but I’ve always been honest with you so let’s not stop now. Here I go: I am lonely and it is hardest for me this time of the year. There, I’ve said it. I’m lonely.
There is a huge distinction between being alone and being lonely. I have a full and rich life and I value the opportunities I have to be alone. I enjoy moments of quiet and being alone has never been an issue for me but being lonely is a rather sad thing. That said, I would rather be lonely than in a relationship that is not everything I want. I am not going to settle for someone less than I deserve just so I can have someone in my life.
Now back to my dilemma: my cat is sweet and funny and I find her to be both entertaining and comforting. She is technically my son’s cat. He got her as a Bar Mitzvah present and he loves her too. Could I not get another one and say the new one was mine so even though there were two cats in the house only one would be mine? Would it be so wrong to get another one?
Could it be that my cat is actually lonely? Maybe I am so close to her that I am going to ease her loneliness because I know how she feels? Did I just write that I know how my cat feels? It’s over. The beginning stage of cat lady mental illness has set in. Dear Lord. I have admitted I am lonely AND just told you that I KNOW how my cat feels. Is there any hope for me?
How did I get to this place? It must be a combination of the Zale Jewelers holiday commercials and the convicted felons and old men who write me online. There is only so much a girl can take before she snaps and before you know it one cat turns into two and two becomes eighteen. Maybe I should get a hedgehog or a chinchilla to break the cycle? That makes total sense because having a bunch of random animals is so much less crazy than having cats.
I think I am going to put off any animal purchases until the New Year. In the meantime I will count my blessings, crack open a bottle of Merlot, watch a few chick flicks and wait out the loneliness. As for my cat, I will get her some catnip, give her a bowl of milk and her loneliness too shall pass. It will all be fine as long as I stay away from all animal shelters and keep the faith.
December 9, 2009 | 1:29 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
There is a certain online dating site that is specifically geared towards helping Jews meet other Jews. I won’t mention it by name because why should they benefit from my naming them when all they do is take my money and do absolutely nothing?
Last night I got a letter from a man in Oregon. It was really long and explained to me, in great detail, how he could love me, we need to meet, he will travel to all ends of the earth to find love and he is certain it could be me. He is not Jewish. He is not in my desired age range. He does not consider English his first language.
Let’s go through some of the men I have had the pleasure of meeting through this dating site in the last few months and see if we can determine who is the biggest loser.
Richard: We dated for a month before I got a phone call from his girlfriend. He told me he wanted to be exclusive which was fascinating since he was already in a committed relationship. I found out about her when she called after finding his calls to me on the cell phone bill.
Brad: He told me he was divorced and had 3 kids. Turns out he was separated, in the throws of a divorce, still in love with his wife, who had cheated, and actually had 4 kids not 3. He was worried if he told me about all 4, it would be a turn off. Good call. Lying about your kids is a much better way to go. Bravo.
Keith: I gave him my number, he called, we went out, he called again, we made plans, I asked for his number, he said he would give it to me after our next date, I told him I was not going out with him again without the number, he cancelled because he does not like ultimatums. I wonder what his wife thinks about that?
Avi: He called, we had a great date, he said he would like to go out again, I told him that would be great, he called a month later, I said it had been a while, he said he had been busy, we made plans to talk the next day, he called two weeks later. I passed. I wonder what his wife thinks about that?
Brian: The soon to be ex-husband of a friend of mine. Never going to happen. I wonder what his wife thinks about that?
Joseph: A Republican who lied about his age, his family, his height, his personality and his goals. This one is a piece of work because I see his profile online and each and every time he has a new age, a new height and a new picture.
I am sure the women are just as bad as the men in terms of lies and hidden agendas but I don’t have any experience there. Important to note, it’s not just me. I have a lot of friends on this site and we all agree that the quality of men is just not what we were expecting. Perhaps there are so many women who are looking to play around they can toss out those who are serious.
I’m sure I will get the standard “You’re not meeting anyone because you’re a bitter hag” emails and that is ok. I’m a little jaded but not defeated or bitter. I’m actually a pretty great lady and I will not give up. I’m giving up on this dating site, but not giving up in general.
I want a witness to my life. I want to walk through the rest of my life with someone. As my son gets older and marks his own path, I want someone to be by my side. I want all the things that come with a relationship. Good and bad, I want it all.
I am blessed to have been in love before. I have had one great love in my life and I know I will have it again. I have my son, my friends and my work so I will be busy while I wait. I feel a sense of tremendous relief to finally walk away from this Jewish online dating site. At some point you’ve got to accept it’s just not going to happen there and my time is now.
To the men who continue to lie and mislead, karma is a powerful thing so I would watch your back. To the women who are hopeful that they will meet their Beshert, I wish you all the best. Be strong, don’t let it get you down, avoid bitterness, own the fact that it will jade you a little and remember to always keep the faith.
December 8, 2009 | 12:51 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
A lot of people have a lot of opinions about my dating life. I get lots of feedback about my desire to be a better Jew and even more when I say that I only date Jewish men. I’ve blogged about it before but let’s spell it out a little more clearly.
I am Jewish and not just a “High Holiday” or a “Bagel and Lox” Jew. I am a practicing Jew. I go to services, celebrate the holidays, learn Torah and observe more than just Yom Kipper. I find joy and peace in my faith and in learning more.
I am finding my place as I go. I was raised in a secular but traditional home and became observant after I had my son and even more aware after he had his Bar Mitzvah. I am not particularly religious but increasingly aware and appreciative of what having religion in my life does.
I’ve heard the argument that it would be good enough to have someone who has faith if I can’t find someone who is Jewish and I don’t really understand that theory and it’s just not how I roll. I think religion goes hand in hand with faith.
I feel it is important to believe in something and that is based on religion not faith. If someone has tremendous faith and practices Catholicism then that is not going to be a match for me and I don’t mind saying so even though I can feel the hate mail coming.
I think a better comparison would be that perhaps I could be with someone who is spiritual rather than Jewish. Again, this one is hard for me but a little easier to handle. If a man is spiritual, believes in something bigger than himself and prays to a higher power then would that be enough?
If someone were very spiritual and was open to celebrating Jewish holidays and traditions could I have a relationship with that person and still be able to live a Jewish life? I suppose I could but it would be settling to me and I just don’t think there is anything wrong with holding out for a Jew.
Everyone is able to make these decisions for themselves and we all have different levels of faith and religious practice. All I’m saying is that for me, having the same religion is important. I am not judging others who marry outside their faith, just saying that it’s not an option for me.
If my son met a woman who was raised Christian but defined herself as more spiritual than religious I would be concerned because once I had a baby, I embraced my faith and if she were the same she would have a baby and want to share the faith of her upbringing.
I feel I am defending my faith, religion and desire to be with someone who shares it, which is a shame. I think it’s quite lovely to want that connection and believe all the highs and lows in a relationship are made easier to navigate if your partner has the same belief system.
At the end of the day I am a Jew and that is the source of my faith. I believe religion, spirituality and faith go hand in hand and it is my choice to hold hands with a Jew. I should not be attacked or judged for that belief and I do not judge or attack others.
My choices are my own as are my hopes for my child. There are about a billion things more important than my religious path for the haters to worry about so I will compile a list of these things so you can pick something interesting to you.
I am on a journey to find love and at the same time I am on a personal path to understand my faith, embrace my religion and live spiritually. I am blessed to live in a time when I can be free to talk about religion even though there are people who try to scar that freedom.
God Bless those who are unable practice their beliefs and faith. God Bless those who are unable to speak freely and openly about their lives, hopes, dreams and goals. I will hang on and defend my freedom a little stronger until you have the same opportunities. Keep the faith.
December 7, 2009 | 12:31 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
This weekend I went to my friend Laurel’s first photo exhibit. She is a talented photographer and I am very proud of her. My favorite photograph of the show was this one of ruby slippers.
An interesting group of people came to see the show. Artsy types with interesting tattoos, wild hairstyles and strange moustaches. Rockers, punks, babies, grandmas, photographers and those who simply appreciate the art.
I met wonderful people at the exhibit and it’s amazing how you can think you have nothing in common with someone based on how they look only to discover that if you just give it a minute, you will find something that connects you.
When I was moving around the party talking to this eclectic group of people I found myself always coming back to this photo. It is a fresh take on an iconic memory and it got me thinking about snapping my heals together and getting home and I discovered that there is a certain element of “home” that I get by being with other Jews.
I met a wonderful couple at the event, Sandy and Harris. She is adorable and funny and he is handsome and charming. Their daughter Erika is sweet as can be and dates Laurel’s brother Sam. This small group, all strangers to me, made me feel like I was home. We got each other in a way that I can’t really articulate but there is something about being with a group of Jews that feels comfortable and safe to me.
Erika has 3 brothers and Thea, who is the girlfriend of one of her brothers, was there. She is really darling and everyone loves her, including me. Thea is the daughter of a Deacon in the Catholic church and she told me that growing up she had never met anyone Jewish. She refers to herself as a shiksa, which is charming because she pronounces it Shish-ka, as in kabob.
It was a very entertaining conversation and it eventually came around to my blog in the Jewish Journal. I was talking about what I write about and we got to talking about being Jewish and our kids dating outside our faith and Sandy and Harris had an interesting take on it.
Their son had gone out with a lot of girls, some Jewish and some not, and Thea was the first girl that really just fit. They see her with their son and it makes sense and as parents they love seeing him happy and therefore love her and her faith becomes unimportant because of the joy she brings him.
I suppose I never really think of my son marrying someone not Jewish because he is only 13 and it’s not like I need to worry about who he is going to pick for himself because right now I can pick for him, even if it’s only in my head. I want him to be with a woman who makes him laugh and feel good about himself. She will be smart and compassionate and I don’t think there is anything wrong with my wanting her to be Jewish.
Thea’s parents are going to meet Sandy and Harris in January and it will be interesting to hear the Deacon’s take on it. I get a lot of angry mail for my position on wanting myself and my son to marry within our faith, and I’m curious to see what the Deacon thinks about it and the position of Catholic parents, particularly one who is a leader in his faith.
At the end of the day, is it more important to be with someone of faith than with someone who has the same religion? If you believe in a higher power does it matter what we call him or is the simple fact that we believe in him enough? When my son finds the woman that he wants to marry will I be able to support him and love her if she is not Jewish? Of course I will.
It was a great evening. It was wonderful to sit and kibbitz with new friends and be reminded that all people can find a common thread if they are willing to look. I love the idea that we can click our heels and find our way home. All it takes is an open mind and the ability to keep the faith.
****You can see Laurel’s work at www.laureljohnsonphotography.com