Posted by Ilana Angel
If you read Keeping the Faith with any regularity, you know I write about sex and faith, a lot. Both are interesting topics and both matter. Sex is wonderful, and being sexual is important, but I am at a point in my life where I am not willing to have sex without love, and I cannot find love without sharing my faith, so I struggle. Throw in that I am a single mother, and recently out of a relationship, and the whole thing becomes a bit of a mess.
That mess led to this event. I am looking for guidance and answers, so I gathered a group of professionals to help. I am very excited about this evening and I hope you will join us. You can’t talk about sex without getting a little racy, and you can’t talk about God without getting a little fired up, so it promises to be a provocative and fun night. I can’t guarantee that it won’t get heated, or the language won't get colorful, but it will not get vulgar.
Rabbi Ed Feinstein is the senior rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom. He serves on the faculty of the Ziegler Rabbinical School of the American Jewish University, the Wexner Heritage Program, and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He lectures widely across the country and is a brilliant and very cool Rabbi. You can learn more about Rabbi Feinstein at vbs.org.
Dr. Limor Blockman is a renowned Clinical Sex Counselor, Educator, Columnist, Speaker and Author. Dr. Limor holds a PhD in Human Sexuality, a Master’s in Public Health & Community Medicine, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology & Behavioral Sciences. You can read Dr. Limor's blog at jewishjournal.com/cradleoflove.
David Wygant has been earning the trust of American men and women looking to transform their love lives, for over 20 years. He has personally coached thousands of people, and is one of the most respected and popular relationship experts in the world. David specializes in helping men, and you can learn about him at davidwygant.com.
Danielle Berrin writes the Hollywood Jew column and blog for the Jewish Journal. It is a values-based take on the entertainment industry. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, British Esquire and The Huffington Post. You can read Danielle's work at jewishjournal.com/hollywoodjew.
Whether you are single or married, gay or straight, having sex or wanting sex, you should join us. Regardless of your level of observance, or your religion, you should join us. We will discuss faith, the presence of sex in our religious teachings, and how to connect the dots to be our best selves, and embrace a comfortable and satisfying sexual and religious life. At the end of the day sex matters, and God is watching, so the best thing to do is keep the faith.
Purchase tickets at hotandholy.eventbrite.com
6.18.13 at 8:55 am | This is going to be a fun night and I hope you. . .
6.17.13 at 7:49 am | He writes the songs that make the whole world. . .
6.15.13 at 6:32 pm | I was reminded of my father's spirit through the. . .
6.12.13 at 6:36 pm | I have shortened my list of requirements to just. . .
6.7.13 at 7:20 am | Getting your groove back is exhausting.
6.2.13 at 10:48 pm | My son has all the qualities I value in a man.
6.12.13 at 6:36 pm | I have shortened my list of requirements to just. . . (516)
6.18.13 at 8:55 am | This is going to be a fun night and I hope you. . . (349)
6.17.13 at 7:49 am | He writes the songs that make the whole world. . . (246)
June 17, 2013 | 7:49 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
Barry Manilow turns 70 day. Happy Birthday Mr. Manilow. Last night I went to see him perform in Los Angeles at The Greek Theater, and he was fantastic. I couldn’t tell if he was actually singing through the whole thing, but the slight delay in his voice matching the music would indicate he was not. He is nipped and tucked in a rather unfortunate way, but he is divine. He had a lot of make-up on, and there were a couple of times I thought he might break a hip, but make no mistake about it, this man and still sing, and he is a remarkable showman who gave us a remarkable show.
Barry was funny and charming, told stories, and engaged the audience in a way that made us feel like he was talking to each one of us personally. My favorite part was when he sang Mandy. They showed a video of himself in his 20’s singing at a piano, then he came out and did a duet with himself. It gave me goose bumps, and yes, I cried. As he went though his songs I was amazed that I knew all the words and sang along to songs I have not heard in a long time, but are forever etched into my memory. Barry Manilow is a genius, and it is hard to believe he is 70 years old.
The audience was young and old, gay and straight, and gay. Everyone shared love for a man who has been part of our lives forever. Barry spoke of how music and arts in his public school helped to shape who he was, and about his charity, http://www.manilowmusicproject.org, which helps bring instruments to schools in need. Last night was amazing, Barry Manilow is amazing, and I have amazing memories connected to this man and his music. As I sang along I took a trip through my own life, and was reminded that Mr. Barry Manilow has helped me to keep the faith.
June 15, 2013 | 6:32 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I love iced tea. I never drank it until I moved to the States, but ever since then I have been hooked. I recently discovered Pure Leaf and it is my favorite. I like the sweetened one and could drink it all day, everyday. I never keep it in my house because I worry I will figure out a way to attach it by IV to my arm as I am addicted to it.
This week I was stopped in traffic due to an accident and as I went to make a u-turn to get out of the mess, I found myself in front of a 7/11, so I decided to stop in for a lottery ticket and iced tea. As I walked in I noticed a man and his dog sitting outside with a cup to collect donations. I planned to give him my change on the way out.
I got my tea and lottery tickets, checking an old one I had in my wallet. I won $11 and was super excited about it. I never win the lottery so I took this as a sign I was getting close to hitting the jackpot and bought 2 more tickets, took my winnings and headed out. I stopped next to the man with the dog and said hello. He said hello back and asked if I could spare some change.
I admired his cute dog and told him I had just won the lottery and wanted to give him my winnings so he could buy lunch for him and his dog. I handed over the $11 and wished him a good day. He told me it was the most money anyone had ever given him, and he was grateful. I told him it was my pleasure to share my luck and wished him well.
I have always believed in tzedaka. I am also one who always talks to homeless people. You never know what the circumstances were that got them there, and I have always felt that if someone is brave enough to ask a stranger for help, they should be helped. I don’t care what they do with the money, and it is none of my business, so I give.
I drove home happy I could help someone, thrilled I won the lottery, and enjoying my iced tea. I got home, made dinner for my son, and never gave it another thought. A couple of days later as I was heading home from work, I saw the man outside 7/11 with his dog. I decided to stop in to get a tea, and a lottery ticket, since maybe he was good luck.
When I approached the door I asked the man how he was doing even though I knew he wouldn’t remember me. He immediately stood up and said hello. He went on to tell me he and his dog had a great lunch with the money I gave him and he was able to buy snacks too. I told him I was glad he was doing well, and he told me he had a confession to make.
He said he had used one of the dollars I gave him to buy a lottery ticket because he thought I might be good luck. He bought a scratcher and won $5.00. He then reached into his bag of treasures and pulled out a Pure Leaf iced tea. He told me he noticed it was what I was drinking when I gave him the money and he used his winnings to buy me one.
I started to cry. It was the sweetest gesture and I was touched by his gift, his memory, and his desire to thank me. The tea was warm as he had been holding onto it and waiting for me to come by again. He smiled at me with his toothless grin and told me it was the happiest day he and his dog could remember. It was a truly remarkable moment.
I thanked him for the tea and told him I was going to save it and put it in my fridge since it was hot, but I would go in and buy us both one. He told me he was fine and I had helped him already. He had no idea that he had helped me. I bought us both a tea, water for the dog, 10 cans of dog food, 2 sandwiches, and some snacks for my new friends.
I gave him the shopping and told him it was now one of the happiest days that I could remember. It is when we give freely that we receive things in return. It is Father’s Day and I am sad beyond measure that my Dad has passed. I often wonder what he would think of my blog, and my sharing of stories. I miss my Dad and know he would love this one.
In helping this man I was able to help myself. I always get a little sad around Father’s Day and I find myself thinking about my Dad and all the things he is missing. I dream about my Dad and I feel this man was sent to remind me of him. Life is complicated and busy, but if I can remember to slow down and take notice, I am given many gifts.
My dad would have done for this man what I did. I am my father’s daughter and to be reminded that he lives on through me is a wonderful gift to be given from a complete stranger. I give with no expectation of receiving, which is tzedaka. Because of this tzedaka however, I was given the priceless gift of feeling a connection to my Dad.
Happy Father’s Day to my wonderful Dad, Robert Angel, za'l. To all dads out there, I hope you have a wonderful day. To the troops who are away from their families, and to all the people who celebrate this day as a tribute to father’s who have passed, Happy Father’s Day. Be kind to one another, stay safe, and remember to always keep the faith.
June 12, 2013 | 6:36 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I have started dating and it is interesting. By dating of course I mean I like to make dates, then chicken out and cancel them. It is hard, but I am trying. I want to meet someone wonderful to share my life with, and apparently in order for that to happen, I have to date. I have made a list of requirements, based on past experiences and childhood fairytale fantasies, and I am diving into the rather unappealing pool of LA men with my list in hand.
Every time a man initiates contact with me I look at my list to remind myself of what is important to me. In the interest of full disclosure, and so you understand the journey I am on, this is the list that I refer to while dating. Requirements to date Ilana Angel, in no particular order of importance: 1) He must be Jewish. That is it. I’m not kidding. At this stage of my life the one thing that matters is that he be Jewish.
I have dated men that are tall, short, fat, thin, brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes, hairy, and bald. You name a type of man, and I have dated him. The one thing all the men I date have had in common is Judaism. They may all have different levels of observance, but at the core, they are all Jewish. I have come to understand that dating Jewish men does not guarantee that I am going to hit the jackpot any quicker.
My heart has been broken by Jewish men, because being Jewish does not make you a mensch. Being a mensch makes you a mensch, and being an ass makes you an ass. I have met mensches who are not Jewish, and assholes, who are. At the end of the day there are no guarantees in love and in order for a relationship to even begin, there must a starting point with a connection, and for me, it is for both of us to be Jewish.
I am Jewish. It is how I define myself. It also defines my worldview, my life as a mother, daughter, sister, friend, writer, and woman. In times of sorrow or fear I take comfort in the teachings of my faith, and when I am happy and joyous, I give thanks to my faith. It is not about being religious. It is about believing in God, allowing that belief to exist in my heart and soul. Important to note that the men I date don't need to worship the same way I do.
With each date I am reminded of what I have always known, I want to be with a Jewish man because it makes me feel safe. For those of you have read my column with regularity, you know it has been a difficult road for me. I am an inherently kind and trusting person and while I don’t ever want that to change, it sets me up to be hurt by those who are not as kind. I am a romantic girl who loves deeply, from a place of trust.
It is truly a contradiction because when it comes to speaking my mind or fighting for what I believe in, I am a pit bull. Nobody ever needs to worry about what I think or feel because I will be the first to tell them. When it comes to love however, I am a little shy, somewhat wounded, and I tend to trust everyone but myself. It takes a lot to get me on a date and when I am there it takes about a minute for me to know if it is a waste of time.
I like to date Jewish men because at the end of the day I think being Jewish rocks. My list of only one requirement for a date matters, and when my friends tell me I need to open my horizens and consider dating outside my faith, I know that is not an option for me. Love will come. I may not know when, where, or who, but it will come, and he will be Jewish. George Clooney could convert so I just need to enjoy the ride, and keep the faith.
June 7, 2013 | 7:20 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
Entering the world of dating after such a long time is interesting. By interesting of course I mean not that interesting. I am not sure what I am doing, having trouble getting into the rhythm of the dating dance, and frankly making a bit of a fool out of myself. I am not good at telling the difference between a man and a pig, which is a drag. You’d think telling them apart would be easy for a vegetarian like myself, but alas, no. Damn pigs.
It occurred to me today that I really need to get back in sync with life, as I’m a little off. In an attempt to get my groove back it has become clear that the right groove is difficult to find, and if you finally do find it, then loose it, getting it back can seem impossible. There is a groove to love, a groove to motherhood, and a groove to life in general. Sadly they are all different so it is complicated. Here is a day in my search for a groove.
I was in Burbank for a doctor’s appointment. As I sat in the waiting room, a man sat down across from me and he was wearing those running shoes where each toe is separated into its own little socket. I was staring at his weird shoes, which reminded me of some socks I owned in the 70’s, when the woman next to him started up a conversation about his shoes. She was flirting up a storm and I watched with amusement, as he played along.
As they did the dating dance, I was fascinated as it quickly became clear that while both were dancing, they were not listening to the same music. She was cliché as she leaned in to touch his arm with a laugh and throw back of her hair. He was not really listening to her, but rather focused on her boobs, which I’m sure would have been cuter were her bra the right size. I promised myself I would never try to find my groove at the doctor’s office.
I was headed to Koreatown for a meeting and stopped at Starbucks on the way. As I was in line I watched a couple chatting over their coffee. They were speaking in Russian and things were not going well. She was crying and talking loudly while he stared at her with a pained expression. I’m not sure that the pain was from what she was saying as much as it was from simply having to listen to what she was saying. They may have been breaking up.
I was staring and trying to not be obvious about it, as I wished I spoke Russian and looked around for a translator. I got my drink and as I was about to leave, I stopped to get some napkins and took them over to her. She had amazing blue eyes and when she looked up my heart broke for her. She took the napkins and said thank you. I wanted to hug her. I promised myself I would never kill someone else’s groove at Starbucks.
I had the dreaded “what are you going to do all summer” talk with my son. He is a great kid and I love him more than anything on this planet, or any other planet for that matter. This young man is smart, funny, charming, and the person I would want to spend all my time with. He is also just 17 and while he is certain that makes him an adult, and even though he looks like an adult, he is still a child, my child, and the kid needs to go out and get a job.
The thought of him lounging around all summer is not good, but I have to laugh at his approach. He tells me he is taking a couple of weeks off to relax from the school year, then he will get a job. Apparently he will simply wake up one day and a job will present itself to him. Important to note he says it will be a great job, not a mundane summer job. I promised myself I would not laugh or yell when he realizes he needs to work hard to get into his groove.
I got a message from a man on JDate who told me he reads my blogs and thinks the best way to move on after a relationship ends is to just jump back on the horse, and he is willing to be the my horse. Really? My dating life is now about men on JDate offering me sympathy sex? My blog is now pimping for me? Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, I was contacted by a man in Canada who was looking for a long distance relationship.
He felt that his coming out to LA once a month would be a great thing. We could have dinner, get to know each other, and then he said, “we can get into a good groove:” Oh. My. God. I am 47 years old and ready to throw in the dating towel if this is the selection of men I have to choose from. I thanked him for the offer, sent my regards to his wife, and poured myself a strong drink. I promised myself I would not panic and get another cat.
It was an exhausting day and by now I was in bed, too tired to cry and too tired to sleep. I just thought about everything and we all know nothing good will come out of lying in bed with a drink thinking about your life. I am blessed and lucky in so many ways, but at the end of the day I am a little sad, and I think it is all about my groove. I am wise enough to know the difference between wanting and needing, so what is it I seek?
Some days I laugh at it all, some days I cry at it all, and most days I just try to make it through knowing that tomorrow will be better. By better of course I mean closer to getting my groove back. Maybe I never really had a groove, so I’m not getting it back as much as I am simply looking for it. I don’t know. At the end of the day instead of worrying about the groove, I should just enjoy the music of this crazy life and keep the faith.
June 2, 2013 | 10:48 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
My son went to his Junior Prom this weekend. He looked so handsome and grown up that it took my breath away. As we took pictures I stared at this man and wondered where the time had gone. He has grown up in what feels like a minute and I cannot wrap my head around it. He is tall, handsome, smart, funny, gentle, kind, bold, brave, and has a tight grasp on his morals, faith, and his future.
He is very independent and the truth is that since he got his own car he is not around that much. I used to hate schlepping him everywhere and now I miss it because our time together in the car was a chance to talk and catch up. We still talk of course, but it is different now. He loves me and will always need me, but is becoming less dependent on me, which makes me both proud and sad.
My son has all the qualities I value in a man. I have raised him to respect women, his faith, and himself. He is loving and kind and takes very good care of my heart. He knows this is an interesting time of transition for our relationship and he works hard to make it gradual for me, not a severe change. He allows me to let go slowly and I am grateful.
I love him and it occurred to me today that rather than compare men to my last love, I should comparie them to the man I love most. My son. I had a date this weekend and in talking to him to make plans, he told me he did not want his kids or ex to know he was dating. It was a red flag to me and though I did not say anything when he originally said it, it bothered me.
I asked my son if he would date someone who wanted to keep it a secret and he said no. He felt that if someone was not proud to date him, he was not interested. I told him what my date said and he told me I was fabulous and that nobody is allowed to keep me a secret. He was offended by the comment and so I did what I knew I should have done when he said it, I cancelled.
I wrote him to cancel rather than call because he was with his kids and since he does not want them to know he is dating, I wanted to be respectful and sent him an email. I then texted him to check his email as I wanted to make sure he knew I was not coming, and also that I was being respectful of his choice to not involve his kids by not calling when I knew they were together.
He was defensive, but he never called, just wrote back. If he had been interested, and was not still somehow hung up on his ex, he would have called and explained. Instead he got mad, sent an email saying he did not love her, and sealed the deal for me. I was happy I cancelled, and happy my son reminded me of my own worth and to not settle.
It wasn't just my son either. I asked a friend and he said if I was hesitating I should not go. I asked my Twitter followers if it was a red flag and the overwhelming response was yes. I have lost confidence in my ability to make decisions since my last relationship ended. He broke my heart, which will mend, but more hurtful is he broke my spirit and left me scared.
I am scared to trust myself, or trust others. I need to get over that and canceling my date was the first step to getting there. I went with my gut, and even though it was uncomfortable and took me a minute, I trusted my instincts. Judging by his response, I did the right thing. In the words of my son, I am fabulous and if a man does not get it, and is not proud to be with me, he is simply unworthy.
My son is growing up and after all this time of teaching him things, he is now teaching me. If I am going to expect him to value himself and be respectful of the people he loves, and those he doesn’t, then the best way to make sure he does is to do the same thing myself. My son had a blast at the Prom, I dodged a dating bullet, and in the end learned a lot about myself.
I am a great mother. One of the best actually. I am a great friend, sister, and daughter. I am a fun date, a wonderful girlfriend, and a kind and decent human being. I am worthy of all the things I want for myself, and nobody is going to take that belief away from me. I am happy, I am healthy, and I am whole. I had a great weekend, which happens when I keep the faith.
May 28, 2013 | 9:18 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
My friends have often said I am obsessed with the romantic notion of love, and my big mistake is putting love as my number one requirement in a relationship. I want love. Sex is easy to find, but love is elusive, and I want it. I think sex is better when love is there, and while sex can still be great without love, which one needs to come first? Do men need to have sex in order to fall in love, while women need to fall in love in order to have sex?
I have friends who have the same view on sex that I have on love. They think a good sex life is the key to a good relationship, so if you have great sex it will lead to a great relationship. It seems like an odd approach to me, but it turns out a lot of men think this way. I believe for women sex is better if we love who we are intimate with. I also think we have different ideas of what intimacy is. Men and women are very different sexually.
For women holding hands can be intimate. For me, one of the most intimate things is when a man places his hand on the small of my back to guide me through a doorway. For a man, letting you spend the night and keep a toothbrush in his bathroom can be intimate. Now I don’t want to stereotype men because everyone is different, but these are my observations while dating. Each time I think I am figuring it all out, I realize I know nothing.
The feeling of love is wonderful. When I look at a man I can think he is attractive, but if I am in love him, he becomes the smartest, funniest, sexiest man in the world. I think a lot of women are like that. Love simply changes how we view our partners and ourselves. Sex is important in a relationship, and one of the greatest things about being a grown up, but I’d rather be in love and working on great sex, then having great sex with no love.
Sex at this stage of my life is both liberating and complicated. I am secure enough to have no inhibitions and embrace my sexuality, but also grounded spiritually and religiously enough that I worry about it more. I worry about the role my faith plays in my sex life, and also worry about what my partner thinks about me, and the impression I am making. By partner of course I mean I seem to recall that is how I felt when I had a partner.
It is an interesting twist of fate to reach a point in your life where you can embrace sex, but there is nobody to have sex with. To clarify, there are a lot of people to have sex with, but I want sex to matter, so it is not happening because nobody matters at the moment. I wish I could find my inner sex goddess and have sex for fun without love, but I just can’t get there. I want it all and so I wait. The bigger question is how long will I be waiting?
I am trying to make my way through the hell that is dating over 40, and could use some guidance. So, I am pleased to announce that I will moderate a wonderful event for The Jewish Journal on Tuesday, June 25th. If you will be in Los Angeles, Save The Date! It will be an interesting evening of discussion and learning as we talk about sex and faith. I am honored to be joined by a wonderful panel of experts to teach and enlighten us.
Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Clinical Sex Counselor Dr. Limor Blockman, and Dating Coach David Wygant, will share their expertise and insights during what promises to be an entertaining and enlightening evening of learning. Details will be available soon and tickets will go on sale next week. Married or single, Jewish or not, you are invited to attend and we hope you will bring your questions as this is an evening for all of us to talk and share.
At the end of the day I am doing the best I can. I hope to find a partner that makes me feels sexy, embraces my romantic heart, and unleashes my inner hussy. I want to swing from the rafters and have a fulfilling sex life without compromising my faith, my body, or my dreams of love. I look forward to the event and hope you can join us. Love is grand, sex matters, faith guides, and the goal is to enjoy it all while keeping the faith.
May 26, 2013 | 2:10 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Every single day, including this Memorial Day, someone will die or be injured while serving this country on our behalf. It is our duty to remember that this weekend is about the troops, past and present, and not just about a BBQ or day off from work. It’s important to take a moment and acknowledge and thank our armed forces.
Remember those who are overseas. Remember those here at home. Remember those who are coming home injured. Remember those who are getting ready to go. Remember every single person who has ever put on a uniform and served the United States. They dedicate their lives so we can live ours.
To every man and woman who is serving in the armed services, every mother and father who has a child serving, every child who has a parent serving, every family who is waiting for someone to come home, every family who has lost member of their family, thank you.
There are kids serving who are not much older than my child. There are men and women serving who are missing their kids. It is a huge sacrifice to be in the military, and I can’t wrap my head around what it must feel like to be on a plane heading overseas, or on a plane back home. I imagine heading in either direction is scary.
If you see someone in uniform say thank you and keep the armed forces in your prayers. Thank you to everyone who fights every day to make this a great country. Your bravery and sacrifices are appreciated and respected by all of us. You are in our hearts, we are all waiting for you come home, and we are keeping the faith.