Barbara, 36, grew up in Boca Raton — interestingly, in one of the only areas of Boca with very few Jews. “We were one of 10 Jewish kids in my elementary school. We were on the countryside of Boca — the west-west-westside.
“I went to theater camp when I was 14, which kind of saved my life, because I was made fun of a lot as a kid. Just in middle school — 11 to 14. When kids started to become mean girls, I didn’t understand how to be cool. I kind of look like I’m cool, but I’m naïve and honest and a terrible liar. I didn’t understand it. I still don’t understand it. I don’t get cruelty. So when I was 14, I went to this theater camp in Massachusetts, and everyone was dorky there, and everyone was super talented, and all of a sudden I was, like, I’m beautiful and funny. I came back and was popular. I was the lead in plays, and I won the beauty pageant at school.”
At 23, she was living in New York, auditioning for every show in town, and finally booked a traveling musical. When she got back, she realized she had nothing to show for it. “I had to find a new temp job, keep auditioning and find a new apartment. I hated it, and I was only 24. I started thinking maybe this wasn’t the right career choice, and I prayed really hard to God that day, crying my eyes out. I got a phone call like a half hour after I finished praying inviting me to a Shabbat dinner. I had never been to an Upper West Side anything. It was really cool and swanky, and there were cute guys there, and I had never dated a Jewish guy before.” It changed her life. She studied. She kept kosher. She kept Shabbat. She quit acting. A rabbi told her that if she took on certain things, she’d be married by 30. She listened. “I went on 100 match-made dates in 10 years. Some of them were nightmares, some of them were fun.” It didn’t work. She went back to performing. She doesn’t fit in the Orthodox box anymore. “I’m a growing Jew. I don’t necessarily feel in my life I need to follow it perfectly. I can do my best to grow as much as I can organically. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself.”
Barbara’s 5-foot-7 and likes her men tall and lanky: “I’d like to have children. I definitely want to marry someone Jewish. I’d like to have Shabbat dinner, and I’d like to have a kosher home. I’d like to have a meaningful relationship — someone I can cry with, watch movies with, pillow talk to 3 a.m., raise amazing children together and build a beautiful Jewish home. They don’t need to be shomer Shabbat or kosher to go out with me — I don’t keep it perfectly. I’m allergic to yelling and screaming and fighting. Arguments are OK, but not fighting and screaming. The biggest turn-on for me [is] if someone can make me laugh. I’ve never done a drug, and I’m pretty proud of that.” Her three most important adjectives in describing what she wants in a man are funny, kind and responsible.
“They don’t have to have a million dollars, but growing toward something they care about. And they pay their bills.
“I’ve heard I’m a lot of fun to be with, and I make people laugh. I’m a cheap date. I like to go to Upright Citizens Brigade shows. I’m really happy with frozen yogurt or a picnic in the park. I think if someone just takes the time to get to know me, I’m an open book.”
Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps by clicking on this column at jewishjournal.com.