Last Friday night at Sinai Temple, Rabbi David Wolpe came off the bimah during services and whispered into my ear. "Interdating?! I bet you got some letters."
The rabbi was right: Letters, phone calls and a woman at Sinai who followed me down in the elevator and out into the parking garage while she accused me of destroying the Jewish people.
In last week's column I proposed addressing the pain of Jewish women approaching the end of their childbearing years who cannot find a Jewish mate. One solution, I wrote, would be to encourage them to date non-Jews, and for our rabbis and community leaders to create pathways for inclusion and conversion for the non-Jewish partners.
The idea sparked dozens of responses pro and con, and in fairness to the idea's detractors (and supporters) we reprint a sample on these pages, with a brief coda by me.
Our Hindu Widows
I am one of those 40-something women that you referred to in your article, "Our Hindu Widows," (Aug. 10).
Almost all synagogue- (including Orthodox) and Jewish organization-sponsored singles events are for the 21-39 age range. As I said to an Orthodox rabbi a few years ago, "I didn't choose to be single and in my 40s ... it's just the way things have worked out."
The synagogues and Jewish organizations make the age range quite clear. Some go as far as to card individuals before allowing them to enter the event.
Your suggestion of interdating is too easy, in addition to being an unacceptable option for me and for many of us. There are single Jewish women in their 30s and 40s, and there are single Jewish men in there 30s and 40s, as well.
Los Angeles is the second largest Jewish community in the United States. Instead of suggesting interdating, why don't you challenge those rabbis and community leaders in the synagogues and Jewish organizations to sponsor events for those of us who are 40-plus?
Try being part of the solution instead of helping to decrease our numbers.
Name withheld by request
Yesterday I came across your editorial on the problems of 30's-40's women finding Jewish men to marry . . . I naturally read it with great interest.
I could identify with all the players in the drama. I had fallen hopelessly in love several times in my teen 's and 20's and would have certainly married the objects of my affection (or was it affliction), if they wold have had me (actually one young woman who I adored was secretly in love with me but her mother pushed her to marry the nice Jewish doctor and never let her know that I was leaving message after message for her ... When I was in my 40's, I was meeting many attractive, eligible women but was no longer falling in love......perhaps what you describe in your piece was true of me....too many options......
The last number of years I have felt ready and have been more open.
I'm open to having a family, and have been dating women much younger than myself. I went to the Oscars this year with one of the young stars of a musical, she's 22. In the fall I had a serious relationship with a bright young woman of 27 that I thought I had potential, but sadly fizzled. I'm on my way to NY now, where there is a rather attractive model, who is a Stanford grad, also in her 20's whom I've been seeing when I'm in the city. None of these women are Jewish. There is a young woman of 32 who I have dated since she was 19 but stopped seeing recently, a very bright, terrific person, who I suspect has always been in love with me, but sadly that level of Chemistry, hasn't been there for me. She is not Jewish, but is in the process of converting.
Now what's ironic here is that when I meet a Jewish woman in her 30's or 40's.....that I feel I could develop a serious interest with, most are not interested in a man over 50. Why is that? I only date super intelligent, spiritually evolved women.......the gentile women don't have a problem with age (I think of my self as a 9 yr. old in an older guy's body). Maybe some of these spectacular women who are seriously looking for a Jewish "mister right" should just set their sights higher...... age wise.
My vitality level is really higher than most of the guys I know in their 30's. I've never been married and I've saved all my alimony for the right woman. Anyhow, you can pass this email along to your 30-40 something desperate to be housewives or career women, if you like........
Name withheld by request
The week your article "Hindu Widows" was published was also the week that I launched a new venture, Frieda's Table, focusing on single, eligible Jews in their thirties and forties. As a woman who met my bashert late and had my children just "under the wire," I am keenly aware that I might not have been so lucky. I also know that many events for Jewish singles are devoid of Jewish content, and that Jewish singles are (still!) treated with condescension. The meet-markets and even singles services can be very alienating. My goal is to create interesting, rewarding, programs in a respectful and caring atmosphere. The worst-case scenario for a singles event should be that someone might say, "That was a great program. I got a lot out of it, and I met some really nice people. Too bad I didn't connect with anyone I want to date."
All those "beautiful, brilliant" women you describe can regale you with horror stories of Jewish events that scarred them rather than helped. I don't think rabbis can responsibly recommend inter-dating until we do our part to promote intra-dating. We need to make showing up as a single person -- whether to a singles event or to anything else in the Jewish community -- a welcoming, positive experience.
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