Frumgirl 4: Lonely Lot

We’re a lonely lot, us Jews.

Call America multicultural and let everyone trump the importance of diversity, but ethnicities still divide along party lines. Many groups are interracial, most clubs are, and you’ll catch a mixed bag socializing at any corner of the cafeteria, but the Indian guy walks off with the Indian girl; those of Chinese extraction – no matter how many generations assimilated – belong to a fraternity that only accepts Chinese; the smiling Muslim girls walk all but arm-in-arm and operate like a pack, the Caribbeans slip into Patwa and leave everyone else out.

But not us Jews.

It almost makes me feel lonely when I arrive in class the first day and find, to my excitement, that there are two other Jews there – but I can’t speak to them. Or when I walk down the hall, catch a Jew’s eye, and then we both look away. Or the awkwardness of it when we exchange a few words.

It’s weird how it works. Right or wrong, I have few qualms about getting into a lengthy mathematical discussion with the Hispanic to my left or the Bosnian to my right, but plunk a guy in black and white next door and it’s like we don’t exist to each other.

It isn’t just me – I know plenty of college girls find it easier to talk to non-Jewish guys than Jewish ones. “It’s because the yeshiva guys are not supposed to be talking to me,” was the way one friend explained it. Kind of weird when you think about it. Maybe backwards, and possibly misguided. But that’s how it is.

I’ve been trying to figure out why. Is it just habit to avoid socializing with penguins, or is it because we’re more likely to get too friendly since we have more in common than with, say, a Guyanese?

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Published in: on September 29, 2008 at 12:19 PM  Comments (9)  

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  1. *shrugs* I’m a WASP. My boyfriend is a Chinese Malaysian and we get along just fine and have lots to say to each other. Put me in a room full of prep school kids, though, and I won’t say a word. And WASPs, unlike frum Jews, don’t have social barriers about socializing with the opposite gender.

  2. That’s exactly how it is by me. I found it easier to talk with guys that are from a more modern background since I know I have less in common with them. But I was afraid to talk to the frum yeshiva guys because I felt they wouldn’t want to talk to me, because their not supposed to or something. Also, with the non Jewish guys anything you say is ok, because it’s just casual talk. With a Jewish guy, at least for me because I’m single, I’m afraid that it may be taken as something more. That since they are single too, that they are looking at my as an eligible single, so it makes me uncomfortable. SO that’s also why I find it easier to talk to married guys, because I know they already have a wife, so anything I say is just casual conversation.

  3. If the guy is unmarried, I can see that it would be normal not to talk to him (because he shoulfdn’t be… but if he is talking to the other girls (would they”???!????), I should think its better that they talk to you. But hopefully, they talk only to boys anyway….

  4. RickisMom: some end up talking to other girls too. But other Jewish girls as well. It depends on each person individually perhaps. Each person gives a different vibe making you feel comfortable or uncomfortable. If the Jewish guy is talking about his secretary girl in an inappropriate way, then it makes me not want to talk to him.

  5. Interesting. As a B”T that dropped out of college to go to Yeshiva(don’t worry I reversed my choice).. I remember how it was in Yeshivah. Girls were like Zoo creatures, vastly interesting and nice to look at,though that was supposed to be forbidden, but the Rosh Yeshiva always seated them directly across from you at the Shabbos table…. anyway I digress, though beware get too close and they can be dangerous. Just what horrors awaited us if we got too friendly with girls was never exactly explained. I mean we were all committed to shomer negia in extreme(it was a chassidishe yeshivah) so I guess there was the odd chance that an authorized shidduch could happen…

    However, for those outside of the Semminary/Yeshivah system, maybe that is not a bad thing. I remember how my Rosh Yeshiva railed against even the thought of going to University… and many friends of both my wife and mine that did have huge problems in the shidduch system. So… I don’t know maybe it is time to change conventions and look at actually talking… If you are committed to your Judaism what’s the worst that can happen, a shidduch that circumvents the shadchan?

  6. >>If you are committed to your Judaism what’s the worst that can happen, a shidduch that circumvents the shadchan?<<

    Well, that’s kind of the problem. Since a Jewish guy and girl can’t seem to look at each other without thinking “potential mate?”, it makes the whole business rather awkward. If we could eradicate that business from our minds and just make it a “looking out for a fellow Jew” thing, it would be more comfortable talking to each other.

  7. >>Well, that’s kind of the problem.<<

    You know, that totally sucks. There are times I wish I had been raised frum, but this reminds me why being a BT isn’t so bad. Hopefully my daughters will be able to think of guys more like “fellow Jews” and leave the potential mate thing more on the side. Not that most the other girls aren’t thinking about that sometimes also, but, EVERY TIME??? How do you live with that kind of pressure? Amazing.

  8. >>Well, that’s kind of the problem. Since a Jewish guy and girl can’t seem to look at each other without thinking “potential mate?”<<
    Again, I have to ask what is the problem. No offense meant, however aside from being a Rav I am also a realist.

    You are talking about frum people in University, which under the best of circumstances creates huge difficulties in the “shidduch resume.” Having been inside enough Yeshivot both as a talmid and as a Rav(as well as a Beis Yaakov or two), let’s honestly look at the situation.

    In the Modern Orthodox world, there doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem, casual dating and finding of spouses is expected these days. That leaves the traditional orthodox to hareidi spectrum that may still have a problem.

    In that world, again no offense meant, but once you take the daring leap from Beis Yaakov or your Yeshiva of choice, into a University… well whether spoken or unspoken you become damaged goods. A dear friend of my wife’s, who is FFB, Beis Yaakov “in town” semminary in Israel, cannot find a date to save her life within that community, and why? Simple. She became a nurse{gasp}, so that she could support a learning husband. However, unbeknownst to her at the time, that meant she was felling her head with treif knowledge ChV”Sh, and would be bringing that into the house.

    I have to say that if she had *stumbled* into a shidduch in University or nursing school, that would have been much better for her self-esteem as well as emotional and psychological well being then her current situation.

    With the shidduch *crisis* that have so many Rabbonim wringing their hands, I would think that we should be encouraging our young people to explore any halakhically valid option, regardless if it is within the traditional framework. Because in the end if you are comitted to your Judaism, at worst you will find yourself in an accidental shidduch with a supportive spouse. At best even if you both realize that you are no match, you can then progress to seeing each other as fellow Jews.

  9. HaMekubal makes a really good point, imo.


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