Frumgirl 5: For Papa, Make Him a Scholar

The four of us were standing around chatting after class one day—Diana, a 29-year-old Catholic African-American, Sadaf, a hijabi (scarf-wearing) Muslim girl of 22, Emma, who is 23 and from Barbados, and myself. Sadaf was entertaining us with talk about her last Islamic studies class over the weekend, when the topic changes to guys.

Suddenly Emma, in a reserved, Emma-like voice, pipes up. “Hey F5, you know…maybe you’ll think I’m crazy or something…but…ever since the first day of school, I was totally thinking that you and Joey would be perfect for one another!”

Having just taken a swig of orange juice from the carton I was holding, I struggle not to give my classmates a shower. A shadchan? Here?! And in the form of a Seventh Day Adventist from the West Indies, no less. Hashem bless my lucky stars…

Joey is a nice, rather funny guy of Syrian descent who is the only yarmulke-wearing dude in the whole program. He’s definitely a sweet fellow, but not exactly what I’m looking for in the slightest. Needless to say very much surprised at the randomness of the suggestion (in a way, I suppose, similar to the “she wears a skirt, he wears pants” shidduch arrangement), I try valiantly to swallow my mouthful.

Sadaf, however, beats me to it. “Nah, that won’t work,” she says casually.

My eyebrows go up. Oh?

Diana joins in now. “Why not?”

Sadaf keeps going. “Well, because Joey is Sephardic, and F5 is not.”

The other two say “ohhh” and nod sagely. I am fighting the urge to laugh. Diana then turns to me and asks, “So, F5, what kind of guy are you looking for, then?”

About to answer, Sadaf beats me to it again. “She’s looking for a Yeshiva student. You know, those guys with the black pants and white shirts.”

I’m looking at Sadaf incredulously now. Where in the world does she get her information from?

On a roll now, she continues. “Oh my gosh! Hello, F5, I totally have the perfect guy for you!! He was in one of my undergrad classes, white shirt, black pants, the whole deal! Hmm…and good looking too…”

Two lessons:

1. The multiculturalism in graduate school is mind-boggling.

2. The shadchan will always find you.

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Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 4:34 PM  Comments (13)  

Frumgirl 5: The Natives Know

Break from class found us again in heated discussion. And again, as usual, us frumgirls were featured in the center of a highly curious questioning session. This time it was about Jewish Holidays.

One frumgirl, who awes me with her ability to explain even the most confusing of Jewish concepts in ways that make me want to convert to Judaism all over again, was leading the conversation. “Imagine,” (and I butcher it trying to replicate what she said,) “having Thanksgiving dinner every single week…Fresh, fragrant food, your family sitting around the table together sharing in one another’s company, the warm, comfortable atmosphere… That’s what the Sabbath is like. Every week.”

The rest of the girls and women in the group (no guys there that day) sit in varying degrees of interest, with the most enraptured of them all being the Catholic Latina girl we’ll call Gabriella. Gabi is fascinated with us, but until coming into graduate school, never really knew much about Orthodoxy, or any Judaism for that matter (“So you don’t believe in Jesus?!” That was before Judaism 101.)

Anyhow, that day we were discussing different wonderful aspects of being Jewish. This time, Sue takes center stage. Sue is as non-affiliated as they come. She’s not Jewish or Christian or Muslim or anything. Sue is just…Sue. Jeans and spaghetti-strap tanktops and bicycle helmet and all. So Sue pipes up, “Hey, I once went to my friend for one of the Jewish holiday dinners!”

“Cool!” a few of us chorus. “Which one?”

“No clue,” she shrugs. “Some holiday with a lot of little plates.”

After a few minutes of confused pondering on our end, one of us thinks to ask her if it was Passover.

“Yeah! That was it! It was cool.”

Then Gabi, eager to have her position back, asks what kind of special food we have on the Sabbath and holidays. Try explaining potato kugel and gefilte fish to a bunch of kids who just heard you exclaiming how amazing your Jewish food is. Our spokesgirl begins talking about the delicious challah when Sue interrupts.

“Yeah, you have gefilte fish.”

The rest of us are aghast.

I turn to her looking perplexed, but pleasantly surprised. “Sue, how in the world do you know what gefitle fish is?”

Looking slightly insulted-as if it should have been so obvious to us-Sue states matter-of-factly. “Frumgirl5, of course I know what gefilte fish is. I’m from Brooklyn”

Go figure…

Published in: on February 18, 2009 at 6:43 PM  Comments (6)