Sex and the sin­gles Shab­bat din­ner

Can a young woman find hap­pi­ness and ful­fill­ment in a world of awk­ward events, kosher sushi and ex­ceed­ingly aw­ful pickup lines? Maybe.

Forward Magazine - - Reviews - BY BRITTA LOK­T­ING

Part I in a se­ries.

Al­most ev­ery week a Face­book event pops up on my time­line invit­ing me to min­gle at a “20s and 30s” night with other young Jews. Some­times I won­der if my mom is con­trol­ling my feed.

I’ve at­tended at least a dozen of these func­tions over the past two years, usu­ally with the prospect of meet­ing some­one, but also to feel part of a Jewish com­mu­nity and per­haps find an af­fil­i­ated syn­a­gogue to join. I’m still look­ing. Al­most all have proven un­suc­cess­ful, and some dis­as­trous. Here's what I've been up to lately:

1) Shab­bat Din­ner: My first ex­pe­ri­ence with these "sin­gles nights" — what they should re­ally be called — takes place near Bed Bath & Beyond and is hosted by Young Jewish Pro­fes­sion­als. I ar­rive wear­ing a vin­tage swing dress dot­ted with red se­quin lips. I look like Cha Cha at the prom in “Grease.” Every­one else looks like they came from work in Mid­town. As I sidle up next to the bar where the cock­tail hour has al­ready be­gun, sev­eral peo­ple stare. Two men slip me their busi­ness cards. Later in the mid­dle of din­ner, I try to sneak out early, but one of them catches me. “Where are you go­ing?” he asks.

2) Sun­set Soiree: At the Museum of Jewish Her­itage, there’s a sushi spread at one end of the room and

plates of moz­zarella sticks at the other. I spend most of the night hov­er­ing near the food. I bring a heap of bites back to one of the stand­ing ta­bles and end up next to a cute man who looks like a young Paul McCart­ney. He tells me his co-worker had dragged him there, and then asks why I am “at this thing.” I mum­ble some­thing awk­ward and false about hav­ing to con­duct re­search for a story. It gets me a date though. A week later he takes me to drinks, then later to din­ner. I like him. At the end of the night comes the kiss. Or at­tempted kiss. Or tonguestab­bing. I’m not sure what it’s sup­posed to be, but suf­fice it to say that this is the last time I see him.

3,4, 5) Fast-for­ward­ing: I at­tend a frat party at a sports bar ad­ver­tised as a Jewish lawyer night, a Shab­bat that lures at­ten­dees with free cook­ies and a weird folk band, and a party in a Chelsea loft where one man fol­lows me around like a puppy for two hours. I avoid fu­ture events, un­til:

6) East Vil­lage Syn­a­gogue: I find a “20s and 30s” night at Town and Vil­lage Syn­a­gogue on 14th Street. I have learned that prox­im­ity to my apart­ment is im­por­tant both for dat­ing pur­poses and syn­a­gogue con­ve­nience. Ten min­utes be­fore I had planned to leave, I am still in my apart­ment. I change out­fits sev­eral times and end up wear­ing the first en­sem­ble I tried: a sheer black col­lared shirt with a wool band around the mid­dle, dark­wash jeans and my beloved 1950s laven­der heels that strap across the an­kle. I speed-walk to the build­ing and a woman in the foyer with a clip­board checks me off the list. She hands me a nametag, which makes me feel like I’m back at camp. I don’t want the sticker to snag my blouse, so I paste it onto my up­per thigh.

A group of about thirty peo­ple are so­cial­iz­ing around a fold­out ta­ble un­der the flu­o­res­cent lights. It looks like most other syn­a­gogue events I’ve been to, al­beit on the small side. I walk around the ta­ble to stop by the bar, a.k.a the usual stash of kosher wine bot­tles. Most are empty, but I drain the last glass of rosé into a plas­tic cup. I am de­bat­ing whether or not to grab a mac­a­roon when a man ap­proaches.

“Hi!” he says, scan­ning my chest in search of a nametag. He holds out his hand. I point to­wards my leg, re­gret­tably near my groin, and say, “Hi, I’m Britta.”

“Are you try­ing to tell me some­thing?” he asks, smil­ing.

I cringe. He tells me a corny Jewish joke, which makes me laugh any­way. (“Why aren’t there ever any Jews on foot­ball teams?” “I don’t know. Why?” “Be­cause they want their quar­ter back.”)

I spend most of the night lis­ten­ing to him talk about his yoga prac­tice and job. When the time feels ap­pro­pri­ate, I ex­cuse my­self and leave. He leaves me a voice­mail the next morn­ing ask­ing me to cof­fee, but I never re­turn the call.

A week later, I am about to cross Town and Vil­lage Syn­a­gogue off my list and check out other venues when Face­book sug­gests a “Shab­bat and Sushi” there. Two things I love: Fri­day night and Ja­panese food. Ah, how did Face­book know? Per­haps my mom was be­hind it. Either way, I don’t need much con­vinc­ing. I click “At­tend­ing.”

To be con­tin­ued.

NIKKI CASEY

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