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.
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.