Dating Games: Temple temptations

The High Holy Days is the one time of the year when everyone, and I mean everyone, shows up at synagogue.

Synagoge Cartoon 521 (photo credit: Tamar Caspi Shnall)
Synagoge Cartoon 521
(photo credit: Tamar Caspi Shnall)
With the High Holy Days quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to encourage singles to attend services for a multitude of reasons, not the least to bless the New Year and repent for last year’s sins. And while you’re there, why not ask for forgiveness for your poor judgment in choosing partners this past year and ask for guidance in finding your beshert (soul mate) this coming year. Although this is a holy day, it doesn’t mean you can’t use the opportunity to see who’s out there.
The High Holy Days is the one time of the year when everyone, and I mean everyone, shows up at synagogue.
Before I got married, preparing to go to synagogue meant looking respectable – but young and hip as well. It meant putting on as little make-up as possible while still looking fresh and wearing a conservative black skirt suit that still accentuated my curves without being too sexy.
It was always pretty easy to spot the singles in the crowd. New couples sit together with their heads touching, whispering in each other’s ears, holding hands during breaks and looking smug. Singles are the ones twisting and turning, craning their necks to scan the crowd, looking for the other young adults sitting wedged between their doting grandparents, nosy parents and rambunctious nieces and nephews.
My grandmother would call attention to the young gentlemen who she thought were handsome, and unfortunately her hearing loss meant subtlety gave way to sheer embarrassment as she asked in her loud whisper, “Do you think he’s cute, Tamar?” or “Maybe he’s single, honey?” My Mom, the ever-so-blunt-gawker who doesn’t know how to look without staring, would actually point – with her pointer finger – at the single sons of her friends sitting in the congregation.
And my married friends would give me the lowdown on people’s relationship status during breaks.
What they never seemed to catch on to is that us singles had our own routine down.
We would check out the crowd, make eye contact when possible, and brush the hair out of our eyes or scratch our head with our left hand so that any hopefuls might be adept enough to catch the fact that the ring finger was bare. Bathroom breaks were timed so that as many young singles as possible followed the lead and got up to go outside at the same time in order to mingle.
And those adorable nieces and nephews? We would make sure it was obvious they belonged to their mommies and daddies and not us. Now that you’ve set the ground work, the next stage of shul shmoozing begins.
That’s after services are over. That’s the time to really get to work. It’s time to stand up straight, smile and let your family members sing your praises.
This is when everyone exits the synagogue and stands outside for another hour mingling. It’s the perfect opportunity to find out who the singles are and meet them.
My Mom is great at this. I’ll ask her if she knows the mother of a guy I think is cute and single, she’ll go up to the mom to say hi, and I’ll follow behind her looking less than interested, as if she were literally dragging me because I have nowhere better to be, in order to meet the intended.
My Mom’s friends, who tell me time and again that they wish I was their daughter-in-law, can also be used to make introductions under the guise of being social and amicable. Now, remember, you’ve just repented, so don’t go gossiping about why certain people are single when they had attended services with a fiancé last year. Simply find out who is single and then find out the background yourself while on an actual date.
Synagogue is a great place to meet someone because you know right away that the person is family-oriented and religious, at least to some degree. They chose to attend the same synagogue as you for some reason or another – the denomination or the location or the family ties. This gives you a lot of insight as to the person’s values. This is not meant to be disrespectful of Judaism, but the High Holy Days are a very effective way for singles to meet.
Yom Kippur is meaningful to me for personal reasons, but it can be even more meaningful to singles who meet each other because they both observed the holiday. Kol Nidre is like an added Jewish singles event on the community calendar except we’re all dressed in suits instead of little black dresses.
A large synagogue can mean seeing your JDate matches live and in person.
Get the most out of the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement: whether that means praying, meditating, meeting your special someone or all three. Trust me, your rabbi will be proud and honored to hear that a new couple met when they went outside for some fresh air during or after his 30- minutes-too-long sermon. Just consider your rabbi your shadchan (matchmaker) and make sure you show up to synagogue this year to pray (and then promote your single self).