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JDate Here I Come...

I've decided to give online dating a chance--with a Jewish twist. After a string of blind dates and set-ups, I think that my problem might be that I am not searching among my people, so to speak. Although because of my mixed background (Catholic mom and Jewish dad), I feel like a single mom searching for her tribe.

Since becoming a single mom and sending my daughter to a Jewish preschool, I've been rediscovering my Jewish roots. Logging onto JDate seems like a good way to intermingle my renewed Jewish identity with dating. Maybe a shared cultural background is just my ticket to true love?

So, I'm going to log onto JDate, the well-known online Jewish dating site. A nice, hot, manly Jewish man might be just the ticket. The first thing I do is read its "Mazel Tov" section, scrolling through the hundreds of couples who met here and got married. Could that be me one day? I am skeptical.

Still, I go ahead and post an ad:

"I'm a 33-year-old single mom seeking a man who avoids drama and braids challah," I write.

"I insist that the man in our lives is drama and drug-free, open and honest, responsible and very fond of children," I go on. "My five-year-old daughter will be firm that the man in our lives can hide matzah and sing Zum Gali Gali," a traditional Jewish campfire song.

Of course, I feel a little sneaky. Should I say outright that I'm the child of an interfaith family? Because my mom is not Jewish, many Jews don't really see me as a true Jew. (Of course, Reform Judaism, in which I was raised, considers a person to be Jewish if either of her parents was Jewish and the child was raised Jewish. I had my Bat Mitvah. I went to Jewish camps every summer for a decade.)

But what if some of these men don't really consider me Jewish? What if they see me as a fraud?

My first date is with Guy, a 44-year-old human resources consultant, never-married. He lives with his dog and his username on JDate is "Shining_Armor." He's looking for a woman who truly wants to love and be loved, he says.

I'm a sucker for a good writer, and Guy is no exception. "I believe in love at first sight, yet I am grounded enough to pay my bills on time," his profile says.

He asks: "Are you able to let go of your grasp on the past and get lost in love?"

You bet I am.

When I arrive to the bar, there's a short chunky man standing in the front. Sure, he has short brown hair and brown eyes like his photo, but his cheeks are fat. And his pants are too long.

"Rachel!" he says, offering me his hand.

I shake it heartily. I mean business. But he takes mine like a wet washcloth. Not a good sign.

Still, talking is effortless; he could be my long lost Jewish cousin from Long Island. There's no heat, but there is comfort. But chemistry is a funny thing; my knees do not buzz, my heart doesn't skip. He's a nice guy, like plenty of the nice guys I've met during the last few years of dating. Nice. But I want more than nice.

~~~~~~

Over the next few weeks, I line up a few more dates. On paper, Jewish men are usually the perfect match for me. But where's the spark? So far, none of these men leads to a second date.

"Why Jewish?" my best friend, also Jewish and a single mom, wants to know.

Good question.

The truth is: I've never been particularly attracted to Jewish men. It's that cousin-thing.

But over the past few years, I've observed the Jewish fathers of my daughter's friends at her preschool, day in and day out. There's no doubt about it: these guys are dependable, they bring home the bacon. They are also thoughtful and intellectually stimulating.

But how about the Jewish piece?

I'm still trying to figure out if JDate is the best place for me. Sure it's important to share a common background and interests, or at least it's helpful, but what about those things you can't put a label on--the ability to be kind and respectful and true? To be a good listener and have a balanced attitude toward life?

When this letter arrives, however, I think that maybe JDate wasn't such a bad idea.

I too am single and find myself bemoaning the difficulty of meeting single Jewish women. So, I'm writing to you. I could tell you many things about me, but for now, I'll include a description from a female friend:
"Tall, athletic, good-looking with extraordinary wit. Has a huge heart and a good soul, owns his own washing-machine (and home) and loves kids. Must learn to give himself a break once in a while. Don't let this one get away."

I won't let you go away.

Hebrew and Yiddish for "good luck," a phrase used to express congratulations for happy and significant occasions. A bread that comes in a few different varieties; its most common variation is a braided egg bread, though there are water challahs that don't have eggs, and there are whole-wheat challahs which sometimes also don't have eggs. It is customary to being Sabbath and holiday meals by saying blessings and eating challah. Hebrew word for an unleavened bread, traditionally eaten during the holiday of Passover.
Rachel Sarah

Rachel Sarah is the author of the dating memoir Single Mom Seeking (Seal Press/Avalon, 2006) and the former singles columnist for San Francisco's j. the Jewish news weekly of northern California.

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