There’s a site called JMoms. It’s not a dating site for single Jewish people. It’s a site for the mothers of Jewish singles to make matches for their kids. Jewish moms from all over the world look at other moms’ sites where they have set up profiles for their kids, and then set up dates for them. Presumably, it’s up to the kids at that point, but frankly, I can’t see a mother who goes on this site fading into the background of her kids’ relationships.
There are two things that come to mind about this site. One, OY the pressure to get it right. And two, more importantly, this is what I’d do if I wanted to make sure my kids never speak to me again. Still, there are lots of Jewish dating sites, some use matchmakers (or the modern equalivalent) and others don’t. And there are the regular dating sites where you can filter for Jewish, all in the pursuit of a partner.
Finding a Jewish spouse is as old as, well, as old as the Torah, and this week’s parasha. In Chayeh Sarah, Abraham is old, Sarah is dead, and Abraham turns his attention to getting a wife for his son Isaac. Apparently, he didn’t worry so much about Ishmael’s wife, but for Isaac, he wanted to make sure that his daughter-in-law came from the old country, not where he was living then (Canaan).
So, Abraham enlists his servant Eliezer to go back and get Isaac a wife. We meet Rebecca at the well, literally the “watering hole” in town, and where anyone who’s anyone goes to get the scoop on the eligible local women. Ultimately, Rebecca brings Eliezer back to her house, who pleads his case for getting a wife for his master, and Rebecca agrees to marry Isaac. She packs up and follows Eliezer.
Maybe there is something to wanting someone from “home” when choosing a partner, especially if you haven’t been home in a while. It’s an enticing blend of familiarity and surprises, like when you go home for a reunion and you run into that person you never really looked at back then. (Yes, that is how I re-met the man I eventually married.) Now, I’m not saying it always works. And everyone knows the rate of divorce, and everyone also knows the rate of intermarriage, especially those of us who work in the Jewish community, and I don’t wring my hands at the future of Jews because of that rate.
But it sure is easier to work from a place of shared vocabulary; if you and your partner don’t have that, you just have to work that much harder to create one. Not impossible, just easier. I think Abraham figured he could help his son identify himself as a Hebrew if he had a wife who knew what that meant. I think that’s probably true. Now I’m not saying all Jewish partners are wonderful; we have our share of absolute horrid jerks, and I wouldn’t wish any of them on my children. And there are wonderful partners to be found from outside the “tent.” Our family has the best of the best in that group, in my opinion.
I may not ever sign up for JMoms…and I never, ever, ever would sign up for JMoms, kids….I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about buying a month on a Jewish dating site for my adult offspring. Thought about it. Not did it. Part of me applauds Abraham for taking the stand and taking the risk. He’s saying that this is really important, and that kind of statement demands attention. In the end, each of us, as parents, hope that is enough. And we trust that our kids know themselves well enough to know what’s important to them, and support them as they head to the well.