My Name in a Book of Matches

by

07/30/2005

325 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213

Neighborhood: Brooklyn

I have lived in Brooklyn my entire life, but my name and number appear on little black books of matches all across the city. No, I’m not a slinky sultry hot babe whose name and number decorate bathroom walls and little match books in bars. You don’t “Call Sairy for a Good Time.” On the contrary, these little books belong to shadchanim, matchmakers, and are serious and practical. Think “Fiddler On The Roof’. Who better than the village “Yenta” acquired the job of matchmaker? Her role in the movie was exaggerated but not far from the truth. Such was life in the shtetel of Anatevka and her provincial sister towns in the nineteenth century in Eastern Europe. Right? Wrong. Matchmakers still ply their trade in the 21st century.

I look and talk like any intelligent, modern, liberated woman. True, I never wear pants or short sleeves, but otherwise, I don’t think that I appear archaic. I’m in therapy, take creative writing workshops, and work out at Bally’s Fitness on 86th Street in Bensonhurst. Yet I still dwell in a time warp, in Anatevka. However, change is in the air.

Since the year 2003, shidduchim, matches, have gone hi-tech. While surfing the web, I discovered a site, “Jewish Orthodox Singles” with several listings. I was intrigued. This I had to see, how would this virtual relic operate via the Internet? The first group I checked out was Frumster. How clever, a play on words. Frum literally means pious, devout. The real McCoy in Orthodox Judaism. Not to be confused with Modern Orthodox, who don’t quite deserve the description frum. In order to view the product, I had to sign on. As if were daring myself to a challenge, I enrolled as a full-fledged member. No charge to enter the sacred portals of Frumster.

If the CIA, FBI and INS would have the same stringent security precautions, terrorism would be wiped out in a day. I couldn’t keep track of all the different names and passwords I was supposed to use each time I signed on to find “the man of my dreams.” Soon enough I discovered that “nightmares” would be more apt. By the time I filled out their lengthy questionnaire, I couldn’t differentiate between my real name, Sairy, and all the undercover ones. I felt like responding with, “Name, rank, and serial number.” Some sample multiple-choice questions that surely are peculiar to Frumster:

1. Do you want to make aliyah, emigrate to Israel?

2. (For men only) How often do you study Torah?

3. (For women only) Do you wear skirts only, or also pants?

4. What are your political views? The choices were: a. right wing b. left wing c. middle of the road d. Apathetic. I was stymied; even if this was just for fun, I still had to be honest. Did political views mean Democrat, Republican, Conservative? Did it mean this milieu or Israeli politics? To be safe, I chose “middle of the road.” I’m not apathetic about anything. Now I moved on to the next web site, Bitachon, literally, “Trust.”

Obvious to those in the know, this meant trust in G-d and He will find you the right partner. They had an edge over Frumster; kosher certification, in their words, “BITACHON.COM is under constant Rabbinical Surveillance.” Were there hidden cameras? A sampling of their questions, 1. Do you approve of TV and Movies? 2. Describe the shuls, synagogues you attend. 3. What kind of music do you listen to? Bitachon offered an extra-added attraction; each morning I get an e-mail from them, addressed to all my overt and covert names, letting me know “Dear Madam: You subscribed at Bitachon.com to be notified when a profile that matches your search criteria is submitted (I have no recollection of this). Please click on the following link, it will take you directly to the submitted profile.”

Today’s offering: “Ovadiah, New York, Never Married, No children at home, University Student, 22 years old.” Clearly, this is not the age that I submitted in my search criteria. I cried when “John-John” saluted his father’s coffin. I watched thousands of adolescent girls swoon as John, Paul, George and Ringo first landed on American soil. I gave up trying to communicate to their Webmaster that almost all of their finds were ludicrously outside the frame of what I had filled in. Who cares? Let them bring on the men. All I do is delete the message each morning. And, of course, I can always heed their advice, “”PLEASE FORWARD YOUR REJECTS TO A FRIEND!”

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