Soon By You is a comedy web series about six young Orthodox Jews living the single life in NYC. Working with producers Leah Gottfried and Jessica Schechter on the 5th episode of Soon By You was an opportunity that I had been looking forward to for months. All I had to do was memorize my lines; they worked the magic to make sure things looked and sounded just right. This professional crew took their work seriously, yet knew how to have fun with the production.
Being the Marriage Minded Mentor, I was so curious about the real dating stories of Leah and Jessica—especially considering their newfound fame. I wanted insight into what they were experiencing IRL. Here’s what I found out.
Aleeza: Do you enjoy dating more pre- or post-fame? What are the pros and cons?
Leah: I think I enjoy it more post-fame (your word). Before someone goes out with me they usually know a bit about my work and that I’m ambitious and passionate about my career. Anyone who wouldn’t be down with an ambitious woman won’t even approach me—so it’s been helpful to attract the right kind of guys. One con is that there is a lot of info about me out there already, which can be weird. I’m also a little paranoid that I’ll be recognized when I’m out with someone— which has happened a bunch. But it’s fun to see how they react.
Jessica: I think dating has been both enjoyable and a challenge in both my pre- and post-show days. I had more anonymity before the show so my dating life was a little more private. I definitely get recognized more now. There are funny moments when I’ve been on a date and someone comes over to me because they know me from the show. It’s fun when that happens, but it can also make me feel a little like I’m in a fishbowl. I’m grateful on the whole for the opportunities the show has brought me. It helps me to view the whole dating process in the context of something greater.
Aleeza: What do you appreciate about dating in the age of technology?
Leah: Options! I think the rise of dating apps and websites is great because there are always options. There have been times when something ends and instead of feeling like, “Oh my G-d, I’ll never find someone,” it’s really easy to get out there again. There’s always someone else.
Jessica: I really appreciate how easy technology has made it to be in touch with someone and get together. You can send a thoughtful text, a funny GIF or emoji and make someone smile. I appreciate that in WhatsApp, you see when someone is typing so you give them the space to express themselves without talking over them. It’s great how easy it is to share things in your life through technology and capture memorable moments.
Aleeza: If you could change one thing about dating in 2018 what would it be?
Jessica: If I could change one thing about dating it would be the pressure. I think there is such an immense pressure for people to have answers, to feel certain emotions or feelings, and to know whether this is the “one.” So much of the getting-to-know-you process ideally should happen organically. The more pressure we put on ourselves to feel or decide, the less we are able to. If we could just learn to trust ourselves and let the process unfold naturally, I think that would make the whole experience much more palatable.
Leah: I’d make ghosting illegal.
Aleeza: What positive things has Soon by You contributed to Modern Orthodox dating?
Jessica: I think that Soon By You has given us a way to reflect and laugh about the struggle of dating and forging your identity as a single person in the Modern Orthodox world. The show tells singles that they are not alone and gives those who are married insight into what the day-to-day struggles are of their single friends. The show helps to bring everyone into the conversation.
Leah: I think SBY has shown people that they are not alone in the process, and that’s freeing. I’d also like to think we portray the message that it isn’t everything—you don’t have to be defined by your marital status. We are trying to take some of the pressure off.
Aleeza: What advice do you have for hopeful singles?
Leah: There are so many wonderful people out there. If you’ve been hurt or are just fed up, know that there is always someone else coming your way. And in the meantime, embrace your life and do things that you love.
Jessica: My advice for hopeful singles is to remain hopeful. Staying positive, putting good energy out into the universe, and doing things that make you genuinely happy outside of dating are essential to keeping a smile on your face. In a moment’s notice, your life can completely change and you have to stay open to that possibility. In the meanwhile, live your life to the fullest and good things will come. Trust in that.
Photo credit Lia Jay Photography