Chapter 1- The single years: Gone with the wind

I thought New York was going to bow down at my feet, I always thought the Big Apple was just waiting for me to be crunched… I felt that was the place I belonged, that’s where I’m going to find my future… I remember getting out of the airport and breathing that unique smell that only New York has, of doughnuts and excitement… I was so full of energy ready to break the world.

After the first weeks of being on a high, I cried in my bed wanting to go back home. I hated it.

I missed Europe and its old buildings and elegant streets, I missed my “espresso” taken standing at the coffee shop, I missed the Thursday open market in my town, Milan, the elegant ladies that pick tomatoes in their fur coats and Chanel bags.

I couldn’t get used to the giganticity of New York. The first time, Times Square is beautiful; thae it gets scary. There are too many lights, the ads displayed on the buildings are too big, there’re too many people on the streets and I felt just like a number… lost.

I had forgotten what I really wanted to do, where my life should go exactly. I daydreamed of seeing my name one day in cubical letters on one of those buildings, yet all I really wanted was to settle already and not feel so lost.

I shared an apartment with friends in Crown Heights, I got used to having breakfast with little Michael Jacksons moonwalking on the streets across my building, I found a job that had nothing to do with me or my personality.

In my free time, I would go check out the film school in Manhattan and always came home with the same feeling: I’m scared, I’ll never make it, I should just focus to find a good man and marry.

I would have fun, go out, laugh, be wild like any normal girl, but inside I was aching to do something… to create… to explode!

I wanted to sing, to perform, to entertain.

No Hadassah, that’s not for you. You can’t sing because being a religious girl you are very limited, and show business can be a big scary world if you are not focused and… single… and religious… Help!

My younger sister had fallen in love with a great guy from Milan, and was ready to get married. I was just standing in the way… never in my mother’s wildest dreams would the younger daughter marry before the oldest.

I didn’t have much of a choice. Either I would hurry and just pick someone of the street and marry him for the sake of tradition, or move over gently and let my little sister be the bride before me.

I just remember making a big red velvet dress for the wedding…. I guess I didn’t want to go unnoticed. At 1.78 meters tall, with a head full of curls and a to-the-floor 18th century style velvet red gown… There was no way I would just blur in the picture.

My sister was one of the prettiest and sweetest bride I had seen, and that  night when I came home and slept alone back in our bedroom, I cried myself to sleep. Me, being always the wild and daring of the sisters… silently she had just bypassed me  and jumped 10 steps ahead in life. She was calm, mature and now very responsible of her new life  and fresh beginning.

I felt like a loser.

Every time I would hear the word shidduch, I would cringe, cry and have a nervous breakdown. I would either slam the door of my room, or the phone to my parents when they tried to talk me into dating, or blind date.

Excuuuuse me, I grew up with “Gone with the Wind”…  I was the rebellious daughter of “Fiddler on the Roof”… I had decided that I will fall in love and then marry… I will pick my own man….how could I even remotely fall for someone if we are formally introduced by strangers. How am I supposed to make conversation with someone in a hotel lobby over a Coca Cola. It was beyond me.

Yet it seemed to be working pretty well on my friends who were slowly one by one leaving me, and yes…. falling in love from a blind date… so they said… Shocking!

I was so fascinatingly lost.

I was having crushes on wrong guys and refusing the good ones. I was working in a job that I didn’t even know exactly what  I was doing there, and spent all the money I earned on clothes… that didn’t fit me!

I was a mess.

So when the last of my big and impossible crush got engaged, I decided … that’s it!

I went to Israel for the summer… with my parents!!!!

Even though my parents didn’t really “get me”, they were really getting desperate for me and worried too. They would have done anything for me to be happy and find myself.

I had a great relationship with my mother. We would joke and laugh like friends by now, our old divergences had smoothed out, I was not scared of her anymore like I used to be.

I became more her friend. I decided to try and listen to them. I went out with a guy they had came up with, like a good girl I dressed nicely and kissed them goodnight before meeting him in a hotel. As I walked into the lobby I realize that he is already there and waiting for me.

He fitted the description. He was a head shorter than me, fattish, a big colorful shirt out of his pants and longish hair, apparently he was a successful chazan. I ran to the bathroom of the hotel and locked myself in, called my best friend and cried.

I had made up my mind, if this guy wants me, I will marry him, I don’t care, I just want to make my parents happy. I will fake my life for them. I was so desperately trying to please them.

I can do this I don’t care, I will show them I like him, we will get engaged, we will sing together and make music … I’ll find myself a lover…. anyway this system doesn’t work for me, everyone found their “beshert,”  I don’t have one! God forgot me… so I will just do what I got to do and eventually have my little affairs on the side…. no one has to know…..

Nice way to start a new life with someone!

Absolutely sure that whenever I would say “yes I do”, any guy will just fall to my feet, I didn’t realize in order to say “yes I will”…  you need to be asked the question first.

Mr.Prima-donna-I-have-a-stunning-voice chubbish guy from the lobby never asked me.

What a chutzpah! I had already decided in my mind that I will take him no matter what and now he doesn’t even propose. You mean he doesn’t want meeeee? That’s impossible… how dare he!

Ma’…. that’s it, I promise you, don’t even dream of making me go out with anyone else…. I will be single forever. I’m sorry.

Was it so incredibly impossible what I wanted? A Chabad, modern, open minded, good looking, fun and wise man. That’s all. I never  cared for money, that comes and goes, he can have them today and tomorrow gone… I need a good solid foundation, I want a man with potential with a focus.

I needed all that I was not.

The day after, the phone rang, an old friend of mine…. listen why don’t you go out with this guy? He’s great… did someone ever mention him to you…? His name is Yossi Chen.

Leave me alone.

You’ve got to try this one. You can ask around about him — he’s great. Tall and good looking!

Very funny… hahaha….

I’m not laughing.



About the Author
Born and raised in Milan, Italy, grew up always wanting to direct, difficult choice in a religious world for a woman. She married an Israeli in 2004 and moved to Jerusalem. In 2012 they lost their third daughter Navi to cancer after a one year battle. Hadassah started writing a journal during that difficult year which became quite popular. After the passing of their daughter, they started a foundation in her name, Keren NavaRuth and Hadassah became a inspirational speaker. She also managed to fulfill her first step of her big dream and directed her first music clip for jewish star Yakov Shwekey. Hadassah is in the process of writing her first movie script.
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