Dating: Will I survive the Jewish mothers of Israel?

Women are impossible. I think that’s good, because then there’s always something to learn, and a challenge to overcome (plus all the free gray hair I can handle since my early 20s). Thus, it makes sense matchmakers be mothers and Jewish – equal parts impossible and adept at winning every argument.
Bonus reading: Definition of “Optimistic.”

In February, I remember watching a sunrise (alone) on my favorite rock near the peak of South Fortuna and thinking, “Women are going to be different in Israel. They have to be. Maybe one will even like me.” I had just confirmed my participation with a five-month volunteer program in the Western Galilee, so I needed to think there was something less ambiguous than “volunteering” to look forward to. My mom had already warned me that I’m not allowed to get married and stay here, but I was looking forward to going on a date or two, because I didn’t do much of that last year.
I’m going to have some different thoughts next time I’m sitting on that rock.

South_Fortuna_5_6_composite(Mission trails from S. Fortuna ridge | Photo courtesy of Brittany Cook)

At the time though, it made sense to me. Jews embody a culture where every mother fancies herself a matchmaker. For these moms, people my age getting married means babies, a.k.a. more nice Jewish boys to force feed a third helping to during dinner, and (more importantly) set up with their friend’s granddaughter’s in-law’s then-unborn daughter. Realizing I might be surrounded by Jewish mothers for about five months, I prepared myself as well as I could: I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. There’s really no other way to cope with Jewish moms.

So that’s the stereotype. I was a little worried and a little hopeful (but mostly still confused) when I arrived here because of it.

I’ve lived in Northern Israel for about six months now and, against my perceived odds, have managed an increasingly sparse dating life compared to last year, though it’s recently become more fulfilling. Sure I’ve gone out a few times, returning home after sunrise once or thrice, but Skyping with someone back home has been the most meaningful, hopefully long-term, connection I’ve made in many years (I’ll know exactly when my mom reads this by the email asking about this sentence). These revelations lead me to wonder where the matchmaking Jewish mothers are hiding, or whether the stereotype holds up.

(This is where I would embed the ominous star wars storm troopers marching song, “Duh, dun, duh duh, dun, duh duhbut copyright laws suck)

Assuming the JAM (Jewish Association of Mothers) doesn’t get wind of my blog and go hunting to the tune of Fiddler on the Roof’s ‘Matchmaker,’ I expect to go home single, but also hopeful for who I know will be there.

Maybe my rock on South Fortuna wasn’t such bad luck after all. Maybe this whole experience has been an elaborate hoax to lure me into a false sense of security so that JAM can make their move down the road, if they haven’t already. I now find myself looking over my shoulder. I don’t expect to ever understand women, so I suppose it’s only fair if I don’t understand matchmaking and and Jewish mothers as well.

About the Author
Bill Crotty was a 20-something guy just learnin' how to Israel. He lived in several small towns and kibbutzim across the Western Galil for a year in 2013-2014. Then in 2016 he returned to Israel, for a year of work in Jerusalem with the JDC and CIMI.
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