Before most Orthodox college students even begin “roommate dating,” they know their type: shomer. Shomer shabbat and shomer kashrut, that is. Like in many Modern Orthodox circles, shomer negiah doesn’t always make the cut.
The cool kids even use the lingo “ss” and “sk.” Most of my Facebook notifications nowadays (since it’s not my birthday) can be attributed to posts from the Kedma (the Orthodox community at UMD) group asking to live with “ss/sk” people. Only sometimes, these requests are followed by “we’re really nice, clean, etc.” afterthoughts. Most Jews would sooner swipe right to random Yaakov who may have misinterpreted “sk” as “serial killer,” than fun, nice, Brice, who has a passion for cleaning. I would yell “swiper no swiping,” but since this is only metaphorical swiping after all, that would probably be ridiculous. Anyhow, in regular dating, finding your match comes down to a blend of personality and looks; in Orthodox roommate dating, it’s about finding who is a Jew and not just Jew-ish.
Roommate couples have honeymoon phases too. Before move-in, you envision you and your roommates hosting a flawless, kosher, Friday night meal and leading that non-affiliated Jew from your class out of galus and into your own Beit Hamikdash of a home. Once they’ve drank the Kiddish wine, they’ve entered the Kodesh Hakodashim: Jewish college alcoholism. Waking up from this dream is like waking up from a post-clock change Shabbat afternoon nap: dark and confusing. Dark is the color you label all your meat dish with. Confusing is what this darkness is doing in the meat dishwasher. Marriage takes two to tango; roommates take at least two to tangle.
Before I continue, I just want to say that I love my roommates. But we all have our moments. I thought I experienced fear when I went on my first upside-down roller coaster. Then I came home one day and saw grilled CHEESE remnants on our MEAT George Foreman grill.
Out of times of crisis rise some great leaders. Orthodox living is no exception, and I’ve watched it create some real poseks. I don’t know why so many Jewish students feel compelled to spend a gap year in Israel, immersed in a Beit Midrash and Jewish culture, to learn about religion. The real deal happens in College Park, flipping through gemara after gemara and contacting Rabbi after Rabbi. Ok, maybe the “gemaras” are the wikipedia,org/kosher (LOTS of commentary), and the “Rabbis” refer to my very frum brother. Everyone is their own posek and everything is ok. For example, it’s no problem that we cooked cheese on our meat George Foreman, because George starts with “geo” which the Merriam-Webster Baraita says means “related to the earth,” and since vegetables grow from the ground, we can conclude that there is no such thing as a “meat” George Foreman, and we shouldn’t to worry, because it’s a vegetarian George Foreman after all. And no, it is not a “vegetarian except for Shabbos.”
Speaking of Shabbos…Shabbos used to be something we showed up to; now it’s something we “make.” God spent seven days making a universe before making Shabbos. We signed a lease and now here we are. It’s no wonder that we’re more lost than an out-of-town girl at Midmo. I thought there were supposed to be “lamed tet” prohibitions on Shabbat. But I guess gematria is not all it’s cracked up to be. “Lamed tet” is not 39. It’s simple: a “lat.”
Yes, I was one of many who swiped right to my current roommates. And they’re great so far…but if this is my last blog post, you’ll know I swiped to the wrong “sk.”