*Srugim*, Orthodox Jews do speed dating

by on June 19, 2014 at 11:19 am in Religion, Television | Permalink

That is the recent Israeli TV show — a dramatic comedy of sorts — about the dating lives of Modern Orthodox Jews.  It is interesting to see a professionally made serial where the erotic tension of a date cannot be satisfied, or for that matter further inflamed, not even by a kiss or by a brush of one shoulder against another.  It was once dubbed “No Sex in the City.”  Everyone is in a hurry to do lots of dating and those who are not candidates for marriage are disposed of swiftly.  Quite a bit of lying and double-dealing and rapid switching goes on, yet without sex being present in the background.  There is frequent discrimination against those who are not the right shade of seriousness about their degree of adherence to Judaism.  The men and women who are “just friends” seem to have the best relationships of all, although for some reason they cannot convert that into romantic capital.

You can view it here on Amazon or buy it, or it is on Hulu.  Here is Wikipedia.  Definitely recommended if you are looking for something different, or something interesting about social conservatism, there are many excellent scenes.

T. Shaw June 19, 2014 at 11:48 am

I know of a number of arranged marriages. Most of them work better than what goes on between the warden and me.

Finch June 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I’ve had a couple of Indian friends who had arranged marriages. They told me it worked surprisingly well. They were reasonably westernized (and living in America), and maybe a little bit surprised by the outcome as well. Makes you wonder about all the emotional baggage and lofty rhetoric we hang on marriage.

Roy June 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Arranged marriage is a very loose term extending from being set up to being kidnapped by your parents and hauled to Pakistan. Most orthodox Jews I know with arranged marriages were basically at one end of that spectrum. We really need some linguistic clarity here.

I dated a girl who was introduced to me by my cousin, if I had martied her would it have been an arranged marriage?

Finch June 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm

That’s a completely fair point. The people I know about didn’t know their spouse until they were engaged, married shortly thereafter, and the parents did the arranging, but both parties were educated professionals and nobody was kidnapped or a child bride or anything like that.

charlie June 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Arranged marriages work well when the “family” (and not the nuclear one) is as important as the couple.

it wil be interesting to see what happens to those marriages after the parents die.

Hell, even a reasonably successful guy like Aneesh Chopra had an arranged marriage.

Finch June 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

In both instances I knew about, the families were on the other side of the world, which made it particularly odd. They arranged things remotely, for children living in America. In one instance it was two engineers marrying, and in the other a PhD economist married a woman working at one of the larger accounting firms.

I knew the engineers better (and met them after they were married) and they never seemed anything but normal to me.

It struck me that maybe we’re a little overwrought about mate selection as a society. And to TAG’s point below, the community helped short-circuit an otherwise painful process for men and women who don’t find a long-term partner in school or slightly thereafter.

But I’m no expert on this and my sample size is tiny.

Rahul June 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Well, the modern version of the (urban, educated) Indian arranged marriage is very close to something like match.com: You get to filter on many attributes, the courtship is often extended (plenty of time to pull out) etc.

So it isn’t that novel any more, really.

Matt June 19, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Arranged marriages are mostly odd and “bad” because they are easily suborned and exploited by relatives seeking long term goals to do with promoting the power of their dynasty that are awfully horrible and horribly awful for society as a whole. Arranged marriages promote clan like structures, as part of a strategy to concentrate wealth and inherited moxie, which is why societies and social classes with a lot of entrenched absolute richness always like them.

It’s not so much that individuals are way better at picking a long term mate than their close relatives. Nor that human courting rituals are necessarily better at finding a good partner – courting selects for better than average interpersonal skills and self confidence but also sifts out a lot of potential mates who are bad “game players” (i.e. don’t have that “game playing love style” that is only a plus in short term mating), so its a trade off.

The Anti-Gnostic June 19, 2014 at 8:57 pm

The examples given are Orthodox Jews and Hindus with admirably bourgeois values. I think we’ll be all right.

What seems to really screw up a society is cousin marriage, polygamy and low-trust, “Big Man” economies.

brad June 19, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Orthodox Jews don’t really have arranged marriages. They have arranged dates, but after that it is up to the couple.

Roy June 19, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I understand the part about the erotic tension not being satisfied, but not the part about being further inflamed. Erotic tension requires no physical contact, and serials, films, and especially novels have all dealt with these limitations.

I haven’t seen the show and will probably take a look at it tonight, so maybe all will become obvious then. But erotic tension doesn’t require much at all in practice.

JY June 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Sounds like an IRL version of “Fill the Void.” I will watch.

dearieme June 19, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Aren’t you enjoying the World Cup, Mr Cowen?

The Anti-Gnostic June 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm

I’ve commented to fellow Christians that the religious groups that appear to be growing in their own pews are those that try to knock off some of the sharp edges of life for their members. Groups like orthodox Jews and Amish seem to grasp that people have more immediate concerns like starting a family, having a patronage network, putting food on the table, educating their children, etc. If you can help them out with those things, they’re more inclined to accept your arcane theological doctrines.

Therefore (I continue), maybe we ought to concentrate more on these life-event issues with our own membership–grow ourselves with baptisms–instead of trolling for middle-aged converts who are constantly washing in and washing out of the institution. But there’s a real mindset in American Christianity that we’ve got to proselytize, as if it’s 33 A.D. and nobody knows where to find us.

Current events underscore the importance of healthy non-State institutions. When the civil order breaks down, the people left standing are the ones who have those creedal or tribal institutions to fall back on. The Kurds are probably more thankful than ever that they didn’t just abandon their traditional nation even though everybody else pretended they didn’t exist.

revver June 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm

“If you can help them out with those things, they’re more inclined to accept your arcane theological doctrines.”

Therein lies another, possibly even bigger, problem than church growth itself (some would even ask, “what problem?”). Who do you think will still hang around during the lean years: those who are genuine believers, or those hoping to snag housewives and business contacts? You’re thinking of Christianity along the lines of culture and ethno-centricism, not along the lines of “neither Gentile nor Jew, neither servant nor free…”.

The Anti-Gnostic June 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm

The Jews, Mormons and Amish have been hanging around thru thick and thin for a long time. After all, they have a social and economic reason to hang around rather than just ideology.

You’re thinking of Christianity along the lines of culture and ethno-centricism, not along the lines of “neither Gentile nor Jew, neither servant nor free…”.

That is a non-contextual American reading. The Church has historically had no problem being intimately joined with a traditional nation-state ruled by a hereditary monarch.

I have read that the contact-to-conversion percentage is in the single digits. The superior ROI would therefore be on baptisms, not conversions. And if you want to keep your young people in the fold, it makes sense to give them some reason to do so other than earnestly insisting that your particular sect is the true faith. There are a thousand other groups out there who will all tell them the same thing.

brad June 19, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I’m not sure anything you can do before college is going to help keep young people in the fold when they get to college. The attrition rate for Mormons is far lower at Brigham Young than UMich.

Nahum June 19, 2014 at 4:34 pm

My wife and I met and still live in the neighborhood where this series takes place.

It’s a realistic portrayal of the general tone of the Orthodox yuppie singles scene (including the friendzoning). But the characters and situations are often over-the-top (like the episode where a secretly divorced guy who teaches in a girls high school has his platonic friend pretend to be his wife).

Donald Pretari June 19, 2014 at 8:55 pm

“There is frequent discrimination against those who are not the right shade of seriousness about their degree of adherence to Judaism.”

If some these people can form couples, then we could have a version of “Cheaters” with one partner discovering that the other partner is lax in observance.

Natasha June 19, 2014 at 9:18 pm

It’s an Israeli orthodox version of Girls and I like it much more.

Ryan June 19, 2014 at 10:48 pm

This reminds me of the dating scene at BYU.

prior_approval June 20, 2014 at 12:41 am

‘yet without sex being present in the background’

Written without apparent irony by the man who also wrote the following – in his book, in a NYT essay, and on his (not self-named one, admittedly) web site – ‘Take your smartphone on a date, and it might vibrate in your pocket to indicate “Kiss her now.” If you hesitate for fear of being seen as pushy, it may write: “Who cares if you look bad? You are sampling optimally in the quest for a lifetime companion.” Those who won’t listen, or who rebel out of spite, will be missing out on glittering prizes. Those of us who listen, while often envied, may feel more like puppets with deflated pride.

Read the whole thing, interesting throughout.’ http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/09/who-will-prosper-in-the-new-world.html

The Orthodox version would apparently be a niche market requiring something to replace kissing as a key event.

Sex is always in the background when talking about social structures designed around family relations. It takes an economist to ignore it, though.

Z June 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm

A caveate from a Hebrew-speaker who has watched the series and has spent much time in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem as a member of the subgroup depicted in the show (but not as a single).

The context is certainly inteersting, but this is still a mass-market TV show and 95% of the characters in the show are depicted at making the stupidest possible decision whenever possible as per typical rom-com fare.

fallibilist June 21, 2014 at 10:27 am


the stupidest possible decision whenever possible

fantastic

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