Tag Archives: widowhood

Searching For A Mensch

by Ronni Miller (Sarasota, FL)

I hit “send” on a nonsectarian, computerized, singles site. I thought the profile defined me. Widowed from my Irish Catholic husband who had been attracted to my legs and body as long as I left my mind somewhere else, I now hoped to find a Jewish man who was attracted to my body and mind.

Three men responded. Their profiles contained the words: “intelligent, sympathetic, curl up and grow together in each others arms.” We met. They talked.  I listened. The first, a retired scientist told me he was divorced and trying to get out of a relationship. He balanced his bulk on one hip while he withdrew his wallet to show me her picture, a zaftik, well stacked woman draped in diamonds. I, slim with barely protruding breasts, long, costume earrings, polo and jeans, realized he was looking for a clone and it wasn’t me.

The second, a retired surgeon, divorced with grandchildren had married a young, woman who filled his bed and stole from his wallet. He divorced and was forced to take jobs as a doctor in a clinic. I told him I was a writer with an unpredictable income. He sighed and said there was no chemistry for him.

The third date was with a retired man, never married who was in love with his new toy, a BMW. His picture, a rotund man with a sexy aura was not the man who sat across from me in the Italian restaurant’s bar.  This man was angular and bald and reassured me he would comfort my sorrow, something I never elicited. His last remarks were “merry Christmas”. Obviously he never had bothered to read my entire profile that identified me as Jewish.

I needed a new profile. I composed: “On this Saturday afternoon free from deadlines I will tell you what I’m looking for…”

Delete. This is not an essay or a short storyIt’s an advertisement on a single’s site. My fingers ignored the warning. “I need a mate who appreciates a woman who earns a freelance income. I need to be with a mensch, a man who from his own life experiences recognizes and appreciates me for my sincerity, diligence, creativity and works I’ve produced.”  Should I use the Yiddish word without definition?

Delete. The most popular words on men’s sights were “having fun”. “Fun for me is living in Italy and finding Alessandro, the fictional hero in my last novel.” Delete. “Fun is sharing a home wherever that is.”  Delete. “Fun is being connected on many levels…”  By the time I finished writing and editing darkness had descended.  I also felt spent and at the same time relieved.  My thoughts and feelings were cleaned out. Prospective matches or men who might become significant others would never read those words.  I would rewrite the profile again and would include the word mensch without definition.

I wrote the final, profile: “Female mensch searching for male mensch for fun and good times.”

Ronni Miller, author of Dance With The Elephants: Free Your Creativity And Write and Cocoon To Butterfly: A Metamorphosis of Personal Growth Through Expressive Writing, among other published books, is an award winning fiction author and founder and director of Write It Out®, a motivational and expressive writing program for individuals of all ages since 1992.  She teaches and lectures in the US, facilitates writing retreats in Tuscany and Cape Cod, and writes about her Jewish roots, feelings, memories and experiences in published books, short stories, essays, poems and plays for children and adults. In her private practice as a Book Midwife, she helps people birth their books. See www.writeitout.com for more information. 

 

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Filed under American Jewry, Jewish identity

Now What?

by Ellie Sugarman (Sarasota, FL)

The many hours, weeks and months that I’ve spent learning Hebrew are almost over.

I will become a bat mitzvah on May 9th, 2009 at Temple Sinai in Sarasota.  My family and friends are planning to attend.

It’s been a challenge to learn not only how to read directly from the Torah, with its minuscule print, but having to learn how any mark under or above each letter alters its sound.

The unique markings above or below the letters, or at the side of a consonant, tell you whether to hold or repeat the sound.  Certain markings will tell you to sound more than one consonant together.  These marks are called the “trope, ” and they help listeners know when a new thought begins and ends.

So, I had to learn not only how to chant the letters which make up each word, but how to stress or elongate the syllables.

All this is not very easy, especially for someone my age!

It’s common for children of thirteen to become a bar or bat mitzvah.  But occasionally an older individual who never had a bar or bat mitzvah dreams of a ceremony of his or her own.

For me, becoming a bat mitzvah became a goal after I found myself as a widow after fifty-nine years of a good marriage. It was very unsettling.  I needed to feel rooted again.

Perhaps I am unique in this need, but I felt learning about my Jewish heritage would offer me solace and well-being. I felt I was on the right path.  I felt sturdier and protected.

It was when some dear friends invited me to welcome the Sabbath over the course of many Friday evenings that I began to have these “feel good” feelings.

Observing the Sabbath each week at their home, and chanting the blessings for the bread and the wine, allowed me to feel the love and warmth of my hosts.

I hadn’t realized what was happening to me.

Returning to the synagogue was helpful, too, and a Sabbath service that I attended about six months ago at Temple Sinai was especially reassuring.

I was asked to recite one of the prayers before the Torah was read, and I was able to do it well.

Walking back to my seat, I had an epiphany. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced.

It had been a cloudy, dreary day, but for a minute the sanctuary suddenly appeared so very bright and sunny.  Everything around me was glowing.

I blinked my eyes, and the natural color of the room returned.

If someone were to tell me that they had experienced this, I would have listened but possibly would have challenged the truthfulness of it happening.

I do not doubt my experience.

My motto has always been, “Yes, I can.”

I don’t know what else I will be able to learn or accomplish in the years ahead.  Right now, I’m looking forward to becoming a bat mitzvah.

After that, who knows?

There’s always a trip to the moon!

Ellie Sugarman, a perennial student, will be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah on May 9, 2009, to read her Torah portion, Emor. She has volunteered at the Women’s  Resource Center for the past seven years and was a docent at the Ringling Museum of Art for more than 15 years.

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Filed under American Jewry, Jewish identity