This just in: After decades of teaching and writing about Jewish history and texts, after delivering interfaith programs on All Things Jewish, after studying to become a rabbi, and after about twelve years leading the same Jewish Renewal congregation the world has finally discovered that I am Jewish.
“The world,” I admit, is an exaggeration. Most of the world doesn’t know me or care to, either. I don’t blame the world for this fact; it seems reasonable enough.
But curiously, I appear to be well worth contacting for one slivered subsection of the planet – the realm of online dating sites.
It all began last year, when I began to receive advertisements for Match.com. I decided there had to be a kind of cyber-contagion at work. My twenty-something son had registered for a dating site of some kind or another (don’t remember the name; only that it was free).
Thiede is not a popular name, so I assumed that his last name had been cyberly synced to mine. Kinda the way Facebook takes a list of your friends and then suggests more friends via connections with your friends.
As fall progressed, I received additional solicitations. Eharmony made its presence known. Deleted. AsianDating checked in, promising me many pictures of beautiful Asian people. Indeed, the site’s homepage features a young, smiling Asian woman holding her long hair up on one side, her eyes flirting and expressive. Over her picture we read: “Find Your Asian Beauty.”
I deleted the email.
A couple of weeks later, I found myself looking at a new email invitation – this time from ChristianMingle. The relevant homepage is almost wholly taken up by a white heterosexual couple embracing sweetly in the light. She appears to have jumped into the male model’s arms despite her spiky heels. Light is flowing into the room from an open door. Headline: “The Power of Two: United in Faith and Purpose.”
If I signed up, I read, I would be given “tools to create God-based relationships.” I would be able to access Christian chat rooms, instant messaging, photos, Bible verses, and more.
I need ChristianMingle in order to access Bible verses?
I wondered whether the site’s definition of “God-based relationships” included those formed by members of the LGBTQ community.
I deleted that email, too.
I am married. Happily so. For over three decades. I don’t care how many fish there are in the sea – at least not the human ones.
After deleting such invitations for many months, I finally realized that there might be married people on dating sites, and that such sites knew such things and didn’t care one whit about my marital condition or anyone else’s. They would bother me until the end of my time here on this earth.
I asked my husband, Ralf’s opinion on this matter.
“Well,” Ralf said, “I understand that a dating site that was designed to help people commit adultery has just been hacked. Tens of thousands of names were on that site.”
“Yikes,” I said. “Tens of thousands of people must now be in a terrible state of shame.”
“Or not,” Ralf added.
I called my twenty-something son and blamed him for the influx of such invitations. It was his fault, I said, and he could just stop dating right now and spare me the trouble of deleting all those emails.
“Mom,” he said, “I don’t think I caused this. And don’t you want grandchildren some day?”
I do. I told him he could go back to dating.
Privately, I wondered about the fact that the cyberworld seemed determined to hook up a married woman with somebody – anybody – but most definitely not a fellow Jew.
Last week, the world finally found out I was Jewish. At least dating sites did. I finally received a solicitation from JDate.
I smiled. But I deleted that email, too.