Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Parallel Universe

Earlier this month I referred to one of my side vocations which entails phoning up about 150 new immigrants each month to ascertain that all is well in their worlds and offer advice, information or insight when needed. It's extremely rewarding and because people's characters, life stories and experiences are so very different, it's also fascinating at times.

Like today. A person on my list phoned me and quietly identified himself as Person X living in Tel Aviv's ultra-religious suburb Bnei Brak. He asked a few benign questions about financial matters and then got to the meat of it: I'm looking for a shidduch. I'll get back to you I promptly replied, hanging up the phone.

Oopelah! I didn't have to watch Crossing Delancey five times to get it: He wanted a matchmaker! A good old fashioned Fiddler on the Roof yentah to hook him up. I phoned up my contacts who phoned their contacts and we came up with the goods - a professional matchmaker's number - which was promptly delivered in a return phone call. There was glee in his voice.

Later when I got to thinking about it I was amazed by the fact that I wasn't amazed. I knew what he wanted and didn't contemplate it for a second. Look Ma! The Day School Education was not for naught! (No, Arranged Marriage 101 was not part of the curriculum) But seriously, I fancy myself so secular and far removed from someone of that ilk and yet...

Which reminds me that earlier in the week a rather hip, cosmopolitan friend sent through pictures of her relatives - ultra orthodox cousins and their brood of 14 offspring. I'm still warming to the thought of FOURTEEN CHILDREN...!!! But at least now I understand why an environmentalist I interviewed last month noted Israel's population issue as a critical topic demanding government attention.

It was oh-so-surreal studying the family's images in that photo: modest dresses, black hats, black coats, a wig for the wife...And I thought: We live in the same country and yet we're in parallel universes.

Sorta. It's easy to look at a picture and judge. I dunno. But hell, what would the guy in Bnei Brak have thought had he known that lil 'ol moi was sporting leave-nothing-to-the-imagination tights, a tie-dyed tee-shirt, cobalt blue nail polish and Doc Martens while arranging his arranger?

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