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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Miss America’

Peace and the President’s Conference: Can a Realist Believe in Miracles?

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

When I was a little girl I dreamed of becoming Miss America. I wanted to wear the crown, the sash and stand on the huge stage in a sparkling floor-length gown talking about world peace. As I got older, I realized that the likelihood of that dream was slim, but still took pride in carrying around the regal air of positivity. I looked on the bright side and did what I could to make sure the grass on my side of the fence stayed a bright Kelly green. As I walked around the President’s Conference today though, I couldn’t help but feel jaded. Despite President Peres’s plea last night to stay strong about peace, people today were finally saying out loud that it just is an impossibility. After assessing the situation with greater depth each day, I realize that I have a better chance of becoming Miss America than the Middle East does at achieving the serenity it needs.

Sure you can call it cynical, but it’s the truth being expressed by more and more people. We had the chance to speak with Irwin Cotler today, a Member of Parliament for Mount Royal from Canada, who believes in a two state solution. He calls that term short-hand though. He believes that a two state solution is one that involves two states for two peoples. The Israeli government has to recognize the Palestinian state for the Palestinian people and the Jewish people need to be legitimized too. While this could potentially solve problems, it is clear that the chances of this happening are nearly impossible.

In a conference emblazoned with messages about the need for optimism, it could be a mood killer to be the pessimist in the room. But it’s a debate that’s making it into sessions focused on more than the political. “The difference between pessimists and optimists is that they are born the same way and die the same way but live differently,” according to Mr. Maurice Levy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe in France. Levy made the audience laugh with that response during the What’s New in New Media plenary, after he was teased by moderator Dr. Yossi Vardi for being so positive. He said that what we are today has nothing to do with what we will be tomorrow, and has high hopes for the future of technology.

Mr. Stephane Richard, Chairman and CEO of France Telecom Group also shared some upbeat news. His venture fund made an investment in Israel for the first time, and he spoke at the conference as a part of his first trip to the country. Those firsts are echoed in the entire notion of new media’s role in the future. The ability to completely transform everything is what new media is about, according to John Chambers, Chairman and CEO, Cisco Systems Inc. Chambers suggested thinking like a teenager, that young people know where the future of this new media lies better than anyone. Although uplifting, the session didn’t feature any groundbreaking information, only reiterated the importance and ubiquity of connectivity. But it will take way more than technological advancements to put a positive dent in the Middle East crisis. While connecting Arabs and Israelis through smart phones is obviously far more favorable than warfare, the thought is just too far off the radar screen to even fathom.

Despite my negative attitude about dove-like peace descending on Israel anytime in the near future, I will say that Israel’s strength is clear and its defense force is the best chance we have at maintaining stability in its citizens’ everyday life. Because of the military, Israelis and tourists alike can walk around and feel safe. Indeed, it’s unfortunate that an 18 year old boy or girl should have to serve in an army, but it’s a harsh reality that Israelis both accept and are passionate about. That spirit is what will keep Israel not only existing, but flourishing. I think David Ben-Gurion said it best with the quote, “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” With what Israel has been through, it’s a miracle that the nation is still standing today. Miss America or not, let’s keep that positivity coming.

Singles In Crisis – A Reader’s Thoughts

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Last week’s column was meant to be the last, for now, on the subject of shidduchim. Because of the problems singles experience in finding their soul mates, I had devoted several columns to the subject and was prepared to move on – until I received an e-mail I feel is a must read in order for us to gain a better understanding of the pain some of our singles are experiencing.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis, I read with great interest your series of columns on shidduchim. The subject is very close to my heart. At 36, I have been on more dates than I care to admit, but have yet to find my bashert. Most of my friends are in the same boat – they too are frustrated and hurting. When we get together we try to avoid discussing it. It’s too painful, so we try to bury the loneliness we feel – we go out to dinner, laugh, and try to have fun. But it’s all a pretense. Our classmates are all married and have beautiful families while we sit alone in our apartments.

When Shabbos or holidays come, the sadness is even more piercing. My options are to stay home and have Shabbos/holiday meals by myself, accept an invitation from a family member or a friend, attend a singles Shabbaton, or go to my elderly parents. The choices are not very attractive.

To stay at home by myself is to sit in darkness. To go to others is to seem like a charity case or feel obligated to baby-sit or offer some other service. When I visit families with children, I am ashamed to admit, I have a battle in my heart. I don’t want to be jealous. I don’t want to be bitter. Just the same, there is no sense denying the feelings are there and very difficult to overcome. I keep asking myself why I have been denied the simple gift of building a home and raising a family.

I have four siblings. My older brother and I are still single and I know this is a worry that plagues my parents, which is why I cannot bear the thought of going home for Shabbos or Yom Tov. So I do not have many options.

Wherever I go, whatever I do, I always see a shadow hovering over me. And this shadow is not silent. It whispers by day and by night and it whispers as I attend to the daily needs of my clients.

The whisper is constant and doesn’t let go, and its message takes on many shapes and forms. When I see other people’s babies and children, the whisper says, “Your biological clock is ticking away; you will never have children!” On other occasions I hear the whisper of a shadchan whom I recently consulted: “You have to be more realistic,” she said. “You are not exactly Miss America, you know, and the type of man you described wouldn’t want you. And then she recommended some men who were, to be blunt, real losers – men who needed someone to support them or who had other problems.

I told her that while I may not look like Miss America, I do not know anyone who does. My married friends don’t, and yet they are married and raising children. But my words fell on deaf ears and the shadchan clung to her position. “Well,” she finally said, “if you refuse to face reality, there’s very little I can do to help.”

I’ve been to more singles weekends and more Shabbos dinners than you can imagine. I live on the Upper West Side and the reason I chose to take an apartment there – though it’s more expensive than other areas and I could barely afford it – is because everyone told me it’s a haven for Jewish singles and there are myriad places I would be able to go on Shabbos and Yom Tov and feel comfortable. There are invitations galore from families who host singles, and there is always some organization or synagogue that offers Shabbos dinners. It’s alive, it’s friendly and it’s the place to meet. So, full of hope, I moved there.

In my mind’s eye, I saw a wonderful image of myself walking down the aisle, rejoicing and dancing at my own simcha. But real life brought its disappointments and my hopes were dashed. I soon realized that all this camaraderie was counterproductive. The stock answer to shidduch recommendations was, “Oh yes, I know him/her – we are good friends.” And that was the end of a shidduch or even a date opportunity.

I come from a very religious family and I now realize how right they were and how foolish we are. In the community in which I grew up, friendship between the sexes was simply off limits. Dating was only for tachlis – for marriage. Even prior to a boy and girl going out, families investigated very carefully and if the person who was recommended seemed appropriate, the dating process commenced – but would be quickly terminated if either of the parties felt there was no potential for marriage.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/singles-in-crisis-a-readers-thoughts/2012/02/22/

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