Religious Dating in a Secular World

Dear Elana,

I'm a 26 year old Modern Orthodox guy and I'm feeling frustrated by dating. I grew up in a family that valued travel and humanist education, and I appreciate my upbringing because I was exposed to literature, politics, and history, but I also feel like an outsider in many circles. The women I meet who share my Jewish values don't understand my need for independence and adventure, and the ones I meet in artsy or literary circles don't understand the significance of my Jewish life. Is it possible to meet a woman who can traverse both worlds, or am I chasing a white whale?

Always Hunting, Attempting Bliss

Dear Captain AHAB,

Judaism prizes community and bonding through shared history, rituals, and beliefs. As a Jew, you are encouraged to stay close to community and maintain traditions. But as a global citizen you are exposed to ideas of cultural relativity and motivated to question the privileging of any customs or beliefs over others. Creating a coherent narrative in between these two competing value sets can pose a challenge – especially when you are looking for your soulmate.

I believe that if you exist, a match exists, and when the timing is right you will find each other. In my experience, there are lots of Modern Orthodox Jewish women who can hold their own in intellectual circles and who love to travel. In fact, your family is living proof that Jewish home life does not have to preclude adventure. One of my friends moved to Buenos Aires for a year with her husband and children. After figuring out all of the logistics (renting their home while they were gone, transferring the kids to international schools, and arranging a telecommuting gig for her husband) they had a wonderful experience that they will never forget. You can design your marriage to be just as original and unpredictable as you are.

Finally, if you aren't having luck finding a match in Cleveland, consider expanding your search to Jewish communities that attract lots of young, Modern Orthodox, intellectuals like yourself in New York, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles.