Once I got engaged, I thought I wouldn’t have to date anymore, but that’s pretty much what my experience was this past Sunday at the OU’s Emerging Communities Fair in The Grand Hyatt. For those unfamiliar, the OU sponsors an annual event wherein small, developing Jewish communities and Elizabeth, NJ convene in Manhattan to tell you what their community is about. The idea being that they can attract as many people as possible to help build up their community.
It was not too long before Erachet and I realized that like dating, many of the prospects began sounding the same. Every boasted of the accepting, close-knit community; “Laid back,” “friendly” and “warm” were terms I was used to reading on shidduch resumes, and I was now reading them on pamphlets about towns.
Also, I need to ask what is with the fascination with Jews and food? Should I really care about a kosher pizza store? Is that really the best way to win over a perspective community member? It’s nice icing on the cake, but I wouldn’t lead with that argument. Ability to attain kosher food (like meat and cheese) is important, but I am not making my decision of where to live based on the ability to easily grab a burger on the way home from Shul.
Don’t get me wrong, there were a number of communities that stood out (which I won’t mention right here), but for the most part they sounded the same. There were many places that were really pushing the fact that they had a low cost of housing, but was kind of offset by the lack of jobs available.
In the end, we figured out that just like dating, we weren’t getting enough of an idea about each community by just having someone talk about it, and reading a few brochures; we need to date each community for a while to see which one (if any) we like enough to take the next step. And the best part is we can date more than one simultaneously.