Not really a joke, but an interesting encounter between two very different people with an intense interest in the future of single people.
I keep my eye out for news about single people: what they’re doing, what they’re thinking, the challenges they face and how they surmount them.
About 10 days ago, I stumbled upon an essay, titled “Sinning Against Singles” written by Rabbi Chananya Weissman posted in 5 Towns Jewish Times, a New York City suburb web publication for orthodox Jews. Rabbi Weissman is the founder of EndTheMadness.org, which was created “to alleviate the needless stresses and hardships of dating in the observant Jewish community.”
Rabbi Weissman’s essay pointed out how people need to be aware of how they judge singles and how damaging their “helpful” comments can be. He gave the following as an example:
“Why aren’t you married yet?” This generally comes from people who are favorably impressed with a single they don’t know very well. It is intended as a compliment, as if to say, “You’re so terrific I can’t believe no one snapped you up!” While masquerading as a mitzvah by supposedly complimenting the single and boosting his self-esteem, it only draws attention to the fact that he is still single and puts him on the spot. After all, how exactly is a person supposed to respond to this? “Yes, I’m wonderful, and I also can’t believe no one wants to marry me.” This doesn’t exactly brighten a person’s day.”
I was excited to hear a religious leader speaking with such singular awareness. That’s because most traditional religions, whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish, have a negative, or at best an indifferent attitude towards singles. In my opinion, it’s one of the reasons we singles are leaving churches, mosques and synagogues at an astounding rate.
I wrote to the rabbi to request permission to post the essay here in Singular magazine online. He responded promptly, saying he was not a fan of the single lifestyle and did not support the values of a magazine that was an advocate for people who had found, or were in the process of finding self-acceptance as single people or who were enjoying their independent lifestyle.
I thought surely he misunderstood our publication as we are not against marriage, nor are we stereotypical party animals or by virtue of being single, selfish. I wrote back, asking him to take a look at a recent editorial I had written titled “Holding Out For Mr. Right.” I urged him, again, to bring the message of his essay to our singular audience who might feel validated and supported by his recognition of the prejudice and judgment we singles sometimes endure from “well meaning” individuals.
No way. He was adamant. He would not permit his essay to be posted in Singular magazine, which he said endorsed a “narcissistic lifestyle” and furthermore, “singles who do not have a serious desire to get married and have a family have distorted values.”
Frustrated, I called my Israeli friend for some feedback. Steve, an observant Jew, told me there is no point in arguing with a rabbi. “You will never get a rabbi to support the idea that it’s ok for people to be single.” So be it. But it did tug on my heart to be reminded, once again, how we singles, despite being a majority of the population, are not judged by our individual character and our actions, but are still often perceived as aberrations in need of correction or at least sympathetic tolerance.
Although I can’t post Rabbi Weissman’s article here, you can read it in its entirety by clicking on this link: “Sinning Against Singles”