Dating in Israel is a far cry from the way things were back in my dating days of which I have such fond memories. (If you believe that, have I got a bridge to sell to you.) Most notably, as a girl, my dates always picked me up at home, with the exception of the unusually considerate guy who met me in Manhattan and sent me home by train all by myself at midnight. I can’t say I felt unsafe, though. I believe that the smoke that was emanating from my ears during the entire ride encouraged most people to keep their distance from me. If you (the unusually considerate guy) happen to be reading this article, you should just know that I participate in a weekly musar class and I’m currently hard at work trying to improve my midah of forgiveness. I haven’t reached the point of forgiving you just yet, but I’m getting very close.

When I dated, my parents z”l got to meet the boys I went out with. It wasn’t a “Come, sit down and have a drink” type of affair. It was more like a brief chat, long enough to give my parents the opportunity to form a first impression. My father would comment on the weather and then ask the boy if he had any trouble finding the place, which he always did, due to no fault of his own. Whoever assigned addresses to the homes on my street did not know how to count, it seems, and left out a number from the sequence. This caused a problem for the boys I dated, who actually did know how to count. They would check the number of a house on the block, do the math, count the houses, and would inevitably end up ringing my next-door neighbor’s bell instead of mine. This trap was practically unavoidable, an uncomfortable rite of passage for any boy who wished to cross my threshold. Had the instant messaging that exists today existed back then, that rite of passage might have potentially served a purpose. Had my neighbor felt that for some obvious reason there was little chance that things would work out between me and the guy standing at his door, he could have warned me and suggested that I quickly hang a sign on my door stating “House Sold. Owners Left” or “House Condemned. Slated for Demolition” or “Enter at Your Own Risk” – or to just keep quiet and not answer the door at all. But in those days, my neighbor would have needed to walk back to the kitchen and dial my number. By then, the boy would have already been discussing the difficulty he had finding the place with my father. Too late.

Here in Israel, it’s standard that the boy and girl meet at some mutually agreed upon location. Given the fact that many people don’t own cars, this practice actually makes sense. It is not uncommon for girls to drive themselves to their dates if they have access to a car. Why should a boy spend his or his parent’s whole life’s savings to rent a car and take a girl he may never meet again to a fancy restaurant and/or to an expensive entertainment venue? The trend of daters meeting at a mutually convenient spot has changed over time from a practical solution for carless boys to a steadfast hashkafah. Even if a boy does have a car and picks up my daughter from home, he will not knock on our door. No. No, he will not! Why would he want to meet us, the parents? Who are we? Such a silly thought. Reminds me of when I wanted to keep my son in gan for a second year shortly after we made aliyah and was told that it’s not my decision. I’m only the mother. At the end of that same year, when we returned to the United States to visit family and had planned to take our son out of gan just a bit before the official end of the school year in order to take advantage of the lower cost of airfare, we were told that we needed authorization to do this. We were just his parents, after all. We were expected to leave judgment regarding these sorts of situations to the powers that be who obviously knew better than we did when it made sense for our child to miss school for family visits, as well as when he should miss school throughout the year due to their strikes. Whatever.

Dating activities vary, depending upon the crowd. Some will go to a lobby or to a café for a drink. Others will go to strictly free venues, often outdoors. They may sit on a bench in a city park. They may walk around in a city park. They may sit on a bench in a city park and then later on walk around the city park. I’m in favor of simple dating, but even that must have some limits. I believe that walking around a city park for two hours in the freezing cold is just not the way to go. But no one asks me. I’m just the mother.

At some point, the couple decides that it’s time for them to get to know each other in a way not possible by just sitting on a park bench in the heat or cold. They will choose an enjoyable activity aimed at helping them have fun together, as well as providing them with a window into the character of the other. If they go bowling, they can each watch what the other one does, while anxiously waiting for the ball to roll down the lane and hit the pins. This is a clear indication of how the person will handle stressful situations in the future. The way the boy/girl reacts when he/she is not exactly satisfied with how his/her bowl came out in a ceramic studio is quite telling about how he/she will cope when thrown a curveball and is confronted with situations in life that don’t go the way he/she would.

It is said that since creation, Hashem spends His time making shidduchim. It is hard to find a statement more credible than that. When thinking about dating, whether in the past or present, whether in Israel or in the US, or anywhere else, it is clear that all of our efforts would be totally ineffective without the help of Hashem.

May all those looking for shidduchim find them quickly and easily, b’ezras Hashem.

Suzie Steinberg, CSW, is a native of Kew Gardens Hills and resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh who publishes articles regularly in various newspapers and magazines about life in general, and about life in Israel in particular. Her recently published children’s book titled Hashem is Always With Me can be purchased in local Judaica stores as well as online. Suzie can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and would love to hear from you.