Tammuz 5762 – Avoiding the Mixed Social Scene After Seminary

1 Tammuz 5762

Dear Chana,

I have just returned from a terrific and uplifting year in Israel. The Matzav was frightening – but for me, it served to heighten the real reasons for why I came [even though I wasn’t so in touch with those reasons initially!] and I find that I feel that I have grown in many and varied ways.

One thing that I can already see that will be a problem for me is the after shul social scene kiddush. All during high school – this was one of the highlights of my week. You know, dressed in your Shabbos finest and myriads of boys just waiting to say hi and shmooze. Well, what I was met with after shul this past week [my 1st one back] were those same myriads of boys – just waiting to say hi and see how I am after my year. Help!! What do I do? I mean, I really didn’t know how to react. I don’t want to just snub them and seem Holier than Thou, and get all of the ‘brainwashed’ comments – but I don’t want to get sucked back into that either. I did a lot of thinking this year about the boy – girl thing – and I really do want to separate myself from all of it until I am officially ready to date for marriage. It all makes sooooooooo much sense. The mixing and shmoozing and group and separate dating was me then – it isn’t me now. Oh, I’ll admit – it does lure me – I’m not a perfect Tzaddeket – but I have really worked on getting my head on straight this past year and I DO know what I want and how I want to live my life – and I have to slowly pursue my goals – and this stuff doesn’t fit into the picture. Can you Please give me some advice as to how to weather this storm??!! It will crop up every week!! Thanks so much for your time.

Oh, by the way, I LOVE the new book “Jerusalem Jems”!!!! It’s awesome! I think practically everyone in my seminary bought one – It has such great stuff in it! Thank you and all the other contributors!! I’m really looking forward to being part of the Jemsem site- it is such a great idea – especially for those of us just coming back!!

Name & seminary withheld 5762

Dear Newly-Arrived Jemsem Reader,

It certainly sounds like you had a great year in Israel! You seemed to have utilized the time there quite well. It is so wonderful to hear this! The issue that you bring up about the after shul Kiddush is one that many young women face upon their return. On the one hand it would be easy to slip back into this because you knew it so well before. On the other hand, as you said, it “doesn’t fit into the picture” of what you are becoming. So, what to do? Well, if there are other shuls around that might be better in this area and your parents wouldn’t mind – maybe you could make a switch. But, if that isn’t feasible I think the most Mentchlach thing to do is to say hello to the guys who may come up to you [to avoid them totally would be rude] but to keep it to a very minimal amount of SMALL talk – all the while making it clear [in a nice but firm way] that you won’t be in the “shmoozing mode” [not necessarily saying it with words – but with body language and a clear message of this is just a small and superficial and “arms length” conversation] and be on your way. Excuse yourself [from the conversation with him] and go over and say hello to that family you haven’t seen for awhile, your friend, or that lady in the community that you wanted to chat with.

On a certain level you will have to be willing to take the flak of “Oh she’s brainwashed”, because to them it does seem this way. Though your growth was most probably done in baby steps over the past 10 months – to those who see you now – it may seem like presto-chango – here’s the new you – all seemingly done so quickly. You have to believe in yourself and know that what you are doing is 100% grand! Others may find fault with it for a variety of reasons, but don’t let that stop you! You can be who you need to be and it may not always please everyone, but you see the Emes more clearly now and you are certainly entitled to go for it!!

The best thing is to be ” HaRoeh es Hanolad” in every situation. You need to sit and think out what you may face – and figure out a plan of action that “fits into the picture” of who you are now. There will be many things that come up and each one takes thought how to approach it and do things differently than in the past. Of course, you need to get that Rav for Halachic questions and the Rav or Rebbetzin or married Role Model for the Aitzos and advice, [you know, the ones that your seminary teachers were most probably talking about at the end of the year!].

Hatzlacha Rabba to you! May Hashem give you the Kochos to successfully face all of the challenges that will pop up!

With warmest wishes,
Chana