I usually open the dating apps — Hinge, Bumble, and JSwipe (not Tinder) — on my phone out of pure boredom. I chanced Hinge one night, tapping the “X” repeatedly as no one met my interest.
I saw a “like” pop up from a guy named Daniel* on one of my pictures. I began talking to him. His age was listed at 29 when we first matched, although he was 30 by the time we met for our first date, making him eight years my senior. He was funny and charming and I, for once, enjoyed the conversation I was having on a dating app.
I prompted him to take me on a unique date. He mentioned that he was looking into going hang gliding for the first time. After a bit of persuasion, I convinced him to take me with him. Hang gliding, on our first date. In a town 45 minutes outside of the city where we lived. It was the wildest thing I had ever suggested.
Daniel had listed his job as “Professional Jew” on the app, and he told me that he was, in fact, a rabbi. A living, breathing 30-year-old man of Hashem. A Conservative, weed-smoking, adventure-seeking rabbi from California. He told me he hoped that it didn’t scare me. Spurred on by the promise of hang gliding on a first date, I decided his job title as a religious figure of my community was nothing to be afraid of. On the contrary, the fact that he was a rabbi made me automatically feel more trusting towards him. You know, not like someone of another profession who might leave me lying in a ditch somewhere.
So, in mid-October, a week after we began talking, we set out for a random farm in the middle of nowhere in which two guys operated a hang gliding business. Honestly, hang gliding? A fucking thrill. Try it. Amazing. And not to be a princess, but it also rocked that Daniel paid for the whole damn thing. I had one of the coolest experiences of my life and I didn’t even need to shell out a single cent for it.
I was enamored. (Folks, in psychological terms, that’s called a misattribution of arousal.) It helped that conversation flowed easily for two people meeting for the first time who were forcing themselves to spend an hour and a half round-trip in the car together. I thought he was sweet and I wanted to continue seeing him. Including Daniel, my track record for going on a second date with a guy from a dating app became a grand total of two, so this was a big deal.
We joked about what our next date would be. Skydiving? Matching tattoos? In the end, we settled on a movie. After the movie, we went for a drink at a pub across the street where he told me about all the drugs he’d done, including the couple of times he’s smoked meth (!!!). Honestly, I think I just let my brain glaze over that life choice because I liked him so much. He also told me how he only pretends he’s shomer Shabbos (observant of Shabbat), but will privately text from Friday night through Saturday night and how, while in services, he’ll text behind the stand.
After a couple drinks, he drove me home. And then came upstairs with me. And then I showed him my room. I think you know what happens next. So, we did it. As I termed it to my friends later on, I shtupped a rabbi. The orgasm made me feel closer to God (JK the sex was not that great), and I knew I wanted to keep seeing him.
After our third date, Daniel drove me back to his place (a cute little one-bedroom house right beside the synagogue where he worked), where we slept together and I stayed the night. We decided that night we would be exclusive.
Becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of him, I let it slip out to my cousin that I was seeing a rabbi, and he then told my entire family. A Jewish girl dating a rabbi? Isn’t that every Jewish parent/aunt/uncle/grandparent’s dream? (Except of course the whole doctor/lawyer thing; for my family in particular, engineer is also thrown into that mix.) It didn’t help matters that my godmother and my aunt and uncle’s close friends are members of Daniel’s synagogue. My godmother, in fact, took it upon herself to forward me emails from the synagogue, telling me that “my boyfriend was sending her messages.” Hilarious, really. What a riot. My dad, ever the cultural Jew, would text and call me to continually ask how I felt about dating a rabbi and if I could see a future with him. My uncle sat me down to have a full discussion about how I felt and how he wanted to meet him. My godmother’s parents delighted in telling me everything they knew about him from him being their rabbi. Don’t you just love a good Jewish family?
Daniel and I were, for the most part, enjoying spending time together and talking almost every day. I knew he had a busy schedule, and I tried my best to be respectful of that. There were some points where he wouldn’t answer me for three days and then not notice it had been that long when he finally responded. But I let it slide because I liked him enough and I wanted the relationship to continue. Isn’t a rabbi the epitome of a Nice Jewish Boy, after all? It was okay that he was busy and didn’t realize. I tried to justify it by reminding myself of his age and his busy schedule.
I stayed over at his house a few more times after the third date. I bonded with his dog. I stayed in his house while he went to work. He picked up food for me on his way home. He told me about how he would make crude jokes in rabbinical school and got in a ton of trouble for it. Honestly, who let this guy become a rabbi? I was intrigued and disconcerted all at once.
Then, between our second-to-last and final date, three weeks went by. We would text and speak on the phone but there was no set date to hang out. On what was to be our last date (although I didn’t know it at the time), I finally asked him why we hadn’t seen each other for three weeks. His response? He hadn’t noticed. Oh right, because a man, even one with a close relationship to God (apparently), isn’t going to notice a three week break in time with a mortal being he’s exclusive with? My mistake!
Our last date ended with him walking me to my door and not coming in because my roommate was home, but also not inviting me back to his place because “his bed was too small.” Wild, considering I had slept in his bed multiple times and it was just fine for me. But we continued to talk after that, as if everything was normal.
In December I went back to my hometown for the month. When Daniel realized how long I’d be gone for, he insinuated that I was cheating on him, asking if I had someone else “to satisfy my womanly needs.” I was mortified. One, I would never cheat. Two, who says “womanly needs” and isn’t referring to a tampon? Three, why would he just assume that? I was at home visiting my family and friends. I certainly wasn’t off fornicating with some rando when I had an NJB (or so I thought) waiting for me back where I lived.
I calmly told him that nothing of the sort would be happening and asked what he meant; he replied that we would talk about this later. On New Year’s Eve, he texted me with a friendly, “Happy New Year! Hope the rest of your 2018 is great. I’ll call you tomorrow!” On New Year’s Day, I waited, half-heartedly, for a call that never came. And no, I wasn’t about to call him; it was the principle of the matter, after all.
So, after a week of absolutely no contact, I resigned myself to the fact that I had been ghosted by a rabbi. A rabbi, who provides advice to his community. A rabbi, who shares a family’s joy in welcoming newborns into the world and shares a family’s grief in losing a loved one. A rabbi, a 30-year-old man (by age, not maturity), who couldn’t even pick up the goddamn phone and say he no longer had any interest in me. What a fucking schmuck.
*Name has been changed to protect the schmuck.
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