Even though some of us traveled from as far as Chicago and New York, (the majority were from Atlanta); I believe we each came a long way to the Singles Shabbaton; because of the chance we took. The age range was 35 to 55. We were no spring chickens. We’d either been married and divorced – or in a few cases never married; with the concomitant recipes of exhilaration, disappointment, despair, kindnesses and perceived slights. None of us traveled light.
About 37 women and men (evenly divided, thank G-d!) spent President’s Day Shabbat enjoying what was billed as a Southern Style Singles Shabbaton in Atlanta GA. It was for Orthodox Jews. That in itself was a little intimidating to me. I’m definitely on the paler end of that spectrum. However, I welcome the opportunity to be more observant, particularly if it’s with my beshert. To my delight, my fellow participants as a whole were warm, friendly and genuine. I felt much more at ease than I thought I would.
Actually, it was rather magical. The weather was sunny and in the upper 60s (in February!). There was an amazing full moon. And because it was Shabbos and we had absolutely no other agenda than to rest, pray and hang out; our time together had an other world quality. Let me tell you – this specialness may have been apparent during the Shabbaton, but it was more so after. Maybe it was Shabbos itself….there was a sense of urgency at the Melava Malka that was new. Some of us who hadn’t found our beshert were a little less relaxed. And there were a ton of Shadchans at the Saturday evening party! At least five or six matchmakers descended on us; interviewing each participant at length. The first question I was asked was what three things was I looking for in a man. Of course I immediately said he should be kind, generous, and make a good living. (I could see her gentle face hiding a slight smile at that). By the end of the interview, I blurted out that I was really looking for my best friend, someone fun, who liked to travel and who I could talk with til the day I die.
The Shabbaton was grass roots and highly organized. It took place mainly at Congregation Beth Jacob. I really loved Rabbi Ilan Feldman’s talk at Kiddush lunch about being like Velcro. He said we should each be like one side of a pair of Velcro strips. That we should exude love and desirability to all and that our beshert will find us and stick to us like the other half. Believe me; Rabbi Feldman said it a lot better. He also emphasized that older singles should be treated with dignity and respect. That he, the Rabbi, who has been married forever, could not entirely grasp what it’s like to be divorced/single/looking.
It was a full and wonderful weekend. I met some lovely people, men and women. Did I find my beshert? Not this time. In any case, I came away with a completeness (shalem) in myself - and that was a lovely surprise!
Ms. Benator is the owner and designer of Gila Leah, Inc., Jewelry for the Unique Woman. Many of Ms. Benator’s clients rely on her sense of fashion and her creative ability to help them to select jewelry pieces that best flatter their build, skin tone, lifestyle, wardrobe and personality. Bat Mitzvah jewelry is a specialty of hers. Ms. Benator creates personalized Hebrew name bracelets using sterling silver letters; Star of David charms are used liberally in her Bar and Bat Mitzvah jewelry.