It’s tough out there for a Jewish girl—you work hard, you play hard, you JDate often and you also want to incorporate some Judaism into your busy lifestyle.
Luckily, Carin Davis—a Deerfield native gone LA Jewish chic—has written a handbook to guide you through every step of the way.
In her new book, “Life, Love, Lox: Real-World Advice for the Modern Jewish Girl,” (Running Press) Davis covers all the Jewish basics—everything from Jewish history to holiday recipes to fashion advice— in a fun, sassy format. A self-described “trendy yenta,” Davis’s book is littered with Yiddish slang and her own hilarious tales of JDates gone wrong and hunts for half-price high holiday tickets.
Oy! caught up with this modern Jewess this summer to talk more about the book she describes as “educational, but entertaining.”
Oy!Chicago: What inspired you to write this book?
Carin Davis: It started with me writing the singles column for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. I would get letters and emails from readers that would say it’s so great to have a fun, fresh voice in the Jewish newspaper and someone who’s young and writes about a Jewish voice that we can relate to. But then they also bombarded me with tons of questions—everything from ‘where do we find half-price high holiday tickets’ to ‘where do hot guys volunteer’ to ‘I’m supposed to make a kugel Friday night and I have no idea how to make one.’ I [also] started hosting all the holidays as well and it came to me that there was this void, a need for a Jewish guide to life but for the JDate generation—women in their 20s and 30s and 40s who are balancing their modern, urban lives and also trying to find their Jewish lives as well.
Who is the “trendy yenta” or modern Jewish girl you are writing for? Is the book specifically geared toward singles?
Definitely [the book] appeals toward singles but it also appeals towards young moms and married women who are suddenly responsible for the first time in their lives. Say their in-laws invite them over for Shabbat dinner. [She] could be married, could be single, could be a Jewlywed, or the mother of a bris. There can be 20 years between when someone pledges AEPhi and has a kid studying for his bar mitzvah or even makes it to the chuppah. So I feel like there’s this generation of women who are trying to find a way to organically and seamlessly bring Judaism into their lives and that’s who the book is for.
The word out there is that Jewish 20 and 30somethings are not affiliating in traditional Jewish ways. What do you say to that? How does your book address that?
I think that it goes both ways. I think there are plenty of Jews in their 20s and 30s and 40s that are affiliating in traditional ways, as more people in that group get involved in the Federation or find a local synagogue that they click with. Then there are also those communities building outside of [the traditional path] whether that’s an indie minyan in someone’s living room or Jewish movie club where girls get together and watch movies with hot Jewish actors once a week. People are finding their own way to create a Jewish life that means something to them. [They are also] finding ways to not have their Jewish life on one side and the rest of their life on the other—they’re finding ways to merge those two together. There are girls who eat gefilte fish and also sushi—you can have both.
What is the biggest challenge for “trendy yentes” today?
That depends on the girl, but I think the biggest challenge is to create a Jewish life that means something to her, so whether that’s finding a congregation she clicks with or finding a Jewish guy she’s going to spend her life with or finding a Jewish group of friends to celebrate a holiday with or volunteer with—it’s just creating that path for herself.
You write about a lot of different nice Jewish boys—how do they feel about being featured in your book?
Well the names have been changed to protect the innocent. And actually one of the columns I wrote one time was about a guy who went on a date with me and kept asking me to write about him in a column. But it’s all done in good spirit so even if the guys recognize themselves they usually send me an email laughing about it.
What advice do you have for Jewish daters out there?
You shouldn’t be looking for the perfect guy, you should be looking for the guy who’s perfect for you, in the same way that you have to recognize that you’re not the perfect girl, you’re just the perfect girl for someone. The other thing is just go for it—accept every invitation. If you’re invited to your co-worker's son's bris, go; if you’re invited to your 89-year-old neighbor’s Shabbat dinner, go. She could have a super hot grandson, you never know.
Davis, who is the vice president of an animation company by day, also shares her adventures in Jewish dating as a singles columnist for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. “Life, Love, Lox” is available at all major bookstores and on Amazon.com.