never dated a Jewish guy in my life. I’d made a number of international choices
with my men—I’d gone out with eligible suitors from India, China, Turkey,
Mexico, Spain, Africa and Albania. I liked dating those who were not only
different from me, but who also had interests outside of Miley Cyrus and hot
four years of the college bar scene and the men who frequented it, the
delusional dating, and the lack of follow-up, I’d had enough. I decided it was
time to ‘get serious’ and date one of my own. After taking a Birthright Israel
trip my senior year, I realized I wanted to be able to share my love of Jewish
culture, passion for Mediterranean food, and my value in a Jewish identity with
a significant other. I didn’t want to have to explain who I really was to
somebody; I wanted it to be a mutual, inherent understanding.
bought myself a JDate subscription promptly after graduating in 2012. Although
just a simple gift to my “adult” self, I had successfully started my mission to
date a Jewish boy, and was ready to troll as much as I deemed necessary.
was an interesting experience, to say the least. It was awkward,
time-consuming, and entertaining. The best part was
not the men, but the stories I had afterward. After six months of a magician
who tried to lure me back to his apartment by showing me card tricks, an
Israeli who got back with his ex then came crawling back, a guy with a foot
fetish and a plethora of other quirky Jews, I threw in the towel and closed my
Before long (two weeks), I had gotten bored with my love life. I
couldn’t imagine meeting my beshert
the traditional way. Would I meet him in the grocery store, when we both
reached for the same box of Fiber One Protein Bars? How about on the El, where
the train was so packed that we were actually trying not to touch each other
inappropriately on accident?
I didn’t feel that was in the cards for me. I’m quirky, and I
find it takes time to meet somebody I really click with. As a proactive person
and somebody who doesn’t have the patience to take part in a real-life rom-com,
I decided to take my love life into my own hands and created a new OkCupid
profile without much care. I wanted to try without trying. It didn’t cost
anything, and there would hopefully a whole new crop of men. Love happens when
you’re not forcing it, right?
In no time, I came across a nice Jewish boy's profile. Jared was
in medical school in Chicago, and he liked Mediterranean food. He went to the
University of Michigan for undergrad, and I’m from Ann Arbor. Sold. I sent him
a message using the wittiest pick-up line I could think of: So, what is your favorite Mediterranean
Apparently, it worked. After exchanging
flirty texts over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we met at a bar for drinks.
I could tell he was smitten; I thought he was adorable. We talked about the
usual: careers, family, friends, Birthright, and food, of course. We reminisced
about Israeli shawarma, which we agreed nothing else could live up to, and the
search for the best Mediterranean restaurant in Chicago. We decided to find it
together (we’re still looking).
Just the two of us lovebirds
Prior to the date, I had joked that if he brought mistletoe,
he’d get a kiss. As he walked me home in the bitter cold and we stopped in
front of my apartment building, I knew it was time for the first goodbye. Like
the end of every date, the anticipation of what would come next hung over me
like a tallit. Would he ask me out
again? Would he hug me or dive in for a kiss?
Even though I wondered exactly how we would say our goodbyes, it felt different this time. I could
tell there was no question whether we’d see each other again. It felt easy.
Jared pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. A picture of
mistletoe was printed out on the paper. I stifled my laugh. It was cute, but so cheesy. I felt a little bit awkward.
I thought he would have forgotten about it, but I was flattered he wanted the
kiss so badly.
“I searched everywhere for mistletoe, I really did. I couldn’t
find it, so I brought you this,” he said. A
for effort, I thought. So he got a kiss.
I went home that night with my cheeks flushed from happiness. I
didn’t want to get my hopes up, because things never seemed to work out without
complications, but I felt something different. He was more sincere than anybody
else I met. He was the real deal.
So at the beginning of our relationship, I really wanted to impress him.
I decided to transform myself into a “domestic goddess.” It’s not that I feel
an obligation as a Jewish woman to enjoy cooking, be amazing at it, and use it to
find the way to a Jewish man’s heart; it’s also a key to my own happiness.
There’s nothing better than turning on Ella Fitzgerald and cutting vegetables!
I made Jared gourmet dishes like spaghetti Bolognese, swordfish
with mango salsa, steak with chimichurri, and even chicken shawarma and falafel
burgers. There were always rookie recipe mistakes, but each dish still turned
out miraculously delicious.
The falafel burgers
loved when I cooked and he still does. I enjoy improvising with my recipes, and
he enjoys devouring my dishes, except for baked goods, which is not my
specialty (he agrees). Our love of food brought us
closer. When we were too lazy to cook, we’d go out and explore Chicago’s best comida. We went to one Mediterranean
place, which shall remain unnamed, and Jared’s shawarma tasted like a bad
Caesar wrap. We never went back.
We’re an unsuspecting couple. We’re obsessed with orangutans and
enjoy discussing politics. He’s more introverted that I am, and he’s extremely
punctual. I am not. But we’re similar in a lot of ways. We’re both passionate
about our careers, and we want to be better than great at what we do. Even
though it nearly kills me to go a week without seeing him sometimes, I’m so
proud of him for what he does. He knows little about public relations, but he
knows I love it and that passion fuels my work.
Jared is also a great listener, a quality which is a rarity
these days. When somebody can completely tune everything else out and really listen to what you’re saying, it
makes you feel like you’re the only thing that matters. He genuinely cares, and
that makes my heart sing.
Us at a Mediterranean
cooking class we took at the Chopping Block!
More than one year later, through our differences in the cosmic
Judaic universe, we are still dedicated to finding the best hummus in the Windy
City. I’ll never forget why I first messaged Jared, or how my silly question ended
up being catalyst of something that connects us and makes our love stronger.
Is Jared my beshert in
Chicago? Only time – and tabbouleh – will tell.
For more posts in the “Beshert in Chicago” series, go here.
Rachel Krasnow is from Ann Arbor, Mich. and graduated in 2012 from
Indiana University-Bloomington with a dual degree in Spanish and journalism. As
a Chicagoan, she works in public relations and enjoys writing, karaoke, eating,
dancing, and sarcasm.