Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Talia & Joshua - Everlasting Emuna Through 25 Years of Dating

Question: What was dating like before you met your husband?

Talia: I hated dating, it was a means toward an ends and there wasn't much of a choice. It was stressful. I was dating for many years, since I was about 20.

Question: How did you stay hopeful through the years?

Talia: I was born with an optimistic outlook and I was never embittered. I'm also a very big believer, with deep-seated emuna. Deep emuna can get you through anything. You have to really believe to the core of your being.

I tell this to a lot of my single friends: Believe you are important, you are an important part of society, believe it is not your fault, believe that you really do want to get married and you deserve to get married.

I was unique among my friends in that I was such a believer and a very optimistic person. I did not have to work hard on not remaining bitter, I have always been that way. I've handled many crises that way.

Question: What did you do in the meantime?

Talia: I eventually went to school to get my masters and worked on my career. I was extremely involved in community functions and very involved in family.

I actually lived at home with my parents but was very independent. They gave me my space and I didn't take advantage. I was also very lucky because I had parents who knew how to be the parents of an adult child. We respected each other's space. I didn't want to move out and live with another single or two because I felt like singles were ego-centric and financially dependent without obligations to people. Living in my parent's house with my parents forced certain behaviors - living together and interacting with other people - which was very important. It was a conscious a decision not to move out.

Question: Did you date continuously until you found your husband?

Talia: There were periods of months here and there that I didn't have anyone to go out with, even though I had a lot of connections and came from a large family. There were periods of times where there just weren't any guys to date anymore and I didn't date for months.

Question: How did you meet your husband?

Talia: It was a shidduch! We were set up through his cousin who was determined to have him get married. He actually had dated a couple of my friends and one of my friends convinced me to go out with him after she dated him. At the time he was working and also living with this parents, he was not married before.

Question: How did you know he was the one for you?

Talia: [Laughs]He married me because I said yes and all the other women he was dating said no! There were a lot of reasons I could have backed out and a lot of reasons I tried to back out but it just developed a momentum of its own.

We were coming from very different backgrounds and things were not easy. I was coming from a Bais Yaakov education and he was coming from a modern orthodox education, the lifestyle and family we grew up with were very very different.

But there definitely was chemistry and something that was drawing me towards him. He was a very big mentsch. There was a sincerity to him, a desire to live a very different lifestyle than the one he grew up with, that I was attracted to and was supportive of. I knew he was very sincere about wanting to be married.

Question: How long was the dating process and was there a turning point?

Talia: We dated for nine weeks, seriously dating four to five weeks. This really shocked me because I never expected it to happen so quickly!

I had felt a lot of the guys I was dating just couldn't make a commitment and he felt the same way about a lot of the females he was dating. I think the discussion we had about that was a turning point because he really believed then that I was sincere and that I didn't want to remain single.

Question: Do you have any words of advice for single women who are still dating?

Talia: One of the points I would like to make is: I don't think it is good for singles to be discussing their dating with other singles. If I needed information [about a shidduch] I would get it from another source. A lot of older singles become very negative and down and it comes across when you ask information about a guy. We try not to speak loshon hora but there is a certain negativity that comes across from singles.

But definitely have a mentor who can guide you in the dating, especially for older singles. Someone you can talk with and meet with who can give guidance on how to move the relationship along. You should agree on it [with your shidduch] even before the date. I think it is an element that is very much missing in dating, it is actually something I'd like to offer my services for.

Also, you could marry almost anyone as long as your goals are the same and you have open communication about where you are heading in life. Of course the person has to be a mentsch, a stable individual, and should be striving toward the same goals.

Question: What about the idea of a bashert?

Talia: I think a lot of people have met their bashert but waved to them in passing. I don't know if I didn't do the same earlier in life. We have very preconceived notions when we are dating and if older singles didn't put so much emphasis on things they think are important it would be easier for them. Like whether he is taller, shorter, heavier, thinner, good-looking, less good-looking. All those things are so not important.

It may not be the lovey dovey relationship one had envisioned, but that can be developed as long as two people respect each other and share a similar hashkafa.

I always felt that if I liked the person then I would like his looks too. I remember an actually gorgeous guy I dated and I didn't think he was so good looking by the time we broke up.

Question: You seem to have amazing storehouses of emuna, how does one go about strengthening their emuna?

Talia: I am a very big believer in tefillah, taking time to daven at least once a day to connect with HaKadosh Barchu. Say: "You are by my side, You are guiding me. I need help with A, B, and C, and I believe You can provide me with that help." In whatever language you know best.

We really have no control over our lives, even when we make decisions, our decisions are guided. Even when we make what we perceive is a wrong decision, we were guided to make that decision, to grow and learn from our mistakes.

Question: How is married life?

Talia: It is wonderful! It was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ricki and Jonah - A Match Made Over Seas and in Their Thirties

Inspire Kallah Question: How did you become religious?

Ricki: I always had a great kesher with Hashem and in my thirties I started going to shiurim at the JLE (Jewish Learning Exchange) and Aish HaTorah and started slowly taking on more and more mitzvot. There was an amazing group of women in England who took me under their wing and supported me as I began to return to a Torah way of life. I had an uncomfortable feeling all my life and my neshama was just crying because of all the things I was doing that were not frum.

Before becoming frum, I always tried to keep a kosher home and kept Pesach 100%, and Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur of course. But I was a typical career woman, secular, learning to dance, and that kind of thing.

I went to speak with a very wise frum woman and she said either you keep both feet in the secular camp or you place both feet into the frum camp! So that's what I did.

Question: What was dating like before you met your husband?

Ricki: When I was secular, I went out with Jewish and non Jewish guys and searched all the time for the right person, who I knew was going to be Jewish, but didn't find him. I had also been engaged at 36 and broke off that engagement. I went through an extremely difficult time.

I then came to Israel two years ago over Chanukah to learn in seminary and I had the zchut of meeting some rebbetzins and shadchanits who introduced me to about three guys who were okay; and the fourth guy they introduced me to was to be my husband.

Question: Do you have any advice from your dating experience?

Ricki: The best way to date is to go on shidduchs and to be very open and not have a massive list of criteria. When you think of most girls, they don't marry men who fit their original list of criteria because ultimately Hashem has a plan and it doesn't include things like "he should be this tall or have this degree or own this or that." You should always go on a second date unless you absolutely have no physical attraction with that person.

I almost did not go out on a second date with my husband because, many times, baalei teshuva girls are stuck in the western mentality that they should feel butterflies when they meet the right person, but it's not like that. You can like someone and then get to know their neshama, and that's when real feelings are in the making.

Also, when my husband was suggested to me, he was from California and I made it very clear I wasn't going to live in California - and I just lived there for over one year!! When Hashem sends you the right person you will even move countries and live in places you wouldn't think you would live. Hashem always has the right plan for each of us.

Question: So how did you finally meet your husband?

Ricki: A fabulous rebbetzin from Neve Yaakov knew of my husband who was learning in yeshiva here in Israel and he had just gone back to California for Chanukah while I was learning here in Israel. But Hashem organized that his return flight would be with British Airways that went via London. So six days after I returned home from seminary I was sent to Heathrow Airport on a shidduch date.

Question: How did you know he was your husband?

Ricki: [On the first date] I didn't know he was my husband. I thought he was a really nice guy. He was getting on a plane a few hours later to return to yeshiva and on his return, he told the rebbetzin that he wanted to pursue me. I told my rabbi that I was a bit worried about him taking a flight to come back to see me. My rabbi asked me a great question: if you were in Israel, would you go out on another date? The answer was yes, because I knew that we should always go out on a second date unless we find the person totally unattractive. So he came back on a plane.

Question: How long did it take you to know he was the one?

Ricki: From the time he got back on the plane to the time we got engaged was nine days. So I realized very quickly. We wanted the same things, to be blessed with learning and growing spiritually, with children, to do chesed and to do kiruv, to serve Hashem.
Initially I told his Rosh Yeshiva and him that I wanted to go out for 2-3 months because of my broken engagement, but his Rosh Yeshiva told him to pay no attention to this, and if he was confident that I was the one, he should do everything to win me over. He asked me to marry him on Shabbas, which was very beautiful and a week later I flew to Israel for our vort in his yeshiva in the Old City. A month later we were married here in Israel.

Question: What would you say to girls who are still dating?

Ricki: I went on an OU shabbaton and a lovely rabbi gave a mashal that we should see every date as another step on our personal ladder to finding our bashert. We don't know how many rungs are on our ladder but every time we take a step up we are getting closer to our bashert. Dating is such a great opportunity to also think of other women who may be suitable for the guy that wasn't right for you. Be very grateful that you had the pleasure of going out on a date and then think who you know of that this person could be for, and extend a chesed to someone else. When we are kind to others, Hashem is kind to us.

* Question: Do you have any last words of wisdom for those girls still looking for their zivugim?

Ricki: First of all, Rav Sheinberg told me to daven mincha everyday. From that time onwards I davened Mincha and I begged Hashem to bless me with my bershet. Also, I went to the Kotel many times and cried and begged.

It is very important for us to be b'simcha because when we are miserable we are not realizing that everything Hashem does for us is for the good, even if we don't see it. Hashem does chesed for us everyday just by opening our eyes in the morning, and the fact we can see, hear, smell, eat, learn Torah, have friends, have family even if they are annoying sometimes - if we really thought about it, we would be crying and begging Him to forgive us for all our silly complaints. Even when it is really, really difficult for us we must realize that this is our test. For those girls who get married quickly, that is not their test.

Put a smile on your face, wear nice clothing, as many different people are watching you and may have ideas of suitable guys. Every day is an opportunity to meet your zivug. The attitude is not like: "Hey, where is my bashert? Give him to me." It is true avodah - this life - nothing is guaranteed.

The three rules are: 1. Be b'simcha, 2. Daven (mincha) 3. Know Hashem is doing everything for your best. Hashem has a plan and everyone has a zivug, so keep your eyes wide open.

For any girls who are very despondent, Ricki has kindly offered to be in touch with them and share more of her true Jewish wisdom. If you or a friend is interested, please e-mail us at: and we will put you in touch with her.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008


In this week's edition we speak to Sarah, a British woman who grew up with a chareidi hashkafa in a modern orthodox environment. Sarah aspired to be a doctor and to marry a man who would learn full time in Kollel. It took this very special woman eight years of searching, from England to Eretz Israel, to find her destined zivug. When she finally did, it was in quite unsuspected circumstances. Here is her story, her wisdom, and her encouragement.

Inspire Kallah Q: Where are you from?

Sarah: I am from Manchester. I was raised more modern, but I was always just interested in doing the right thing.

Q: How did you grow stronger religiously?

Sarah: We were a frum(orthodox) family but we didn't live in a frum community and after school I went to seminary. Home was a strong background and I always wanted to grow, and after I went to medical school I went back to seminary again. While in university I did a lot of chevrutot and was involved with Aish, I was a madricha for Aish camps and organized shiurim.

Q: What was dating like before you met your husband?

Sarah: Horrendous! I hated it. I went out with loads of people and I couldn't figure out the formula. If you want to buy a car then you work hard and then get it, but for this there was no clear cut solution. In the beginning I didn't realize it would be a problem to get married, I didn't think it would be a problem, I thought I'd just find someone.

After the first few people who are unsuitable I forced myself to keep going out, but it was just awful. Then everyone says you are so picky, but you know what you want is right, and you know what you need, and you stick by it. You think in your head maybe I'll compromise, but I didn't. I always had this horrible feeling it wasn't right even when the other side was interested, I could never compromise.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?

Sarah: I started dating when I was around 18 and it was hard because I was in England and I knew my person was going to be in Israel because I couldn't understand how someone frum would choose to live outside of Israel.

In the beginning I would get excited and then get very down and think about it all the time. Not that I was not confident, but I just thought that even though Hashem creates your zivug, it doesn't mean you'll find him.

I changed my attitude after so many years because you can't be down all the time. Worry shows a lack of emunah and a lack of belief that Hashem is in control. I had to work on myself to be the best person I could be and keep on doing my medicine, knowing that Hashem at the right time would bless me.

I would daven harder, and more, and do that extra bit of kindness which all went toward my tefilla to get what I wanted. I also went to tzaddikim.

Q: Any other unique challenges?

Sarah: I had chareidi hashkafa but in a mizrachi environment and the shadchanim didn't understand that I was learning in medical school and I really wanted someone who was learning full-time. I found the shadchanim difficult to deal with.

The most success I had was with my friends who cared about me and were trying to look out for me, they knew I needed someone learning and very intelligent.

Q: How did you finally meet your husband?

Sarah: I finished medical school, worked for a year and returned to seminary at Nishmat and then started going out again. My teacher suggested someone for me but she thought I wouldn't be interested because he had only been learning for a year and you know, I had made my rules, and he wasn't brought up religious so I said no.

Then a few weeks later my friend, trying to find me a shidduch, said that a rabbi brought up someone from Chappelles (Yeshiva) for me but I said I didn't want someone who had just started learning Torah, it was just too hard for me.

She was very persistent and the week after she rang me and said that his rabbi commented that he was extremely clever and hadn't seen anyone like him. I said I wanted a one week break, that's how I felt, but she caught me at a time when I was exiting my car with boxes in my hands and I had to make a quick decision so finally I said "fine" I'll go out. It's all about good PR and organization.

Q: What was dating your husband like?

Sarah: My husband is a very good reader of character but I'm not a person who likes to open up. Whereas other boys complained to the shadchan to try to open me up, he didn't. He read me well and let me go at my own pace. As opposed to an instant falling for him it was a gradual falling for him.

A few days after dating him I told my teacher at Nishmat that my shidduch knew her and she said that it was the same boy that was suggested to me earlier!

With him I just didn't have that feeling inside of "this isn't right." He realized he wanted to marry me after date five, for me it took two and a half months.

I needed clarity, a day trip with him, a Shabbat with him. I got a lot of clarity from the day trip in an unsourced, very chilled environment, not an uncomfortable situation sitting at a coffee table trying to figure out what to speak about next. We got to tachlis talk, he was Torah focused, intelligent, chilled, and very accepting of me but wanted me to grow.

Eventually he was able to say the words of I love you and I was like "Ooo I don't want to say it," but I didn't feel so funny that he said it. I'm not so good at opening up so I said something like: "do you want to see your family in Canada then?"

Q: How did he propose?

Sarah: He arranged a date, it was on Shushan Purim and we went to Caesaria for a picnic. We walked to the seashore and I asked him after awhile if we could go back because it was cold, and then he proposed! By the end of the day I had spoken so much my voice was gone. We decided that we'd tell our family and after Shabbat we would tell everyone else, when we rang his parents my voice didn't come out, it was very embarrassing.

Q: How did you know he was the one?

Sarah: A feeling inside. And because I knew who were not the right ones before.

But I don't think there is a rule that you need to have this or that feeling. For each person there are different formulas, equations, and reactions.

Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for single girls who are still searching?

Sarah: The formula for getting married is to daven and to go out with people.

Have your rules about who to go out with, but don't be too strict, and be a mentsch about it. Remember that Hashem is in control. I have seen friends that have depression over dating and become very bitter. It is very important not to be that way because your goal in life is to improve yourself and get closer to Hashem. The more you work on yourself, the better your zivug will be. And as far as I know there are different zivugim for different levels of growth in your life.

Keep davening and keep going out.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Q: Tova, where are you from?

Tova: I was raised as a secular Jew in Queens, New York. After attending college in New York, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Hollywood, working for one of the major international television networks.

Q: What was life like dating in Los Angeles?

Tova: I met some serious guys, and I met some not serious guys. My mid-twenties were all about my career. So, even when I went out with a guy, I was all about work. All I talked about was work with the guy. We didn't talk about anything real, like values or our relationship to religion.

Q: When did you start thinking about marriage?

Tova: When I was 32, I started thinking about dating seriously and marriage. So, I started going back to Shul. I was also learning with some of the Jewish organizations in LA. One of the things I was learning about was the Jewish approach to dating as well as Taharas Mispacha. I was impressed about what Judaism had to offer. It made sense to me that in order to have a healthy relationship, Hashem needed to be included in my daily life especially regarding intimacy.

Q: Did you ever freak out about being in your 30's and not being married?

Tova: When I turned 34 (May 2004), after having made a lot of money, I realized I had to get married. I don't know if I would call it freaking out, but there was an urgency all of a sudden for me to get married.

I was offered a HUGE contract in LA to stay - it was a big title and big money. I realized that I'd make a lot of money that year, but what will this do for me? There is much more I need to explore and it has to do with spirituality, and I wanted to do it in a Jewish way. I wanted to get in a community, I wanted something traditional, and I wanted something that reminded me of my grandmother.

I realized the kind of guy who would understand me, the kind of guy who have the same values as me, would be a Jewish New York guy. So I left LA for NYC at 34 because I'm a New Yorker. I had a sense I'd meet my husband in NYC.

Q: What happened when you moved to NYC?

Tova: 3 weeks after moving to NYC (November 2004), I met a guy through friends at a party.

He & I started talking about music, and we had a great conversation. However, he didn't ask me for my number. I later found out that he was convinced he would see me again since it seemed we had some friends in common.

4 months later (February 2005), I was walking outside of a bookstore on the Upper West Side. This guy walks up to me and asks, "Don't I know you?"

I looked at him and said, "Yeah. I met you 4 months ago at that party."

"Oh right," he said. We talked for a while, and then he asked me, "Do you want to have coffee with me?"

On the way to coffee, he had to drop something off at his apartment, so I came with him. I noticed that he had Mezuzahs on all of his doors and Sephorim on his bookshelves and a Tzeddekah box.

"Are you Jewish?" I asked him. His name was Dovi. He and I had never talked about religion.


"Wow, you're really reigious," I said.

"No," he said. "I was raised religious but I'm not religious now."

I told him that I've I've spent the past few years researching religion.

"Oh I'm sick of religion." he said.

We then went to coffee, and I told Dovi that I moved to New York to look for my husband. I figured that he was such a nice guy that if he wasn't for me, then maybe he had a friend for me.

This coffee outing with Dovi was great, as it wasn't a date. It was casual, like two friends hanging out with each other (which made it more comfortable for me). We talked about bringing G-d into our lives.

My experiences and his experiences were very different. But, we were both on the same page as far as our faith was concerned. Although, he was not observant at the time, he had a strong connection and I could see his faith. We both craved spirituality and respected something greater than us.

A few months later (March 2005) he called me and invited me to join him at his office picnic. It was my 35th birthday.

Dovi rented a car, and we drove 2 hours to Upstate New York for the picnic. We listened to music we both enjoyed, we bickered like old friends about driving directions, and I felt extremely comfortable in his company.

When we arrived, Dovi and I went on a walk and were looking out at a lake. I realized that even if he and I don't develop into a serious
relationship, I wanted him in my life for the rest of my life.

Dovi understood me in the silence. I was having a wonderful moment with this guy who was so kind and so gentle.

From that day on, we were together. We were married in November 2005 and have bli ayin hara been married ever since.


Tova & Dovi were both frum (i.e. shomer Shabbos & Shomer Kashrus)
during the period of their engagement.


Q: Tova, is there anything you'd like to share with girls who are still seeking their bashertes?

Tova: Having a good attitude is the most important thing in terms of getting married.

At the time, I was a bit stressed about being 35 and not married. I was thinking, "OMG, what if dating Dovi does not work out?!"

Dovi and I were on a picnic and instead of letting my worries become part of our conversation, I put them aside and enjoyed my day with him.

It was such a blessing to have someone so nice to share my 35th birthday with. Of course I was curious - where is this going? But, I kept my anxiety to myself.

This is so important in dating. There is no need to confide in our dates about our innermost feelings so soon. They are taking us out to have a nice time. Dating is not a therapy session!