excerpts from the book

After six months of dating your kosher boychik, he invites you to the suburbs to meet his mishpacha (family). Nothing fancy, just a casual dinner, a brief interrogation about your childbearing potential, and—oh yeah—his parents keep kosher. Don’t worry—if their boy likes you, they’ll like you. What’s not to like? So you talk too much, rarely go to shul, and are currently schtuping their son out of wedlock: they’ll still think you’re the best thing since sliced challah—as long as you don’t mix their milchig dishes with their fleishig silverware. Here are a few pointers so you don’t Focker things up.

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You don’t want to be greeted with “Nu? She couldn’t bring a little something?” It doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful. And kosher.

your hopefully future in-laws fall, assume they’re as kosher as they come. Don’t bring anything from the supermarket that doesn’t have a hechsher. This stamp of approval lets you—and your host—know it’s all good. Cookies, chocolates, cheese, salad dressing—it all needs the telltale tattoo. Bypass the bakery and deli counter; the food and equipment haven’t been kashered (made kosher). And choose a whole fruit basket over a sliced fruit tray; what if the grocery store’s deli knife sliced a ham before it cut the pineapple? Oy!

How can you ID a kosher bakery in your hood? There will be a certificate on the wall that confirms its kosher status. Also, they’re usually named something subtle like “Shlomo’s Kosher Bakery.” Be sure to ask if the bakery is dairy or pareve. You don’t want to bring a cake that’s kosher, but dairy, if his mama’s making roast beef.

kosher businesses are closed Friday nights and Saturdays for Shabbat. You’d hate to make a special trip for nothing. Sorry, folks, park’s closed...

Like a Coach bag’s signature C, it lets everyone know who made it. Not only will the designer label put his folks at ease, but they’ll know you went through the extra effort. Parents give As for effort.

Hopefully you haven’t been hitting the bottle so hard that you’ve already forgotten what you read in the kosher wine section (page 9). If you are that farshikkert (drunk), wait until you sober up to meet the folks. They won’t want their son dating a lush, even if you’re guzzling the kosher sauce.

Everyone loves flowers. Tulips, sunflowers, Gerber daisies: you’re good with any kind of foliage. Just skip the poinsettias, holly wreaths, and schlocky (cheaply made) grocery store bouquets. The first two are a little goyish, and the third is a little tacky. Actually, a lot tacky.

but if you’re celebrating a holiday, staying for the weekend, or gunning for Bubbe Malka’s heirloom engagement ring, think outside the gift box. Bring a matzah tray for Passover, a bagel slicer for Break Fast, or a challah board for Shabbat. Bring something that says, I’m grateful for the invite, I’m happy to be here, and I’m way better than the last girl he brought home.

Get to his parents’ before sunset. Shabbat and Jewish holidays start at sundown, so leave work early and arrive on time.

Find out which drawer holds the right silverware and which cabinet has the proper plates. The last thing you want to do is serve his mom’s award-winning brisket on her favorite milchig platter. It’s the culinary equivalent of pairing your brown Steve Madden platforms with your black Armani dress—total mismatch.

If something’s not on the table, it’s probably not supposed to be.

You want to look pretty, classy, and like you have no personal knowledge of how their son’s bris went.


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Friday nights are supposed to be my chance to unwind, to go home and relax, to take off my flats and stay awhile. Believe me, I’d love to do that; but I can’t. I’m never going to meet a cool guy sitting on my couch, drinking Manischewitz by myself. If I want to meet my mensch, I have to be proactive, I have to put myself out there, I have to go where the action is. Or at least go where I can get some action. And statistically speaking, Shabbat shindigs are where it’s at.

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If I head out to a random dive bar or a Sunset Strip club, my chances of meeting an exciting, inspiring guy are low. An exciting, inspiring, good-looking guy—very low. An exciting, inspiring, good-looking guy who’s had a bris? Forget about it. But if I get my pupik to a Shabbat celebration, it’s jam-packed with Jewboys. It’s like shooting gefilte fish in a barrel. There’s no way I leave without a Coach clutch full of digits, which is I why I make the seventh-day rounds.

On Fridays I do singles’ services at shul or Shabbat dinners with friends. Then I pull a double-shift and swing by a Shabbat lunch on Saturday. And sometimes I work overtime and hit up a Havdalah after that. The whole thing’s exhausting. I’m running all over town. I’m burning the Shabbat candle at both ends. But I have to. Shabbat is prime mensch-hunting time; and if you don’t schmooze, you lose.

This Friday night I’m getting my Shabbat on at my friend Aaron’s. Once a month he hosts a Shabbat dinner and discussion and always invites an engaging group of eligible guys. Professional, successful, charming: is there a doctor in the house? Let’s hope so.

I arrive at Aaron’s and am greeted by tough competition. And Aaron. He says hi. But one glance around his pad, and it’s clear I’m not the only Shabbos-hopping hottie in the house. I see Lisa, the bubbly blond entertainment lawyer; Jen, the yoga-loving ad exec; and Michelle ,the brand manager with the big fake mondlen. These Jewish girls will fight tooth and manicured nail to get their guy. But I’m not intimidated; they can’t hold a Havdalah candle to my mad flirting skills.

I quickly scope out the scene for fresh kosher meat. Bingo—tall handsome Heeb in the living room. Jen’s busy talking at him, but not for long. When dinner’s ready, I casually force my way into the spot next to him. Turns out Jay’s a CFO, coaches Little League ball, and is even cuter up close. I definitely wouldn’t mind fiddling on the roof with him later. We chitchat through Kiddush, and by Hamotzi I have him eating out of my hands. Or at least eating the challah I passed him with my hands. I flirt through dinner and close the deal during dessert. Is it a restful Shabbat? No. An effective one? Yes. Jay and I are meeting for margaritas on Sunday.

Saturday afternoon I head to Shabbat lunch at Laura’s. She runs with a different tribe, so I have a new crop of candidates to pick from. I’m not into the dot-com dude or the Ph.D. guy, but hello Mr. Commercial Real Estate. He’s got a cocky smile, an MBA, and is wearing tuchus-friendly jeans. I know his type and decide to go with my signature Netilat Yadayim strategy. I slide behind him in line for the sink, make small talk while we wait, then gently brush my ringless fingers against his as he passes me the pitcher. That’s when the sparks start flying. Or when they would start flying if it wasn’t Shabbat and I could light sparks. Or set off fireworks. Or create some electricity. We spend most of lunch talking and the rest of lunch laughing. He asks about my writing, I ask about the market, he asks me out. Just goes to show, hard flirt is the key to success.

I know this wasn’t what God had in mind when he first created Shabbat. But things were different during Week One: dating wasn’t this much work. Poor little Adam thought it was bad to be alone and poof! God gave him Eve. Well, we’re not in Eden anymore,Toto. Nobody’s magically turning my rib into a date or even taking me out on a date for ribs. Men don’t just spontaneously appear in my garden. God’s not serving them up on a fig leaf. I have to go out and find them. There’s no rest for the wicked—or the wickedly hot.

The word Shabbat comes from the root Shin-Bet-Tav, which means “to rest, to cease, or to end. ”As in, when will it all end? When can I stop working so hard to hook a husband? When will all this hard work finally pay off? I honestly don’t know. I’m sure someday I’ll meet the mensch of my dreams, and we’ll be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the Shabbos together. Until then I work hard for the honey.

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I’m a lifelong ham-dodger. I’m a clam-basher, a crab-evader, an antishrimpest. I pass up pepperoni, I just say no to bacon, and I sidestep soft-shell crab. I am the few, the proud, the Kosher. I can’t say the same for most of the men I date. Jewish? Always. Kosher? Rarely. To them, a hamburger without cheese is like Sheket Bevakasha without the “hey.” So while keeping kosher enhances my spiritual life, it complicates my dating life.

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Take my relationship with Jeff, a quick-witted movie exec who had me at “Shalom.” Actually, he had me when his taut tuchus walked through my neighbor’s front door, but the “Shalom” shout-out didn’t hurt.

On our first date, he took me to a downtown diner that serves upscale comfort food. I ordered truffle mac-and-cheese, he ordered Mama’s famous meatloaf, and we split a bottle of syrah I was secretly happy he could swing. Between the good food, the great company, and my slight buzz, our dinner blinked by .As I enjoyed my last morsel of cheesy perfection, Jeff took a bite of meatloaf, slid my way, and stole a kiss. Or at least he started to until I ducked. Yes, ducked. No, I’m not a big tease, I’m a big Jew, and technically a mid-bite kiss would have meant mixing milk and meat. When Jeff ’s mouth touched mine, I didn’t see fireworks, I didn’t hear wedding bells: I heard the great rabbis reminding me not to seethe a calf in its mother’s milk.

I tried not to panic, but the whole date had gone to trayf, and I needed to fix it fast. The Talmud doesn’t teach us how to apply kashrut laws to kissing; but since I ate dairy and Jeff ate meat, I could have used the milk-before-meat rule, where you wait thirty minutes, eat something pareve, and then gargle. Although I doubt gargling was the deep-throat action Jeff was hoping to see that night. Now, some rabbis say if a dairy knife is accidentally used to cut cold meat, it should be thrust into the dirt ten times. So perhaps I should have stuffed my mouth with soil; I’m sure that would’ve impressed Jeff—I hear men like it when women talk dirty. I could have just been honest with Jeff and explained why I wasn’t in the mood for making out. Not tonight, honey, I had dairy.

I know I could have avoided this whole mishegas by being upfront when we first placed our order; but I don’t feel comfortable recruiting my first dates for active kosher duty. I can’t tell a man I just met what he can and can’t eat for dinner. There are three little words a woman should never say too early in a relationship: “He’ll have the...”

So when should we have “The Talk”? After a week? A month? A year? At what point should I let a man know that saying yes to me means saying no to other women—and to other meats? Keeping kosher is one of my dealbreakers, so eventually Jeff would have to ditch his little black recipe book and sever ties with all his ex grill-friends. He can’t have his milk and eat meat, too.

“Can I have a man cave in the basement where I cook cheeseburgers on a George Foreman?” Jeff asked during one of our kosher coupling chats.

That would render the whole house trayf. And be a fire hazard.

“Can I rent a separate apartment just to cook nonkosher meals?”

I suppose he could keep a small place on the side for all his afternoon delights—or in this case, afternoon snacks. But I don’t think I could handle that kind of open relationship. If a man commits to me, he commits to my kitchen. It’s all or nothing, ko-way or no way. Keeping kosher is how I connect to Judaism every day in a concrete way, and I want to share that connection with my spouse. I want the Jewish American dream: a loving husband, 2.5 children, and two sets of dishes.

“Well, if you buy two sets of dishes, can I buy two sets of golf clubs?”

By Moses, I think he’s got it! I don’t see why he can’t keep separate golf carts or own two game systems or play in two fantasy football leagues.

“What about two women?”

Don’t push it, schmendrik.

A few weeks later, Jeff started whipping up kosher versions of his favorite trayf treats: chili cheese dogs topped with soy cheddar, pizza bagels loaded with veggie pepperoni, and barbeque chicken pizza with soy cheese and a pareve crust. I think he’s getting the hang of it, maybe even enjoying it. And while I don’t want to count my kosher chickens before they hatch, I wouldn’t be surprised if ultimately Jeff and I end up sharing separate dishes but not separate bedrooms.

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All excerpts copyrighted by Carin Davis.