Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Danger of Paper

September 19, 2012 1:52 am 0 comments

Heart in hand. Photo: Louise Docker.

When I began dating a cute guy with an incredible education and job, I felt like I had found the kind of man that only exists in Nora Ephron movies. My friends were anything from impressed to jealous before they even met him and we lived happily ever after for about eight minutes. I still don’t know if I fell for him or for who I thought he was. (Then there was the time I dreamed of a young pediatrician just because his name was pronounced “Alone.” I’m clearly all the wiser for it.) We often don’t know who someone is unless we give him or her a chance and a little bit of time, and yet…

Jews, perhaps as a result of our accomplishments, fall prey to what looks good on paper—literally and metaphorically: Orthodox Jews may refer to shidduch resumes which are emailed and faxed to families in the pursuit of romantic matches. Secular Jews often assess education, job title, and residence to determine whether a date should even happen. It’s like our CliffsNotes for getting to know people. I’m not suggesting anyone take a moonlit stroll on the beach with her local sex offender (though one can access their photos and contact information without paying a comparable dating site fee!), but do bullet points on a resume help us to find real menschs?

The dearth of etymological information about the expression “Good on paper,” might suggest that its origins are not important enough to write down. (As a writer, I certainly take offense at this. As a Jew, I’ll admit we got screwed over with the White Paper of 1939.) Whatever the case, the saying reaffirms a basic concept—like not judging a book by its cover, things aren’t always what they seem, and a host of other clichés that you’ll never read here again—but it’s still easy to be fooled. For instance, some people eat mediocre meals cooked under the auspices of celebrity chefs, some buy designer shoes that give them the same blisters as the cheap ones, and in matters of the heart, some would rather brag about their amazing significant other than spend actual time together.

If you look solely at someone’s credentials, you deny the essence of the person—the part that can’t be captured by a degree or pedigree. It puts rigid boundaries on what love and happiness are even though they can mean different things at different points in your life. It can keep you in an unfulfilling relationship or stop you from embarking on a great one. It can also lead to a censorship of genuine emotion—at its worst, affecting a multiple personality disorder like “honorary Jew” Edward Norton in that non-Nora Ephron film (he ended up in a mental hospital).

Why do we try to break down love like it’s a compound in chemistry class? Does it provide us comfort or give us a sense of control? Is it that we feel how short life truly is and want an efficient way to find a partner for life? If you can freeze your eggs or take Viagra®, perhaps the investment of time doesn’t have to be so daunting. Avoid the paper trail shortcut and take time to understand a person’s substance.

Sasha Ingber is a freelance writer whose work focuses on relationships, travel and dance. She is currently a graduate student in Johns Hopkins University’s writing program.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    The Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, which started on Friday in New York City, features a mini-documentary about an elderly Jewish woman whose journey away from Orthodoxy leads her to taste forbidden food for the first time in her life. In Canadian director Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath, Razie Brownstone talks about ending her lifelong observance of keeping kosher as her 90th birthday approaches. The recently declared atheist said the discovery of the search engine Google spurred a lapse in her Jewish faith and made her decide to […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Food Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    A Chabad rabbi from Rhinebeck, NY, will face off a priest, a pastor and a nun-in-training in an upcoming episode of the Food Network‘s reality show, “Chopped,” Lubavitch.com reported. Rabbi Hanoch Hecht – who teaches up-and-coming chefs about the intricacies of kosher dietary laws at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) — was nominated for the show by a professional chef, and went through a rigorous interview process at the Food Network’s studios in Chelsea, NY. Months later, he was informed he had been accepted as a contestant in the popular TV cooking competition. “I thought […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief (BOOK REVIEW)

    Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief (BOOK REVIEW)

    Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief by Asaf Romirowsky & Alexander H. Joffe (Palgrave Macmillan; 2013) Although this book came out several years ago, it remains pertinent. This is a meticulously researched book that concentrates on a very small bit of history: the time period from 1948-50 when the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, was organizing refugee relief in Gaza. Before UNRWA, the UN created the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees (UNRPR). It outsourced […]

    Read more →