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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.