Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brand Name Boys

Whilst speaking with my friend Miri the other day, the topic of 'labels' came up, and by that I am NOT referring to Juicy, Tommy, Tahari, etc. I am referring to people labels. We sorta had a discussion about labeling people and whether it is a good thing or bad thing.
Here's the way I see it. I live in a small community, 'out-of-town' and when someone calls me about a guy, especially if the person who calls me and is 'redd'ing the shidduch doesn't know me, I like to know what kinda guy he is setting me up with. So first, I use my own references, but if the guy is from Barbados, and I don't know anyone there, then I use HIS references. In addition to my usual questions, I ask 'what kind of boy is he?' would you say he's "Yeshivish", "Lubavitch", "Chassidish", etc.
Now, personally, I myself don't really fit into any category. As a kid, coming home from school, I used to ask my father 'Ta, what ARE we?' Rivky is yeshivish, Leah's tatty told her she was chassidish, and Chaya's brother said she is Lubavtich'
My father would smile at me and say, 'We are JEWISH' and that was that. I was satisfied with that answer.
But when it came to meeting shadchanim, answering their 50 questions and filling out forms, etc. I didn't know what to check off. There were soo many categories, but I don't see myself as any of them. So, ya, I'm simply Jewish.
However, how do you define what 'type' that means? I can say I'm a Bais Yaakov girl, which used to mean something, but apparently, Bais Yaakovs in different cities mean different things...
So, is it right to 'brand' people? probably not. Each person is different on their own. But is it easier knowing where a person sorta fits in 'hashkafically' to know if its suitable to begin with, DEFINITELY!
There are guys who consider themselves modern, in terms of the way they dress in jeans and smoke, but then they are from Chassidish families and where shtreimels on shabbos. Apparently, they are 'branded' as 'Tuna Baigels'.
There are guys who are MODO, but started off as Yeshivish, and they, I believe, are 'branded' as Hermans.
There are soo many different types, how do you find out where a person stands 'religiously and hashkafically' without branding them?
What do you think?


  1. That's why you find out general stuff about the guy, like what hashkofah he associates himself with, what other people say about him. No labels. Then you go out once and figure out by yourself based on him, conversation with him and so on. And again the only label you will use for him after the first date is "not an option" if you didn't have any chemistry.

  2. lol hermans? thats new!

    i used to ask my father the same question - and he said the same thing! (that we're 'Jewish') which is now what I answer when someone asks if I'm Lubavitch or Yeshivish or whatever.

  3. tbh for 90 percent of the jewish population labelling works really well. they fit into their niche, so a yeshivish guy will practice yeshivishness and a chassidiche guy will be chassidiche. and the same with girls, they will go to a certain school/sem and they will continue life according to that derech. there are guys who i went to yeshiva with, who as soon as you mention the fact he is yeshivish and went to that yeshiva you will be able to get a perfect picture of who he is.
    however branding runs into a problem with the small perecentage of people who push the boundaries. there are a select few people who dont really fit in, they are yeshivish but not for the whole 9, they are chassidiche but not 100 percent. so when you label them as that you dont catch the essence of the person. you get a sense of the direction that person is heading in but you will have to find out yourself to what extent. and to go back to my first point there will be people who you will have expectations of due to the branding and every single last one of them will be correct due to them filling the mould so perfectly.

  4. Ah. What a question. And where to start?

    While my family would would be like you, not qualifying for yeshivish, modern, chassidish labels, I would identify myself as "heimish," if another label is needed besides "Jewish." (My father is also "Ta," and he also says we're "Jewish").

    Labels are needed at times. What sort of background and lifestyle is integral to having a date where thoughts of homicide or suicide don't come up.

    But labels also require fluidity, a blurriness around the edges. Sure, I'm guilty of pegging a guy before a date based as a label, but I'll go out with him. A label helps me with conversation, which subjects to bring up or which to avoid. (If a guy comes from a very American background, I can't say anything Yiddish. They go all blank.)

  5. Data-I've got to agree with you there. Someone called me and ask what I classify myself as. I was thinking I would probably be called 'heimishe' (Hungarian background, etc.) but then she told me there is a difference between "HAY-MISH" and "HI-MISH" (spelled as they would be pronounced) and which one would I be?! I would guess Hi-mish, as I understand yiddish...but then again, my fam. says 'kugel' and not 'kigel'.

  6. Another fellow Magyar-lein!

    My father is Yiddish fluent, my mother In Hungarian conversational, and I would calssify ourselves as HI-mish (Haymish just makes my ears twitch).

    My father didn't try very hard to teach me Yiddish, so I just know a handful of words, but I find conversation flows best with a guy who's from the same sort of Yiddish speaking background.

    We say "kigel" at times. But I get laughed at by my brother when I do.

  7. my family eats Kigel!

    oh - btw - can u get rid of the whole code thing for posting comments?