You don’t need to consult a rabbi to figure out that being a single woman of a certain age in the Orthodox Jewish community is no piece of babka.While 27 is the median age for an American woman’s first marriage, in many Orthodox circles — even modern ones — a single woman is considered over the hill by her late 20s.“You’re also taught you’re supposed to love Shabbat, and I don’t.” Naomi said she has sensed that, if couples were to invite her for Shabbat, they would feel pressured to have other single people come, too. “They could invite me, but then they don’t know who to invite me with, so, I think they just don’t,” she said. At best, single women have less of an incentive to be active participants if they are not viewed as such.
For more observant Jews, foregoing foreskin is just one of many rules and customs that govern how and when a couple can canoodle.
“Slowly you start to realize your single status, and realize that even though you might have a master’s degree or be accomplished in your work, people in the religious community still talk to you as if you are in high school,” Eryn London, a 31-year-old rabbinical student at Yeshivat Maharat, wrote in an email.
She described how, at her parents’ synagogue, “very rarely do the young married couples talk to me.” Toby, a 38-year-old psychotherapist in Manhattan, said she suspects she isn’t afforded the same privacy and respect that married congregants are.
When she visits her family in Atlanta and goes to their synagogue, she says that “people stop me, and the first thing they say is, ‘How’s your social life? ’” “I feel like I’m doing something wrong because I’m not married — and then, they feel this need to tell me what I’m doing wrong,” Toby added.
“If someone were trying to get pregnant, would they experience the same thing?