Moshe and Malkie Hirsch

I had been feeling restless for a while and had given myself a reasonable timeline on starting to put myself out there in the dating world. I don’t know what I expected initially but I realized pretty quickly that no one would be more of an advocate on my dating life than myself.

So after speaking to some friends on how to go about marketing the new me, this widowed Malkie with five kids who could cater a small wedding while storying it all on Instagram from my cozy (a fun word for small) kitchen, I decided to waste no time.

Well, that’s a lie. I totally procrastinated and started binge watching a Netflix series. As I sat on the couch with remote in hand, I received a message on Instagram from a well-known dating app. It was one I hadn’t heard of, because up until this point I hadn’t thought of turning to the Internet to look for a husband or partner or date, for that matter.

As I read their message to me, asking me to promote a new FaceTime dating initiative during this COVID-19 crisis, I realized that this could be an ideal option for me, and for many others in the same single life position as I am.

Dating in a pajama top? Yes, please. So, in the interest of research and curiosity on my part to start something moving in my not-yet-existent dating life, I signed up to the app. Obviously, my favorite part was filling out my profile and choosing one of the 1,000 selfies that take up valuable space in my phone.

I even included a few pictures of cake because from my experience as a married woman, I found that men love food and dessert. I’m pretty adept at that, so why not? Score! Off to a great start.

Then there were questions on my hashakfic standpoint.

“Are you Orthodox machmir?”

“Orthodox yeshivish?”

“Orthodox liberal?”

Why isn’t there an option for “Orthodox skirts/wigs/TV/foodie”?

“What does being Orthodox mean to you?”

Is this a trick question? Uh, it means I’m Orthodox. That’s the only thing I can come up with. I love Shabbos, kashrus, and Judaism.

I love disconnecting myself from the world for a full day and reconnecting with the Creator of this world. With my People magazine in hand, of course.

At first, I felt so self-conscious at the idea that I’d have to tell people that I didn’t want to spend every waking night at home alone in my house, trying to think of things besides baking bread that would occupy my downtime.

I was afraid of how they’d react to my feelings of wanting to move forward in life. Of wanting to be happy again. Of them not understanding that my loving Moshe and honoring his memory and my wanting to meet and love someone now are not mutually exclusive.

I didn’t want to apologize for the feelings I’ve been having, and since the inception of this column, my top priority was honesty and realness, sharing what we as a family were going through and how things slowly morphed into our new normal.

The fears of being a single parent, but the love of my family and friends and the way they’ve helped to make this as easy a transition as possible. The incredible strength and resilience of my kids, and how we have learned to hold each other, cry, laugh, and rebuild together.

Now, a year into this new life, I hesitantly step into the vulnerability of sharing my search for something new that I hope could be great for me and for my kids.

A hope for someone wonderful to join our next chapter, to join and enhance our happy life, because hope is the only thing to hold onto when life takes unimaginable turns. So, I take a deep breath and jump in.

I’ve done it. I’ve got my profile, I’ve got my pictures and my cakes featured on this app and I get interest from many types of people. That part doesn’t scare me; I love people — I chat with a few thousand of them daily, happily inviting them into my home and heart.

I love making conversation — I’m almost never at a loss for words. But the dating — that has been new. I’ve been out of that for so long. Yet, I’m learning that dating is not some foreign language that I need to relearn.

It’s just getting to know another human being and allowing them to get to know me, as it says in Mishlei, “Like water reflects the face, likewise the heart of a person to another.”

We’re both aware that there is a purpose to our talking — we are vetting each other for compatibility but it’s not so cold and clinical; it can be fun and lighthearted too.

I’ve been on phone dates and FaceTime dates. Social distancing while emotionally connecting — weird stuff.

Some of the dates were a “no” from the initial greeting. Some of them were engaging, insightful, and fun, especially when you’re the only adult in a household of kids and you crave intellectually stimulating conversation.

There is an excitement about meeting a new prospect, even if it’s a no-go. It’s weird that this is happening in the middle of a pandemic, but, honestly, in our home, we’ve already lived through the worst. Improvising has become second nature to me.

Part of my whole process of grieving and healing has been learning to really “let go and let G-d,” because in the end, very little is in our control anyway. Seeking a partner is just another example of that. Of the seven billion or so people in the world, I imagine the odds are that there may be someone else out there who could be right for me and for anyone else who is looking.

So I post and update, and I swipe and pray for myself and the many others searching for love, even in the middle of a world crisis, as it says in the Torah: “It’s not good for man to be alone.” Or woman, for that matter.

For now, just like every other stage in this circuitous journey, I can only see the next couple of rickety steps ahead of me. I follow them faithfully, because I’ve learned that’s all I can do, as I try my best and let G-d do the rest.

Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away at the age of 40. She has been sharing her thoughts and emotions with readers on her Instagram page @Kissthekoshercook. We are privileged to share her writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.

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