The meat may be kosher, but it’s still a meat market

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As that horribly banal character Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

The same, I’ve concluded, can be said of Jewish singles events.

Are you going to get a dazzling conversationalist with penetrating eyes and a winning smile? Or a guy named Marvin who’s 30 years your senior and thinks the ins and outs of ulcers make for interesting chatter?

Walk into a crowded room of mingling singles, and it’s anyone’s guess what’s gonna happen before you walk out.

Half the time, it’s too loud to talk to anyone. So you smile a lot, point to your name tag and hope you’ve chanced upon a mind-reader.

Or someone catches your eye, but you just can’t come up with a compelling opening line. Now that we’ve entered the sophisticated 21st century, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Maybe you corner someone and try to impress him with your witty banter. Then you notice he’s looking over your shoulder at the willowy blonde across the room. Over here, dude! I wasn’t finished telling you about my root canal!

Let’s face it. These shindigs really test one’s mettle. They can be nerve-wracking, intimidating, awkward. Most of my single friends dread them like the 10 Plagues. I don’t blame them. Sometimes these events make me want to break out my little black book and do some major groveling!

Too bad my boyfriend from grade school is married…

Anyway, I’d really like to meet a Jewish man. And as my dad is wont to say, “You want a cow? You go to a farm.”

Easy for you to say, Dad. The meat may be kosher, but it’s still a meat market.

Mom, in her inimitably positive way, has another take on these events. “Isn’t it wonderful,” she asks sweetly, “that so many Jews out there want to connect with other Jews?”

Sure, Mom. You try talking to Marvin.

But after going to a few of these things since becoming unhitched, I have to say my mom’s kind of right. The folks who attend these events could be out socializing at any number of venues. But they’ve chosen a Jewish one. Like me, they want to meet and form bonds with other Jews.

Being Jewish matters to them. And that is a start.

See, you go to enough of these things and you start recognizing people. Suddenly, you notice you’ve made new friends. You start to feel like you’ve found a community. That’s a nice thing.

Besides, I’ve discovered, not every event packs 300 people into a loud, dimly lit room. There are books groups and spiritual functions, among other things.

Several months ago, I went to a Shabbat dinner and ended up sitting next to a sweet, friendly, fascinating woman. We talked about travel, family, alternative medicine. At the end of the evening, we hugged and exchanged phone numbers. I had scored!

The next morning, my mom called. “So?” she asked. “Meet anyone interesting?”

“Well, there was this French guy,” I said. I then spent 15 minutes telling her about my new friend Caren.

That’s not to say I haven’t met some fantastic men along the Jewish singles path. I have. I’m just not going to be adding them to my insurance policies anytime soon.

So for now, I’ll probably keep going to these events. And the next time I stand nervously at the threshold, I’ll just repeat that ol’ Forrest Gump box-of-chocolates mantra. Who knows? Maybe I’ll reach in and get myself something delicious.

Note: A heartfelt thanks to the many readers who contacted me following my last column. In it, I talked about my divorce and its aftermath, and readers responded with a level of empathy and encouragement that truly touched me.