Can a tough-skinned Israeli be my destiny?

As you know, I’ve been dating off and on for five years now as a single mom. Some guys have lasted a few months. None have lasted forever. I’ve been developing by leaps and bounds as a one-parent family right alongside my 6-year-old daughter.

At first, I was drawn to emotionally remote guys because their distance felt safe; I wasn’t ready for anything serious. As the years passed, however, and I entered my 30s, what I really wanted was a lifelong companion, a partner-in-parenting.

OK, to put it frankly, I wanted my “beshert” — the one who was fated for me. But that word has never had a romantic ring to me. In fact, it sounds more like an appetizer you’d order from a foreign menu — “I’ll start with the beshert, please.”

Still, I’m a dreamy idealist at heart, and onward I went. The fact that my daughter has rejected most of the men I’ve dated hasn’t made this easy. They were too serious; or they tried too hard to make her laugh. She doesn’t like to share Mom very much, either.

Until now.

In a recent column, I wrote about Dianna, who read my column in j. and contacted me out of nowhere: “I have an amazing Jewish man for you to meet. He’s not my son, nor my grandson, nor my brother. He’s my husband’s best friend.” He “adores kids” and is always looking “longingly at families.”

What man does that? Um, none that I know.

But here was the catch. “I wouldn’t actually call him ‘nice,'” Dianna added. “He’s Israeli and he has that tough kibbutznik exterior.”

Uh-oh. He’s not nice. What was that supposed to mean?

Still, I wrote his number on a Post-It and told her that I’d call him soon, when I mustered up the courage.

The Post-It stayed posted to my computer for a whole week. I was exhausted. I’d just taken myself offline again. All of this dating I’d been doing for the past few years had done me in.

Besides, he wasn’t nice.

A few days more passed. I didn’t call.

Meanwhile, my daughter started school. There were piles of dirty laundry on the floor. Work deadlines impended. In short: I was actually so busy and burned out from dating that the thought of calling a man, even one who sounded great, was not in my Top 10 list for a change.

A week and a half later, there was another email from Dianna. “Rachel: What happened to the courage thing?”

The Israeli had fallen to the curb.

Finally, one Sunday evening, when my daughter was happily drawing a self-portrait in the kitchen, I went into the living room and dialed his cell phone.

“Hello?” Yossi answered in his thick Hebrew accent.

“Uh, hi,” I said. “This is Rachel. Your friend sent me an email — ”

“Hello!” he said again, warmly. And then he laughed. He had the most beautiful laugh I’d ever heard, full-bellied and open.

I broke out into a huge smile. My body softened. I had to sit down. “You don’t sound tough at all!” I said.

“Maybe I’m just tough around the edges,” he said.

My heart was pounding. My fingertips tapped on the edge of the sofa.

“Would you like to meet sometime?” Yossi asked.

A man with salt-and-pepper hair in a black leather jacket is sitting on the border of the concrete walkway in the sunshine. He stands up and opens his arms to me. His brown eyes are twinkling.

He’s laughing. I’m laughing, too. Somehow, I feel right at home.

“Tell me about your daughter,” Yossi says. On a first date, a man can do nothing more gratifying than this. I pause and pull her snapshots from my wallet.

“Oh, just look at her!” he says, taking the photos from me. He tells me about the successful contracting business he has run for over a decade.

“I’m planning to buy a house in the next couple of years,” I say.

“If you need any help looking at places, it would be my pleasure,” he says.

Let’s find a love shack, I think, but don’t dare say out loud.

We walk around the Marina, a perfect first date that beats awkward conversation over coffee or a beer. I can’t stop smiling. The chemistry between us is potent, but it’s more than that. Could he be my beshert, in the form of an Israeli? Could it be possible?