jewin' the fat

The Great Debate: Man Drought or Mere Doubt?
July 26, 2009, 9:45 AM
Filed under: Comment, Jewish Community | Tags: , , ,

Is it a truth universally acknowledged, that if you are a single girl on a train in Melbourne during Friday afternoon peak hour traffic, you will look at the men around you, in their tortoise shell reading glasses, distressed denim, daringly coloured shirt and stylishly muted cardigan, reading “The Sorrows of Young Werther” or “Wuthering Heights”, with a hand jauntily in-pocket, and have one of two reactions:

a) Laugh at the coincidence of metros on the metro, and return to your copy of max, because you see them everyday on your way home from work.


b) Drool. Stare. Wipe. Repeat.

Welcome to choose your own (dating) adventure. If you went with a) you are probably from Melbourne, and well used to seeing groomed, intellectual, conservationist, styling gentlemen cruising around on Connex. If you took b) you are definitely from Sydney and steadily realising that maybe it was the book, or the public transport, or even the way he pushed his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose – but whatever caught your fancy, you fancy gettin’ caught.

For a lot of Jewish twenty-somethings, who feel like their home city has been drained of all potential, the man drought has hit Sydney, and hit it hard. Dating services, blind dates, and the one night stand have left a significant proportion of single women in Sydney floundering in the shallows, as the tides ebbs further and further out.

Which is not to say there are zero single men in Sydney – there are heaps. But eligibility? Well that’s the kicker isn’t it? Whether they are living at home, or out of their car, it would appear blokes from NSW just don’t have it together. And we all know the type – boys who can’t cook, can’t jump start an engine (of a car, of course), and have never even seen the inside of a laundry.  

Melbourne Vs. Sydney

While the chorus of male voices rings with “what’s a laundry”, it becomes clear – In this version of  State of Origin, Victorians are on the up and up. Tourism Victoria kicked it off with their version of holiday dating  demography, and it got me thinking about why the grass is greener in Melbourne, and not just for Sydney-siders. Young West and South Coast Jews are flocking to Melbourne in great numbers, migrating East for work and play in the most livable city in Australia, and certainly the most cohesive yet varied Jewish community in the country.

Ask any Melbourne-local, as I did over the weekend, and there is no shortage to the praises waiting to be sung – the bars, the sport, the food, the coffee, the fashion, the music, the theatre, the unpretentious lifestyle, the atmosphere, the “rain hail or shine” attitude  – it’s all there, ready and waiting.

Controversially or not, Melbourne seems to have their JC all stitched up too. It’s a smorgasbord of Jewish denominations, each with their own synagogue, school, youth movement, Kosher-certified restaurants, and more Glicks than you can poke a stick at. Comparatively speaking, Sydney is like the dishevelled gawky younger sister, full of energy, but at a loss as to where to channel it – St Ives? Vaucluse? Parramatta? Maroubra?

Melbourne has found the golden egg, and it goes by a few different names. Thanks to the power of urban planning, Caulfield has become a kind of Jewish Mecca. Don’t believe me? Google “Caulfield Jewish Ghetto”, and check out the first entry. It’s a neat little square of Judaism on the city map that makes Sydney’s JC look like a Jackson Pollock.

Maybe we are too picky, maybe the guys who used to swallow ten-cent coins to impress us in pre-school are 20 years later the guys who are looking for a partner who’ll swallow just about anything, including their bullshit. Are we just sick of the same old same old? But then again, maybe the grass isn’t so much greener on the other side, but mowed more often. I mean, it’s not about looking for a man-scaper, but someone who knows how to, er, trim the hedges.

In my social circle, plenty of my friends are in serious relationships or already preparing to waltz down the aisle and a lot of them have gone south of the border to meet their match. Of those who are dating interstate Jews, 7 out of 12 are still going strong, no thanks to cheap interstate flights and social media like Skype and Facebook, which keep us connected over thousands of miles.

But you don’t need to be hunting for a Shidduch either. If it’s casual dating or even just a holiday hook up with someone who wants to send their kids to Hebrew school, Melbourne has the upper hand. So perhaps its true – absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Jewish Sydney singles are starting to recognize that when it comes to long distance dating, a little distance goes a long way.


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