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Written by Chaim Durkheim. For more stories by Chaim, check out The Purim Party and Tu B’Shvat in the Hot Tub.

Rated PG-13
Moshe sat in an overheated, noisy Starbucks across the street from Temple Beth Shalom. He was not sure if he would attend Friday night services although he knew it would be a start in reconnecting with his religion. Moshe found a table for two and sat down. Women often stared at Moshe. He was six feet tall, built like a model that had worked out a bit too much, and had a tattoo of an ancient temple key on his left bicep. His smooth, tanned skin glowed. He tried to dress modestly but his muscular body usually showed. Having recently turned thirty, Moshe wondered if he would ever meet the right woman and begin a serious relationship. Women constantly flirted with him–at the bank, at his office, at the gas station, and especially at Jewish singles functions.

Moshe felt the warm, thick mocha coffee glide down his throat as he glanced at the Torah interpretation app on his phone. Four different interpretations to the same passage that all seemed to make sense. Before he could finish his thought, his phone buzzed and his new JMATE app popped up. A brief sentence lit his screen, “You have a new admirer.” Moshe had his first hit. It had been over a year since he had gone out with a woman and that had ended when she found out he had become alienated from his religion.

JMATE was the current talk in the Jewish community, a combination of traditional Jewish online dating services and GPS-driven friend finder with options for anonymous communication and an “I can see you” function that provided photos or streaming video. The app indicated there were five active users in the room. Moshe had his favorite profile picture posted: his visit to a Tel Aviv beach taken two years ago, looking lonely while sitting on a plastic beach chair wearing his leopard skin print speedos.

Before Moshe could survey all the people at the café, he heard the vibration of his phone and looked down to see, “Shalom you! I just saw your profile photo and I would like to meet you, so I could wrap you up like a kosher hot dog in a hot, buttery challah.” Moshe blushed and rapidly looked around the room wondering who had sent this text without a photo. Two minutes later his phone buzzed again. “You are not being a mensch by not answering! I think you need a spanking.” He typed back, “Who are you”?

Then another text appeared, “Hello Moshe, would you like to go to Shabbat services tonight and meet some of my friends for Torah study?” It was coming from a different person also without a photo. He had second thoughts about turning on the “mask” function, but it was too late to hide and they had his profile indicating his age, interest in reconnecting with his Judaism, and his dating status. His phone buzzed again: “Oy vey Moshe, I know you don’t know me, but maybe you can figure it out and then come over and play.”

Moshe looked around the café. There were men and women sitting alone, a few standing, and a dozen or so people at tables in small groups. Many were staring at their phones. A young man with a blue and white kippah on his head was furiously texting messages and a woman with her hair pulled up in a bun was surprisingly reading a book titled Finding the Jewish Self in an Age of Postmodernity.

Buzz. Moshe looked down and saw another text, “Am I turning you on? You look meshuga!” He was going meshuga, but not crazy, just confused and aroused, but not in a sexual way. Then buzz, “Sorry, did you get my text about Shabbat services”?

Moshe responded back, “Thank you for the invite but I am not sure I am up for it tonight.” An immediate text came back with a photo of a gold Star of David resting on two round, firm, tanned breasts. Shit, thought Moshe; he had sent the text to the wrong person. “Will these get you up?” Flustered and fumbling with his phone, he quickly sent the text to the person that had invited him to services. He continued to look around trying to figure out who was sending him the texts. Maybe the tall, dirty blond woman with the leopard skin pumps and the hamsa ankle tattoo, the five fingers symbol protecting one from evil.

His phone continued to vibrate. He looked back down and saw a picture of a feminine hand with plum nail polish and a small Star of David ring. Moshe wondered if he should start looking at everyone’s hands.

Moshe pushed his hand against his forehead hoping a magical decision would come to him. What was their intent? Should he just walk out the door? His phone buzzed again and there was another message, “You are always welcome at our Temple–it is just across the street–I hope you have a meaningful evening–Shabbat shalom Moshe.” Moshe typed “Thank you.” Then his phone buzzed again: “Sorry we could not hook up, maybe next time. I will be dreaming about you. You know where to reach me if you ever change your mind.”

Moshe thought about the new technology and how things had become more complex. The two most intimate parts of his self–his sex life and his search for religious meaning–had been brought right before his eyes on a small screen. And still, he felt terribly alone.

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