JSwipe released a Love Study yesterday where they collected data from 4,000 JSwipe users about their feelings on Judaism and dating. If you are interested in seeing the results, I recommend you do so here.
It’s easy to understand why data like this matters. Polling Jewish millennials about Judaism and dating can say a lot about the current and future state of Judaism, dating, Jewish dating, and more.
What do millennial Jews care about when it comes to their Judaism? What do they value in a partner?
But to me, the study actually speaks to something much deeper than just supplying stats.
In his Instagram stories on Wednesday, October 2nd, David Yarus, founder of Jswipe, wrote the following about the intention behind the Jswipe Love Study:
“The intention was to give our generation a voice. To prompt a conversation. Where people talk WITH us rather than about us. No right or wrong. No better or worse. Simply people sharing their truth and holding space for that.”
I think about the intention behind Skirts and Kicks a lot. And I think this small paragraph perfectly encapsulates a huge idea that I often think about.
There is something un-steadying about being single and dating, especially in the Jewish world. Especially in the Modern Orthodox Jewish world. We as singles are living in a limbo land. We’re adults. Many of us have successful careers. We deal with finances and the challenges that trying to make it on our own presents. We’re part of thriving communities or we’re working to help our communities grow. We are thinking about our futures. We’re thinking about the future of Judaism. About the future of this world. We balance friendships, relationships, families, jobs. No, we might not have a marriage license, but we are struggling with real, adult issues.
And yet, for some reason, there’s this sense of stagnation. We were raised to believe that the natural progression of our lives is to go from our parents’ homes, to school, to some sort of “in between community” where we will begin work or grad school, and somewhere in the middle of that hodgepodge of career and life searching, we’re supposed to settle down, find a partner, start a family. It’s how we were raised to think about growing up.
So how do we keep moving forward if we’re stuck in the “in-between”? If we spend years dating without success? If we struggle to have children? If we are failing at “growing up” in this traditional framework?
And this sense of immobility, sense that somehow we are failing, or slowing down, or missing the mark (even if we are trying our hardest to keep up), leaves a lot of room for criticism (as well as whole plethora of inner emotions/ struggles that we won’t go into here). Some of it is warranted, some of it is not.
Because, I’ll be the first to say it: there are ways we as singles can be treating ourselves more like adults. But that doesn’t mean we are children. It doesn’t mean we are voiceless. It doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to change our narratives. It doesn’t mean we don’t have our own stories to tell.
But when people can’t appreciate our opinions, when they view us as lesser, that takes away our voices and gives others room to write our own truths. And the danger of letting other people; married people, older people, outsiders speak for us, (or about us as Yarus says); is that it prevents everyone from actually moving forward. That is what really keeps us from growing up.
A big part of the Skirts and Kicks community is obviously about making connections; finding ways for people to communicate and share with each other. It’s about finding ways for people to feel less alone, to think deeply about their own insecurities, struggles, questions, and hopefully come out of each day with a fresh perspective. But it’s also about giving our community a voice.
I think about this a lot when I look at the polls I conduct and the data I collect and conversations we have on Instagram. Of course all of my data pales in comparison to the JSwipe Love Study. But it’s still a collection of opinions by the young Jewish people who are actually experiencing dating and new relationships, or navigating dating apps, or searching for meaning and god as millennial Jews.
These polls and these conversations–no matter how large-, whether by a few hundred or a few thousand, is giving a space for us to control our own narrative. Skirts and Kicks is a community of millennial Jews, run by a millennial Jew, geared toward millennial Jews. And the Love Study; it would be a real shame if you missed a really crucial part of this study; not only is it largely about millennial Jews, it was conducted by millennial Jews. A study about us was conducted by us. If that’s not giving us a voice, I’m not sure what is.
As the blog grows, and certain patterns and trends become more obvious or startling to me, I think a lot about what I’m supposed to do with all of the information I collect. What are the next steps?
And then I reread what Yarus wrote: “The intention was to give our generation a voice. To prompt conversation. Where people talk WITH us rather than about us. No right or wrong. No better or worse. Simply people sharing their truth and holding space for that.”
And his words are meaningful to me–and hopefully to you–because maybe–the first step is to just create space where there hasn’t yet been space. To challenge assumptions, to ask and try to answer questions. To find ways for people on the ground and in the trenches to be able to say:
“See! The data actually shows x rather than y.”
“We singles actually have rich, fulfilling lives where we think critically about next steps, where we struggle with our personal growth.”
“Look! I am not alone!”
And the cool thing about what we do on Skirts and Kicks, is that we are constantly engaging. We speak almost daily.
What Skirts and Kicks enables us to do, is continue to have conversations, tell our stories, share our struggles. And we do it from a place of truth and most importantly from a place of experience and understanding. And that’s actually a pretty big deal.
And I hope you too find meaning in that.