Rabbinical marriage counseling works — up to a point

Rabbi Karen Fox remembers the moment when she decided she needed to pursue a master’s degree in counseling psychology.
In the late 1980s, Fox, a rabbi at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, decided to create a support group for several couples who had privately sought her out to discuss their fertility problems and the resulting strain on their marriages. By bringing those temple members together, Fox did what scores of rabbis across the country do daily: She tried to improve congregants’ relationships and lives by offering free counseling.
Problem was, Fox now admits, she didn’t really know what she was doing. Having received only the most basic training in marital and other counseling during her rabbinic studies, she lacked such vital tools as empathetic listening and a deep understanding of the form and function of families. Much to her chagrin, Fox could do little more than offer sympathetic words of encouragement.
“Just as doctors specialize, I think it’s important that rabbis interested in counseling study it and train for it,” said Fox, who earned her master’s in 1991 and later became a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Otherwise, they might not have a broad enough vision and a wide enough ear to understand what’s going on with a couple.”
Like other clergy, rabbis have dispensed marital and other advice to congregants for generations. With a deep knowledge of Jewish texts and values, they have long played an important role in helping couples headed to the chuppah learn how to incorporate God and Judaism into their lives. Those premarital interventions, spiritual and otherwise, often increase the odds for marital success by teaching Jewish couples how to make their union sacred and loving, rabbis and their supporters say. Overall, rabbis earn generally high marks for premarital counseling, which focuses on the rudiments of good communication.
However, critics say rabbis are less suited for long-term marital counseling, even though desperate couples with crumbling marriages often turn to them for salvation. Although rabbis can play a positive role in brokering a reconciliation in couples with relatively minor problems, they are generally ill-equipped, both educationally and often temperamentally, to grapple with spousal abuse, depression, bullying and other serious issues that can destroy marriages and souls. Untrained in these areas, rabbis can do congregants a great disservice when they fail to refer them to professionals for help, experts say.
“The rabbinate encourages pronouncements and directives, but counseling is about listening and hearing subconscious messages,” said Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, dean of the Rabbinical School and Chaplaincy Program at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. “So, if as an authority figure you tell someone what to do, you might curtail the process of emotional expression that is essential for a couple’s growth.”
Judaism considers marriage to be a holy union with partners entering into a sacred relationship with one another and God. Several texts enshrine institution’s centrality in Jewish life. Genesis 2:18, states: “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” The Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 62b, says: “Any man who has no wife lives without joy, without blessing and without goodness.” Midrash, Yalqut Shimoni, Ruth 606: “He who marries a good woman is as if he fulfilled the whole Torah from beginning to end.”
Given Judaism’s emphasis on marriage, it is hardly surprising that many rabbis offering premarital counseling infuse their sessions with religiosity. Rabbi Michael Menitoff, an instructor in the psychology departments at the University of Judaism and the Academy for Jewish Religion, said that when he worked as a congregational rabbi he would encourage couples to make their future home sacred by observing Shabbat and keeping kosher.
Sinai Temple Rabbi David Wolpe said he also emphasizes the importance of Shabbat, which he calls “an opportunity to not be tyrannized by the modern world and to create a space in which personal interactions can exist away from the constant [inundation] of information and opinion and all the things with which we are bombarded day-to-day.”
In his nearly two decades as a congregational rabbi, Rabbi Mark Diamond would discuss the meaning and importance of Jewish wedding rituals before the big day. For instance, Diamond, now the executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis, would explain that the sixth blessing recited under the chuppah teaches that newlyweds begin married life with a clean slate and rejoice together. But the seventh blessing, Diamond says, suggests that Judaism also calls on partners to celebrate their individuality and give one another space to grow. Diamond’s point: Understanding the meaning behind Jewish marital customs gives couples a roadmap to better navigate their futures together.
In the bad old days, rabbis received scant counseling training of any type in the seminary. That meant they relied on little more than gut instinct when advising couples on how to grapple with issues such as alcoholism and infidelity. In recent years, observers say, rabbis and rabbis-in-training have received better pastoral counseling education. The Academy for Jewish Religion, for instance, now requires rabbinical students to take two counseling courses, which, among other subjects, address such topics as the power of active listening, the therapeutic process and crisis management. In recent years, the Board of Rabbis sponsored a series called, “The Rabbi as Counselor: Issues & Challenges,” which dealt with issues ranging from marital counseling to infertility to mental illness and depression.
The improvements notwithstanding, congregants coming to rabbis with serious marital and other problems have often come away disappointed, said Rabbi Abner Weiss, former rabbi at the Orthodox Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills.
In a 1999 survey of more than 200 Jews at Beth Jacob, University Synagogue and Valley Beth Shalom, Weiss found that the majority of temple members who had gone to rabbis and licensed professionals for advice found the marriage counselors, psychologists and social workers to be more helpful, although the majority of Orthodox congregants preferred going to a rabbi.
Despite rabbis’ good intentions, some temple members complained that clergymen had betrayed them by using their personal dramas as the basis for sermons, Weiss said. Others said that even if rabbis respected their privacy, too many temple members saw them going in and out of his/her offices for counseling and gossiped. Finally, many groused that rabbis knew far less than the trained professionals.
“When there’s a real problem, what’s really required is a good referral,” said Weiss, himself a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Rabbis often can’t recognize what’s really going on in a relationship and should be honest enough to say so.”

Marriage Conversion Rate Proves Low

Low conversion rates among intermarried Jewish families continue to plague those working to reverse the demographic downtrends in American Jewry.

Fewer than one-fifth of non-Jews who marry Jews convert to Judaism, according to a new study distributed by the American Jewish Committee.

The “Choosing Jewish” report, which interviewed 94 mixed-marriage couples and nine Jewish professionals in the Boston and Atlanta areas, also painted a bleak picture of Jewish involvement for those who do convert.

Many converted Jews — 40 percent — are described as “accommodating Jews-by-Choice.” They come to Judaism because they are asked to do so, and allow others to determine their level of Jewish observance, the report said. Jews in this category often have profiles of Jewish involvement similar to moderately affiliated born Jews.

Another 30 percent of converted Jews are identified as ambivalent Jews — they continue to express doubts about their conversion and feel guilty about beliefs or holidays left behind, according to the report. Their children mirror this ambivalence by thinking of themselves as half-Jews.

The report qualified only 30 percent of converted spouses as “activist Jews,” or those who identify deeply with the Jewish people and Israel. These Jews often are more committed to Jewish practice than are born Jews, and their children are virtually indistinguishable from children whose parents were born Jewish.

The findings, compiled by Brandeis University professor Sylvia Barack Fishman, have widespread implications for a community grappling with the reality of mixed marriages.

According to both the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey and surveys by Gary Tobin, president of the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish & Community Research, the U.S. Jewish intermarriage rate is between 40 percent and 50 percent.

The American Jewis Committee (AJCommittee) hopes the new data will create a road map for greater Jewish involvement among converts and intermarried families.

The breakdown of converted Jews by category shows that we should “not treat converts as an undifferentiated mass,” said Steven Bayme, the AJCommittee’s director of contemporary Jewish life.

Instead, he envisioned a sliding scale of Jewish involvement, ranging from those with a low level of affiliation to those who are highly involved.

“We should not see conversion as the end of the story,” he said. “What we’re really aiming for is converts who enrich the Jewish community through Jewish activism. We need to enlarge the pool of activist converts.”

But that requires a proactive approach.

First and foremost, Jews need to “wave the banner of inmarriage,” advocating Jewish partners whenever possible, he said. In cases of intermarriage, Bayme described conversion as “the single best outcome.”

“We need to be up front about our preference for conversion,” he said.

To that end, he talked about the role of rabbi as the “nurturer of would-be converts” and the need for Jewish family members to “be clear about values and objectives.”

In addition, Bayme advocated raising children in an exclusively Jewish household, because attempting to combine religions would be “a disaster Jewishly.”

Edmund Case, publisher of Interfaithfamily.com, which encourages Jewish connections in the interfaith community, took issue with several of these premises.

“I think there is a real danger in promoting conversion too aggressively,” he said. “If we stand at the door, a lot of people might not come in.”

Case said that accepting intermarried non-Jews who don’t convert — not just those who do — should be paramount.

“The way to have more Jewish children is for interfaith couples to get involved in Jewish life,” he said. “It’s important to see intermarriage as an opportunity and not as a negative or a loss.

“I think its important to communicate a message of welcome,” he continued. “The message we need to send to [intermarried] non-Jews is, ‘We’re grateful to you and happy to have you just as you are.'”

Case criticized the lack of money allocated to such interfaith outreach — less than $3 million a year between Jewish federations and family foundations, he said.

Bayme said “it’s a bit premature” for the AJCommittee to recommend any policy changes based on the report but that the group will discuss the findings at several upcoming meetings.



You know how Harry Potter has a scar emblazoned on his forehead from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? Dan has a big T for Trouble on his, marking him as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Dated.

Let me start in the middle: I go to this party at an awful place in Santa Monica, in some dark and crowded and loud basement bar, and I feel like I’ve accidentally, anachronistically stepped into a college party circa 1992 except that everyone here is old — by old I mean my age — and it’s hard to have a proper conversation.

Of course you don’t go to a bar for proper conversations — I’m not that old — but you can hardly see anybody or anything except the mosh pit of bodies swaying in 2-by-2 dancing/flirting/making-out duets. Maybe it’s just one of those nights when I feel terribly left out of everything no matter where I go. (I’ve just come from a Shabbat dinner with lots of married couples and kids — try finding an outfit that fits both these occasions.) Or maybe it’s Dan.

I met Dan a few weeks ago at an awesome party downtown. It was held on the entire floor of an industrial building on Spring Street, where a dozen or so artists were showing their work — mostly photographs and paintings but with a couple of jewelry and clothing designers interspersed. The lighting and the ceilings were low in a way that made everyone look more scintillating than they might in a retro basement bar in Santa Monica. Of course, it could have been the flutes of wine or the chocolate truffles. Or could it really have been Dan?

I wasn’t even looking to meet someone. I was actually dating someone else.

Which is why Dan and I could talk like normal people, and not single people on the make, dressed up in our best costumes and our most sparkly personalities, working furiously to obfuscate our skeletons beneath endless layers of jaunty jingles. So we talked about — what else? — relationships.

My one-two analysis: Dan has commitment-phobia, candy-store syndrome, and/or model rocket-scientist disorder. The thing is, like with milk or eggs, he can predict the exact shelf life of his relationships, but he goes for it anyway, pretending it’s real because he wants the comfort. He’s the guy that, out of the blue, when things were going perfectly well, says that things are not going well at all and disappears like he’s in the FBI Witness Protection Program. Dan is like many of my male single friends — friends I swear I’m going to dump because of the pain and torture they subject on womankind.

On that particular night, Dan’s problems didn’t bother me, because I had someone else. But then a little while later, I didn’t.

So when Dan called a few weeks later to invite me to this party in Santa Monica. I remembered his periwinkle eyes and his scruffy brown hair and the way he constantly touched my arm for punctuation. I said yes.

I finally locate him among the throngs, and we start talking. The problem is, we continue our conversation where we left off a few weeks ago: He regales me with his dating problems. How this one girl in Northern California is outdoorsy and smart but she lacks passion. How this other girl in Los Angeles is an aerobics instructor with an awesome body but not an intellectual.

“I want someone who is smart and challenging and has interests and is Jewish,” he says. “Is that too much to ask for?”

“Me!” I want to say. “Me! I’m smart, I’m Jewish, I’m passionate, I’m outdoorsy, I’m cool. What’s wrong with me?”

But I know: We’ve entered the friend zone. I’m like the fat girl in high school that boys confided in but never dated. Except that in high school I was the girl that everyone dated and didn’t confide in. So, I don’t know what to say when Dan points out the hot waitress. Okay, it’s hard to ignore her: fake boobs, butt tattoo, nimble waist that is so out of place in this dump — but am I such stuffed cabbage that I have to hear about the next entrée?

I’ve always heard stories of couples who were friends before they started dating, or people who claimed to have married “their best friend.”

But how is that possible? How can you see a person stripped of all their games, their pretensions, their public face, and still go through with it anyway?

Even in the darkness of this alcohol-drenched room, I can see Dan clearly: I’d never get anything more than an extended one-night stand that seemed like a romance. And he’s told me way too much about his technique and the endgame.

So I said my goodbyes and left Dan to go after the hot waitress. That’s what friends are for, right?


To Tree or Not to Tree


For the first time in my adult life I’m dating a Jewish girl.

Her father’s Catholic — an Italian — but according to my

rabbi, “She’s all good.”

(Maybe he didn’t use those exact words, but something to that effect.)

Carrie and I bicker but never have any real fights; that is not until Christmastime. She was raised with Christmas in her house. Chanukah was a pool they may have dipped their toes into out of some traditional obligation, but it was Christmas that they jumped into cannonball style.

Their house is covered in multicolored lights and adorned with cheap plastic Santa wall hangings. A gargantuan Douglas fir, rivaling the one in the center of The Grove, is squeezed in between the ceiling and floor. And gifts wrapped in red and green piled three-deep high surround the tree as if out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Her childhood memories are filled with Christmas as the happiest day of the year.

Then, she started dating me. And, like a Jewish Scrooge, I decided over dinner to let her know there would be no more Christmas. Well, at least not for us. I said that if we ever moved in together she would need to get used to the fact that there would be no Christmas tree in our house. She looked like she would drop her pork chop.

“I was raised with Christmas!” she said. “And I want a tree in my house.”

“I know,” I answered. “But, I wasn’t. And if we’re raising our kids Jewish why would we have a Christmas tree?”

“Because I like Christmas.”

“But, you’re Jewish!”

“My dad’s not.”

“But, you are. You were raised Jewish for the most part, you don’t believe in Jesus, why would we have a tree?”

“It’s got nothing to do with that,” she explained, quickly losing her patience. “It’s an American holiday.”

“Look, Carrie. You’re Jewish and I’m Jewish. What the hell are two Jews going to do with a Christmas tree?”

Two weekends ago we had to stop by her parents’ house she could pick up something she left there. Her mother proudly showed me the decorations on their tree and excitedly clicked on all the little lights strewn about the house.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” she exclaimed. She opened the front door. “Look at this wreath I made. I made it by hand.”

I smiled, uncomfortably. Ironically, it was Carrie’s Catholic father who saw my discomfort and said, “Some Jewish house, huh?”

Carrie’s mother once told me that when she married her husband she was very excited to have her first Christmas tree. She had been raised in a WASPY Long Island neighborhood and had hated feeling like an outcast. So, she looked forward to finally having a Christmas tree just like everyone else.

I suppose I understand her feelings — Christmas always looked like so much fun when I was a kid. We were inundated with music, TV specials and movies that showed families gathering together around the Christmas tree, tearing open gifts and singing uplifting songs. The plain menorah and a crappy song about a dreidel was no competition.

I tried to explain to Carrie that for most of us assimilated Jews there is something important about growing up without a tree.

We basically fit in with our non-Jewish friends and colleagues, and are careful not to stand out too much as Jews.

But, one time a year it becomes evident that we are different. Our houses are not decorated, we don’t have a Christmas tree and when people wish us a “Merry Christmas” we debate whether or not we should say, “Well, I don’t celebrate Christmas but thank you, anyway.”

“Once we allow ourselves to start appropriating another religion’s traditions in order to fit in with our neighbors, we have compromised who we are,” I told Carrie. “By taking away the wonderful things that separates us from non-Jews, it only damages us.”

Carrie’s mother joined in on my side, telling her daughter that it would be a little silly for us to ever have a Christmas tree in our house.

“I married someone who wasn’t Jewish, so it would be wrong for me to ignore my husband’s traditions,” her mother said. “But you are both Jewish and going to raise Jewish kids. You’re not going to celebrate Christmas. Instead, you can celebrate that other holiday — you know, the one with the candles and the spinning top.”

Carrie looked at me with resolve. “Fine, we won’t have a tree. But, I’m going to my parents’ house on Christmas.”

“Fine with me,” I answered. “If you need me, I’ll be at the movies.”

Seth Menachem is an actor and writer who lives in Los Angeles.


Looking for Ms. Wrong

A good friend of mine got married a couple of months ago to the wrong guy. The thing is, I think they’re going to last a long time.

My friend, “Karen,” is a top administrative officer for a government agency. She hired this lawyer, Joe, to do some outside legal work for the agency. He was living with someone at the time, and he wasn’t her “type” anyway. No problem: no chemistry, no conflict.

Karen and Joe worked together peacefully for more than four years. They got to be good friends on strictly a professional level. All was fine.

That is, until last October, when Joe suddenly realized he had fallen in love with Karen and told her about it. He told her she could take her time figuring it out for herself, but he was determined that they were going to end up spending the rest of their lives together. All this even though he still had a live-in. Karen’s reaction: She thought he had gone a little wacky and recommended counseling! But she reluctantly agreed to an “official date.”

Two weeks later, they were engaged; three-and-a-half months later, married. And they adore each other.

Same with my lifelong friend, Harry. He was a physical education teacher (Jewish — go figure!), 6-foot-3, about 210 pounds., strong as an ox — dated mostly the non-Jewish waitresses he met at the Charthouse, where he worked for waiter’s tips to earn enough to make ends meet. When he met Rachel, she was a pediatric physical therapist from a whole family of doctors — dated mostly short, unathletic, brainy Jewish doctors, lawyers and accountants. Harry was definitely not her type.

Harry’s idea of dress-up was a “nice” pair of gym shorts and a T-shirt without any holes in it. His dress shoes were his newest pair of sneakers. His idea of a great date was when she agreed to go “Dutch” down at Joe Jost’s, a popular, working-class dive in mid-Long Beach. Rachel was used to guys in designer suits who wouldn’t even think of not picking up the tab at the latest trendy Sushi bar.

Result of this “wrong” pairing: Click! Game, set and match. They’re about to celebrate their 17th anniversary; they have two great kids; and they’re still on their honeymoon.

Ever notice when you see some couples that they really “fit” — they really do seem to belong together? When I talk to them, I often find out that their partner was definitely not the person they thought they were looking for.

“In fact,” she’ll say, “he has some habits that in other guys I just couldn’t stand. But in him, I not only put up with them, but find it kind of cute!”

The way I figure it, in this game, you never really know what you’re looking for until you find it. And when you do, all those “wrong” things just suddenly become OK — even right.

So lately, I’ve been asking some hard questions about my own “requirements.” Jewish? Yeah, I guess that’s not negotiable. Oh, I’ve tried the “other side” a few times. It’s just that, when it comes right down to it, the possibility of having one of our future kids wearing a cross and believing Jesus was the messiah really isn’t acceptable.

OK, but what else? I’ve always been attracted to women who are clever, with a keen wit and sharp sense of humor. A bright, mischievous twinkle in the eye is a plus.

The rest of it? I took a lot of time working out my “perfect match” for my JDate profile. Now I’m realizing that I’ve just seen it too many times — regardless of what I “know” about my type, it’s probably going to happen that some vague biological reaction will mysteriously and unexpectedly assert itself when I meet the “wrong” person. Then all those things on my “must” list just won’t matter any more.

So now, taking a cue from the popular challenge to “think outside the box,” I’m doing my best to “look for love outside the box.”

What I still need from someone out there is to meet me halfway. While I’m trying to keep my eyes and my heart a lot more open to the possibilities, what are you looking for? What do you see when you look at me?

Deleted my JDate e-mails because I’m “too old”? Tell that to Catherine Zeta-Jones or Annette Bening! And are you telling me you’d take a pass on Sean Connery today, even at his age? (Same goes for receding hairline excuses.)

Rejected a setup by the matchmaking service because I’m “too short”? Hey, I thought you said “size” doesn’t matter! And how often have you expressed disdain for guys who focus a little too much attention on the size of a woman’s chest?

Looked past me at Friday Night Live because it seems like I’m “too serious?” You know, “serious” doesn’t have to mean “boring.” There’s nothing like a little serious fun to keep a relationship interesting and alive. Ever hear the expression, “Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac”? Try it, you might like it!

Now when they say to me, “There must be some reason a nice guy like you isn’t married,” I tell them, “It’s not that I’m waiting for that ‘perfect person’ who doesn’t exist. It’s just that I’m waiting for the right ‘wrong’ one to come along — the one whose ‘toos’ aren’t ‘too’ for me.”

Look, I know you’re out there somewhere. The problem is, although I’ve figured it out, I have to hope you’ll stop searching for Mr. Right. Because what you’re really looking for is me: Mr. Wrong … who’s really been the right one for you all along.

Glenn M. Gottlieb is a professional mediator and corporate attorney
practicing in Los Angeles. He is actively looking for Ms. Wrong and can be
contacted at gmgottlieb@hotmail.com.

Wingman Wanted

Let’s talk about Ruth and Naomi, two smokin’ hot babes who Thelma and Louised it from Moab.

Ruth could have ditched her friend to find a new dude. But instead, she played her “where you go I go, where you stay I stay” wingman card and schlepped across the desert with Naomi. My girlfriends used to be like that.

I used to have plenty of unhitched, “work all day, flirt all night, no sleep ’til Brooklyn” party pals. It was “where you drink I drink, where you flirt I flirt.” Whether it was Friday night at El Carmen or Saturday night at Jones, chasing men was always a group effort. My wingmen and I were a TEAM: Together Everyone Attracted More.

To catch Los Angeles’ top guns, we followed a “stay on my wing, I’m-taking you all the way in” game plan. See, Jewish guys hit the singles scene in packs, or at least pairs. Order a cute boy? Side of his hot friend coming right up. Look at Moses and Aaron, or Ben and Jerry. I’m telling you, where there’s a Will, there’s a Wayne. And since men stick by their “no mensch gets left behind” mantra, they don’t ditch their dude just to chat with a chick, no matter how shayna her punim.

That’s where my wingman comes into play. I need a friend for his friend, a babe for his buddy. I work bachelor No. 1, while my wingman takes what’s behind bachelor No. 2. We’re talking, “attention single shoppers, there’s a two-for-one sale on babes at the bar.”

But lately, I find myself flying solo on a Saturday night. Oh where, oh where did my single friends go? Seems the chicks in my clique are all dating, married or hauling around gargantuan diamonds. So they traded girls’ night out for couple’s night in. My fellow “fight for your right to party” gals have settled into committed relationships, leaving this Laverne without a Shirley. And where there’s no schlemiel, I’m not getting schlimazel.

So, I’m looking for a few good wingmen. Fellow bar-hopping, boy-hunting, unattached women who still want to make the most of their bachelorette lives. Problem is, in Los Angeles, cool chicks are as rare as real breasts. So I’m having a hard time finding fun women I actually like. When did it become so difficult to make new female friends? I don’t even know where to meet them.

When I want to meet men, I just pick them up. It’s easy. I pick them up at bars on Fridays, playing volleyball on Saturdays, watching my Bears on Sundays, even in the grocery line on Mondays. I can meet men with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back. But women are less likely to respond to that. So I’m not sure how to hook this up. There’s no Speedfriending or JPal. And I’m not the “shop ’til you drop, oh I love what you’re wearing, let’s drink nonfat decaf ice-blended mochas and hang out at the paint-it-yourself pottery place” girly girl type. Maybe I should use the Jedi mind trick: these are the new friends you are looking for. Or perhaps I should take out a wingman wanted ad: Single Jewish female seeking fun female friends. Age 25-35. Must have appetite for adventure, no ring on finger and the ability to tag-team flirt with a dynamic duo. Applicant should have accurate bachelor radar, a thorough understanding of the buddy system and a quick response time to the universal sign for “please rescue me from this nudnik.” No plans for marriage in the near future preferred. A strong sense of loyalty and friendship a must.

It’s that last part that matters most. Despite the fact that the mind of the unmarried man says two blondes are better than one, I attract lots of guys when I brave the singles scene alone. I just show a little pupik, shake a little tuchus and I pick up a whole minyan of men hoping to dance the horizontal hora.

So there’s more to a wingman than the old dating “divide and conquer.” A wingman’s a fantastically fun friend who’s up for long chats, happy hours and chick flicks. She’s a confidante, an accomplice, a partner in crime. She’s a “laugh out loud, cry on her shoulder, lean on me when you’re not strong, girls just wanna have fun” gal. And, like Ruth, a wingman should be ready to accompany me on long treks across the desert, ’cause I’m a big fan of the spontaneous all-girl Vegas roadtrip.

So if you’re a fellow “fly by the seat of your tallit” girl who, lately, has found herself flying solo — you can be my wingman anytime.

Carin Davis, a freelance writer, can be reached at sports@jewishjournal.com.