Finding Love for Tu B’Av

July 7, 2015

Tu B’Av marks a special time. Love is in the air, singles hope to find their soulmate, and couples celebrate their relationships. Although this ‘Jewish Valentine’s Day’ may be one of the lesser-known Jewish holidays, it is, surprisingly, considered just as important as Yom Kippur by the Talmud (Jewish law).

Back in the early days of Tu B’Av merriments, it was customary for single women to dance in open fields garbed in white dresses while eligible bachelors would flock to them and choose their bride.

It wasn’t the superficial selection process it implies, but actually encouraged a more meaningful selection criterion. For one, the ladies wore borrowed dresses, so no one felt inadequate that their dress didn’t live up to the others and being able to afford the designer threads was therefore a non-issue.

They also eloquently chanted “young men, look and observe well whom you are about to choose and do not set your eyes on beauty alone, but rather look for a virtuous family, for false is grace, and vain is beauty: a woman only that fears the Lord shall be praised.” Thus, encouraging the men to look beyond the fleeting surface features and more intently at substantial matters such as the type of home environment the woman would create and her commitment to Jewish morals.

When the women declared “look for a virtuous family”, it demonstrates that incorporating family background into the decision of who to marry may help provide insight into the upbringing and values of the family. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention why this relates to the importance of genetic screening, as screening also provides insight into your own family background that you would have never known, because most babies born with these diseases have no family history of that disease.)

Not focusing on looks alone seems like such a basic tenet, but in the days of ranking someone out based on their social media profile picture, we may want to consider taking more time when evaluating a potential love connection.

In an age where swiping left is sweeping the dating scene, why don’t we use this day to branch out of our comfort zone and away from the phone screen to maximize our face-to-face encounters. If you see that sweet girl at synagogue or that hilarious boy at happy hour, make it your goal to get to know them, because you never know what gems you may uncover. I don’t know of any vineyard/open field dance parties in 2015, but try some modern courting rituals (think speed dating) and put yourself out there just like the maidens in white.

This holiday is still very relevant, especially nowadays when many people find summer romance and engaged couples opt for summertime weddings (Tu B’Av also happens to be a very popular date for nuptials). From my heart to yours, hoping that you find your bashert (soulmate) this Tu B’Av.

Headquartered in Atlanta at Emory University’s Department of Human Genetics, JScreen is a national non-profit offering at-home comprehensive and affordable genetic testing and counseling.

ReproGEN – determines risk for having a child with a genetic disease

CancerGEN – tests for genetic changes that increase risk for many types of cancer

If a person or couples’ risk is elevated, genetic counselors will privately address the results, options and resources to help plan for a healthy future.

JScreen believes that a combination of education, access to state-of-the-art testing technology, and personalized support by qualified medical professionals are key to preventing devastating genetic diseases.