Orthodox Jews-previously thought unknown above 42nd Street in Manhattan-are massing on the Upper West Side, reports The New York Times. And they've come to breed! But despite their somber suits, long skirts and aversion to motor-power on the Sabbath, these young singles are as a hip and unbearable as any Yuppie on that overpriced island. "Although dating is a major preoccupation of the vast number of single twenty- and thirtysomethings, it's hard to think of a group that so completely chooses to live in a neighborhood based on dating opportunities as the city's young Orthodox Jews. And the Upper West Side, an increasingly Orthodox enclave, has over the past four decades emerged as courting central for modern Orthodox singles from across the country and around the world."
"'If you get to be 23 or 24 and you're not married, your parents are going to say you shouldn't be living at home anymore,' said Rabbi Allen Schwartz of Congregation Ohab Zedek, a synagogue on West 95th Street near Columbus Avenue that is heavily attended by young Orthodox singles. 'Where are you going to go?' he added. 'To Teaneck, where there might be another 10 singles like you? You go to the West Side, where there are another 5,000 singles like you.'
"[Baruch] November, an English professor and poet from Pittsburgh who moved to the Upper West Side five years ago, put it this way: 'It's like all roads lead to the West Side [...] Matchmakers still have the idea that if you put two Jews together, it will work,' Mr. November said. 'But that's a shtetl mentality. In the shtetl, what else did you know but your neighbor and your neighbor's daughter? If you're not sheltered, that's not going to work. All we have are Marc Chagall paintings of that life. We're not in the shtetl anymore.'"
Young and with-it and looking for love? Cue the SATC reference!
"But while the Upper West Side may offer an expanded pool of singles, some say its social offerings can distract from the presumed goal of marriage. The lifestyle sometimes resembles a relatively chaste version of that depicted in the television series 'Sex and the City,' featuring below-the-knee designer skirts and kosher wine in place of Cosmopolitans."
Followed neatly by the sad reality of that series:
"'In a way, the West Side is like Never-Never Land,' Mr. November said. 'People tell their parents they're going to meet someone, but it's an extended childhood.'" [NYT]