I’d like to say how incredible it is to be a part of the “Soon by You” phenomenon, however limited my involvement may be. Ever since I learned about their endeavors I wanted to somehow contribute, because I feel that they’re making a big step in the development of modern Orthodox Jewish identity. Let me explain.
I was relatively young when I decided to make Judaism an active part of my life, taking on observances that my peers in public school were certainly nowhere near even understanding. My dedication to Shabbos, kashrus, shomer negiah, and tefilah separated me from everyone I knew, but the de factopeer pressure to live a life devoid of any connection to Hashem and His mitzvos never shook my resolve to my personal undertaking. Still, it’s lonely being a rogue, and I felt a yearning to mingle with Jews like me who also wore kippas and held off their hunger until finding strictly kosher food to eat. I initially gravitated towards boys in yeshiva, and while they were friendly, I felt that I was too distant from them, having too little background to be considered one of them. I therefore associated with the modern Orthodox, who shared my dedication to a halachic life but also dressed as I did, knew the media I did, and were receptive to my situation.
I have no doubt that there are hundreds of such Jews out there like myself who are trying to walk the delicate tightrope of modern Orthodoxy in the modern world. Whether they find themselves integrated within communities of like-minded compatriots or struggle to identify with their surroundings, the many influences out there—both from the Jewish world and the greater world for that matter—constantly present them with deep questions of how to approach fundamental issues. This can be a challenging existence, especially one prone to feelings of loneliness and frustration.
This is where “Soon by You” jumps in and saves the day. Despite the gamut of strong emotions that this oftentimes conflicted lifestyle entails, “Soon by You” tries (and often succeeds) at taking a lighter stance on the dichotomy. With the focus on the ubiquitous issues of dating and marriage, they give like-minded modern Orthodox individuals relatable characters to laugh and cry with, which is essential when today’s entertainment media is filled with personalities and situations that have no relevance to Jews struggling to balance modernity with tradition. When the option for opting out of remaining steadfast to G-d and His Torah is available and more appealing as life’s struggles pile up, “Soon by You” gives a face to committed Jews and shows that they’re still out there, and that life isn’t always that tough.
In a sense, this is what I attempted to portray in my novel Outdated, modeling Joe and Sharon after what I and friends of mine were experiencing trying to juggle Judaism with our lives. I’m very much hoping to tackle more of these issues in subsequent books (if I ever get the time!), but I’m glad that “Soon by You” has already brought the battles of many of us into the limelight.
In addition to writing, I spend about a third of my hours awake learning Torah. In the other thirds, I edit for a book publishing company, imbue valuable life lessons to my adolescent children while attempting to mitigate their bickering, prepare our house for the arrival of the Shabbos Queen (this is a week-long endeavor), and try out new chulent recipes. Oh, I also drum on anything that makes a sound when banged.