The Closeted Rabbi

I met someone I will call Steve online a few days ago. He sent a photo to me at my personal email address and about a day later, I realized something. I was pretty sure I met him one time about 4 years ago. At that time, he was a young rabbi in a synagogue in my town. I wasn’t positive but his photo looked just like the rabbi, they had the same name and were about the same age. When I asked Steve what kind of industry he worked in, he was evasive. He told me he did not have to work because he made a lot of money from a previous business he started. His online profile said that his job was a consultant.

Last night, I told him on the phone I might have met him once a few years ago and I asked if he used to be a rabbi. He immediately said no. But he kind of stuttered and sounded strange. I asked if he was positive that he did not used to be a rabbi and he answered “no, not that I know of”. I was pretty sure he wasn’t telling the truth because of the way he answered the question so I googled him and found out that it was him! And he is still a rabbi in another town! I value honesty more than anything so my question is, do you think this is just a little white lie because maybe he’s embarrassed that he is a rabbi and is online dating (he just got divorced 3 months ago)? Or do you think maybe lying is a part of his personality? Normally if I found out someone lied to me about anything (age, etc), before I met them, I would not want to meet them. Should I not meet him? I know this is a strange question but please answer. Need advice!


Dear Missy,

Yes, it’s a doozy of a question. What I particularly enjoyed about it was that I didn’t see where it was going. I kind of figured that when you confronted him, he’d have come clean. But he didn’t.

Which is why I’m going to recommend that you pass on Rabbi Steve.

It’s been well-documented that I’m empathetic to people who lie online. Full-disclosure might sound great when you want to evaluate a total stranger, but when it comes to you, putting your own height, weight, income and age up for all to see, it’s a different ball of wax. Then again, there are variants of lies – there’s leaving out your weight, there’s clicking on that “tell you later” button for income, etc. Then there’s an out and out lie when confronted on the phone. And that’s why Rabbi Steve strikes me as a bit shady.

In fact, now that I think about it, I’m not sure there are many people who are better qualified to answer this “How do I list my career on my profile?” question. As a dating coach, you can be sure that it is NOT in my best interests to write that down. Talk about people judging! So I’ve gone with real euphemisms that hint at what I do, without explicitly stating it: writer, author, consultant, small business owner have all been used at some point in time.

But if anyone asked me, point blank, what I did for a living, or what I wrote about…you can be sure that I’ll tell the truth. Even though I know that the next ten minutes will be nothing short of a simulated grilling from Mike Wallace.

The follow-up questions to “I’m a dating coach”:

“Oh, really?”
“What qualifies you to do that?”
“Are YOU single?”
“Are you serious?”
“And people listen to you?”
“You’re not going to write about me, are you?”
“So is this ‘research’?”
“How many other people have you gone out with?”

It would be easier to make up a white lie. After all, it doesn’t hurt anybody, and I’d get to avoid the interrogation. But then, I’d have to tell the truth later, or worse, have her find out in another way (thank you, Google!) So what’s the point of lying at all?

Anyone can see why being a rabbi might scare/confuse/intimidate/bother women who are reading Steve’s profile. But I would sooner write “Tell you about my job later” than to make up a lie and STICK with the lie after a phone call. That’s just weird, don’t you think?

Listen, I can’t say that Rabbi Steve is going be prone to cheating on his future wife, or hiding money in a Swiss bank account, but I can say that his actions don’t indicate a very high level of integrity. I’d email him and let him know that you know he’s a rabbi and that, in the future, he might want to come clean sooner. Make it clear that you have no problem with his vocation, it was how he lied to you when confronted that sealed his fate.

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