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Everyday Hero: Kelly Hartog

I'm assembling my tribute-to-Kelly-Hartog page where she'll get a link from my Female Journalist Hall of Fame.

I've blown up that photo and have it on my ceiling above my place on the floor where I sleep.

Chicks dig it when you call 'em out in public like this. I know Amy Klein does.

Kelly Hartog believes that fate plays an important role in this chaotic world. Her belief in fate is even stronger since she went to the Paradise Mombasa Hotel on vacation and her world turned upside down.

Kelly, 38, made aliyah alone from Sydney, Australia almost nine years ago. She is editor of the Jerusalem Post's "In Jerusalem" Friday supplement. A professional actress, she is also founder and artistic director of the Tall Poppy Theatre Company in Jerusalem.

On the airport bus to the Mombasa Hotel, Kelly sat next to the two young Israeli brothers, Noy and Dvir Anter, who were later killed in the terrorist attack; the third Israeli who was killed was her tour guide, Albert de Havilla. But Kelly herself survived. And although she was not injured, her suitcase was blown up.

The ripple effect

Kelly worries about her brother:

Living through the last 18 months has been nothing short of hell for everyone in this country. It is rare these days that anyone here exists who has not been directly affected by a terror attack or knows someone who has. As the list of victims of terror grows I find it impossible to comprehend how their families find the strength to carry on. But until the terror reached out its long arm and directly touched me six months ago, I never truly comprehended how much the death of just one person changes the shape of this country forever.

A year later, Kelly writes:

Not until fate and G-d had other plans for me and placed me in the midst of the terror attack in Mombasa, Kenya on November 28, 2002.

The L.A. Lonely Hearts Club: Why Being Jewish and Single is a Community Wide Problem

Kelly Hartog writes:

Rabbi Sholom Tendler, rabbi of Young Israel of North Beverly Hills and rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Los Angeles and Yeshiva University High Schools of Los Angeles, explains yet another problem: With no real equivalent to New York’s Yeshiva University and Stern College, many of Los Angeles’ best and brightest yeshiva boys are moving to the East Coast, leaving the young women here with very few shidduch potentials.

Taking A Bite Out Of Kelly Hartog

I consider myself a carefree happy guy who skips through life singing Air Supply songs and dodging rain drops.

Every morning (and afternoon and evening, even though it isn't required), I thank G-d I was not born a woman.

You see, I'm glad I'm rational and capable of great scientific and artistic achievement. I'm not bothered by the monthly curse. I am a model of calm and mental health.

I'm blessed to do work that puts me in constant contact with beautiful and vulnerable young women.

You see, I'm working on a book about sex abuse in the Orthodox rabbinate. Now, you can say many things about rabbis, but 'stupid choices in chicks' is not one of them. When a holy rabbi decides to throw away his wife and family and career and reputation, he usually undergoes Talmudic calculations before he selects his prey.

Then I come along months or years later and pick up the pieces, wipe the tears away, and carry the girl away on my white horse.

Within a few days, I transform myself in her eyes from a good listener to a sympathetic figure to a knight in shining armor.

Benny the Rabbinic Shark has nothing on me.

It doesn't pay so good but the benefits of my work are great. I know deep in my soul that I am doing valuable work and touching lives.

Then along comes Friday, and amidst my joyous and detailed preparations for the Sabbath (making sure I have enough raisin-cinammon bagels on hand and peanut butter), I pick up the Jewish Journal. The catchy cover always drags me in and soon I'm absorbed by the high quality of the writing and, more importantly, by its inspiring moral tone.

Then, just when I'm experiencing the peak of this spiritual high, I crash. Why? Why do I get depressed even though my life is so wonderful? Because I see all the problems confronting my community.

This week's cover of the Journal cries: "The L.A. Lonely Hearts Club: Why Being Jewish and Single is a Community Wide Problem."

And then it all comes to me in a rush, all the community-wide problems demanding a Jewish response according to my paper. Last week it was France. Was it hopeless? Before that: "Encino Boy ODs In Israeli Yeshiva His death highlights drug problems in schools for Americans." Before that it was the Asian tsunami.

Then there was crime in the inner city (goyim killing goyim accidentally kill a yid) and an LAX security study fails to fly...

All these things demanding a community-response exhausts me.

I know I'm single. I know that this is not what the Torah wants for my life. But while I have a lack of quality in this department, I assure you that quantity I taste has a quality all of its own. And if it is intellectual companionship I want, I can call Cathy Seipp or just dream about Heather Mac Donald.

Now, thanks to Kelly Hartog's new article (she's the Journal's new religion reporter, replacing a marrying Gaby Wenig and a refreshed Julie Fax who's switched to education), I see my bachelorhood as not just my problem, but an act of selfishness which is denying happiness and fulfillment to some desperate Jewish woman in my city who might be driven otherwise to adopting 15 cats or dating a schvartze, and thereby destroying our community.

I'm so depressed by all this that I am going to completely change my story.

Thursday evening when I sat down to my evening repast of a Fuji apple, I picked up the Journal and took a big juicy bite out of the peach of a cover story...and I was swept away by yearning. Here was a single female Jewish journalist I haven't interviewed yet about the pressing problems confronting our community. Allahu Akbar!

I dig her concluding paragraph:

At the shidduch [matchmaking] conference at YINBH, I spy a 30-something pickle man look-alike, sporting a cap very similar to the one Peter Riegert wore in "Crossing Delancey." However, he appears to be upholding the single and searching cliche -- his eyes firmly trained on the girls 15 years his junior. And there's not even a whiff of vanilla.