TODAY   |  February 11, 2013

Woman moves in with rabbi to recover after breakup

Journalist Rebecca Dana thought she had it all –  the job, the apartment, and the boyfriend. But when her relationship ended abruptly, she moved out to make a new home with a jujitsu-practicing rabbi. She talks about her journey, as outlined in her book “The Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> journalist rebecca dana thought she had it all, the boyfriend, the apartment in new york city . when her relationship ended pretty abruptly, she moved sbout found a new home with cosmo , an orthodox rabbi . her new book "the jujitsu rabbi and the godless blond." good to see you.

>> good to see you.

>> we'll get to the identity of the jujitsu rabbi. you're raised in pittsburgh.

>> yes.

>> jewish but --

>> i was nerdy as a kid, went to space camp twice.

>> did you really?

>> i really did. i spent a lot of time alone in my room in our little house in a cul-de-sac and growing up and being a fabulous character like i saw on tv on " sex and the city ."

>> in many ways you grew up to become that person. you moved to new york city , got the job, went to the glamorous parties. did the reality live up to what your dream had been?

>> in some ways it really did. i got here. it was a glamorous, fabulous exciting life although i was way too poor to afford the shoes that carrie bradshaw wore. as i spent a few years going to these parties and writing about fashion and media, it occurred to me that it was unfulfilling in some pretty big ways.

>> now things get interesting. you break up with your boyfriend.

>> everything kind of crashed in on my head at the same time, which seemed to me in that moment the worst thing that had ever happened to anyone ever. i've now realized it happens to absolutely everybody at some point in their 20s.

>> and craigslist actually brought you together and changed your life with this guy we're calling him cosmo . a russian orthodox rabbi, who practices jujitsu.

>> electric bass , listening to punk rock and, without question, the funniest human being i've ever met.

>> you room in, become roommates. you didn't date.

>> no.

>> what did you learn from him?

>> cosmo called this our cultural exchange. i would take him to movie premieres and parties in manhattan and he would take me to dinners and introduce me to other members of this ultra orthodox , very traditional, religious community . it was kind of an odd couple story of our time together. i really -- i went into this community having a lot of, i would say, misconceptions and prejudices about what their lives were like. i'm not proud of it, but it's true. in getting to meet especially the women in the ultra orthodox community, i was totally blown away . these are beautiful, thoughtful, intelligent, kind, warm women who were my age and had three, four, five kids and were, in many cases, very happy.

>> did cosmo and that community then change your idea of what the dream was? did it become less about the carrie bradshaw life because of cosmo ?

>> there are still a lot of perks to the carrie bradshaw life. it opened my eyes to an idea of community and family as being the center of your world. spending less time thinking about fancy things and glamorous parties and a little more time thinking about the people around me and my family is what matters most.

>> cosmo has read the book?

>> he has.

>> what does he think?

>> i don't want to give away too much about cosmo . he has had a pretty remarkable transformation that you get sort of at the end but he had lots of notes and opinions along the way. one of his thoughts, which i perhaps stupidly followed was he encouraged me to put my actual e-mail in the book in case there are any women out there who would like to go on a date with him. i would like to say to all of america, if anyone would like to date cosmo , i can set you up.

>> he sounds like a catch and he has the jujitsu thing going, which doubles it.

>> exactly.

>> congratulations on the book.

>> thank you so much.

>> we're back with more of "today" on nbc.

>>> coming up tomorrow on "today," al's psa.

>> that's right. "today" takes action. we're helping out the ad council , 70th anniversary. my psa is one that i will say is very timely.