Home June 2014 The Peel

The Peel

Dear N.:
I have met the girl of my dreams! Tall and thin, Christina has shiny blonde curls that fall gently to her shoulders. Her soft, alabaster complexion frames a delicate nose and piercing blue eyes. What can I say? Love at first sight.
She’s very well educated. Like me, she loves math; she even wears a silver pendant in the shape of a plus sign.
I’m sure we were meant to be together. But then, on our second date, something troubling happened. It was a Saturday afternoon. I took her to my favorite deli, where I ordered my usual: ham and cheese on rye. She ordered the same, but then, to my dismay, asked for it on white bread… with mayonnaise!
Her behavior seems so strange to me sometimes. Like the time I was yelling at the guy who cut me off on the freeway, and she told me that I should “turn the other cheek.” I explained that I always check over my shoulder before changing lanes, but that just seemed to baffle her.
N., why do I feel so confused?
— Heartbroken

Dear Broken:
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Christina’s last name isn’t Feigelbaum, is it? But then, what of it? In America, do such things really matter? Love is agnostic as well as blind (and, judging from your letter, probably suffers from a number of psychiatric disorders as well).
Face it: your girl is goyish. Your honey was homeschooled. Your in-laws of the future are intact of the foreskin.
The good news is that you are hardly the only member of our Tribe who’s fallen for a heretical hottie. The Pew Research Center 2013 Survey of US Jews noted that in the past decade or so, 58 percent of newly-married Jews wed spouses who have never even once tasted cholent. One assumes the Jewish partner brings into the marriage at least his or her grandmother’s recipe for lokshen kugel (the key is to plump the raisins), or the whole enterprise is doomed.
Look, things could be worse: your milky-skinned maidele could be (G-d forbid) Modern Orthodox. As Rabbi Shalom Cohen, a leading expert on what G-d is thinking and member of Israel’s Shas Religious Council, said last year, “As long as there are [Modern Orthodox Jews], the throne [of G-d] is not whole.” G-d can’t even sit in His own chair! But that’s through no fault of your impish idolatrix; she may be modern, but she sure ain’t Orthodox (that is, unless her church is topped with domes shaped like the onions your mamaleh chops for her soup, but I don’t think those are the people Cohen was referring to).
Not that there aren’t a few minor annoyances you might encounter. If you ever decide to move to Israel, for example, you may experience a light bureaucratic headwind, or what a few whiners might call “institutional discrimination.” As Israel’s grand inquisitor and defender of the faith, Chief Rabbi David Lau, tells Ha’aretz, “Israel has to decide if it wants … to [bring] in everyone who has a connection with Judaism, or perhaps only those who are Jews. Maybe we really can’t provide space here for everyone who wants.” Like the spouses of the 58 percent. Or their children. But surely that’s a small price to pay to live in a Holy Land paradise like Nazareth.
You’re not the only one suffering in this situation, you know. It’s not going to be easy for your shayna shikse to break the news to her loved ones, either. Imagine her discomfort when she brings you home to meet her family. All through Sunday dinner, her brother asks you for financial advice as her father discreetly scans your scalp for evidence of horns. After you’ve left, she’s the one who has to explain to them that their ignorance is such an embarrassment, that you’re obviously not that kind of Jew (and no, not the doctor or lawyer kind, either), and that everybody knows that your horns are trimmed off when you are eight days old.
But take heart, Broken, and look to our history for encouragement. Recall that our father Abraham took a non-believer, Hagar, as his wife. She bore him Ishmael, and everyone lived happily ever after. More or less.
— N. Troyer
Your questions annoy N. Troyer, and yet the author answers them in this column each month. Go figure.

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