I also once got harassed by a bunch of giant, blond guys in a parking lot by the beach. In my bikini, shaking from the cold and from anger, I screamed back at them. I'm getting married in less than a month, to a man everyone assumes is Jewish. When he moved across the country for a job and couldn't celebrate Christmas with his family, he worked through Christmas day instead. I dated about an equal number of Jews and non-Jews, but marriage was always far off, and it implied other things, like the rest of my life, and kids who would require bar and bat mitzvahs. I dated two devout Christians who thought my Judaism was perfect, fascinating, and sexy, and a Jew who agreed. He can't play scales or arpeggios (so it's lucky that I can). But when I think about it, I realize that our relationship feels Jewish to me. They taught me to care deeply about social justice issues, and to be sensitive to other people's needs and situations. We become concert pianists more often than you'd expect. We score better than almost everyone else on the latest Pew test to gauge how much Americans know about religion.The Jews handing out Shabbat candles and propaganda booklets on campus used to stop me every time I walked by. Judaism is a much more diverse group than it's given credit for, but I just happen to fit a lot of the old ashkenazic stereotypes. He doesn't bother to define himself religiously or call himself an atheist. He would have a special way of looking at the world that would match my special way of looking at the world. One of the Jews I dated made it very clear that he looked down on me, just a little, for not being quite the right kind of Jew. God was not called "he." Another Jew I dated thought I wasn't devoted enough to Israel.
But as I fell in love with her, she fell in love with me—and with my Judaism as well. It was the day I’d long hoped for, marrying a nice Jewish girl. In fact, by the time we’d started dating, I’d given up on Jewish women, and my dream of a perfect Jewish wedding, altogether. The intense pressure I felt to date and marry within the tribe damaged my perception of Jewish women and my ability to be myself around them.This information was pounded in from all directions, from rabbis, from my parents, my grandparents, Hebrew High School, Camp Ramah.In high school, this decision proved to be mostly moot. I tried not to follow up on them at first, but I was frustrated and lonely and had finite willpower.After one date, though, I would beat myself up mentally for breaking my rule, and I’d avoid making second dates.The data confused me, so I tried not to think about it. This was a part of our Jewishness (which is not to say that all of these things aren't also a vital part of other people's religious and cultural identities).My family taught me to value community, to treasure family, and, above all, to always question the norm. Please know I'm going to bitch my way through anything that's not large and smelly in the best way possible. If you can't handle me at my mild mishegas, you don't deserve me at my best kvelling … All things people typically look for in a partner.12. I feel like I have to end this with a "l'chaim," so … Your scooped-out bread ball with low-fat cream cheese is offensive to me. Consider this your friendly reminder to not call people things if you don't really know what they mean.10. It's in my nature to react to things largely and loudly and with lots of emotion. The whole mitzvah thing becomes ingrained in you, giving you a conscience, integrity, etc., etc. It's this loyalty that makes me an incredible friend and an incredibly solid partner. And I see no reason why his knowledge and abilities won't make their Jewishness that much richer.Who knows -- maybe they'll rebel by marrying other Jews.