I Love Jew. It Had to be Jew. Born to Make Jew Happy. I'm a Slave for ... okay, enough.
I remember quite distinctly the first time I brought up the subject of religion with The Boyfriend. We had been dating for six months, and aside from confiding that my parents bribed my younger brother to go to church ($2 every Sunday), it had never come up.
“Is he Jewish?” my friends wanted to know. Hmm. He was a tv executive – living in New York - who drove a Mercedes. Suspicious. But he grew up in Brussels!! I wasn’t sure. Was he? I asked one afternoon, after a few drinks. “Sort of,” he replied.
Me: “Sort of? You mean half?”
Me: “Okay … then … how are you ‘sort of’ Jewish? Did you have a bar-mitzvah?”
Him: “Uh, yes. At the Hotel Bel-Air.”
Me: “YOU ARE TOTALLY JEWISH!”
Later, The Boyfriend explained that he said “sort of” because he was A) concerned I wouldn’t like that he was Jewish and B) not into the whole “religious” part.
The former I found amusing – although I was raised Protestant, I’m either ¼ or ½ Jewish, depending upon who you talk with in my family (I tend to think it’s closer to ¾, but whatever). As for the latter, well, the latter I understand. I’m not too into the religious thing either.
That, however, has never stopped me from having inter-faith relationships. Thus, it seemed fitting to write this week's AM New York column "Dating Within the Tribe", on inter-faith mixin' and funniest play in all of New York - Jewtopia.
Of course, I've only seen like, four plays. But the funniest of all of those.
The rest of the AM article, which I wanted to call "Boy Meets Goy" (even if I am a quasi-Goy) - is pasted after the jump.
JEWTOPIA: DATING WITHIN THE TRIBE
AM NEW YORK – “THE DATING LIFE”
JULY 31, 2006
BY JULIA ALLISON
The Boyfriend and I have spent much of our dating lives in inter-faith relationships – him with a predilection for Catholics, me leaning towards Jews – so it seemed very appropriate to take him to see “Jewtopia” for our anniversary last week.
Written and performed by the hysterical team of Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson, “Jewtopia,” is a brilliant off-Broadway comedic play about inter-faith relationships between Jews and Gentiles. Specifically, it centers on two guy friends – one Jewish, one Christian – who each want to date and marry outside of their religion, much to the other’s confusion. (“I like Jewish girls,” says one. “WHY??” sputters the other incredulously.)
The play, which rehashes – hilariously, I might add – every stereotype known to Jewish culture (My favorite? The Top Ten List of Traits that will Immediately Identify You as a Gentile, including Tobacco Dipping, Clubs Involving Lions or Elks, Taking Less Than an Hour to Say Goodbye, NASCAR, and Being in Perfect Health) – certainly captures the zeitgeist of today’s faith-mixing mating scene.
There’s hardly a person in New York who hasn’t at one point or another dated, or even married, outside their faith. In fact, according to the National Jewish Population Survey, 47% of Jews wed non-Jews in the years 1996-2001, up from 13% before 1970.
Despite that trend, doing so still isn’t celebrated in some households – a fact that “Jewtopia” highlights through humorous send-ups of the typical Jewish family pressure to marry “within the tribe.”
To wit: “I'm a Jewish man ... Do you have any idea the kind of pressure my family puts me under to marry a Jewish girl? I'm getting 10 to 20 phone calls a week, from my mother and my bubbee...and do you know why they're calling me? Because they all know someone who's got a daughter or a granddaughter that they want to set me up with! They will stop at nothing! Last week my Mother set me up on a blind date with her Gynecologist! That is wrong!”
I suppose it’s not surprising then, that my very first “real” relationship – with a Jew, of course – didn’t go over well with his Israeli-born parents. Never mind that I was 16 and not even remotely looking to get hitched, let alone breed half-Jews. And never mind that although I was raised Protestant, I’m ½, ¼, or 0% Jewish, depending upon who you talk with in my family. None of that mattered. I wasn’t a true Jew, and they didn’t want their son contributing to the demise of a watered-down Jewish civilization.
Of course, eight years later their son is on his fourth blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aryan girlfriend, and I’m with a guy who was bar-mitzvah’d at the Hotel Bel-Air and loves to get out of household chores by insisting that “I’m a Jew. I write checks.” Sigh.