The Secret Rebbetzin

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Written by Isabel Fink. Isabel is a first-time Jewrotica writer.

Rated PG-13Dr. Isabel Fink was well-known among young progressive Jews. A tenured professor, her books on sexual health and Judaism were hip enough to make her a popular scholar-in-residence at congregations looking to bring something new to the table. Her years at camp and her place as the daughter of a rabbinical school professor kept her in the inner circle of young American rabbis. On paper, Isabel’s life was perfect – tenure and a handsome husband, but her job exhausted her and her husband’s constant string of emotional affairs broke her heart. So, when a well-respected young rabbi wrote her to inquire about speaking at his congregation, she jumped at the chance to dive into something new.

She didn’t notice the flirting at first. They simply had so much in common – camp, college, they even shared many of the same friends. Somehow, they had never met. They emailed, facebooked, tweeted. Then, he made a side comment about her beautiful eyes. She ignored it. Then her cleavage. She ignored that too. But then:

“I want you,” he wrote her.
“Rabbi,” she answered, “you are married. I am married.”
“So?” He replied.
At first, she pushed him away. He respected her need for distance for a while. They continued as friends. Then she was asked to speak at a Rabbinical conference in California.

A week before the conference David wrote her again:
“I hear you’ll be speaking in LA.”

“Yes.”

“I’m going to be there.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

The flip in her stomach surprised her. Suddenly, she wanted to see him.

Something changed – a subtle shift, a word, a phrase, she couldn’t put her finger on it. His constant flirtations became something more. She wanted them. She flirted back and suddenly, there she was alone on an airplane, flying towards him and that very first conference.

She’d been late for their meeting because she’d lost herself among the stores in LAX trying to find the perfect shade of lipstick. Then when she reached the taxi stand, the line snaked around in an endless sea of tourists and wannabe actresses waiting for Los Angeles to change their lives. They texted back and forth. The butterflies in her stomach growing more intense. He was already at the bar waiting.

She no longer felt like the pursued. Suddenly, she was shy and self-conscious. Once inside the taxi, she pushed her flip flops into her bag and replaced them with high heels, the motion of the task momentarily setting her fears aside.

He was waiting inside a hotel bar for her. Button down striped shirt, slicked back curls and glasses. Not her normal taste in men. And yet, when she laid eyes on him, her stomach flipped and real desire filled her body for the first time. His smile told her that she too filled him with desire. Suddenly, she was nervous, giggly and unsure of herself. He would later tell her that she couldn’t even walk right in her shoes.

He took her hand and guided her down a long set of stairs into a downstairs hotel bar reminiscent of a speakeasy with velvet furniture and crimson walls – they sat in a corner table on a small couch. They ordered drinks. He held her hand and she felt frozen. She hadn’t really known what to expect when she got on the airplane or even why she’d gotten on the plane in the first place…but next to his body, hearing his voice, seeing him smile, feeling his own desire–she was overwhelmed. He made her laugh and think. Every touch like electricity. Every word heavy. Every small stolen kiss leaving her wanting more. Over and over he praised her beauty and over and over his own beauty drew her in.

Finally, they left the bar, got into a taxi and snuck back to his hotel room…

She hated secrets. Not because she found them offensive, but because she never quite knew how to keep them. She feared she was becoming the leggy white blonde Norwegian who had borrowed her own husband and never put him back where he belonged. A pang of guilt washed over her as she imagined the real Rebbetzin sitting alone in her house blissfully unaware of the rabbi’s wanderings.

Her fingers absently pulled at her auburn curls as she sat alone on the bed, sheets tangled and clothes carelessly thrown about. He’d left five minutes earlier, like he always did, in a rush – leaving her in a fancy hotel room filled with his business suits, discarded conference guides and the smell of sex – the smell of heat and pheromones and desire. She’d be gone by the time he returned – it was their way.

He signed up for every conference imaginable. His congregation viewed his heavy travel schedule with pride – their beloved rabbi improving himself for them. Little did they know, he skipped in and out of sessions to ravish his mistress. Little did they know of the time she came to their synagogue as a scholar-in-residence only to defile the lectern from which their rabbi read Torah each week. Or the papers he pushed off his desk or the books he pushed her up against.

As his iPad pinged from across the room, she wondered if she was the only girl ravished. She tried her best not to poke into his life. She tried her best not to want anything more than a tumble on his hotel room bed, floor, chair. And she tried her best not to allow herself to make more of the intimate conversations whispered in the corners of quiet upscale bars all over the country than there really was. Her wit matched his. Her beauty surpassed his and, yet, she felt she’d lost some of her footing along the way. And after all this time, she could never tell if the undertone of sweetness that wove itself through each passionate moment was really just his way of keeping her in his bed.

There was a time, after all, that he was the pursuer and she pushed him away with mild agitation and complete distrust.

Professor, writer, talker of sex, the ever-so-silent mistress stuck somewhere between pleasure and shame…

  • Ayo Oppenheimer

    Confession: I’m glad that this piece ends on a more somber, bittersweet and pensive note. Call me square, but I just can’t enjoy the infidelity pieces. There are so many other ways to build eroticism and sexual tension into a story without the added taboo of the affair. But, to each their own. Thank you for your story.

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