The Jewish Atheist Meet-Up

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a-men

The male half of the young couple clears his throat and speaks for the rest of us, his tone impassioned and slightly nasal: “We require empirical evidence that something exists before we can believe in it.”

“Faith is what makes you Jewish.” Yarmulke Guy’s rich, musical voice rises ever so slightly. “Empirical evidence goes only so far. To be Jewish, it’s the Torah you must read, not just Philip Roth novels.”

I begin to perspire heavily; my face and neck are fiery. At the words, “Philip Roth,” I feel I might explode.

The man with the white beard protests to Yarmulke Guy, “I’m as Jewish in my bones as the most fanatical Lubavitcher.”

Yarmulke Guy says, “Each day you should read one page of the Talmud. Its spiritual wisdom will connect you to your deepest Jewish roots. You’ll be fulfilled in ways you can’t imagine – ways that this meeting will never provide.” Despite his words, his deep voice is mellow and dreamy, not harsh and didactic. Once more, he smiles right at me, his pale pink lips like a rose about to bloom. I interpret his smile as a private invitation. I imagine his body without clothes, smooth as a statue, tight, muscular, and strong, coiled and ready to strike. I long to touch him, to poise my fingernails on his skin, to draw blood.

I refuse, however, to give in to my desire for Yarmulke Guy, who is, after all, hijacking my meeting and toying with me. Yet the pounding in my chest feels as if an army of hearts beats inside me. Voice shaking, gripping the table’s edge, I announce to the group that the meeting is over. I thank everyone for coming, but say nothing of holding future meetings.

Yarmulke Guy’s eyes burn into me. I can’t bear his gaze any longer. I want to bury myself deep inside him, yet I also want to put him in his place, to show him he can’t just waltz in here and disrupt my meetup. I need to show him that he is not my bashert, that he’s found the wrong woman to tempt.

Yarmulke Guy doesn’t rise with the others. Purposefully, not allowing myself to fail, I walk around the table to where he sits. The fabric of my pants swishes as I move. My high heels make me wobbly. I pull my V-neck sweater lower. I am going to wrest control back from him.

I’m so close to him, I can feel his warm breath on my neck. He rises to meet me, and I grab his hips and push him against the dusty, peeling wall. I reach for the buttons of his shirt and one by one violently pull them open.

“Here’s my spiritual wisdom,” I whisper, rubbing my body roughly against his, then letting my hands smooth his tzitits.

“Here’s my faith,” he says, smiling and laughing gently. He plants his lips on my soft, receptive mouth. Everything in the room falls away from us. My heart is racing, and every nerve ending is tingling. I press against his hard, warm body, and blood roars in my ears. He presses back, and a thin line of sweat glistens on his forehead. The rhythm of our bodies together is sure. The center of my body burns. I have never felt so desired. I run my lips along his cheek. I touch my tongue to his face. He groans deeply. My breath breaks in my throat. I feel flushed and feverish. He digs his fingers in my back. My legs are weak. My body trembles. He grabs my hand, rubs my palm, and then pulls my fingers into his mouth, sucking each finger hard, one at a time. I inhale his fresh scent, and he inhales mine, and I kiss the taste of myself on his lips, knowing, against all odds and reason, I have found my bashert. I will be in a cover band no more, as together he and I create a new Jewish music – a music original and authentic, blending dissonant melodies and inventing new rhythms, to which he and I will dance and dance for many years to come.


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  • Fantastic story. How does one negotiate a Jewish identity without belief in the religious aspects of Judaism? I love the exploration of secular Judaism in terms of sexuality. Thank you for sharing your work with us, Janice!

  • Ayo Oppenheimer

    There are so many things that divide us in this world, and differences can breed tension. But, as this story demonstrates, perhaps sexuality, attraction and the “search for the soulmate” can bridge those gaps and bring people together in positive ways. Thank you for writing this piece, Janice!

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