Fear and Loathing in the Shtetl: How I Came Out to My Orthodox Mother About My Non-Jewish Boyfriend – A Story in Four Parts

A10 Interfaith2

III: What to Expect When You’re Interfaith-Dating

Expect to explain everything.

Expect that your Orthodox friends will alienate him—b’shogeg, but still—by talking about the Agudah and Moshava and a recent date at Pardes until he breaks in, very politely, with an “um … what?” Expect to become a whispering translator, adept at sneaking a quick explanation in the lull between conversational topics. (Simple conversations spiral into endless tangents of explication, an assault of verbal hyperlinks.) Expect palpable discomfort when he realizes that his instinctively proffered handshake just made your female friend feel super awkward. Expect to feel like the worst teacher on the planet, torn between your own post-Orthodoxy and your desire to make Judaism seem like it makes sense.

Expect to feel like a jerk when you hear the condescension in your own voice as you embark on a conversational Hebrew lesson: “Eizeh tzeva zeh?” (“what color is this?) you ask, pointing at a nearby car and wincing. You sound like a kindergarten teacher. To his credit, he says only “adom,” (red) and asks you to hand him his “mishkafei shemesh” (sunglasses).

When contemplating your future together, expect anguish. When wondering how to explain this to your parents: expect to fudge, to omit, to prevaricate. Expect lie after lie to pile on you until you are Atlas, struggling under the weight of this huge, fake world that you have built for your parents to live in, the world in which you went on all those vacations with your friend “Arianne.” The world in which you live with your friend “Ramona.” The world in which you just aren’t dating right now, thank you.

Expect those lies to hurt more and more every time you mouth them.

My parents know that I am not exactly Orthodox, but under their roof, I maintain strict adherence to ritual, out of tradition and respect. Beliefs are thornier: ungovernable and private. It is only when they spill out, becoming reified and obvious, that they are a problem. “Q” is six feet and 150 pounds of Problem. He is a choice that I made. There is no way to pretend he isn’t there.

Continue reading…

Pages: 1 2 3

Jewrotica is a spankin' new project with the power to provide a voice for Jewish sexual expression and meaningful conversation. Jewrotica is an online community-in-the-making and a database of delicious and grin-inducing Jewish stories and confessions. Join us!