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Written by Janice Eidus. Janice, a first-time Jewrotica writer, has written several books including the novel, The Last Jewish Virgin, and the story collection, The Celibacy Club. She has also written extensively for magazines and anthologies, including the anthology, Neurotica: Jewish Writers on Sex. Graphic design by Margarita Korol.
I’ve no idea who will come tonight to this first meeting of the Jewish Atheists Meetup, of which I am the founder, and which I’ve founded mostly because I want to meet a man. At 30, I’m ready for love.
Sure, it will be nice to chat with members of the meetup about things Jewish and non-believing – assuming anyone shows up in response to the Facebook message and flyers I posted around various Brooklyn neighborhoods, like Williamsburg, Cobble Hill, and the South Slope.
Really, I just want to meet and fall in love with a Jewish man who eats pork and shellfish and drives on Saturday, yet wants his future children to be bar and bat mitzvahed, observes Passover with a secular Haggadah, and wants to make things right on Yom Kippur – not with G-d, but with his fellow human beings. Clever, charming, and financially comfortable won’t hurt, either, as I struggle to pay rent each month on my meager earnings. I’m the singer in a cover band that plays old pop songs, Barry Manilow, Streisand. We haven’t made the big time – cover bands never do, but I love singing and I’m content working small clubs in the outer boroughs and New Jersey, and doing the occasional wedding or bar mitzvah. Maybe I don’t have enough ruthless ambition to get to the top; maybe I just want a simple life, one in which I can practice my craft, and which will include true love, along with amazing sex and a secular worldview.
I’ve dressed up for this meeting, trying to look smart and sensual, the way I like to look onstage. I’m wearing slim cigarette pants, narrow shoes with a fierce point and good-sized heels, and a V-neck top that shows no cleavage but is nicely attuned to my curves, which I do boast, with ample breasts and hips, although I’m constantly vigilant about my calorie intake so that the breasts and hips don’t grow bigger than they are.
I’ve seated myself at the head of the long, wooden table in the center of the windowless, more than slightly-claustrophobic, room I’ve rented, in the basement of a down-on-its-luck church in downtown Brooklyn, where I live, in an area that’s not quite been discovered, rendering it still affordable, at least for now.
The irony of my holding the meeting in a church isn’t lost on me. But this was the least expensive place I could find, and I wasn’t willing to rent a highfalutin venue for a club that might never get off the ground. What if this turns out to be just another futile attempt in my quest to find my Jewish atheist Prince Charming? Like when I circulate at the bar mitzvahs where we play, and I end up meeting guys who claim to be “spiritual Jews,” and yet don’t have a clue about who Queen Esther is.
I hear the heavy, cumbersome door creak open, and a woman of about 50 enters. She looks around tentatively. “This is the Jewish Atheist group?” she asks, in a thick New York accent, the kind one rarely hears any more.
I nod, smiling professionally yet warmly, borrowing one of the smiles I use on stage. Discreetly, I look the woman over. She has dyed orange hair, bordering on clown color, but somehow she pulls it off, in a down-to-earth, haymishe, middle aged way. Attached to her blouse is a pin that says GOD with a slash through it – pretty gutsy of her, to wear that out in the world. When polled, a majority of Americans say they would never want an atheist for President. A woman, yes, a black, yes (obviously), but an atheist – never.
I introduce myself to her and make small talk about where she lives (Williamsburg) and works (a hospital, as a nurse). I like her, and I happen to be great at schmoozing[glossary], even when I’m distracted by other things, thanks to having to chat up club owners and the parents of [glossary]bar mitzvah[glossary] boys, and I force myself to concentrate on her words, all the time hoping that soon the man of my dreams will find his way here.
The door creaks again. A young couple enters, arm in arm, in their early 20s. His streaked blond hair is cut in layers, and she’s wearing a nose ring. They look like Midwestern [glossary]goyishe rebels, kids who’ve walked away from 4-F and church, but we Jews come in so many guises, shapes, and colors, that I have no doubt they are mishpokhe. They smile and seat themselves at the table, next to the orange-haired woman.