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  • “I’m Hannukah” is how I would describe my religious background in elementary school, because that’s all that religion means to little kids – how many presents you got, and at what time in December you got them. (Everyone else at my school was “Christmas”, except that one kid Mohammed and the lucky brats who would boast that they got double the amount of presents because they were “Both!” I hated those little assholes.)

    So, yes, technically I’m Jewish, but I’m not religious – I’m mostly in it for the access to great food and jokes. I never care about the religion of the guys I date (maybe, because one day, I hope my kids get to be “both”), but my parents certainly do care. They’re pretty secular, but their obvious disappointment in my choice of gentlemen callers would hang like a weight in my peripheral vision as they would watch me explain to Christopher or Christian what matzo was and why we didn’t have a Christmas tree. Those made for some awkward Passover dinners.

    I thought it couldn’t hurt to try to appease my parents’ wishes for me to date another Jew. It would make them happy, and as the saying goes, “Happy parents continue paying college tuition.” And if you’re gonna go, go big.

    I met Moisha Goldensteinberg at a frat party. Okay, his name wasn’t as ethnic as that, but it may as well have been. He wore a Star of David necklace around his neck large enough to be considered “bling”, and a yarmulke atop his frizzy Israeli fro, pairing it with some questionable facial hair that could only be described as "splotchy." He shimmied up next to me on the Kappa Sigma dancefloor, his eyes locked into mine. “Shalom,” he said – “Shalom” means hello in Hebrew. “Would you like a dance, gorgeous?”

    Usually when I see Jews dance, it’s the Electric Slide or the Horah at a Bar Mitzvah or wedding. Not too sexy. But Moisha could actually groove, and despite being overdressed for a frat party in a black suit and prayer shawl, his charm won me over. While every other girl was being ass-groped by a wasted frat guy, me and my Joshua Timberlatkes were gettin’ down, polite-style, our hands to ourselves. After our dance, Moisha asked me my name, and then he asked if my mother was Jewish. When I replied in the affirmative, he asked me out to a comedy show that weekend.

    That Saturday, Moisha picked me up around 8pm, when the sun had finally set. He couldn’t participate in any forbidden activities (like driving a car, handling money, or looking down my blouse) during the Sabbath, which lasts from Friday night to sundown the next day. Being conservative must seriously put a lot of pressure on your weekend, since you really have only one night a week where you can go out and make a drunk ass out of yourself without having to wake up early the next morning for work. Imagine all week you’re looking forward to Saturday, and then everybody you know is busy or out of town, and then you’re stuck inside your apartment left with nothing to do but watch episodes of Game Of Thrones stacked up on your TIVO? Depressing.

    I felt so honored that Moisha picked my company on his one night of freedom that I completely swallowed the fact that he took me to a free open-mic comedy show on campus, which I wouldn’t exactly consider “painting the town red” for a first date. I don’t want to say Jews are cheap or anything, but… no, I still won’t.

    After the comedy show, he drove me back to my place and parked his car on my street without me telling him to. I’ve learned from many, many nights out that ended with me and a dude getting naked that this is the first sign that the date is not over yet. I asked him up for a glass of Manischewitz, which I said as a joke, but he said, “I’d love some,” without laughing.

    A few screwdrivers later (“Oopsy! I must have totally drank through my Yom Kippor stash of Manischewitz, my bad!”), we started making out and within three smooches he went straight for the boobs. His oddly patterned facial hair see-sawed between tickling me and scratching me, so I picked his head back up and lowered mine down.

    “Wait a minute, wait a minute,” he mumbled.

    “What is it?” I said with his belt strap between my teeth.

    “I’m not into that,” he said. Although the lights were off in my room, I could tell he was blushing.

    “You’re not? Aren’t you a guy?”

    “Yeah. But oral sex is a fruitless activity. It doesn’t honor God with the possibility of procreation.”

    Am I really having this conversation while groping somebody’s penis through a thin layer of cotton? I could tell Moisha didn’t meet a lot of girls like me around the Chabad House, which is where the most Jewishy students hung out right off campus. Praying, eating and singing prayers pretty much sums up what goes on in there. Not a whole lot of bonor-inducing activities. No wonder he went wandering in the frat house that night I met him.

    But I was different from those Chabad girls. I didn’t wear skirts that ended mid-calve. Fooling around with me must have felt like ordering a bacon cheeseburger at a drive-thru on a Friday night – exhilarating and naughty.
    I was really enjoying being in complete power of this situation – we all have a little dominatrix in all of us, no? Some of us use whips, and some of us use mind games, and I had conservative Jew desperately wanting to be pushed to the secular edge. “I can promise you right now I’m not procreating with you no matter what we do tonight. I’m on the pill.” And then I went and had sex with him.

    Once he settled into the fellatio I was giving him, he transformed into your average twenty-something guy who will go along with whatever the girl he’s with wants to do to him. I climbed on top of him and we went at it. He devoured the bacon cheeseburger I was offering, so to speak.

    On the whole, it was a pretty typical date for me back in college – cheap, nearby, and ending in brief, expected sex. Like punching in and punching out, practically. But right around the time he moaned out of me was when things got really verklempt.

    Right after he retracted his circumcised piece, Moisha freaked the fuck out. In between dry heaves, he confessed that he had had sex only with one other person, a recent ex he thought he was going to marry. Unlike Catholicism, Judaism doesn’t teach sex to be something you should be shameful of. But it doesn’t like you to be a big fat slut, which is what Moisha must have felt God viewed him as, undressed in the bed of a girl he had not yet invited over for Shabbat to get his parents’ blessing. Flirting with girls was one thing, but Moisha wasn’t thinking things through when he asked me to dance and then took me out and then took it out. He kept shaking his head in his hands, his kippah hanging from his head by one bobby pin.

    I just sat there, dumbfounded at the role reversal. Isn’t it my job to freak out after sex? To regret my frivolously made life choices? And yet I was the one calming him down, telling him it was okay to indulge in your sexuality and God still loves you and blah blah blah. Must have worked, because once he stopped weeping, we had sex for a second time. I guess he figured he’d already done it once, may as well do it again. God can’t smite you twice for the same crime, right?

    Sin seemed to be growing on Moisha, because the second time around he took the lead, pushing and pulling and rubbing and tugging like a pro. Psssh, conservative schonschmervative, I thought.

    So after round two, Moisha, much more relaxed, asked me about my thoughts on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, his idea of pillow talk. This is never a good topic to bring up, particularly when you’re naked at 3 a.m. and you’re still out of breath from doing it doggy style. I said I was not that informed about the situation.

    “Didn’t you learn anything while you were in Israel?” he asked, accusatory.

    “Um, I never said I went to Israel.”

    “You’ve never been to Israel?!” he screamed at me, in the same tone people often ask me “You’ve never seen The Goonies?!” (No, I haven’t seen it, and I probably never will, so fuck off.) Still naked, Moisha jumped out of my bed, went on my computer and proceeded to sign me up for a Birthright trip to Israel.

    “That’s okay, you don’t have to do that…”

    “What’s your social?”

    “Um… 167-5, uh… seriously, it’s late, let’s do this tomorr—"

    “And your birthday?”

    “January 6, 1983. Is that the sun? Time for breakfast!”

    “When did you have your bat mitzvah?”

    “I never had one.”

    He shot daggers at me as though I had just force fed him a communion wafer. “You never had a bat mitzvah.” Not a question, he just repeated the statement back to me as though I didn’t hear it correctly coming out of my own mouth.

    “Nope. Only went to Hebrew school for a year. I got bored so my mom said I didn’t have to go anymore. I took three years of tap, though, are they asking for dance experience?”

    “You are Jewish, right?”

    Would now be a bad time to tell him that despite my heritage, I actually consider myself an atheist? Somehow I don’t think my love of delicious rugelach or brisket would be Jewish enough for his standards.
    “I’m so Jewish. Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, God took a tailor by the hand…”

    “What are you doing?”

    “Singing. It’s from Fiddler. On the Roof? Man, are you Jewish?”

    Bless Yahweh for my camp production of the 1964 musical back when I was 12 years old. It bought me a pass til either Moisha’s guilt returned (sometime around round 3 of sex) or he realized that he and I could never be, and he excused himself from my apartment.

    How do you say “It’s not you, it’s me” in Hebrew?

    I saw Moisha once more after his shameful departure from my bedroom that night. It was a few weeks later, and we ran into one another on campus. He was on his way to the Chabad House, and I was walking to something probably not Jewish enough for him. He told me he got back together with his ex-girlfriend, and he was really happy.

    “Mazel Tov!” I said sarcastically, but he said “thanks” without blinking an eye. After a brief and cordial catch-up, we bid one other a fond Shalom.

    Shalom also means goodbye. Thank fucking god.
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