Monday, May 02, 2005

Boy Vey! The Shiksa's Guide to Dating Jewish Men

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Simon & Schuster Books has this title coming out in June. And the idea of the book irks me...more than just a bit.

Yes, I have a great, and most offbeat sense of humor, and I usually do understand when things are said or done tongue-in-cheek, as most likely this book is. But I do not really want to see a book with this title, by this publisher on the shelves of my nearest bookstore. To me, it's a promotion of sorts, an invitation for non-Jewish women to date Jewish men because...of course, Jewish men supposedly have wonderful reputations, ie. "THEY MAKE GOOD HUSBANDS"!

Read this excerpt and make your own judgement call.



Chapter One: Why Choose the Chosen Ones

Oh, admit it: At some point in your adult life, you've wanted to snag a Hebrew honey. Or maybe you already have. Or maybe you're snuggled next to him right now, reading this sentence and wishing you'd thought of this book idea before I did.

In any case, who can blame you? There's a lot to love about a guy who makes your laughter his priority, who talks about your relationship more than you do, who's wildly intense inside the bedroom and out, who thinks nudging him up the corporate ladder is a sign of affection. Jewish men feed your mind and appetite, and they are the ultimate caretakers without a hint of machismo. They're also generous and thoughtful, thanks to a matriarchal culture that's taught them to appreciate women's strength, candor, humor, and intelligence. And because Jewish men value professional drive, your mom can finally tell neighbors that you're dating a doctor, lawyer, or entrepreneur. And she'll mean it this time.

Of course, dating a nice Jewish boy comes with its caveats -- most obvious, the whole Messiah thing. The good news is that if you're dating a Jew, he's likely either Reform or simply acculturated, and thus, open-minded about mixing it up a bit. (Unless conversion is your idea of a hot first-date topic, don't waste your time with Conservative and Orthodox observances.) Whether your love mensch is super religious is seldom the issue. I've found that interfaith coupling gets most sticky -- and believe me, this Presbyterian has dated enough Jews to make their ancestors shvitz in their graves -- when wondering how to navigate daily interactions: how to deal with his obsessive hand-wringing, what to expect from his sex drive, how to survive his mom's verbal hemophilia. Interfaith relationship snafus arise because Jewish cultural nuances are ingrained in his psyche and not in yours. So if you want to hang with a Jew, you need to identify with his faith and lifestyle.

So what's a Shiksa? Well, you. The word is simply Yiddish for a non-Jewish woman, though the term carries a long history of cultural weight that's far too academic and arguable for the attention span of dating-guide devotees (myself included). Suffice it to say that Shiksas are traditionally viewed as the attractive, mysterious, and forbidden other -- and not always in a flattering way. However, most of the young, Jewish studs I meet insist that the femme fatale rep is an antiquated ideal that's upheld more by their older parents and grandparents than by today's cooler Bens, Joshes, and Andrews. Thank heaven! When it comes to compatibility issues, your religion (or lack thereof) is but one part of your gorgeous profile -- and ranks right up there with charisma, looks, education, family, ethnicity, and bra size. Honestly, your cutie doesn't adore you because he wants to explore your hidden temptress or piss off his family. And if you suspect he does, dump the loser and hide his yarmulke. Because you, my dear, can do better.

Since you bought this book, I'm going to assume you have an elementary knowledge of the Jewish faith and its lingo (or at least a piqued interest). Beyond apologies for your beliefs or stereotypes about his, here's what you won't find in these pages: basic Judaic principles, long history lessons, Hebrew prayer translations, funeral downers, extreme holiday traditions like Purim or Simchas Torah, or three cheers for interfaith marriage. Boy Vey!: The Shiksa's Guide to Dating Jewish Men is simply that -- a fun dating guide written for outsiders, by an outsider. Not to mention, one who's proved to be a natural at the Jewish dating shtick (or so the exes and mothers say)...and sees no reason why you can't be too!

Copyright © 2005 by Kristina Grish



Good luck, Kristina Grish, with your book. Good luck, Simon & Schuster, with your book sales. But this gal ain't buyin' none of it!

9 comments:

Mike said...

Wow that's some chutzpah.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

I don't understand why you object to the book. Don't misunderstand me, I can think of some objections myself. For example, it seems to belittle the religious convictions of Jewish men, which presumably are solemn and deeply-held aspects of personal identity.

Also, the author stereotypes Jewish men: "how to deal with his obsessive hand-wringing"?! "What to expect from his sex drive"?! (I didn't realize all Jewish men have identical sex drives, so I guess I've already learned something from the book.)

But what is your objection, specifically? You seem to object because the author is issuing "an invitation for non-Jewish women to date Jewish men," but I presume your concern lies deeper than that.
Q

torontopearl said...

I don't know if a comment section is the place to take this discussion further, Q.

What is my objection, you ask? Yes, women are being handed a "road map" by the author--where to find Jewish men, what to do with them once you've found them.

I figure it's like this: get a Gentile to make a joke about a Jew and we resent it; get a Jew to make a joke about a Jew and we laugh at it, in essence we laugh at ourselves.

Author KRISTINA Grish is certainly not Jewish, and whether or not she's trying to grab our funny bone, aka a Jew bone, I think Jews, religious or not, should not give the book a second look.

I have always been on the traditional/Conservadox, now modern Orthodox side of the Jewish spectrum. Twice did non-Jewish men want to date me -- I wanted nothing to do with that, especially when it was implied that I'm probably nice because Jewish girls are nice -- what am I? A guinea pig? A test case in the non-Jew's dating world? "Yes, sir, I'll report back on my findings, sir, after I date this nice Jewish girl, sir!"

Yes, I know several Jewish men who intermarried, whether the women converted or not. Even as an innocent bystander, it pains me to see how families/friends get caught up in the maelstrom that usually results from such a union.
And unions like this get helped along with books like this, if you take it to extremes.

That's about all I'll say on the matter. Perhaps I'd grin if I read some of the book, but I think I'd be more likely to groan, especially with the stereotype that's being painted for the reader. It's the world's perception of a Jewish stereotype that brings on anti-semitism and worse happenings.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Thanks for offering a fuller explanation. Obviously you could say more on the subject if you felt free to do so. From the little you have said, I can see the issue genuinely distresses you.

I'm sorry I wasn't more sensitive to the significance of interracial dating as a legitimate issue in its own right. As a non-Jewish visitor to your blog, I'm trying to be sensitive to the cultural differences between us, but I failed on this occasion.

I'm genuinely interested in better understanding your worldview. I don't know whether this is one of the goals you have for your blog — i.e., to increase the understanding of non-Jews like me. I hope you don't perceive me as an interloper.
Q

torontopearl said...

No, no interloping on your part, Q. I sense the genuine interest on your part, but I am not qualified, regardless of my education and upbringing, to offer great detailed explanations of "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Judaism, But Was Afraid To Ask"!

I don't usually get into great specifics in my blog, solely for the reason that such is not the path that I see Pearlies of Wisdom taking, in spite of the "wisdom" part of the blog name. There are wonderful resources available to Jews and non-Jews alike to further their basic understanding and knowledge of the tenets of Judaism.

I'm pleased that you've stumbled upon my blog (I remember our "discourse" from the bit I posted about Robert Avrech's son's death and the pain Robert feels with his son's absence)

Yes, interracial dating is an issue in the Jewish world -- we try to see each other as equals, but dating can lead to other things, among them intermarriage, which we try to avoid having to contend with.

PsychoToddler said...

Wow, I need to get a copy of this book to my wife, so she can see what a catch I am.

Seriously, this is a very sore spot for Jews. Particularly if you know that intermarriage and assimilation has caused as much attrition of the Jewish nation as the Holocaust.

We're fighting for survival here, and S&S is about to give our playbook to the other team.

Mr A said...

If a man, Jewish or not is not a doctor or slimey lawyer, he is not going to marry a Jewish women or perhaps a cosmopolitan American women. I a man does not agree with their brand of liberalism, his social calander will be empty and life will be lonely if he even purues Jewish women and/or cosmopolitan American women in general. they priced themselves out of the market. That is why G-d supplied us with Filipina women. At least Jewish men are getting marriedQ

Anonymous said...

This really pains me to read. I've been talking to this Jewish guy and it's always been clear that nothing can happen between us, because it would kill his parents. We like each other well enough, but it's not meant to be anyway and so I am not that upset that I can't personally date him. What upsets me more is that he tells me Jewish girls just don't do it for him, and he hates the idea that he will have to marry one because that's what his parents want him to do and not necessarily because that's who he's madly in love with. Is it too much to ask to be madly in love with one's spouse, whoever it turns out to be?
Also, what I don't really understand is, say the wife IS Jewish. If the kids don't practice and reject the religion, surely that's just as bad or worse than if the wife is NOT Jewish but the kids are raised in the Jewish faith.
Why is it so much better to have the wife convert before giving birth, than to have the kids 'convert' voluntarily once they're old enough to do so, never having believed anything different?

SavvyD said...

Oy vey! I'm 6 years too late to make a comment - or perhaps not.

I started dating a man I really like and in the course of our first date discovered that he is Jewish and I am Christian. While he doesn't attend religious services, I do. I have reassured him on numerou occaisions that I'm not dating him for a conversion and that half of my family is Jewish. He only dates shiksas so I'm really wondering what the big deal is.

Quite frankly, he's a good man and I like him better than most (all) of the men I have dated previously.