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I felt the pressure: The future of my people was at stake! The school was arty, musical, nerdy, and had a substantial Jewish population. Even though I no longer felt outside the norm, I still had trouble getting dates … Every Jewish woman I asked out on a date rejected me.I resolved that I would only go out with Jewish girls. I attributed this to the fact that I was kind of nerdy: My extra-curricular activities included musical theater, video games, and Dungeons & Dragons, not exactly the types of things that made a guy popular with the ladies. I had numerous opportunities, on the other hand, to date non-Jewish women.This was my ulterior motive when I planned a trip up to New England.I was planning to stay with a friend from college for a few days, but I also arranged to meet Alicia, whom I’d known online for five years by that point but had never met in person.As a child, I grew up in Conservative congregations in Georgia, New Jersey, and Minnesota, was educated in Jewish day schools from kindergarten through fifth grade, and spent most of my childhood summers at Jewish summer camps.
It felt very much like a double date between two married couples, even though the meeting was hardly planned that way.
It was the day I’d long hoped for, marrying a nice Jewish girl. In fact, by the time we’d started dating, I’d given up on Jewish women, and my dream of a perfect Jewish wedding, altogether. The intense pressure I felt to date and marry within the tribe damaged my perception of Jewish women and my ability to be myself around them.
This information was pounded in from all directions, from rabbis, from my parents, my grandparents, Hebrew High School, Camp Ramah.
23, 2009, on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. *** Soon after my bar mitzvah, just as I was discovering my interest in the opposite sex, I began to be bombarded with information about intermarriage—about how one in every two Jewish people would marry a non-Jew and how more than half of the children of those unions would not be raised Jewish.
But as I fell in love with her, she fell in love with me—and with my Judaism as well.