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Jessica #35 - Does Love Conquer All?

Jessica #35 - Does Love Conquer All?

Jessica's pulling away but, strong as lycra, Rick comes back with a shocker.


I was flipping through press releases and makeup samples, deciding which shade of lipstick to trumpet as this month's Power Shade. My lips looked bruised and puffy, after having applied and then rubbed off everything from Burnt Umber Dual Coverage to Matte Shocking Citron to Brass Super Shine.

Nothing was grabbing me, so I switched gears and started thinking of the models I'd interviewed the day before for upcoming segments. All super-skinny teenagers. Sign a modeling contract and a "gawky" girl becomes "gorgeous" overnight.

"Tell me about it," Alison had sputtered when I dropped by her house on my way home. She was, no surprise, on the stairmaster. I believe she'd taken to sleeping there of late. Alison had gained a few pounds over the holidays and hadn't been able to get it off. What began as mild irritation had by now become a full-fledged issue.

Girls aren't good at math? Try asking a guy what percentage of calories are from fat in that salad dressing.

She couldn't seem to eat anything without checking it for fat and carbohydrates, and then obsessing over how much time it would take to work it off. I’m annoyed with the conventional wisdom that girls aren't good at math. Try asking a guy what percentage of calories are from fat in that salad dressing, let alone what it means for his daily intake.

No wonder cancer hasn't yet been cured. The brilliant female scientist who is meant to find it is too busy devising complex algorithms to indicate how much exercise is required to compensate for a child's size portion of low-fat frozen yogurt, and -- more importantly -- what requisite lowering of her self-worth is brought by the transgression of eating it.

"Does that mean I shouldn't bring the pint of Ben & Jerry's I bought for you?" Rick said impishly as I told him how I couldn't deal with much more of Alison's obsessing about food.

"Depends on what kind!" I said, leaning back on his couch.

"Cool Brittania. I haven't seen it in months," he said. "They didn't have the pure vanilla."


"You know, I bought this at the end of last week..." he said, coming back from the kitchen with two spoons. "I was surprised that we didn't see each other before this. I understand how busy you are at work, but I felt like you were avoiding seeing me."

His response had been horribly unfair: he behaved wonderfully.

"I wasn't avoiding you..." I said uneasily.

The truth was, I had been. I'd been pulling away from Rick.

I hadn't even been consciously aware of it until Alison came out of her calorie-counting coma and asked me what I was doing one night when I showed up at her apartment, rather than going to see him.

"I heard you on the phone with him," she said. "You were pretty cool. Not cold, but pretty cool."

Her question was like a pinprick. Out came everything.

"I like him, I do," I lamented, "and that's supposed to be good, but I just can't get past the religion thing."

"I keep thinking: when he thinks of God, however rare that may be, the image that comes to his mind is Jesus," I said. "And that bothers me. I’ll never be able to relate to that.

"I felt out of place in his family. They were celebrating things that were totally foreign to me. Cross-cultural learning experiences are great, Alison, but I don't want that in my family. I want my family to be the place where I feel most at home."

I shook my head.

Cultural learning experiences are great but I don't want that in my family.

"And if I felt lost, just imagine him... Oh gosh, imagine him. He'd have to sit like a lump at, every Passover Seder, every family function. I know he'd be supportive, but it's not the same as being a part of it. I want a husband who can help our kids ask the Four Questions. Am I being a bigot? Is that too much to ask?"

"No," Alison had said. "But it may be asking too much of Rick. If you love him, you have to love him for who he is. And he’s no seder leader."

And, I realized crazily, I resented that.

Rick was looking at me, slowly spooning out the ice cream. Tentatively, I tried to explain what I was feeling, why I'd been acting so strangely.

He didn't say anything until I was finished -- and then, without a word, got up and walked out of the room.

Does wanting a husband who can lead a seder make me a bigot?

My heart dropped. Omigosh. I'd blown it. I'd hurt him. I sat there, stung, trying to decide if I should call or go after him. Before I made a decision, he came back in and handed me a small piece of paper. It was a business card.

"Rabbi Serge Ringman," it read.

I recognized the name. He was a young, reasonably charismatic rabbi who'd spoken at several young leadership events. I didn't understand what it meant.

"Rick..." I stammered. "Why do you have this?"

"I went to go see him on Tuesday," he answered, his eyes too cloudy for me to read.

"You did?" I replied, dumbly.

He nodded.

"But --"

Why do you have a rabbi's business card?

"I went to go talk to him about dating someone who is Jewish, and we ended up talking about conversion," he said. "About me converting."

"You did?" I said, now sounding like a stupid parrot.

--This could solve everything! -- a gleeful voice sang in my head.

"You... you want to convert?"

"I'm not sure."

March 17, 2001

Article 35 of 66 in the series Jessica's Journal

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Visitor Comments: 12

(12) Pieter Valk, May 2, 2006 12:00 AM

assimilation is just another Holocaust

Quote "Assimilation is just another Holocaust. No matter what mask it puts on."

Comments like that make me feel sick, to the core. How can someone in their right mind compare assimilation with the Holocaust?

I think assimilation comes from comments like that. I personally would not want to have anything to do with a religion led by people preaching such vile nonsense. Be it judasim, christianity or any other.

(11) , March 27, 2001 12:00 AM

Conversion for love is not the correct conversion. However, since Rick went to the Rabbi without Jessica even discussing what was wrong or even hinting to conversion, it sounds like Rick is doing it for love, but thinking strongly about it. He isn't jumping into it. Sometimes when you do something for the wrong reason it comes out for the good and if he does convert maybe the two of them can build a jewish home strong in Judiasm

(10) , March 26, 2001 12:00 AM

he doesn't know what he's in for

Yes love may conquer all, but Rick (and maybe you) don't know what he's in for. Conversion is a one way street. Is he willing to accept that love may not last forever? If you think a prenup is tough, think about prelife. Thats why conversion is never pushed for. And then.... what if you choose a more liberal conversion (ie. a non orthdox one) where a large portion of jews won't even consider him a jew. When he discovers that reality he may not find it so pleasant. Go the Orthodox route and there are 613+++ to follow with a heck of a lot of no's (like even entering a church).
Can love conquer reality?

(9) Anonymous, March 23, 2001 12:00 AM

now what?

This just doesn't seem right. One should either accept a person for who he is or not. If a guy happens to be Christian then you either never go out with him to begin with, or don't question his religion afterwards. Converting seems wrong if it's done for the wrong reasons, and this seems to be a wrong reason.

(8) Justin Alexander, March 23, 2001 12:00 AM

Re: Unrealistic.

The real test of a Jewish parenting is not if your children grow up Jewish. It's whether your grand children grow up Jewish.

The fact that your congregation is 80% intermarried speaks volumes. How much of your congregation will be intermarried in the next generation, indeed how many will attend? While I fully understand the American abhorrence for ritualistic dogma, it is not without it's importance. Without dedication to observance (as well as belief) and immersion (especially in early childhood) in Jewish culture, it is unlikely that any child will continue her/his education beyond bar/bat mitzvah. Judaism is more than just a religion. We're a family, an ancestry, a way of life. If your child does not feel any connections or importance with these things why should he choose to continue being Jewish in his adult life?

It's not just anti-goy propaganda. There are major cultural differences that more often than not lead to divorce. Superficially it sounds racist and bigoted, but wouldn't you want your child to have the happiest possible life? If some one handed you a study that says that Jewish couples are happier than intermarried couples, wouldn't you want that for your baby? Well then, the survival rate for Jewish intermarriage is half that of the American average. If you are genuinely interested in the intermarriage argument, a strong list of reasons not to intermarry can be found in the book Permission to Receive by Lawrence Keleman.

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