December 17, 2018

Dating 101 – Bald is Beautiful

Last night I went out with friends for drinks. On my way home I spoke with a man who had emailed me online, and in a moment of unusual spontaneity, I agreed to meet him for a drink at a bar in my neighborhood. I went to the bar, didn’t see him, so I sat at the bar and waited. When he was ten minutes late I decided I was going to wait five more and head home.

 

Just before I hit the fifteen-minute mark he called me and strangely asked if I was okay. I told him I was fine, but had waited fifteen minutes and was going to head home. He then told me he was waiting for me at the bar and had been on time. I felt bad and told I was there too and didn’t see him. He laughed and said he was coming to find me. We stayed on the phone as I looked around.

 

A man from the other side of the bar approached on his phone and laughed when he saw me. He hung up his phone, gave me a hug, and said he was sorry we missed each other. He then told me I was more beautiful than my picture and shared that I had beautiful hair. I looked at the man, smiled, thanked him, and wondered how quickly I could leave without being rude.

 

Over the next 45 minutes of getting to know each other, I found out that his inline photo is 15 years old. I also discovered that he had three patches of hair which he appeared to have grown out, and then carefully wrapped around his head. I am not sure if it was taped, or perhaps glued, but he had fashioned himself a helmet of hair. A helmet of strategically placed hair. Dear Lord.

 

I stared at his hair as it was a great wonder of the world. I listened to him tell me how he couldn’t find a more recent picture of himself, how his wife left him for another man, how he had not been on a date in four years, how he had not spoken to his son in three years, and how he had to medicate after his divorce. I listened, distracted by hair, then politely wrapped up the date.

 

He didn’t seem surprised when I told him I didn’t; think we were a match and declined a second date. I felt bad and almost explained what went wrong on the date, but quickly changed my mind. There will be a woman who finds him handsome, charming in his honesty, and want to be with him. I believe there is someone for everyone, which is what keeps me hopeful and dating.

 

I didn’t find him attractive, or particularly interesting, but someone will. It is not my job to tell anyone what I think unappealing, as what is unappealing to me, might be sexy as hell to someone else. I happen to think bald is beautiful and helmet hair is not, but that’s just me. My dating life continues to be interesting, tragic, and funny. It is also exhausting, but I am keeping the faith.

 

Dating 101: Highs & Lows

I had a date with a man I found to be physically and mentally attractive. He is a lovely man who is 51, never married, and has no kids. He’s worked at the same company for 30 years and is dedicated to his job. He is fiercely loyal to his friends, and has a great sense of humor. I liked him very much on the phone, and we spoke for a week before schedules allowed us to meet. When we finally managed to find a night to go out, we decided on dinner and a movie.

We met at the restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised to see he looked just like his pictures. He said he was 5’11”, I’m guessing he was closer to 5’9”, but since I’m only 5’3”, it wasn’t a big deal. We ordered a couple drinks and settled into easy conversation. We had a great time over dinner and then went into the movie. We held hands, which felt wonderful. I had taken an Uber so I could have a drink, and he offered to take me home, which I felt surprisingly comfortable with.

We left the theater and walked towards his car. We laughed together, had a kiss, and it was nice. It was a regular date, with a regular guy, and I was feeling good about it. He is not Jewish, but I am trying to think outside the dating box I have built for myself, because I’m not having luck dating within the parameters I have drawn around myself. It is scary to try new things, but I am trying, and that is what matters. One good date can change everything.

So we are strolling to the car, I’m thinking we will make out a little bit, and feeling good about the whole night. Then we got to his car and it was over. I am not a materialistic person, and I don’t care about what a man does for a living or what kind of car he has, but I simply cannot date a man who drives a purple El Camino with hydraulics. If that makes me shallow and judgmental, when then I will receive that and try to better myself, but I cannot get on board with that car.

We spoke about the car, the car groups he belongs to, the amount of car shows he goes to a year, the friends he is close to through his car club, and how his social life is woven into the car. No. I am not spending my weekends at car shows. I am also not putting my new bionic neck into a hydraulic car parade. I appreciate that this paints me in an unflattering light, but after almost a decade of sharing my life here, I am not going to start leaving stuff out just to save face.

Bumps in the road make me think I should stick to Jewish men, or just get another cat, but I need to be brave and not let this be a setback. I’m embarrassed the car was a deal breaker, but in the end it wasn’t the car as much as the lifestyle that came with it. I know who I am and what I want, so at this point in my life I need to stay true to me. One hopes each first date gets you closer to your last first date, so I am hoping and keeping the faith.

The Foibles of Dating Nice Jewish Men

Photo from Pixabay.

Dating is hard. In my case, it is usually funny, sometimes painful and often pathetic.

I’m Jewish and like being with a member of the tribe. When I got divorced, it became even more important. As the mother of a son, I’d like him to marry a Jewish girl, so it was important to lead by example. Every date I have with a “nice Jewish man” gets me closer to giving up the dream and dating non-Jews.

This is a snapshot of my dating life. It is important to note that all three of these men are Jewish, age appropriate and gainfully employed, with active profiles on dating sites that list them as “looking for relationships.” This is what it looks like to be a Jewish woman in your 50s, dating Jewish men in Los Angeles.

Man No. 1: He is 54 years old, divorced and estranged from his grown children. He’s coming out of a long-term relationship with a woman who has a young child. When I asked how long it had been since they broke up, he said the truth was he was in the process of moving out of the home they shared. He actually was at their house when we spoke, taking out the garbage. He assured me that, even though they technically lived together, he was moving out and their relationship was over. I quickly realized he mentioned her a lot, so I started counting. For the next few minutes he referred to his not-really-ex by name 26 times. He then explained, in the interest of full disclosure, that he voted for Trump and would do it again. His living situation was no longer the grossest thing about him. That was the end of that.

Man No. 2: This man let me know he had been divorced for three years, but was happily still living with his ex-wife. They have four kids, one of them, a daughter, still at home. Rather than disrupt the daughter’s life, they have agreed to live together until she goes to college, which would be this fall. He assured me I didn’t need to worry about dating him, because they had a system in place. She slept in one room, he slept in another, and they took turns dating on weekends. To clarify, they alternated weekends at the family home so they could both pursue fulfilling relationships that included sex. On his weekend at the house, his ex-wife and daughter sleep at her parent’s home. When it is the ex-wife’s weekend, he goes to his mother’s house with his daughter. Really? How can this be a thing? I think this is going to screw up that kid in worse ways than a divorce would. I don’t want to judge, and everyone should do what works for their family, but I’m going to have to say no on this one. No.

Man No. 3: I was set up with this man by a friend. I was told he would make me laugh, which is important, so we decided to meet for breakfast. He was handsome, on time, had a job and fantastic green eyes. We said hello, settled in for the dating dance, and it was going well. Then he decided he was going to call the waitress a bitch. Not once, but twice, to her face. There is no world in which I am going to be OK with this behavior, so I went in. I started by apologizing to the waitress. She was lovely, which made his treatment of her even more disturbing. I told him he was rude and I was not only not interested in staying on our date, but he needed to apologize to the waitress. It was then that he told me I was, wait for it, a bitch. I got up, “accidentally” spilled my iced tea on his lap, and headed home. We were done in just under 10 minutes.

I find my dating life to be entertaining, which is a good thing or I might impale myself. One day my prince will come, and he may or may not be Jewish. But until he finds me, I will remain hopeful. We must date knowing that missteps get you closer to love. All we can do is say a prayer while keeping the faith.


Ilana Angel writes the Keeping the Faith blog at jewishjournal.com

Dating 101 – Siggy Flicker, Mind Reader

I have had a series of relationships with a series of men who were unkind. Not bad people, just unkind to me in the end. I can draw parallels between all the men I have dated, and in the end the one thing that ties them all together, is that I probably loved them more than they loved me. It is a difficult thing to admit, and I suppose a little embarrassing, but it is true. When I fall in love I am all in, and the men I have fallen in love with have never jumped all the way in with me.

I am not sure why it has been this way, but I want very much to change the pattern. Wanting something however, is not enough to make it happen. I’m trying to date outside of box I have built. Maybe if I date a different kind of man, I will have a different result. That is difficult because we are attracted to who we are attracted to, and while my thing has always been to date Jews, at the end of the day I guess I also like to date an asshole. Jewish assholes are my thing.

I have two dates planned for next week. Both are with Jews. One is with a man I met on match.com, and the other one is with a man I have dated in the past. I have written about him here of course, but I won’t mention who it is because I’m feeling unsure about it and perhaps a little embarrassed to be going backwards. I’m simply trying to stay positive, thinking that the new guy might be great, and the old gay might be misunderstood. It was all rather gross, then my phone rang.

It was relationship expert Siggy Flicker, who I know through my blog. She called to wish me a Happy New Year and see how the holidays were. As we were chatting and catching up, I told her I was searching for something more with someone better. Without her knowing what I was thinking about my upcoming dates, she told me I needed to not go backwards and date new people. Then she said I needed to fall in love with a man who loved me just a little bit more than I loved him.

Really? I have no idea how Siggy went into my head to see what I was thinking, but she called me out on the two things that were troubling me. I suppose that is why she is an expert. We spoke for five minutes and she narrowed it down to the basics in a way that frankly freaked me out. When I got off the phone with Siggy I cancelled my plans with the man I dated in the past, and changed my coffee date with the new guy to drinks. I am going to keep my eyes facing forward.

I am 51 years old and alone. Not because I want to be alone, but because at this stage of my life I finally learned that I would rather be alone than be with an asshole. I’m going to take Siggy’s advice and change my dating patterns. I am going to find someone new and not look back. I am going to value myself, and therefore attract someone who values you me in return. I will take the advice of an expert, instead of guessing on my own. I am jumping all in and keeping the faith.

 

Lenny Kravitz had a wardrobe malfunction

Clothes, they say, make the man. But occasionally, a lack thereof may make the man as well.

Example: Lenny Kravitz’s man parts — revealed to the world Monday when the rocker’s leather pants split during a concert in Stockholm and much talked about online since then — says quite a bit about Lenny Kravitz. And however slight his work may have seemed around 25 years ago, the 51-year-old Kravitz — an enduring artist whose oeuvre always seems slightly out-of-sync with whatever is popular at the moment — is a significant figure who deserves a closer look.

Read the rest at The Washington Post.

Our Hindu Widows

I know too many beautiful, brilliant single Jewish women in their 30s and 40s.

I hear too many stories about the lack of available Jewish men, the first dates who are too lost or too pathetic, the fights over marriage and children that end the relationship and send the woman, now a bit older, diving back into the ever more shallow pool.

But I don’t blame these women, of course not.

I blame rabbis.

That’s right.

They see the same lonely, sensational women I do: a slim, passionate Hollywood executive pushing 40 who simply, desperately, still seeks the elusive nice Jewish guy. A brilliant doctor with a runner’s body who, at 44, still can’t find “the one.” A writer who asks me to keep my eye out for any Israelis new to town, because she figures she’s dated most of the native Jews. A marketing executive who has given up on finding the right Jewish man: “If it happens, it happens.”

I ask her if she still wants children, and she says, “More than anything.” And tears come to her eyes.

I talked with four of these women over the space of three days last week, all wondering if I had come across any single Jewish men. I mentioned a name. Here’s what happened: They had already dated the guy. I mentioned another name. Already dated him, too: At 41, he was not quite ready to settle down. A straight, eligible Jewish man in his 40s gets around this town faster than the weekend box office numbers.

Yes, this is a problem for non-Jewish women, as well, but if your requirements for potential dates includes “must be Jewish,” you suddenly rule out 94 percent of potential males. There aren’t enough marriageable Jewish men out there. Period. It’s a game of musical chairs, and someone is going to get left out.

So these women go to their rabbis, and the rabbis wring their hands and commiserate. They also give sermons about the evils of intermarriage, about the scourge of assimilation. They might, taking a proactive approach, arrange some speed dating or singles mixer program at their shul.

Does any of this work?

Well, it hasn’t for the women I know. We all know women like them, and the numbers bear it out: Later marriage means lower fertility, and outside of the Orthodox world, Jewish birthrates are plummeting.

“In a community that has long-since ceased to replace its natural losses, continued low fertility rates mean that the number of children in the communal pipeline will soon drop sharply,” Jewish Theological Seminary Provost Jack Wertheimer wrote in a well-known 2005 Commentary essay, “causing a decline over the next decade in enrollments in Jewish schools and other institutions for the young.”

Wertheimer’s proffered solution was for liberal Jewry to promulgate the lessons and values of Orthodoxy, which, of course, result in far less intermarriage. Get women out of schools and workplaces and into marriage beds sooner, said Wertheimer. Reinforce the taboo against interdating and intermarriage.

“In the face of today’s secular norms,” Wertheimer wrote, “the Orthodox call on an additional source of strength: the power of Jewish norms and obligations.”

Wertheimer’s heartfelt attempt at a solution might help a bit, but it is more wishful than wise. It also fails to address the more pressing human tragedy behind these numbers: datelessness, loneliness and childlessness for the women we know and love.

A more practical and immediate answer lies just outside these women’s doorstep: interdating.

There, I said it.

By clinging to the taboo against interdating, we have created a class of women only somewhat less bereft and miserable than the Hindu women once doomed to celibacy and isolation after becoming widows. What kind of tribe condones this? Why are single women the only class of people punished for keeping faith with Jewish peoplehood? When I asked one of these women if she would consider dating non-Jews, her answer was visceral.

“I can’t believe you’re suggesting that!” she said. “So much of what’s important to me is Jewish: My values, my philanthropy, my activities.”

But if her rabbi encouraged her to find the right man, regardless of his religion, then opened his or her arms to that man with programs, classes and encouragement — wouldn’t that increase the odds of happiness all around?

I ran the idea by Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector of the American Jewish University and an authority on Jewish law.

“It’s very complicated,” Dorff said, “It is cruel to say to a woman in her 40s better you should remain unmarried than date a non-Jew,'” Dorff said. “On the other hand, how do you say to people in their 20s only look for Jews, but then tell people in their 30s and 40s, if you haven’t found any, maybe you should date non-Jews?”

On the other hand, Dorff said, there are many rules we apply to younger people that we change or adjust as we age.

Clearly this is an idea the Conservative and Reform movements need to revisit, now.

The irony is that the women for whom Jewish identity is the strongest may have the least chance of passing that identity on. Our taboos have consigned them to be exiles among exiles, outcasts among outcasts. Like the Hindu widows in the movie, “Water,” they pay a terrible price for an inflexible idea.

Our rabbis and community leaders need to spend less time hand-wringing and more time devising the words, teachings and institutional structures that allow Jewish women of a certain age to freely seek life partners among non-Jews, then draw those non-Jews toward the richness and beauty of Jewish life — before or during marriage.

Yes, marrying Jewish is the ideal. Dating Jewish is the ideal. But what our inability to find creative solutions gets us is a massive group of single women who are facing their 40s childless. We have numerous opportunities to argue statistics and write essays for Commentary — they have one shot at childbearing.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::Click here to read some of the huge outpouring of Letters to the Editor regarding to this column.

Singles ‘Curse’ Becomes a Blessing

“The Curse of the Singles Table, A True Story of 1001 Nights Without Sex” by Suzanne Schlosberg (Warner Books, $13.95).

Most single women in Los Angeles go through dry spells — a few weeks without a date, a couple months without a boyfriend, a season without some action. But how many Southland women go years without a man’s touch and confess to it publicly? In her new book “The Curse of the Singles Table, A True Story of 1001 Nights Without Sex,” Santa Monica resident Suzanne Schlosberg talks about her long winter and spring and summer and fall, and winter again, and spring again and, well, her long, lonely time.

“There was no end in sight,” said Schlosberg, who spent more than three and a half years going on dozens of first dates, but almost never a second. “The streak started to take on a life of its own.”

Set in Los Angeles, “The Curse” follows Schlosberg on her quest to find a partner. The Sherman Oaks native tried blind dates, JDate and match.com. She went on so many Internet coffee dates she began to call The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Wilshire Boulevard and Ninth Street “her office.” The tenacious singleton endured a disastrous week at Club Med, traveled to Arctic Russia and even attended Shabbat services in the basement of a Methodist church in Bend, Ore., all in hopes of ending her draught; but her bed remained empty.

“There had to be someone out there for me, it was just a matter of finding him,” said Schlosberg, who, as a member of Westwood’s Velo Club La Grange bike club, was hoping to find a fellow athletic adventurer.

Schlosberg, who attends both Valley Beth Shalom in Encino and Ahavat Shalom in Northridge, notes that dating in Los Angeles brought about city-specific challenges.

“So many people in L.A. work from home or in untraditional jobs,” said Schlosberg, a writer and editor for Woodland Hills-based Shape Magazine and author of several fitness books. “It was hard for me to meet men at work, when work for me was a day in front of my computer in my robe and towel.”

Schlosberg found Los Angeles’ entertainment industry also complicated her search.

“Those industry dates never worked for me,” she said. “Once, I met a guy on match.com who said he was a screenwriter. Then I met him in person — turned out he was a nightshift security guard at a Beverly Hills mansion who was attempting to write his first screenplay.”

Schlosberg’s parents, grandparents, and sister live in Los Angeles, and constantly offered their unsolicited dating advice and assistance — often with disastrous results.

“When it came to fixing me up, they had no filters. If he was Jewish, owned a condo and lived in L.A. County, they were positive he was the guy for me,” said Schlosberg, who recommends Internet dates over blind dates. “I went on dozens of horrible set-ups. At least with match.com, I set myself up. I set my own filters and controlled who I was meeting.”

Sure, her younger sister beat her to the chuppah and her father answered an ad in The Jewish Journal classifieds on her behalf; still, she remained optimistic.

“It wasn’t in my nature to give up,” said Schlosberg, who competes in The Death Ride, an annual one-day, 130-mile mountain bike race held at 16,000 feet.

With “The Curse,” Schlosberg hopes to share her dating misadventures with other single women.

“It’s not a how-to; it’s a ‘what I learned.’ I went through all this so other women won’t have to,” said Schlosberg, whose 1,358 day sexless streak came to an end six weeks into writing her book.

As for her handsome “streak-breaker”?

“It’s a miracle I ever found him,” said Schlosberg, about the Woodland Hills mensch who not only broke her streak, but proposed marriage and converted to Judaism. “Forget about ending my streak, I didn’t know how else I was going to end my book.”

For more information, visit

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Un-Orthodox Date

What nice Jewish girl hasn’t heard this from her mother: “You should meet a nice Jewish boy!”

My mom was no different.

She would constantly urge me, “Go to synagogue. A Jewish mixer. Or a Shabbat dinner. That’s where you’ll meet lots of nice Jewish men.”

But I never cared for organized events. I prefer to meet my men through more everyday-casual-maybe-it-will-happen situations, which is how I met Carl.

I had been hearing about Carl Cohen for years. He was sort of a mystery man that women always seemed to talk about. Frequently, at parties or events his name would pop up in conversation. I had never seen or met Carl, but I was totally jealous whenever I would hear that someone else was going out with him, even though he was just a name.

Then, one night at an art reception, I saw this good-looking man across the room. As he walked toward me, my eyes zoomed in on his name tag — Carl Cohen.

Our eyes met — sparks flew. Sure, he had a date clinging to his arm, but I could see they had no chemistry. We had chemistry.

I think his date noticed. As Carl and I began to discuss the nuances of art — abstract vs. representational, modernism vs. surrealism; Dadaism vs. pointillism and how the paintings in this particular collection would look better hung upside down — the overzealous blonde glued to his side whined that they had a dinner reservation. (“We should have been at Spago 15 minutes ago.”)

She dragged him away and out the door. But I knew he wanted me. I simply had to find him again.

During the next week, I asked around. Some of my friends knew who he was, but no one had his phone number.

Then fate intervened. I ran into an old girlfriend of mine who had taken a Jewish studies class with Carl. She told me that Carl was active in the synagogue, and to get his number, I should call his rabbi, so I did.

The rabbi gave me his number, and I called Carl. He instantly knew who I was. And he was thrilled to hear from me. He asked me out immediately,

“Dinner Tuesday night?” I was excited. This was it.

Now, I am not a religious woman. But the signs were clear. A rabbi had put us together.

Such a beginning. Carl was it. No doubt. The match was blessed. (It would be a Jewish wedding. His rabbi would preside.)

Wrong! The ominous signs came even before our first date.

“Honey. Sweetie.” Yes, that’s how Carl referred to me during our second phone conversation. I hardly knew this man. But I was already honey and sweetie. I let it pass.

On our dinner date, there were no great bolts of electricity. Still, he was smart and cute — and a doctor! I’d give it time.

Back at my house, Carl started telling me about his Jewish studies class. It was an Orthodox singles group. Predominantly women.

“Of course,” I said. “They all go there to meet a nice single Jewish man like you.”

“Oh, no,” he replied. “They’re very serious about Jewish culture and tradition. They’re there to learn, not to date.”

“Oh? So you haven’t gone out with any of them?” I asked.

“Well, yeah — uh, maybe a few.” He thought for a moment, silently counting. “Actually, five, no 10. But I would never even hold hands with someone I met in the class. You have to respect these women. A man can’t touch a woman until they’re married. It’s Orthodox custom — you must have respect.”

At which point, Carl leaned over and pounced on me. I emphasize pounce. He started kissing me — open mouth — with lots of tongue. (I felt like a war-torn Middle Eastern country — attacked and invaded!)

To be perfectly honest, Carl wasn’t a bad kisser. It’s just I wasn’t ready for a night of tongue sandwiches — especially not after he’d told me about all those women he respected and wouldn’t even hold hands with.

I pushed him away.

“C’mon honey,” he urged. “We’ll have a good time. I like you, sweetie.”

He lunged for my body. I lunged for his coat — and pointed him to the door!

After he left, I thought back to my mother again, and what she’d taught me when I first started dating — the man and the cow and the free milk, etc.

Did Carl consider the girls in his Jewish studies class the cows, and was I the milkmaid? That didn’t seem kosher to me. And I should know. Even if my last name is Anderson, I’m a nice Jewish girl, too.

But what if Carl was just using me for “practice?” Well, no thanks, “sweetie” “honey” “sugarpie Carl.” Because, guess what? I don’t want to be the rehearsal, I want to be the main event.

So much for divine intervention. Maybe my mother had been right all along. The next week, I joined a synagogue. I went to a Jewish mixer. And even a Shabbat dinner. Which is where I met lots of nice single Jewish women — who all had gone out with Carl Cohen!

Marilyn Anderson is a screenwriter, TV
writer and author of “Never Kiss a Frog: A Girl’s Guide to Creatures from the
Dating Swamp” (Red Rock Press, 2003). Her Web site is Frogerella@neverkissafrog.com

Asians: The New Shiksas?

I was at a party in Sunset Plaza recently where a woman walked over to me and accused: "Could you leave some for the rest of us?"

I didn’t know this woman, and she left as quickly as she came, saying something about her empty martini glass, so I didn’t have an opportunity to ask her what she was muttering about.

A mutual friend was kind enough to be indiscreet and fill me in. Apparently, the woman was left waiting by the phone for several days and nights by a man who was later discovered to be pursuing a woman of the Asian persuasion.

Was the woman right? Are we Asian women indeed the new shiksas? And are we stealing all the men?

Anecdotal evidence abounds. Take a look around your temple, family bar mitzvahs, even Hollywood parties: That nice, successful Jewish boy has a willowy Asian woman on his arm.

In order to get a better perspective on the subject, I visit Rabbi Neal Weinberg’s Introduction to Judaism class at the University of Judaism (UJ) for answers, expecting to find comedienne Margaret Cho’s Asian version of the childhood game, duck-duck-goose. You know, white guy, Asian girl, white guy, Asian girl.

I was disappointed. Cho would have to play a few miles south of the UJ at the University of California of Lots of Asians (UCLA).

I was also surprised. Weinberg told me that of the non-Jewish students who take his courses, the largest number are those of Latin American descent, with those of European descent a close second, and Asians and African Americans pulling up the rear. Weinberg reasons that because of the large garment district in Los Angeles, that many of the Latin women-Jewish men couples he teaches find love in the workplace.

So, even though an increasing number of Asian women may be spotted in shul these days, it would appear that, at least in Los Angeles, the shortage of marriageable Jewish men cannot be solely blamed on us.

I Googled "Asian shiksa" and came up with a tofu recipe site (Shiksa is Korean for food or meal). So I realized that I needed to go straight to the source. A few phone calls later, I had a list of Jewish-Asian intermarried couples and blunt questions: How did you meet? What made you defy parental disapproval and get together? Or was there any opposition at all?

First, the question of racial stereotypes. All of my interviewees laugh their heads off when I mention the oft-heard theory that some men — Jewish or otherwise — are attracted to Asian women because they are deemed more submissive.

Annie Tien, 34, Web producer, wipes tears from her eyes as she laughs hysterically. "The ones that come to me with the expectation that I would be docile and submissive are quickly disappointed."

Aryeh Richmond, 33, head of studios for Equinoxe Digital Entertainment, said his wife, Somyung Sohn, a 36-year-old advertising executive, is opinionated, passionate and very interesting — the polar opposite of docile.

Geoff Graber, a 32-year-old business consultant, said that he grew up with a strong mother, and that his wife, Ellen Shing, 34, continues the strong-woman tradition in his life.

By the way, I’ve met Ellen. She’s fun, energetic, smart, warm and cute as a button, so it makes me feel stupid asking why Geoff would want to be married to her. The more apt question is why wouldn’t anyone want to be married to her. But I ask, hoping for gross generalizations to use in an article whose working title is "Asian Epidemic — Truth or Fiction."

Similarities, they say. All the couples list similarities between Jewish culture and Asian culture — both Jews and Asians place great importance on education, family, respect for elders, they said.

Richmond said that he and Sohn value higher education and conscious childrearing. He says that while the question of whether future kids will be raised Jewish has never come up; he is confident that there will be no fractious standoffs when it comes time to make such decisions because Sohn is Buddhist.

Attorney Adam Heller, 33, also mentions that because his wife, Tami Cho, 32, did not grow up with a religion, that her conversion to Judaism was less of an issue. "It’s easier when Jesus is not a part of the equation."

Could it be then that in these modern times of unprecedented freedoms — freedom of religion, freedom from being forced to date parentally preapproved candidates — that men and women meet at school, at work or through mutual friends and simply fall in love without participating in a cultural phenomenon? Maybe there is more intermarriage because we as a people have grown more aware of each others’ similarities.

But, Weinberg said, conversion after intermarriage also brings new blood into a community and enlarges the number of especially knowledgeable Jews.

To these new Jews — Asian or otherwise — Weinberg says, "Shalom haverim" ("Welcome, friends").


Song Oh is a freelance journalist and comedian. She will perform at Gotham
Hall, 1431Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica on May 8. For more information,
call (310) 394-8865. She can be reached at songoh@yahoo.com.