Identity | No Nice Jewish Boys

I am a Jewish girl who has never dated a Jewish boy. I am a Jewish girl who has never been attracted to a Jewish boy. While my girlfriends have swooned over boys in Birkenstocks and Dave Matthews Band t-shirts for years, I’ve been completely turned off. And I own Birkenstocks and went through a hard core Dave Matthews phase.

Anytime a man has dropped a Yiddish word or a Jewish summer camp reference in conversation, I have wanted to bolt. I have bolted. But why? Why does the idea of dating a Jewish man leave me cold?

The first boy I ever fell for was a goy. I was 5 years old when I declared my romantic intentions to Lee, who was of Japanese descent. When I suggested marriage to him by the sandpit in front of all of our friends, he simply shrugged and went back to building his stupid fort. Rejected. To this day, I still think of him as the goy that got away. I can’t help but wonder if this early humiliation led to me developing a goy fetish.

Or maybe it was my first date that scarred me for life. It was with a Jewish boy named Benjamin.  Although I had a crush on a goy named Dylan at the time, I entertained the thought of starting a relationship with Benjamin because a boy had never liked me before. I thought Benjamin could quite possibly be my one and only chance for love. At 12 years old, I was already quite the cynic. I agreed to go on a double date with him to the fair outside the Cavendish Mall, and even sat next to him on the tea cup ride. Benjamin threw up on that ride, and all over me. Needless to say, it didn’t work out.

Since then, the men that have come in and out of my life have been non-Jews. Soft-spoken boyfriends with hairless chests, boyfriends who never speak to their mothers, and drink milk with dinner. The men I met found my neurosis endearing and my love of Barbara Streisand quirky. I was able to pretend that my heritage gave me an exotic appeal.  But in the end, none of these relationships have worked out either.  Is it possible that our cultural differences have kept these men from truly getting me?

I am more than acquainted with the idea of ‘a nice Jewish boy’. To this day, few combinations of words  make me cringe more. ‘You need to meet a nice Jewish boy’, ‘I have a nice Jewish boy for you’, ‘All of your problems will be solved by a nice Jewish boy’. My family members have firmly established their interests in seeing me marry ‘one of our own’. And I’ve resented this. Mainly because their aspirations for me seemed to begin and end at marriage.

But I also don’t like the idea of being ‘a nice Jewish girl.’ And I couldn’t be one even if I tried. I don’t look hot in sweatpants, unlike the rest of the female Jewish population. I can’t keep my mouth shut at family gatherings when the topic of Israel comes up. I can’t have three servings of bubby’s brisket and maintain a great figure. I can’t read Hebrew. My recitation of prayers always involve some gibberish. Perhaps I’m afraid that dating a Jewish man will inevitably lead to the question, ‘How Jewish are you?’ and I feel like my answer will fall short.

I should also admit that there are some stereotypes of Jewish men that I have found to be true of many I’ve met. They’ve come from affluent backgrounds, and it is definitely a turn off to meet a man who hasn’t worked a day in his life and yet still enjoys luxuries like cars and smart phones on daddy’s dime. Also my gay-dar and Jew-dar are not as sharp as they should be, and sometimes the lines get crossed. I often interpret the inflection in Jewish men’s voices as effeminate. It also doesn’t help that I’ve seen Jewish men quiver at the sight of a spider or a power tool.

But what I really think it boils down to is that dating a Jewish man represents the conventional, doing what is expected of me. And I’ve never been one to do as I’m told. But as I get older, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that dating goys has only led to heartbreak. Maybe I’ve been missing out on what’s been in front of me all along. Perhaps my path to true love will be paved with smoked salmon and klezmer records.

I don’t think I’ll be joining J-Date anytime soon, but maybe I’ll show some good old fashioned Jewish cleavage at the next Shtetl Montreal event and see how that works out.


Lick My Knish is a forum for sex-positive feminist expression with a bissel of Jewish neurotic sparkle and political incorrectness.