I wasn’t too upset about date #1, because a) he was boring, and b) I already had a nibble from a second prospective candidate. He emailed me with:
Cute pics with an intriguing profile, hmmm…….. I enjoyed reading your various interests and activities. You do bring diversity to the table. So what did happen to your grandparents in the Holocaust? I am curious.
If I’d known it was this easy to get a date, I would have filed for divorce several years ago.
I thought it was a little odd that he opened with a query about my Holocaust research – which was mentioned in passing in my match.com profile under hobbies (genealogy). But his profile mentioned some things that were interesting to me: specifically, his involvement in the Jewish Film Festival – I studied film in college, and my father would die of happiness* if I showed up with a nice Jewish boy by my side. So I replied.
He got right back to me:
I was raised in what is known as “Messianic Judaism”, meaning we include a belief in the Messiah into our cultural and traditional practice of Judaism. My parents were never asked to deny their faith in the Messiah during their conversion, so it still remains as part of the family fabric.
I’m confused and intrigued. Messianic Judaism? I had no idea there was such a thing. So what I have here is a Messianic Jewish Tax Accountant who volunteers at a film festival. He mentions that he enjoys writing, which may or may not be a plus, because I note he’s managed to use the word “passionate” in his profile and each of five emails, so I’m wondering exactly what it is he writes.
We agreed to meet for coffee at Starbucks.
I arrive and he looks just like his pictures. I have trouble deciding whether this is a good thing. We chat awkwardly for a few moments, and he starts telling me about his kids, who sound relatively trouble-free (always a good thing), and his fabulous relationship with his ex-wife, which should probably be a good thing, but it sounds a bit too good to be true which leaves me … vaguely skeeved.
I fiddle with my ring – a sapphire ring I am now wearing where my wedding ring used to be, because a) I own a sapphire ring and b) I’m used to having a ring on that finger. He stares at said ring, searching the facets for hidden meaning.
He doesn’t ask. I can’t believe he’s even wondering. Dude, I’m half Jewish – why would I leave perfectly good jewelry in a drawer?
I inquire about work, which seems like a safe enough topic – and it is, because there’e nothing to talk about. He’s unemployed.
Okay, on to the important stuff then: Please explain Messianic Judaism, I say. I’ve never heard of this before.
He starts to tell me about why his family converted: Basically, if you really want to be a Christian, you have to do it the way the Bible tells you to, which is the Jewish way – the orthodox way.
He has no yarmulke (nor hair to which to attach one), and doesn’t keep kosher. I make further inquiries along these lines, and then decide I’m hopelessly confused.
Since he had mentioned he went to Israel, I ask about that. He becomes very enthusiastic. He goes there every other year, apparently, and always makes time for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial.
He makes lots of time for Yad Vashem.
I want to explain to him that I am familiar with Yad Vashem, since I myself have placed memorials there – for my great-grandparents, my great-aunts and uncles, and my cousins, all of whom perished in about 1941. I don’t get much past, “I know it -”
Oh! He wants to know – have I seen the hall of children? It’s so moving.
Well, I’m familiar with it – what with having young children in my family who perished at Auschwitz, sure. “I know it -”
Oh! He tells me – you must go! You cannot really understand the Holocaust until you’ve been to the Holy Land and Yad Vashem and seen what they did to our people.
No, sir – my people. I have nothing against religious converts – in fact, I’m all for it. I think it’s great that someone has spent time and mental energy on religious matters and made an informed decision. But, from what I have gathered, his people were in New Jersey in 1941, the same time my people were being buried in mass graves.
What mean you we?
It’s a bit of a challenge, but I move him on to another subject – right before it’s time to go. He concludes with a lengthy speech on “taking it slow.” He’s concerned that I am only recently separated – I should have been a bit more upfront about this, he says.
I would have mentioned this earlier, I think, but we were busy discussing your job – the one it turns out you don’t have.
He mentions “taking it slow” again as I reach to shake his hand goodbye, and he hugs me.
*You know, plotz.