dating · Hispanics/Latinos · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · race/racism · Simchat Torah · television

An Episode on Jewish Relationships

The latest episode of Glee, Mash-Up, is one of my favorites. It’s what I’ll be calling “the Jewish episode” for a long time. In the episode, Jewish character Noah Puckerman’s mom tells him (on Simchat Torah while they’re eating sweet and sour pork and watching Schindler’s List on TV) that he needs to go find a nice Jewish girl.

Later that night, Puckerman has an epiphany, basically a wet dream he believes is a message from G-d, about glee club’s nice “hot” Jewish girl Rachel (who in the dream is wearing a big Star of David around her neck). For most of the episode, they’re an item.

Ah, if only nice Jewish people getting together were so simple. While Puckerman is serenading Rachel in a beautiful scene, Quinn, the Catholic cheerleader he secretly knocked up, is making eyes at Puckerman while her boyfriend Finn (also not Jewish), who thinks he’s the baby’s father, is making eyes at Rachel.

(In a joke that’s only funny if you’re in “the know” after reading, Rachel is played by Lea Michele, whose father is Jewish but whose mother is not. She was told she looked to “ethnic” for television. Meanwhile, Quinn is played by Jewish actress, Dianna Agron, who has expressed some…something…over playing a character with a big fat cross around her neck. On the show, Agron is a playing your typical blond Barbie cheerleader stereotype. )

The episode captures something that a lot of conversations about Jews dating non-Jews seem to leave out. These teens, and a lot of Jews dating and marrying non-Jews, aren’t thinking about saving Judaism (save for Puckerman during his epiphany and later when he notes “damn I feel like such a bad Jew” and puts on a kippah) or bringing about the destruction of Judaism or the extinction of Jewish people. They’re simply…in love. And usually people in love are only thinking about the person they’re making googly eyes at.

As the cheeky character Sue Sylvester (played by actress Jane Lynch who is a lesbian) later points out in an episode (when making a comment about being allowed to marry your pets, what the heck?!–obviously a dig at Prop 8), “Love knows no bounds.”

The Russian Jewish boy I dated in college, who broke up with me partly because I wasn’t a Russian Jew (and probably also because he was expressed racist tendencies towards Hispanics, including me and my “nappy” hair and “fat” legs), eventually married a nice Russian non-Jewish girl. The Russian Jewish friend who had introduced us became religious, inadvertently dragged me with him. and eventually, married a nice frum girl.)

And I, after fetishizing Russian Jewish men for a long time, finally converted to Judaism and quickly (thank G-d) found the Russian Jewish future rabbi of my dreams. (The only guy who, even after dating other Hispanic men, ever told me my hair was beautiful. It’s been a learning experience. Like when I had to get him to watch “Baby Got Back” to help him understand what all the fuss about big butts is about in other cultures. “Now even white boys gotta shout.”)
Obviously, we can only guess what G-d was thinking.

Also check out:

“Straight-Talk About Assimilation: An Exchange” (The Forward)

3 thoughts on “An Episode on Jewish Relationships

  1. Ahh, “Baby Got Back”; a classic.

    There's a classic scene in Scrubs: J. D. asks Turk what he should know about dating a black woman, and Turk answers, “The only difference between a black woman and a white woman is that when the former asks you if her butt is big, you answer, 'Hell yeah!'”.

    And see here for my best friend, a Turkish-Sephardi Southern-USA Jewish cowboy, karaoke singing “Baby Got Back” at the Off the Wall Comedy Club in Jerusalem. Isn't kibbutz galiyot great?


  2. a friend of mine in middle school was obsessed with Baby Got Back…. if i remember correctly, he sang it at 4am the night of his bar mitzva party. and i had a female Dutch-Swedish-American Jewish friend in college who was also very fond of that song.


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