This morning our COO Heather Martin came in to work excited about a positive portrayal of an interfaith relationship on More to Love, a reality television show on Fox. The bachelor on the show, Luke, had his choice of several pretty, zaftig women. (Zaftig is a Yiddish word that means “juicy.”) He chose Tali, an Israeli woman.
Our non-Jewish significant other loves us, wants to know us, and deeply respects our Jewishness or we wouldn’t be in this relationship, right? So where does that openness, respect, and curiosity come from? There is usually at least one if not several non-Jewish family members who are open, respectful, curious, if not pleased with our Jewishness. (I am blessed to have many members of my family-in-law who fit this description.) Tali found this person to be Luke’s mom who immediately sensed the connection between Tali and Luke regardless of the religious differences.
It was on my mind to blog about interfaith dating because of Patrick Swayze’s recent death at age 57. Swayze had a charming stage presence with his lovely smile and in no role more so than in his turn in Dirty Dancing in 1987. In that movie he played the dance instructor at a predominantly Jewish resort in the Catskills who falls in love with the younger daughter of an upwardly-mobile Jewish family, played by Jennifer Grey. (Jennifer Grey is the daughter of Joel Grey, who my dad was proud to claim as a fellow Cleveland Jew.) Dirty Dancing was never my favorite movie, though it’s got a lot to recommend it, especially the dancing. It was an important part of the cultural environment when I was growing up. Interesting to realize that one of the cornerstone romance movies of my young adulthood was about an interfaith romance.
As I researched this blog post, I watched Patrick Swayze’s appearance on Oprah two years ago. Apparently a young couple had youtube hit with the video of their first wedding dance, which duplicated the climactic scene in Dirty Dancing. They were invited on Oprah Winfrey’s show, where Patrick Swayze surprised them by showing up to dance with them both! What a sweetheart. It makes his death that much sadder.
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