June 22, 2010
But Is He Kosher?
So what does a good Jewish girl do when her date goes in for the kiss after he downed meatloaf and she mac-and-cheese? In “Life, Love, Lox: Real-World Advice for the Modern Jewish Girl” (Running Press, $13.95) by Carin Davis, the issue at steak (pun intended — the book inspires them) is not breath or kissing technique, but whether the kiss violates the rules of kashrut that dictate separation of meat and milk.
“I could have used the milk-before-meat rule, where you wait 30 minutes, eat something pareve and gargle,” Davis suggests in her opening chapter. Eventually, she realized, her date would have to dump his “grill-friends”; she prefers kissing kosher meat. This is just one of many personal tales of the author’s love for Jewish tradition and her quest for Jewish men at a time when, as she puts it, “good men are harder to find than the afikoman.”
“Life, Love, Lox” is more than just an assortment of singles columns, an art Davis perfected as a writer for The Jewish Journal since 2001. It’s the Shulchan Aruch (code of Jewish law) meets “Sex and the City.” Geared to what she describes as the “JDate generation,” including the “Jew-ish” and converts, the book covers the gamut of Jewish holidays, rituals, concepts and, of course, food, through hilarious word-plays, pop-culture references, anecdotes and a high-level Jewish literacy that comes from Davis’ own Jewish education and Conservative upbringing in her hometown of Deerfield, Ill.
“The idea of the book isn’t just about singles,” Davis said over coffee, sporting a funky Jewish star pendant and a light-brown “Jewfro” tamed by a flattening iron, a subject she covered in the section “The Girl With the Curl.”
“It’s about a life that doesn’t have to be separated like a kosher kitchen, with Judaism on one side and the rest of your life on the other.”
Released in May, “Life, Love, Lox” took about a year to write, Davis said, but had been brewing in her mind since her first column appeared on these pages.
“Readers started coming to me with all their Jewish questions: ‘Where do 20-somethings go for High Holy Days? Where do the hot Jewish boys volunteer? What should I dress up as for Purim?’ — or sometimes just ‘What is Purim?’ It made me realize there was a need for an irreverent but informative girl’s guide to Jewish life.”
She’d find that Jewesses would often save their Judaism for marriage, thinking of Shabbat dinners and synagogue services as family activities.
“All the advice in the book — whether how to throw a Havdalah happy hour or how to pick up a guy in shul — are completely based on my own experience.”
Her advice on picking up men at Jewish communal organizations worked for her. She met her current boyfriend as part of her involvement in the young adult division of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. (He makes a cameo under a pseudonym.)
The book is filled more with Jewish knowledge than with relationship advice, but she covers the basics through laugh-out-loud humor in sections titled “The Ten Commandments of Jewish Dating” and “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Plagues.”
What about finding a guy? A Jewish girl shouldn’t look for the perfect guy, but for the perfect guy for her.
“We’re all a little bit meshuggeneh,” she said, “but the guy we end up with will love that about us.”