June 18, 1998
Your resounding replies to Headin' for the Exit("Renounces Jewish Women," April 17) and all the subsequent salvoscontinue to bounce off the walls of my P.O. Box. Although we are allundoubtedly weary from the sexism, anti-Semitism and plainpigheadedness the man-vs.-woman tug-of-war inspires, this welcomeoutpouring of common sense deserves one last column on thesubject.
Now settle down readers, and start sending me somejuicy problems about sex or mothers-in-law or men who tell Viagrajokes upon first meeting your parents.
"Friday Evening," oil on canvas by Isidor Kaufmann, 1920. From "Jewish Art," 1995.
Men, Women & Saichel
In your last column about Headin' for the Exit'sletter, I was immensely bothered by the one-sided devotion tonon-Jewish women expressed by your readers.
In the battle of the sexes, there are pitfalls torelationships no matter what the religion of the woman you date ormarry. A non-Jewish woman carries her own set of baggage -- from herracist relatives who hate you for no other reason than your faith, toher fellow church members who try to convince her of your eventualdamnation. And let me assure you, a spoiled brat is spoiled and amean-spirited person is mean, regardless of what their religionis.
Deborah, your suggestion of taking each person ona case-by-case basis is the best bit of advice I've read in yourcolumn. There are good Jewish women and not-so-good Christian ones,and vice versa, but when a man lets one bad woman sour him on a wholereligion, it's tantamount to becoming gay for the reason that mendon't have PMS.
Let's face it guys, we're never going tounderstand women. So if you think a checklist is going to help youpick a good one, you're sorely mistaken.
It saddens me to see so many letters from Jewishmen who have pegged Jewish women as JAPs. To be attacked by fellowJews is the most painful type of anti-Semitism there is.
I am a Jewish woman, turning 30, happily marriedto a wonderful Jewish man for almost three years. All I ever wantedfrom a relationship was an equal partner. I measured the men I datedon character, morality, shared values and sense of humor. I treatedmen fairly and with respect, and I got treated well in return. Thereare no objective realities that can describe every Jewish female (orany group of people). We all perceive what we want to perceive inothers, and we find what we seek. I would venture a good-sized betthat Headin' and others like him have passed over many decent Jewishwomen in search of that one JAP who would fit their rottenexpectations.
Finally, I'm tired of hearing all of thesenegative descriptions attached to the word "Jewish," as if thesematerialistic, grasping qualities have anything to do with the Torahor the beauty of Jewish philosophy and religion that have sustainedus as a people for thousands of years.
I am married to one of those "pushy Jewish women,"and I thank God for her. Although she wants the most from me and thekids (and has for 20 years), she simultaneously is the best for [us].Does anyone ever stop to think why, next to Asians, Jews have thehighest rate of graduation from higher-level education of any ethnicgroup? I believe it is because of those Jewish moms who don't ask,"Are you intending to go to college?" but rather, "Where are youthinking of going to college?" It is those "pushy women" who aregreat in business, critical thinkers, wonderful friends, greatadministrators, and successful with their many projects.
They are extremely charitable, creative andenergetic. Yes, they have big ideas. Lots of them. They know how toreach for the sky, and they encourage everyone around them to do thesame. They are wise, and they know how to raise children withconsciences. They look at everything.
A guy who can't handle the magical, involvedJewish woman may have a self-confidence problem. My life is alwaysfilled with goals, friends and challenges -- which is just the way Ilove it. I have three children, and I adore the way they are turningout.
My advice to you guys is that you learn toappreciate a wonderful thing (yes, the Jewish woman) and learn to rise at herside. Learn to reach for the sky.
First, all of you single men out there need toknow that we Jewish women are looking for you. It breaks our heartswhen you choose to look outside of your own people for companionship.Not each of us is right for each of you, but recognize that we havemore in common with you than we have differences. Good relationshipsare built upon a willingness to grow...into an excellent partnershiptogether. And the more we have in common to begin with, the greaterour chances for a nurturing, fulfilling relationship.
Next, most of you single guys don't know what itmight mean to you to live in your own Jewish household with...Jewishfamily goals that you could share with your spouse. If you never havea chance to have these things, you will never know the richness ofwhat they could mean in your life.... You do not just marry thespouse; you marry the whole family and all of it's religious historyand values. When you have children, you will want to go back to yourroots, and you will become saddened by the tug of other religiousagendas.... Don't ignore what is right next to your heart in order togo for something that seems superficially good. Go for the depth ofthe soul.
Deborah Berger-Reiss is a West Los Angelespsychotherapist. All letters to Dear Deborah require a name, address and telephone number for purposes ofverification. Names will, of course, be withheld upon request. Ourreaders should know that when names are used in a letter, they arefictitious.
Dear Deborah welcomes your letters. Responses canbe given only in the newspaper. Send letters to Deborah Berger-Reiss,1800 S. Robertson Blvd., Ste. 927, Los Angeles, CA 90035. You canalso send E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org