I do things on impulse: I bought a $250 pair of high heels I didn’t need, I pierced my tongue, and two years ago, when a Jewish co-worker/yenta promised I could meet my beshert for $40 a month, I joined the Jewish dating site JDate that very night. The thing is, though, I’m not Jewish. Not even “halfsies.”But I can “pass” as Jewish in photos, thanks to my dark brown hair, pale skin and big brown eyes, and that’s how I managed to keep up this whole charade so easily, I think. My actual heritage is as goy-ish as it gets—Protestant Christians who left England for the American colonies in the 1600s. My dad’s side of the family founded a church when they colonized our town in Connecticut; then they were onion farmers (probably stealing land from the Pequot Native Americans), and the British Army set a Wakeman home on fire during the Revolutionary War.
These days, my parents are just plain Waspy; my mother is like a hybrid of Martha Stewart and Bree on “Desperate Housewives.” I remember bringing one ex-boyfriend home to meet my parents and we strolled around the backyard, clutching martinis, while my mother showed off her garden. As we walked, I noticed his drink was sloshing rather liberally over the lips of his martini glass. “You keep spilling your drink,” I whispered. He hissed back, “That’s on purpose—it’s too strong!” Can’t you understand why I might flee into the arms of a nice Jewish boy?
I didn’t feel wrong to be a non-Jew on JDate; rather it seemed like a New York thing to do, like subscribing to New York magazine or buying stinky cheeses at Zabar’s. I tried as best as I could to be honest about my goy-ishness. There wasn’t an option for “atheist,” or even “Christian,” in the religion section of my profile, so I checked “I’ll tell you later,” the same way lots of guys do on the part that says “salary.” Then in the paragraph part of my profile, I wrote, “WARNING: I AM NOT JEWISH!”
And that didn’t deter men from going out with me at all. Like any sentient being on a dating site with two eyeballs and a vagina, I got tons of intra-JDate emails and “flirts.” A couple times when I chatted with a prospective date on AIM or GChat, I’d ask something like, “It’s not a dealbreaker that I’m not Jewish?” Nope, nobody ever cared. Several of them were only half-Jewish themselves; one said he was just trying to meet a girl, not “make his grandmama proud.” I can only recall one JDate-related disaster that resulted from my not being Jewish—one guy apparently missed my capital-letters disclaimer and did a double-take over sushi when I mentioned the non-Jewish thing. He was specifically looking to date a Jewish girl, he told me. After dinner, he pecked me on the cheek and dashed off, deserting this shiksa in the street. But I guess I should have expected that would happen at least once!
When I quit JDate after about four months, it was for reasons entirely unrelated to Judaism—I eventually balked at the cost. I went on a JDate with a man who also worked in the media and we discovered we had no fewer than four friends in common. When I realized he and I might have met each other eventually for free, I canceled my membership.
That said, if marriage is on your radar, I can’t speak definitely about whether or not Jewish men on JDate will actually marry a non-Jewish girl they meet on there. They (well, most of them) were more than happy to date me and fool around with me, but the jury is still out on whether there’s any chuppah action in your future.
Still, I will say this: I joined the free dating service OK Cupid at one point after JDate and I thought JDate had men much, much better suited to me. Paying $40 a month can be well worth the access to a high volume of attractive, well-educated, and eager singles to kvell over—even if you’re a shiksa.