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    The Chosen One is Tali: Luke Says Jewish Girl Is More To Love

    Fox TV's reality dating show More To Love get's real about much more than body size.

    More To Love's teaser opening shows tiny girls in bikinis with the captions: "The average girl on reality TV is a size 2. The average American woman is a size 14." More To Love's format is simply The Bachelor Plus Size: a total ripoff, and yes, it's cheesy. But, like most reality dating shows, it fed my need for vicarious romance. At first, I was fascinated by the marked difference between these larger women and the usual skinny-biotch personalities; these women were self-deprecating instead of self-aggrandizing, weepy instead of hostile. But as the season went on and Luke started falling for Tali, the Israeli, I totally fell for the inter-religious dating storyline.

    I wouldn't call myself a The Bachelor completest, but I have watched my share. I never, not once, heard daters speak about religion. My husband and I wondered about how this extremely important subject seemed to never come up. We figured these discussions end up on the cutting room floor -- perhaps too controversial for prime time. Then, suddenly, More To Love, this second-rate-reality -dating-ripoff show, starts discussing Tali and Luke's "different backgrounds." "Uh, yah!," I exclaimed to my husband, "'different backgrounds', 'different cultures'... can't they just come out and say, 'she's Jewish?'"

    Well... to my surprise and joy, that's exactly what they did! Tonight, on prime time TV, America got to watch the typical realities of a Jewish person getting serious with a non-Jew. Although my philosophical and religious beliefs are different than Tali's (and my husband's different from Luke's), my anxieties and experiences with meeting my husband's non-Jewish family were very similar.

    Reality One: The "Do You Think They Are Going To Like Me?" Discussion. All couples have this discussion but the Jewish person has the additional worry of, "will they not like me because I'm Jewish?" Tali softballs the issue by asking, "How do I need to prepare to meet your dad?" Luke doesn't catch her drift so Tali gets more direct with, "Do you think your dad is going to ask me questions about being from a different religion?" He assures her he will but says, "I don't think it would cause him not to like you." (He doesn't know his dad so well.)

    Reality Two: Worrying About How The Truth Will Come Out. "Jewish" isn't usually obvious. Jewish is something that has to be revealed -- somehow -- and in some way, hopefully before a blunt refusal to swallow the wafer. Tali has it easy because she is from Israel, so immediately upon revealing that fact most people will assume she is Jewish. (For me it was months if not years, before some of my non-Jewish family and I discussed my Jewishness.) Luke's dad frames his question (Are you a Jew?) like this, "As far as being Israeli, how do you feel about Christianity?"

    Reality Three: The Family Blessing In Jesus' Name. Have all inter-dating/intermarrieds experienced this? I suspect yes. It is the family blessing which starts with holding hands, bowing heads, and the silverback male of the family saying a few words of gratitude for food and family. Most of it is wonderful and good and not too different from a brucha. However, instead of thanking G-d, the Jewish person is preoccupied asking Him a favor, "oh please, G-d, let him thank you and leave the other guy out of it." Tali grins and bears it well.

    Reality Four: The Relative Who Really Gets It. 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.

    I'm sure there are more "realities" of getting serious with a non-Jew. Readers, please share your experiences. For now, I'll sign-off with a hardy thank you (not in Jesus' name) to Fox TV producers for showing these realities!

    Is The Jewish Channel for us?


    An article in the New York Times on The Jewish Channel, reports that the cable station is gaining in distribution and subscribers. The article sites 20k subscribers mostly in the New York area. Curious, I went to The Jewish Channel website to view their programming line-up. I'm wondering if The Jewish Channel is for me -- and you -- the younger American Jew who is also interested in Jewish life outside the synagogue, Jewish people without beards, Jewish history beyond the Holocaust, Jews living without guilt and angst, and Israel outside of politics.

    Below is my evaluation of the current programming according to my criteria. Let's call this a measure of New Jew Skew. How New Jew versus Old Jew is The Jewish Channel?

    First, beyond the criticism, I totally want to watch this channel and would subscribe if I had pay TV and it was available in Atlanta. And, let me say also, that I like Old Jew too but do think it is important for any Jewish media to go beyond to connect with the younger generation.

    Original Series: Three of the four current episodes deal with Old Jew
    - Jewish vote in American election (+1 current American, -1 Israel politics)
    - the Kosher industry controversy (-1 beard, -1 guilt & angst)
    but also include:
    - A segment on Jewish summer camps (+1 outside of synagogue, +1 joyful)

    Feature Films: Oy!
    - Two of five movies relate to the Holocaust (-2 Holocaust)
    - One movie about a young boy whose mother dies and is, "sent off... to a kibbutz, where more loneliness and cruelty await him." (-1 guilt & angst)
    - Shofar, a movie about Orthodox Jews raising an autistic son. (-1 guilt & angst)
    - And Tollbooth about an "angsty and cynical" young woman trying to make it in NYC (+1 for current American, -1 guilt & angst)

    Israel and American programming looks more promising.

    Israel programming includes a documentary on an Ethiopian boy who immigrated to Israel, Say Amen about an orthodox Jew coming out as a gay man, and a nature piece about the Dead Sea (+3 Israel beyond politics).

    American programming includes a documentary on “Jew-Bu” trend of Jewish-Buddhists (+1 beyond beard!), Christopher Yisrael Campbell comedian and Jewish convert in the documentary Circumcise Me (+2 an x-Catholic comedian), Awake Zion about the intersection of Rasta and Judaism (+1 dreadlocks) and two pieces about Jews outside of synagogue: Jews and the California Gold Rush and a biography of Louis Mayer (+2).





    Circumcise Me Trailer. Do you think this is funny?


    History and Remembrance (-5). Five pieces about the Holocaust.

    World Jewry: 4 of 6 programs are on Jews and communism.
    This section includes a piece on Jews in Havana, Eppy the Communist who fought along side Mao Zedong, and two pieces on fascinating Jewish women leading people in unique, albeit socialist, ways: Emma Goldman and Janet Rosenberg Jagan (+4 Jewish history beyond the Holocaust).

    Overall, we get a New Jew Skew of zero: as much New Jew as Old Jew. Not bad!

    Yael Naim and Ayelet Rose Gottlieb Rock

    Sophie Milman's beautiful punim graces the cover of American Jewish Life's March issue. The jazz singer is one of the women featured in Women Who Rock, a profile of several contemporary music artists all of whom are women, beautiful, talented and Jewish.

    Inspired by the article and panicked over the realization I hadn't bought any new music in over a year (I've long held that new music will stave off middle age), I went on a quest to find women Jewish artists doing Jewish-themed work to add to my own collection. I've listened to more than a dozen artists over the weekend. Here are two that I love. For your reference, my taste is more jazz than folk, more electronic than acoustic, more soulful than upbeat, more alternative than pop.

    Yael Naim: Eclectic is the only way to describe Yael Naim's eponymous album. The first track Paris, is sung in Hebrew but styled as French torch song, ending with a sultry "Shalom Paris." Track two Too Long is trip-hop down-beat evoking a 90's favorite of mine: Portishead. Much of the album is Fiona Apple-ish folk sung in Hebrew and English. She does a cover of Brittany Spear's Toxic. And then her hit New Soul comes along and is solidly pop. (Side note: New Soul is the music for the MacBook Air commercials.) No matter the style, her music is fresh and lovely. Listen to samples of her music here. You can buy the album right now on iTunes and the album will be released in the US in March.

    Ayelet Rose Gottlieb. Her album Mayim Rabim is based on ten segments of Song of Songs, those passionate love poems comprising one of the five scrolls of the Hebrew Bible. Just because the subject matter is traditional and religious, don't let that scare you away. This music is new, powerful, and exciting. Global Rhythm Magazine sums her album up perfectly, "avant-garde yet surprisingly accessible". Gottlieb's music is intellectually challenging, yet still a delight to listen to and easy to enjoy. American Jewish Life also profiles Gottlieb. Her album can be downloaded from iTunes or bought from Tzadik Records.