And it’s not just women who are expected to cover up.“You wouldn’t find a strict Orthodox man wearing a tank top or shorts,” said one of my sources.For more observant Jews, foregoing foreskin is just one of many rules and customs that govern how and when a couple can canoodle.
Soon, the cold February air sent us indoors, our relationship ending where it first began: At a subway station.
After talking for two hours, I got on my train as she wiped away tears.
Would I hurt her feelings by ending the embrace mid-moment? She then invited me to a café near her place in Astoria for a folk-music singalong. Growing up, I sang the traditional Hebrew and Yiddish songs every Shabbat, but also folks songs and tunes by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Phil Ochs, a merging of the secular world and the religious one. For three hours, we didn’t say much, just listened to the music, enjoyed being with each other.
Was I throwing this all away after more than two decades of good behavior? The cafe was near her house, and I was anxious that she’d invite me over afterward. As we walked in, I felt a warm feeling of nostalgia coming from the old people singing the Woody Guthrie song “Pretty Boy Floyd.” We whispered to each other, and her face was lit up by the candle on the table.
I already had mixed feelings about kissing her, because I grew up , not touching the opposite sex. I didn’t know how to use them or where to get them.
I remembered the “It’s not you it’s me” routine from me.
She kissed me one last time on the cheek, with permission. As I transferred to another train at Times Square and rode an escalator up, I saw another couple on the escalator going down, making out. But every time her name pops up on my Facebook wall, my heart skips a beat.
For a second, I re-calculate the mental math, trying to make it work.
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We still hang out, not infrequently, enough though it hurts: At friends’ parties, at protests, at all sorts of Jew-ish, but not Jewish, events. We could have been that couple I saw at the subway station that night, kissing happily, with nothing to separate them from each other.