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Kosher porn and Jewish dating

When a liberal, non-religious, young actress discovered she had a fetish for a certain kind of guy...

Just over a year ago, I emailed a New York Times article to my mom with a subject line akin to “NOOO!!!!!” The article was on a PEW research study of American Jews (of which I am one). It spoke to how much we were assimilating: American non-Orthodox Jews were marrying non-Jews more, identifying ourselves as Jewish less, and increasingly raising our kids without Judaism.

I was 23 at the time and living in Brooklyn, where I’d been since graduating from college the year before. Though I was very liberal, non-religious and pursuing a career that was as well (acting), assimilation was not part of my newly-forming adult identity. That first year after college, as I began dating my way through New York City, I found that my taste in men was manifesting this same attitude. Through online dating, set-ups, and the occasional chance encounter, I grabbed a drink in the Village with a variety of men, and began to zero in on what I liked: I usually didn’t like the guy (as my seasoned actress friend once said to me, “Dating is hard – you have to kiss a lot of frogs”) but I liked that he had been to Israel, or was close with his family, or didn’t eat shellfish, or had Shabbos dinner plans. I liked that he was a Jew.

After the PEW article came out, I had an idea of how to express the other side of the story – the one that I related to. It struck me as pretty funny that the pickup lines I might respond to had a traditional Jewish twist; so, like any good millennial, I made a blog filled with them. I grabbed my photographer friend, Tom, and some of my good-looking young Jewish friends who had a sense of humor, and set out to make “porn” that would appeal to me and others like me. And so the blog Porn4Jews.com was born, which morphed into the comedy coffee-table book, Kosher Porn.

Kosher Porn - Shalom

The joke was, of course, that this kind of porn wasn’t porn at all. The pictures are nudity-free and feature good-looking young Jews and corresponding Jewish-themed come-ons. The captions range from sweet to silly to suggestive, but they all share a common thread: they’d work on me.

When people my age talk to me about Kosher Porn, they inevitably ask me a couple questions: “Do your parents want you to marry someone Jewish?” and “Would you ever marry a non-Jew?” The truth is that my preference comes from me, not from my parents. My parents are a great example of our increasingly accepting culture. I’m sure they’d prefer that I end up with someone Jewish, but their general attitude is overwhelmingly “Whatever makes you happy!”

Kosher Porn - I know why you really came on Birthright

As for the second question, I’ve found that saying that I’d only marry a Jew is pretty controversial stuff in my milieu (liberal, non-religious, educated millennials). Of course if I told someone from my parents’ generation at my synagogue that I hope to marry Jewish, they’d nod their head in approval (and probably give me their son’s number). But my generation is different. We grew up in the melting pot of America in the age of gay marriage – we’re more accustomed to ignoring old boundaries than abiding by them. I am all for being with whomever you like, and have found it surprising that others around my age view my own traditional preferences as taboo. Porn4Jews was a way of celebrating my traditionally Jewish preferences in a humorous, modern way.

Working on the blog and the book has only reaffirmed what I’m looking for. Spending time on a Jewish project and collaborating with the various models from New York to Israel reminded me how important being Jewish and engaging in Jewish conversation is to me – even when the topic is how to make a provocative joke about Havdalah. The sense of community and shared culture I found making the book is exactly what I hope to be able to share with a romantic partner. Because what fun is a Pesach-themed pick-up line if you can’t share it with someone?

Kosher Porn - Agree about Israel

About the Author
Sarah Rosen is a leading Jewish humor blogger and the author of Kosher Porn, a book based on her blog Porn4Jews. She lives in Brooklyn, where she works as a writer and actress.
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