Religion in the bedroom

When does religious bias cross the line into racism? According to author Anna Rau, a German national who is studying at Tel Aviv University, it’s when Jews won’t date or sleep with non-Jews. She says that in writing her piece, Racism in the bedroom, her “agenda is to finally call a spade a spade.”

Rau writes,

She nearly went to bed with him, she wanted to, and then she remembered he’s not Jewish and her stomach turned a little and she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. The deal breaker wasn’t that she found a weird growth on his body or that he had bad breath. Everything was perfect in that department: nice body, fresh breath. The thought of being with a non-Jew repulsed her. I told her that was racist. She disagreed, she said it was about religion.

This was a breathtaking statement for its base ignorance. I wondered if Ms. Rau had bothered to research her friend’s assertion before dismissing it out of hand with such cavalier self-assurance. For it IS about religion. It is against the Jewish religion for Jews to cohabit with non-Jews.

In fact, the proof of the ridiculous nature of Rau’s premise is belied by her own words. There was desire between the two people in question here, “she wanted to.” There was no distaste between them, no knee-jerk dislike that would signify the presence of racism as a factor in her friend’s decision to forgo relations. She liked the guy.

It wasn’t that.

Ergo, it wasn’t racism.

Holding Firm

I see her friend’s decision to abstain from relations with a non-Jew as the product of a successful Jewish education. There is a reason that Jews are the longest surviving people. It’s because they held firm to Torah principles.

Kidushin, the Jewish word for “matrimony,” is applicable only to two Jewish people, a man and a woman. Anything else is some other type of relationship, certainly not Kidushin. Call it “holy matrimony” if you like, or call it the “hokey pokey.” It really makes no difference. If it’s not Kidushin, it’s not marriage.

One of the reasons for Kidushin is for the perpetuation of the Jewish people. Relations are reserved for Jewish couples joined by the Kidushin ceremony. Since there is no possibility of Kidushin between a Jew and a non-Jew, it is against the Jewish religion for a Jew to cohabit with a non-Jew.

In no way is this racism. In refraining from relations outside of marriage, Rau’s friend is only observing the tenets of her faith.

There Was Desire

Had she been racist, desire would have been absent, and Rau’s friend would not have had to confront the issue or make a decision. Instead, she was presented with a difficulty: whether to hold firm to her beliefs, or give in for a limited period of time for the sake of emotional and physical satisfaction.

Far from being a racist, Rau’s friend showed strength of character. She held firm to the characterization of her people as being “stiff-necked.” It is this quality that has led to the survival of the Jewish people in the face of, for instance, Nazi persecution, at the hand of Rau’s people not so long ago.

My son sent me Rau’s piece, wondering how it could be that a German national might lecture a Jew on racism and racial purity. I did a little research and found this piece by Rau, Germans and Israelis – sharing history and sexual fascination which she concludes with the following words:

We’re a taboo. And that makes us interesting and all the more attractive. . .We go straight from ordering the first drink to “Did your grandparents commit any crimes against humanity?” and toast the second round to “I hope my grandparents didn’t kill your grandparents.” It’s a touchy subject, which leads to a much greater intimacy. You might forget our name or the color of our eyes, but we’re never just going to be this girl you had a fling with on her or your trip. We’re going to be the German girl. And you’re going to be the Israeli guy.

In moving to Israel, Rau is playing out a fantasy. A kinky one. And in her fantasy, she gets to make the Jew be the racist one this time around.

Lucky for us, we are independent thinkers and can read her like a book. Mein Kampf anyone?

About the Author
Varda Epstein is a blogger and Communications Writer for
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