Hazards of Dating While Jewish in Berlin

Romantic Flings Become Complicated When History is Invoked

Dater: Steven Blum has found dating in Berlin a perplexing endeavor.
Courtesy of Steven Blum
Dater: Steven Blum has found dating in Berlin a perplexing endeavor.

By Steven Blum

Published August 07, 2013, issue of August 09, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

‘So you’re Jewish, right?” Tobias asked while we were watching an episode of “Real Housewives” on his couch.

“Yup,” I responded.

Even though this was our first date after meeting in a yoga class — he was the flexible, relaxed one; I was schvitzing and falling — I let a few more details slip because I was feeling raw and uninhibited.

“My grandparents are actually from Germany,” I said.

“Oh my God, what happened here was so awful,” he said, dramatically elongating the “aw.” “I’m so sorry, on behalf of Germany.”

“I mean, it wasn’t you,” I said, trying to sound conciliatory. “Besides, I can’t accept apologies. I wasn’t alive back then.”

We turned our eyes back to the television and watched as one of the “real housewives” berated her maid. “My grandfather was a Nazi. Pretty high up, too,” Tobias said.

“Oh.”

“Sorry, that was more like a 15th date admission! I’m such a spaz.”

“No, that’s fine. I can take it,” I said, lying.

I told Tobias I needed to visit the little boy’s room, and I went to look at myself in the mirror. “This is crazy,” I mouthed to my reflection. I wondered if Tobias would show me pictures of gramps next. I envisioned him rotting away in a Soviet prison.

When I sat back on the couch, it seemed as if Tobias was so wrapped up in his own traumatic admission that he couldn’t even look at me. I was no longer the boy he talked to about New Age philosophy after yoga class — I was an emotional trigger.

When he looked back at me to laugh about the shenanigans of one housewife, I found myself thinking there’s something devilish, almost sinister, about his grin. Oh my God, I thought, why did we have to have the Nazi talk already?

For American Jews in Berlin, dating can feel like an endurance challenge, the object of which is to be comfortable and open enough to handle the most naive and arbitrary questions, ambiguous silences and disturbing admissions of familial guilt.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.