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It was first time we had held hands. Thoughts of biblical symbolism of serpent and fact that she was Chinese pulsated through my mind. At same time, I was taken aback by her forthrightness. It was only our second date. I took a slow, deep breath.
“As you know, Belinda, I’m marriage-minded. You told me you were too. But, I’m not interested in just getting married, having children, and leading a normal life. That’s minimum of what I would expect. I want to reach for moon, grow together with a life-long partner, embark on an adventure with this person that would make a difference in world.”
The snake began to slither its way up my sleeve, and I pleaded for help. I don’t recall anything else we talked about that evening.
* * *
When I met Belinda, I had little interest in religious Judaism. I was unaware of its unique spiritual treasures and their relevance to today’s world. In fact, like many of my peers, I had an affinity for secular Jewish culture, and that is where it stopped...
In college and university I took courses in political philosophy and became interested in Marxism, Platonism, socialism, humanism, feminism, and any other “ism” that was popular in academia. I wondered if any of them was key to fixing world and ushering in a utopia. I delved into teachings of Christianity and Buddhism. I traveled to Arctic for a month, hoping to taste native spirituality. I joined army and sought, but did not find, patriotic pride. I spent two summers in Israel working on a kibbutz and interviewing vatikim, or elders, those idealists who left relative comfort of their European homes in '30s and '40s to go to a harsh and barren land and pioneer a new experiment in socialism. At one point I seriously considered moving to a kibbutz and dedicating my life to principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Later, when I moved to Toronto, I toyed with New Age ideas and started frequenting an ashram...
Belinda and I began to explore different religions together, and we frequently talked about spiritual matters. We also talked about Disney, travel, computers, and Indian food. We were amazed at how much we had in common. Like typical romantic couples, we spent most of our free time with each other, sometimes engaging in juvenile activities. One of our favourite pastimes was to go to parks and look for trees to climb. Once we played an entire game of Chinese checkers seated high up on tree branches, with a bag of snacks hanging beside us.
I knew that when my parents found out about my latest girlfriend they would vehemently oppose relationship unless, perhaps, Belinda were to convert to Judaism. I feared being ostracized by my immediate family. Perhaps on a deeper level, I feared cutting myself off from my ethnic roots. As painful as these thoughts were, they did not deter me from pursuing course on which I had already embarked.
If you find these excerpts interesting, you will find this true story fascinating.
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