No, that’s not an oxymoron. That’s a fact.
Tel Aviv is filled with a whole lot of sexy Jews. Sexy men and sexy women. Gay and straight and lesbian and bi. Toned muscle, pecs, six-pacs. Joggers, yogis, boxers, dancers, volleyball players. Shirtless, sweating, smiling, swimming, sunbathing. Hot. As. F*ck.
Many of them wear Star of David necklaces or sometimes yarmulkes. And they speak the language of the Torah as their bodies gleam effortlessly in the sun.
It is a true paradise.
In the U.S., Jews are often portrayed on TV and in films as sex-less geeks. Men are often portrayed as effeminate and too “bookish” to be sexy (think Ross on Friends) and women are often portrayed as overbearing and unbearable (think Fran on The Nanny). We are good at being lawyers, doctors, professors- but we almost never thought of as sex symbols. And even if there are Jewish sex symbols, such as Zac Efron, they are almost never talked about in connection with their Judaism.
That’s not because American Jews aren’t sexy- there are a lot who are! It’s because the society we live in has told us we’re not and I think we’ve internalized it to a degree, as can be seen in items like the semi-satirical “Nice Jewish Guys” calendar.
Here, that doesn’t exist because we built this society. The other day, I went to a gay beach in Tel Aviv. So in other words, other than a few tourists, a gay Jewish beach. The world’s only gay Jewish beach. And it was amazing. Besides the loads of hot guys, I just felt like I could be myself. I didn’t feel self-conscious speaking Hebrew among gay people or speaking Yiddish to my Israeli friend who came along. And I didn’t feel self-conscious about looking at the hot guys in a Jewish environment.
Since arriving 3 weeks ago, I’ve been to a gay rights rally, visited a gay art exhibition (including the cover photo for this blog), made friends with a lesbian rabbi, participated in an Orthodox LGBT Torah study group, started living with a lesbian couple, and so much more. I can’t even think of them as separate items anymore because I don’t have to go out of my way to do them- they are just a part of my life. As they should be.
For most of my life, my Judaism and my sexuality have felt like two separate worlds. Identities that aren’t supposed to touch. Here, in Tel Aviv, they are so intertwined that it finally feels natural.
I’m gay, I’m Jewish, and I’m sexy. Wanna go for a jog?