Happy Valentine’s Day from Jewrotica! For your virtual valentines, we’ve got resources, gift ideas, history and meditations on romance… The connection between Valentine’s Day and Tu B’Av, Purim Katan and old-fashioned gift ideas… From kitschy to playful to serious, we’ve got you covered. Just what you’d expect from the ladies of Jewrotica!
My Funny (Jewish-American) Valentine
How to spoil your Funny Jewish-American Valentine: Gifts, activities, food, food and more food ideas!
When Lorenz Hart wrote My Funny Valentine he had to be speaking about our Tribe! The eldest son of Jewish Immigrant parents, the song speaks true to Jewish humor and the image of the all-American nerdy but adorable Jewish man. This Valentine’s Day spoil your Funny Jewish-American Valentine, both male and female with these reader approved ideas!
What would a (Jewish) holiday be without food? Trust your Jewish mother and bubbe on this one, the way to your Jewish lover’s heart is definitely through the stomach. We have provided three food options depending on the time of your date and skill level. We have ranked them 1-5 based on difficulty, from 1: your little brother pre-Bar Mitzvah and voice dropping could make this food to 5: even Moses would have difficulty preparing this dish!
Note: Save yourself potential embarrassment and prepare these items beforehand as a test run and not for the first time an hour before your date. Adjust ingredients, baking time, remove burnt edges etc to ensure perfection… err, edible presentation and digestion.
Challah – Beyond French Toast Level 1
Share the joys of Shabbat and double mitzvahs with this Challah 2.0 recipe. Use for your leftover Challah and spoil your valentine in the process. If you are not baking your own Challah, we suggest SemiFredis Cinnamon Twist Challah. Bonus: Serve them breakfast in bed!
Gluten-Free Matzah Ball Soup Level 2
We may be the ‘people of the book’ but not the ‘people of wheat.’ Try this delicious and healthy recipe to be a gluten-free matzah baller in the eyes of your love. Bonus: Watch Allergy Pride Parade from Portlandia while eating your gluten-free treat!
Dessert: Nutella & Cream Cheese Rugelach Level 4
What could be more Jewish- American than smear (cream cheese)? Spoil your little rugelach with some rugelach! Bonus: Get the 1/3 less fat cream cheese.
Sensual Gifts by ModernTribe:
Headers suggest ‘for him’ or ‘for her’ but items are great for all genders and relationships!
Nice Jewish Guys Calendar
The equivalent of PG porn for your bubbe, these mensches are cooking, cleaning and being their nice Jewish-American selves. Will bring your Valentine back to her days of Jewish summer camp and acne.
Bonus: Place cut outs of your face on every month’s mensch!
Kosher Kurls Leave-In Conditioner
Approved by Jewish American Princesses everywhere, let her keppe (head in Yiddish) shine! Kurls so glamourous a crown could rest on them!
Bonus: Compliment her on her haircut. It is okay if you are three weeks too late in noticing.
Mensch Money Clip
Finally a gift approved by Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, “If I were a wealthy man!’ Bonus: Include a note with the money clip with the following Yiddish Proverb: With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well too.”
Hip Hop Aleph Necklace
Show your man he is the alpha or aleph male in your life! Big Chai necklaces and gold Jewish-star necklaces are so 1990 and Jewish Hebrew Hammer- your matzah baller deserves the hottest and hippest in bling wear!
Bonus: Buy him a hair toupee for fake chest hair to accentuate the necklace! Double-sided tape works best to stick on the toupee.
For Both of You:
A Little Yiddish Scented Candle
Learn while gazing into each other’s eyes by candlelight with this pound-cake scented candle.
Bonus: Use the Yiddish in a sentence.
Example: Oy- you bring me such joy, but your breath smells of soy!
Do It Yourself (DIY) Pickle Making
Don’t find yourself in a pickle this Valentine’s Day- make pickles! Show off your go-getter Jewish-American immigrant spirit and love for the deli with this hands-on activity!
Bonus: Ingredients must ferment for at least 24 hours, you are guaranteed date number two!
Manischewitz Wine Tasting
Romantic wine tasting by bubbe’s [glossary]Shabbat candlesticks is the perfect way to end your Jewish-American Valentine’s day. Manischewitz has six different Kosher wines to sample from, ranging from Elderberry to Extra Heavy Malaga. As well as three different varieties of Creams & Cordials. Bonus: Blind-fold your date while they sample the varieties!
How do you spoil your Jewish valentine? (gifts, activities, food, food and more food ideas)
Step 1. Tickets to a Barbara Streisand concert, or a Streisand movie marathon, if she’s pretending she’s retired again.
Step 2. A dinner of bagels and schmear, at which I am the dessert. Or the table. But no lox, I’m a vegetarian!!
Step 3. A strip tease to eshet chayil followed by a rousing/arousing edition of Jewrotica Bedside Reading.
The connection between Tu B’Av and Valentines Day.
To me, Tu B’Av is an opportunity to celebrate two of the most important and valuable aspects of my life: love, and Judaism–so it means more to me than VDay. On the other hand, I love getting to celebrate both! I don’t think I’ll ever have too much of celebrating love.
The connection between violence against women and the objectification of women, and Valentine’s day.
Last year, we endorsed One Billion Rising’s Valentine’s Day Campaign against domestic violence towards women, and it made me look at Valentine’s Day in a new light. It means so much more when you ignore the cheesy commercial smorgasbord it’s become, and use it as a time to give love and support to those who need it most. So personally, I’ve decided to ignore the sales on lingerie with free truffles attached. I can’t help but hope that organizations like 1BR can change VDay from a day of objectification, to one of honor and respect for women.
This year, Valentine’s Day and “Purim Katan” fall out on the same day – coincidence, or, like the Purim story itself, symbolism described as randomness?
I’d like to argue for the latter, but first: What is “Purim Katan” or “Little Purim”? In order to resolve discrepancies between the use of the lunar calendar and seasonal holidays that depend on the cycles of the sun, the Jewish calendar instituted leap-years, which involve having 2 months of Adar. When that happens, the holiday of Purim is celebrated on the 14th of the second month of Adar. The 14th of the first month of Adar is called “Little Purim” and, while there are no formal celebration ceremonies, there are some festive changes instituted, such as the omission of various sad prayers from morning services.
The story of Purim is all about parties, desires, and deception: It starts off with a party, the decision to slaughter the Jews is celebrated with wine, the Jews’ victory is celebrated with feast-making and, of course, it is through a series of party-related plots that Esther saves the Jews and reveals her true identity.
Then there is the desire: Esther’s ascension to the throne is dictated by passion. First, Ahashveirosh’s passionate anger at Vashti, then, the sexual desire he feels once thrust into bachelorhood. Later, sexual jealousy causes the king to lash out at Haman, whose jealousy causes him to target Mordechai, and build the very gallows upon which Haman himself is later hung.
Then there is the deception: Haman disguises his true motivation for killing the Jews in order to get it approved by the king. A deceptive plot to murder the king, and an ambiguously worded question, lead to Mordechai being driven around on the king’s horse. Esther hides her Jewish identity from the king, as well as her motivation for throwing him the bunch of parties during which she reveals her identity and destroys Haman’s plot.
And this entire crazy story, like love itself, is a Divine miracle.
So go out and celebrate: Throw a party, split a bottle of wine with your loved one. Express an emotion. Throw on a costume – maybe even bring out the whips.
So Valentine’s Day? I don’t hate Valentine’s Day or anything like that, I don’t think it’s a sin to celebrate it: the more love the better. It’s just not for me. History tells me it’s for a Catholic saint’s martyrdom or for a Roman fertility rite. The radio tells me it’s for counting down the top 20 love songs of all time. The Greeting Card Association tells me it’s for the sale of roughly 1,000,000,000 greeting cards worldwide. 1,000,000,000 cards! But my very own heritage tells me it’s for me and it has a holiday that celebrates concepts of love, sex and marriage from an authentically Jewish perspective. One of the most important and happiest days in the Jewish calendar is the 15th of Av (or “Tu B’Av”), a holiday with themes of love, attraction and even finding your soulmate. Now that’s for me.
So tell cupid to hold the roses, chocolates and giant stuffed bears a minute while I countdown my top five favorite romantic ideas connected with Tu B’Av, the so-called “Jewish Valentines Day”:
1) Tu B’Av celebrates an ancient festival of love in which women dressed in all white and went to dance in the fields, calling out to their male suitors who would follow them in the hopes of finding their soulmate.
2) The women would all borrow the white clothing from each other so no woman could be judged by what she was wearing or her outside appearance but on her unique qualities as a human being. Love it!
3) Tu B’Av is the night of the full moon in our lunar calendar. Linking the night of a full moon with romance, love, and attraction sets quite a romantic scene. Don’t you agree?
4)Written by King Solomon, The Song of Songs or Shir HaShirim, is customarily read on Tu B’Av It is an erotic love poem presented in dialogue form between a man and a woman, complete with seductive kisses, sensual fragrances and the longings of love.
5) The Talmud tells us that it was on Tu B’Av that the ban on “intermarriage” between the Hebrew tribes was lifted so that any man and woman could marry anyone they loved.
Just close your eyes (but somehow keep reading), take a deep, relaxing breath and visualize a night lit by the glow of a full harvest moon. Young women dressed in the purest white are dancing and laughing in the fragrant vineyard, their garments blown gently by the breeze. Their beaus are not far behind, watching their ladies from a distance, and then slowly joining in. On this joyful night it has been sanctioned that all men and women may socialize freely at last. A young woman with a row of white daisies woven in her hair is dancing and she stumbles right into the arms of a man she has been forbidden to speak to for years. As he holds her for the first time he begins to recite a familiar love poem softly in her ear…
See? Tu B’Av is plenty romantic and it’s the only “Love Holiday” that holds any meaning for me because it comes directly from my own biblical roots. So sorry Hallmark, you’re down to 999,999,999 in sales from now on.
I am not a big fan of ‘significant dates’, I take no fancy in my date of birth, December 31st ,or Valentine’s day, in their ‘must be celebrated’ form. That said, I find the celebration of Tu B’Av rather intriguing. For the sake of her-story, The Gemara relates the origin of this date as a special joyous day to the story of the ‘intertribal frolicking’ when the Twelve Tribes of Israel were permitted to mingle with each other, namely: to marry women from other tribes (Talmud, Ta’anit 30b). This Talmudic source is likely alluding to the story in the 21st chapter of book of Judges: After a civil war between the tribe of Benjamin and other tribes, the latter vowed not to intermarry with men of the tribe of Benjamin, however on the glorious Tu B’Av, things turned loose and accommodating, just as we like them..
It should be noted that Tu B’Av, like several Jewish holidays (Passover, Sukkot, Tu B’Shvat) begins on the night between the 14th and 15th day of the Hebrew month, since this is the night of a full moon in the lunar calendar. Linking the night of a full moon with romance, love, and fertility is not uncommon in ancient cultures, and even today, within tribal societies like the Pygmies of Africa, menstrual blood means life. Women are viewed as sacred and worshipped; thus, upon a girl’s menarche she is considered gifted by the gods and the whole community is filled with gratitude and rejoicing. That celebration of the first menstruation is a ‘blessing by the moon.’ The Pygmies have a festival they call Elima that enables the entire community to be grateful and delighted for the new gift. Pygmies come to visit from different locations including potential suitors, who stay outside the Elima house and wait to be ‘reviewed’, thus the immediate correlation with mating readiness and love.
In regards to V-Day, I would like to share the anecdote of George Simenon, the Belgian author responsible for the known character of inspector Jules Maigret. Simenon claimed to have made love to 10,000 women. Regardless of the authenticity of this statement, I argue that the root of his compulsion originated from a sense of inferiority to women, a consequent fear of them and an uncontrollable rage over the existence of that fear. He was convinced that all women were laughing at him and the only way he could pursue avengement and destroy the fear each time, was by dissolving that imagined sneer on a woman’s face in his presence, into a real life expression of sexual ecstasy.
This theme of male insecurity or the depiction of inadequacy merging from being unsure of his relationship with women as well as with same sex peers, is of significant relation to abusing women. For instance, one of the promotional ads selling sex tourism in Thailand specifically for men, advertises it using the explicit notice of Thai women being ‘real’ women as they are submissive, unlike these demanding North American ‘bitches’. Since ‘maleness’ is measured by sexual conquest in western society, the agency of sex or female abuse services the male need for dominance.
On that note, whether it’s V-alentine’s or V-iolence against women Day, V stands for Vagina! So celebrate it sisters, and show them what you got
Have a delightful one, y’all!