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I went to a Christmas at her family’s house and it felt less ritualistic than family’s Christmas Eve Chinese-food-and-a-movie tradition.

Even as our relationship became more serious, I did not want to push her to convert, yet I kept hoping she would become interested in the religion on her own.

But even while my relationships with non-Jewish girls fizzled, I still didn’t have any other options.

Jewish girls often were interested in Jewish guys—many of these girls ended up dating and even marrying Jews; they just weren’t interested in dating high-pressure, community-survival minded, intense, and awkward me. While I was at school, I joined an online discussion forum where I began to chat with a non-Jewish girl named Alicia.

23, 2009, on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. *** Soon after my bar mitzvah, just as I was discovering my interest in the opposite sex, I began to be bombarded with information about intermarriage—about how one in every two Jewish people would marry a non-Jew and how more than half of the children of those unions would not be raised Jewish.

But as I fell in love with her, she fell in love with me—and with my Judaism as well.

I felt the pressure: The future of my people was at stake! The school was arty, musical, nerdy, and had a substantial Jewish population. Even though I no longer felt outside the norm, I still had trouble getting dates … Every Jewish woman I asked out on a date rejected me.

I resolved that I would only go out with Jewish girls. I attributed this to the fact that I was kind of nerdy: My extra-curricular activities included musical theater, video games, and Dungeons & Dragons, not exactly the types of things that made a guy popular with the ladies. I had numerous opportunities, on the other hand, to date non-Jewish women.

Continue reading: Conversion The relationship became shorter-distance when Alicia attended Rutgers School of Law in Camden; we were both in New Jersey, at least.

When she arrived at my friend’s house, her hair was dyed red and she was dressed in a black suit: very Agent Scully. We went out for Thai food with my friend and his wife.

It felt very much like a double date between two married couples, even though the meeting was hardly planned that way.

My paternal grandparents survived the Holocaust and met at a displaced persons camp in Landsberg, Germany, before they moved to the United States.

My father spent his entire professional life working for Jewish Federations across the country.

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As a child, I grew up in Conservative congregations in Georgia, New Jersey, and Minnesota, was educated in Jewish day schools from kindergarten through fifth grade, and spent most of my childhood summers at Jewish summer camps.