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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.

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.

This was my ulterior motive when I planned a trip up to New England.

I was planning to stay with a friend from college for a few days, but I also arranged to meet Alicia, whom I’d known online for five years by that point but had never met in person.

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.

On the other hand, my grandmother on my mother’s side was actively rooting for us as a couple and was the first person to predict that we would get married.

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.

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.

My parents liked Alicia, but not the fact that she wasn’t Jewish.