For a witty and reflective look at the joys and oys of teenage inter-dating, check out Goy Crazy by Melissa Schorr. This novel tells the story of a Jewish teenage girl named Rachel Lowenstein who falls for Luke Christensen, star of the St. Joseph’s prep basketball team and a “goy”. She meets him, believe it or not, at her brother’s Bar Mitzvah (the above excerpt comes from this first encounter). The book deserves praise for its vivid and entertaining portrayal of the plethora of issues involved in inter-dating. The story is told from the perspective of the Jewish teenage girl, and it is surely a great read for female young adults in similar situations and for parents who are trying to better understand their children and their choices. Additionally, the book could serve as an excellent starting point for discussions with teenagers about interfaith dating.
However, the book also brings up a number of issues related to the use of language. JOI is a strong advocate for welcoming and inclusive language. Although we are aware that others may not agree, we find the use of the word “goy” offensive. The Dallas Morning News book review, which is featured on Goy Crazy’s website states, “Despite what some people think, ‘goy’ is no slur. It’s really just a Hebrew word for ‘people.’” While some may view “goy” merely as an impartial Hebrew word, others are keenly aware of the negative connotations associated with the word. Considering the fact that there are both Jews and non-Jews in our communities who find the word “goy” offensive, we at JOI feel strongly that the most sensitive and welcoming thing to do is to eliminate the word from our usage. Also relevant to the topic of language is that Schorr’s use of words such as “yentas” (women who talk and gossip a lot) and “bubbulah” (an affectionate way of referring to someone) make the book a harder read for those unfamiliar with Yiddish.
In all, though, it’s worth overcoming Schorr’s use of the word “goy” and her lack of explanation for various Yiddish terms to appreciate her book for its insight into the teenage inter-dating experience.
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