Being sick when you’re in a relatively new relationship is a good test of how seriously the other person is involved. And only Jewish boyfriends and girlfriends know how comforting Jewish penicillin can be whether you have the flu or a broken leg. There’s something about that soup that emotes a grandmother’s pat on the head or a mom’s kiss on the cheek, immediately making one not only feel better, but also loved. When a significant other brings over a warm pot of soup wrapped in a kitchen towel, you can rest assured you have met a keeper.
There was a time when I pinched the nerve in my neck so badly that I couldn’t move, drive or work, nonetheless cook. The guy I was dating? Nowhere to be found when the going got tough. But my girlfriends stepped up to the plate and helped me out, reminding me that although I may have been injured goods, I was the worthy one, and he was the jerk. I thought about giving him a second chance after I regained mobility, but I figured if he wasn’t there for a muscle spasm he for sure wouldn’t stick around for anything else that was remotely un-fun, you know, like reality.
My friend Julie had the flu while she was dating a guy named Jason. The guy drove nearly an hour out of his way to stop at her favorite deli, buy her a quart of soup and leave it on her doorstep. He didn’t even ring the doorbell because he didn’t want to wake her up – and he also knew she would be embarrassed to answer the door in her slept-in robe, unwashed hair and red, runny nose. He brought her the soup voluntarily, without telling or asking her, without any fanfare. It was the perfect declaration of his feelings for her and when she called to tell me what he had done I could hear her beaming through the phlegm. She broke up with him a few months later, but at the time his effort was monumental.
Jewish penicillin is just another reason why I wanted to marry someone Jewish, someone who was raised with the same traditions as me, not only the religious, spiritual and cultural traditions, but the everyday ones that have become habit. Knowing how to take care of your ill or injured loved ones doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your belief in G-D, but it has everything to do with how you were raised, what morals and values you were taught and being a decent human being.