“In the beginning when I was with Sara, I didn’t care about her religion,” Asaf says. When the time comes and you’re in a foreign country, you start to change, whether you like it or not.You find you have to get a little tighter with your beliefs — not that you go to an extreme — because you’re living among goyim.Since his father took ill about two years ago, Asaf started donning tefillin every morning.
“Now that he’s been able to be completely open to me to tell me that it’s important to him, I understand that and I don’t mind raising Jewish children,” Sara says.
From the outset, Yoav felt strongly, as his parents did, about marrying a Jewish woman.
With actresses like Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria and Eva Mendez setting a standard for sexiness, it’s not surprising that some local Latinas are capturing the hearts of Israeli American men.
But it’s not only because of the women’s appearance — their Jewish suitors are also finding that a Latina’s inner spiritual qualities help them to see past a non-Jewish background.
Yoav, who moved to Los Angeles about nine years ago to study chiropractic medicine and now runs his own pain clinic in Beverly Hills, says he preferred dating Latinas because of their “look” as well as their nurturing quality. They’re a little more liberal.” And like any Jewish household, food plays an important role. It’s in our nature to ask a man if he wants to eat and to make sure he’s taken care of after a long day of work.” However, Sonia says she still feels like an outsider among Yoav’s Israeli friends, especially the women.
“They’re very affectionate, and Israeli men in general like to be pampered and taken care of,” Yoav says, sitting with his wife, Sonia, in the living room of their West Hollywood home. The men interviewed describe their wives catering — without any complaints — to their needs and desires for a good meal. She says there’s a sense among Israeli women that Latinas are stealing their men.
“So nice, so calm,” he says, “respectful.” The pair met at a salsa club, where Asaf, a professional salsa teacher and self-professed ladies man at the time, displayed mastery on the dance floor.
Sara asked him to dance — although they playfully debate who actually made the first move.
Both Leiderman and Asaf noticed similarities between Israeli and Latin culture that made them feel at home with their mate.
“They love to have fun a lot,” says Leiderman, whose wife converted through American Jewish University (AJU) and studied with a cousin who was also dating an Israeli. According to the National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01, Jews who have married since 1996 have an intermarriage rate of 47 percent, but specific statistics for Israelis Americans who intermarry are unavailable.
“Latinas are the eighth wonder of the world,” says Asaf Raz, who flashes an endearing look to his wife, Sara, as they sit together on a couch in their West Valley home.