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Eleanor Levine

The Jew Who Became a Nun

My ex-girlfriend Rachel declared to several people in our immediate social circle that I have multiple personalities. But it is Rachel, I would argue, who has a diverse set of identities that bind to no particular individuality.

I'm not referring to her screaming unclear thoughts at the Pakistani cashier at 7-Eleven, or the time she refused to tip our waitress at Beef Steak Charlie's because her filet mignon was not quite 87°F.

No, it all began when Rachel broke her brain running down the stairs of the Empire State Building; from that point onward she spoke in cantankerous and garbled speeches that occasionally reeked of Goebbels on a bad day of PR.


"Disneyland! Disneyland!" Rachel shouts while my friend Esther is on the phone planning a trip, having just learned her uncle died.

"Rachel, shut up—stop screaming into your cell phone while I'm talking."

"We should go to Disneyland, not South Dakota, Esther."

"You're not coming regardless…."

"South Dakota attracts manic depressives, I read in Vogue."

Esther continues speaking with the travel agency.

Rachel sings the theme song from The Brady Bunch, which is her national anthem. She is particularly mesmerized by the episode where Jan uses lemon rinds to get rid of freckles.

Rachel speaks, and never shuts up, and drowns out the looniest cartoon character. Her voice travels at quantum liquid spin speed—one light year from my house to yours, in thirty seconds of immense insects flying.


Though falling down the steps of the Empire State Building was a significant moment for Rachel's unparalleled mental health issues, her descent into a Dante's Inferno of dementia began when she became a nun at Sister Jewniversity.

Rachel was studying to become an endocrinologist's assistant at Sister Jewniversity while I went there to research Renaissance history—how the Vatican didn't appreciate Catholics or Protestants until the Reformation.

We met at the latrine in the library between the Renaissance and endocrinologist sections.

"Hi," she murmured at me.

"Hi," I replied.

We had been checking each other out between notes. Though it was clear that I liked her and she liked me, I was fixated on the Renaissance era but couldn't complete my paper.

To avert Writer's Block à la the Renaissance, I decided to hitchhike to Connecticut. This journeying off might have led some to believe that I had multiple personalities split between the Garden State Parkway and the Renaissance era. Truth was: I was disappointed by the limited supply of Renaissance history books at Sister Jewniversity Library. I also couldn't write more about Catholic and Protestants, who were getting on my nerves, so I traveled to Connecticut, under the severe impression I was going to marry a WASP I had never met, but she'd know more about the Renaissance than Sister Jewniversity Library.


Sister Jewniversity has historically been a bastion of anti-Semitic-anti-Zionist lesbianism directed at the ultra-Orthodox queer female Jews who live in the same neighborhood and drive improperly when it is not Saturday.

I have tried to dismount the fears of those ultra-Orthodox dykes who think that the nuns support Hitler, or are perhaps in collusion with the PLO; so far, nothing has worked. To date, I have seen no ultra-Orthodox Jewish or Zionist lesbians studying there. Also, my more religious peeps have shown little confidence to negotiate with this school because apparently, and I've heard this from some reliable sources, there is an arts and crafts class where kids make blue and white chastity belts.

Sister Jewniversity has always been problematic for Sapphic Orthodox Jews who live near it. To begin with, the black-coated scholars are not fond of the university moniker, "Sister Jewniversity," and have asked the Congressional Appropriations Education Committee to defund the school until it switches to a less anti-Semitic name.

The Hebe lezzies have prayed, argued and prayed, and when they were done, they issued this statement: "Woody Allen and Philip Roth employ self-derision in their diatribes, but they are our diatribes. Sister Jewniversity belongs to the same group that killed us during the Inquisition."

These Yiddish vigilantes, during their intense surveillance of Sister Jewniversity, observed my ex Rachel eating scrambled eggs in a kosher diner known for its political discourse. She was wearing a habit, all black, and an earring in her nose. It was not clear if Rachel was contemplating her Yiddish-lesbian roots or the possibility of being married to Christ for the rest of her life. Others considered Rachel's inevitable Catholic conversion a reaction to her father being overly Jewish, but not allowing her to hang out with the lesbian ultra-Orthodox in her neighborhood. "Resentments," she once told me, "have a strange way of manifesting."

To maintain a close proximity to her people, but to not alienate herself from the Catholic institution that provided income, Rachel went vegan and ate at IHOP. Some feared that she would go Muslim on us, as her puritanical garb was slightly similar to the Sunnis.

Rachel, upon becoming a "nun," resented "imperial Zionists," particularly the Orthodox Jewish lesbians who opened kosher coffee houses in the West Bank.


Several members of the Orthodox Jewish Lesbian Espionage Society (OJLES) suspected that Rachel held an unabashed allegiance to Ayn Rand, who was considered, quite possibly, one of Rachel's personalities. For example, when Ayn Rand crosses the street, she does so without a cane, because she, Ayn Rand, does not want to be symbolically dependent on anything but her own invulnerability. This is also true with Rachel, who has fallen numerous times, due to the influence of Ayn Rand and a lack of cane and/or prosthetic support system.

This may be why, after all the years Rachel spent pursuing a Jewish education without her father's approval, it was time to become Catholic, though she had married a Catholic, but this made her less anti-Semitic and more Jewish because the Catholic that she married was a dirt bomb and his mother was even more so (this led Rachel to remain part-time Jewish before she entered the convent).


Rachel's characters to date: Jewish/nun/assistant endocrinologist/Jesuit fighter on behalf of the PLO/anti-Catholic dirt bomb activist/and Ayn Rand's protégé.


Rachel thought, because she was gay in addition to being homophobic, "At least nuns don't have to worry about being lesbians. They just are what they are." This was pre-Pope the new pope who kinda likes the gays and yet may have been involved in some underhanded minutiae with the Argentine militia in the 1980s.


Unlike the Pope, Rachel, in the 1980s, had many personalities: she was a purveyor of Salisbury Steaks; a punk rocker; a bike rider; and a habitual reader of illustrated French existential works.

Most people in Rachel's high school, who disputed her being "schizoid," were transfixed by her beauty and brilliance. She was too sultry, dreamy and inescapably gorgeous to be considered crazy.

Indeed, I still have dreams where Rachel takes me aside and says, "You're looking good again." I melt. Just when you think this chick is a nutcase whom Sappho should burn at the stake, you are mesmerized by her soulful words.


That Rachel had been my girlfriend, but then transformed into a nun, infuriated the Orthodox lesbians who felt that if I had at least separated my milk from meat—set a good example—I could have brought her into the fold.


Too much sex, even bad sex, is not good for anyone's soul. Of course, being that Rachel was plump with skinniness, resembled the best tree in the orchard, the sistahs permitted her to enter with the preconditioned solicitation, "That I have never been, nor will I ever be, a lesbian or an anti-Semite, but it's alright if my political views diverge from the State of Israel and Orthodox-Zionist lesbians but still maintain sympathies with the PLO." Hamas was quiet back then, so most people considered Arafat and his boys the underdogs of the 80s.


When I convinced Rachel to have sex with me, she declared that my dissimilar voices, which hollered at multifarious levels, inhibited her orgasm.

"It was impossible to distinguish the moans from the groans," she testified in front of the Sister Jewniversity Ethics Committee, adding, "Patricia Schwartz's DIDD (dissociative identity disorder database) inspired me to take a vow and terminate all ties with cuninlingus."

Though Rachel, I believed, had umpteen individualities (she reenacted the virtues and vices of Civil War nurses from the Confederacy or was a boy scout in 1968 in Illinois who had gone fishing), the Church gave her a nun permit. Rachel was also paid a generous stipend to give lectures about how I was the malevolent "Judette" who was not kind to Palestinians.

Though I'm not an Orthodox kike dyke who drives poorly on all days but the Sabbath, I was considered far more sinister. I was "evilness minus the Yeshiva."

"Stay away from Patricia Schwartz. You can't tell from one day to the next who she will be!" Rachel and her fellow nuns shouted when I dined at IHOP.

"Patricia Schwartz," the enigmatic way she says "Patricia Schwartz," lyricism off the vowels. There were many nun-girls, some pretty, some with a few acne moments, who posted signs on the concrete lawn near IHOP, "Patricia Schwartz is comprised of numerous characters. Please beware." My Muslim neighbors, dining on eggs with cheese, were confused because they considered me "the harmless Jew girl in the neighborhood who occasionally taxes us mentally."


Rachel was very committed to her newfound role as postulant. And though the sisters knew she was Jewish with mixed philosophies like a beagle mutt, they printed a decree that read, "Be it known, that Rachel, of Lizaville, New Jersey, may reside, in spirit, at Sister Jewniversity, as a nun, though her original intention was to become an endocrinologist's assistant. We like the presence of steamy women who maintain a hermetic presence that causes hormone overflow. Plus Rachel has been the victim of our enemy, Patricia Schwartz, and we must all bond to make the world free of infidels."


On behalf of Sister Jewiniversity, Rachel would also be the anti-ultra-Orthodox lesbian character assassinator.

The Orthodox, realizing their nemesis was my nemesis, asked me to join their team and decry Rachel's alluring sex appeal. I told them, rather straightforwardly, "It can never be argued that Rachel had a non-good body. It is among the best, curviest and small and accessible from all angles. Her breasts are not the boobiest, but we don't necessarily blame her for this, particularly if her whiny voice during orgasm sounds like a combination of Gumby and Nina Simone."


Originally, Rachel and I knew, based on our reputations, who we were. We also had a mutual friend, Dope, who had a 5-minute relationship with Rachel, when Rachel put her hands on Dope's large boobs near the bathroom faucet. It was a stretch, for Rachel has not always been able to grope boobs, but since hers were miniscule in comparison to Dope's, she was able to do more than just an erotic bear hug, and so romantically/unexpectedly, that Dope, who was known to dine on peanut butter and corn flakes at Zionist camp, nearly fainted.

[Midpoint digression: After Rachel and I bumped into one another in the latrine at Sister Jewniversity, and I returned from my trip to Connecticut where the WASP had failed to exist and/or provide better resources on the Renaissance than Sister Jewniversity's Library, Dope made us a lovely brunch of corn flakes and peanut butter and Rachel and I became lovers.]



Rachel and I encountered one another on that puerile level of skin where, if you rub one another too hard, you might get impetigo, like you did as a kid in the sandbox. Yes, we were always jumping on one another as if we had been without each other all our lives, which we had. And I thought: why should sex be the reason for your existence? Why can't we play Scrabble and she'll beat me, but it will create a more enduring relationship than this bestial relationship we have under the covers.

These multiple questions and concerns were too complex for Rachel's personalities to comprehend.

At first, when we broke up, Rachel declared, "Don't talk with Patricia! She has more characters than a William Faulkner novel."



To support her theories about me being the one with the misguided people in my cerebrum, she recalled a conversation I had told her about an ex who did, in fact, suffer from a personality disorder.

"I had a girlfriend who didn't know who she was. She brushed her teeth with a Wall Street janitor hand and flossed as a hippy with another," I told Rachel.

My having this ex-girlfriend led Rachel to believe I had caught this personality disorder as a sexually transmitted disease. She had me checked for this mental illness, in addition to AIDs, gonorrhea and a Yeast infection, which she blamed me for.

"I feel like Wonderbread!" she screeched the first time she came.

"Well, Rachel, there are many organisms who'd like to interfere with our fun times, and I doubt it's personal."

Rachel insisted that I take green pills before we sleep together.

"This will prevent more than one character from yelling out at once!"

As we became lovers, and she lost interest in her assistant endocrinology studies, Rachel began to avoid me.


I didn't hear from her until we had lunch at Red Lobster.

"You are like my father, my mother, my brother, my dead aunts," she declared, "they all speak through you. I am going to rename you Ouija Board—pre- and post-modern."

"I like your father," I admitted, because his pretentiousness was almost as charming as mine.

"I'm not going to have sex with my father. I was up all night eating Hershey bars thinking you were him. This is a tragic. It undermines my ability to stay thin and now that I'm considering the convent life—well—I'm not in love with you cause I don't know who 'you' are…."

And over peanuts, in this suburban restaurant where the beer floats high on the mugs, the mugs having been in the freezer, Rachel left me unattended, unattached and without remorse.

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