While many of the world’s major religions frown on nonprocreative sex (or even sex at all—how’s that working out for you, Shakers?), Judaism has no such qualms. Sure, there’s that whole thing about how you’re supposed to be in a married, monogamous relationship—but beyond that, the sky is pretty much the limit. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’ve been so many significant developments in sex that can be traced back to chosen people.
1) Sigmund Freud gives the world a complex.
There are few people out there who’ve shaped the way we talk about sex quite like Sigmund Freud. Though many of his ideas have fallen out of favor, his theories on sexual development have left an indelible mark on the modern psyche. And all this from a man with the middle name Schlomo.
2) Marilyn Monroe converts.
Has there ever been a sex symbol quite like Marilyn Monroe? Half a century after the iconic bombshell’s death, she’s still celebrated as a paragon of sexuality (and memorialized in quite a few starlets’ tattoos). While it’s true that she wasn’t born a Jew, she converted in the mid-1950s for her marriage to Arthur Miller—and, more importantly, stayed Jewish after their divorce. We’re not saying it was definitely because of Judaism’s comfortability with sex—but it probably didn’t hurt.
3) Dr. Ruth teaches.
Dr. Ruth narrowly escaped the concentration camps, spent her youth in pre-Israel Israel (where she lost her virginity on a starry night, in a haystack), and was wounded while fighting in the Israeli War of Independence—all before the age of 21. Decades later, she came to prominence as one of America’s preeminent sex therapists; she’s written numerous books, helmed a radio show, and even had a gig as a Clairol Herbal Essences spokesperson.
4) Monica Lewinsky goes down.
You can forget those tired jokes about what Jewish women’s mouths are good at, because the woman who turned the Oval Office into the Oral Office spent her youth attending services at Los Angeles’s Sinai Temple.
5) Joanna Angel makes porn kosher.
Joanna Angel may not be the first Jewish pornstar (both Nina Hartley and Ron Jeremy preceded her by decades), but she may be the most Jewish pornstar. Raised Orthodox, the punk porn princess still observes all the major holidays with her family—and she even celebrated a recent Hanukkah by filming an eight man gangbang. Talk about a miracle.
6) Shmuley Boteach preaches sex.
Celebrity rabbi—and rabbi to the celebrities—Shmuley Boteach isn’t just comfortable talking about sex: he’s based a sizeable chunk of his career on his willingness to dispense advice on doing it better in the bedroom. The author of three books about doing it right (or at least doing it the Jewish way), Boteach is commonly known as the Sex Rabbi; as far as we know, he has no Sex Reverends, Sex Imams, or Sex Priests to count as peers.
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