Putting aside the notion of writing a blog entry of real importance and meaning today, and while trying not to be too critical of Sex and the City 2 (which, I thought was a horrible movie), here are a few positive thoughts about my favorite of the four SATC women, the lovable, sweet, graceful, gorgeous, Charlotte York Goldenblatt.
As you might imagine, to seekers of Judaism, in particular young female conversion candidates, Charlotte is someone with whom many identify. Her story of meeting Harry and converting to Judaism resonates, inspires and provides direction and comfort through unknown territory. More times than I can count, I have heard statements from conversion candidates like: “Yeah, that’s just like when Charlotte was converting!” or “Hmmm… my last Christmas at home; just like Charlotte’s!” or “Wow, Rabbi Tachman, you are so nice and welcoming at this first meeting! I came to Temple Sholom thinking my experience would be more like Charlotte’s!”
Charlotte: [meeting a rabbi for the first time] Hello, My name is Charlotte York and I am interested in joining the Jewish faith.
Rabbi: Sorry, we're not interested. [closes the door in her face]
And like Charlotte, conversion candidates have sometimes wondered aloud why their significant other, who is so dead-set on marrying a Jew, doesn’t seem to take his own Judaism very seriously.
Harry: I'm not kosher, I'm Conservative.
Charlotte: I'm conservative, too!
Harry: Yeah, well, MY Conservative doesn't have anything to do with wearing pearls.
Harry, as you will remember, enjoys eating pork chops, and when Charlotte goes through the trouble of making him a fancy Shabbat dinner, he is more interested in the baseball game on TV, to which she complains:
Charlotte: I gave up Christ for you. You can't give up the Mets?
Also see here.
And, though Kashrut and Shabbat observance may not be Harry’s top priorities, he is a kind, caring, supportive, loving mensch, a person who believes in God, and is a character who represents us Jews well.
Charlotte: [hearing the front door open] Hi, honey. I'm a bad wife. I ordered Chinese.
Harry: I got something from China, too. They're giving us a baby.
Charlotte: What? How?
Harry: I guess God remembered our address. We get her in six months... and here she is. [hands Charlotte a photo of the baby]
Charlotte: [smiling through tears] That's our baby. I know it. That's really our baby!
With all this being said, I can’t help but reflect on Harry’s offhand comment at the wedding in Act One of SATC 2. When Charlotte announces that she is going to look for a “nosh” Harry quips something like: “It took seven years, but finally she’s a Jew.”
I would argue that Charlotte always had a Jewish soul in her, and despite the very poor writing for this latest movie, Charlotte’s Judaism holds strong.
What makes Charlotte Jewish more than anything else, I believe, are her Jewish sensibilities which have been exhibited throughout the show. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Charlotte values the sanctity of marriage. She is the only friend to chastise and shame Carrie regarding her adulterous affair with Mr. Big.
2. Charlotte, like my Bubbe, knows how to put a curse on someone:
Charlotte: [to Big in first movie after he leaves Carrie at the altar] I curse the day you were born!
I imagine one day Charlotte will use other, more colorful, Yiddish curses such as:
Vifil yor er iz gegangn oyf di fis zol er geyn af di hent un di iberike zol er zikh sharn oyf di hintn.
“As many years as he’s walked on his feet, let him walk on his hands, and for the rest of the time he should crawl along on his ass.”
3. Charlotte follows the directive from the Mishnah not to judge the quality of the wine inside of a flask based on what the flask looks like on the outside. Although Charlotte is not initially attracted to Harry, she is won over by his good heart, his kindness toward her, and his obvious love of her.
4. Charlotte is very traditional and reverent:
Charlotte: [whispering to Samantha] Could you please not use the f-word in Vera Wang?
5. Charlotte, like Jews over the centuries, is always hopeful and optimistic despite overwhelming odds:
Charlotte: [when she has trouble conceiving] We're not barren, we're reproductively challenged!
6. Charlotte is familiar with Jewish humor and can joke like an old Jewish man:
Samantha: Tell me why we're going to this again?
Carrie: She's an old friend going through a breakup. We're being supportive.
Samantha: On a Friday night?
Charlotte: She tried to kill herself!
Miranda: It was six Advil!
Charlotte: On an empty stomach!
7. In SATC 2—like Rebecca of the Bible—Charlotte falls off a camel. Of course Charlotte doesn’t know how to ride a camel because she wasn’t Jewish in time to qualify for a Birthright trip. I think there is another connection between Charlotte and the name “Rebecca,” but let’s not go there.
8. Charlotte learns, perhaps from the Torah, but also from her own experiences that one should not interpret events as omens:
Deuteronomy 18:10-14 “…don't let your people practice divination or look for omens…” After her failed marriage with Trey that began when she interpreted a chance meeting as an omen, she warns Carrie in the second movie not to do the same:
Carrie: We [her and Aiden] bumped into each other halfway across the world—it means something.
Charlotte: I think you are playing with fire.
9. Charlotte, like many Jews, is good at worrying:
Carrie: What makes you think something bad is gonna happen?
Charlotte: Because! Nobody gets everything they want! Look at you, look at Miranda. You're good people and you two both got shafted. I'm so happy and... something bad is going to happen.
Carrie: Sweetie, you shit your pants this year. I think you're done.
10. Charlotte, despite having endured many hardships, including a tireless search for her knight in shining armor, a failed marriage, trouble conceiving, and later feeling overwhelmed with motherhood, is full of gratitude and love of her family and husband:
Samantha: Relationships aren't just about being happy. I mean, how often are you happy in your relationship?
Charlotte: Every day.
Samantha: Every day?
Charlotte: Well, not all day every day but yes, every day.
Well, here’s to you Charlotte York Goldenblatt. L’chaim! May you and Harry, Lily and Rose know peace, kindness and goodness. May you continue to inspire and guide potential Jews by Choice throughout the world. And may you and your three friends be blessed with a much better script and story when SATC 3 one day arrives on the Silver Screen.