It’s been a while since I’ve posted links to or excerpts from any of my Jewish Week singles columns . But since I’m in my waning days of holding that singles columnist title, and because in a world where I had the time to plan better, this might have been my “real” 60 bloggers post, I thought I’d make an exception for my family here at Jewlicious.

In honor of Israeli Independence Day, I’ve written a singles column that runs the gamut. I never expected that I’d end up relating Jack Bauer to Hebrew language within a singles context, but somehow it happened. An excerpt:

My father recently sent me an e-mail consisting only of a list of numbers. I called him to discuss and asked, “So, do I have to enter these numbers every 108 minutes or the hatch blows up?” While that question is made up of English words that everyone should theoretically understand, it really only makes sense to those who watch “Lost.”

There’s something about a secret language, whether it’s a literal language or an insider’s slang full of references to popular culture or shared experience that creates an instant bond. Audiences for slangy, relentlessly contemporary films like “Juno” and TV shows like “Lost,” “24” and “Heroes” go from observers to loyal adherents; they form a community because they have a shared passion for the characters and because they speak the unique language of that special (albeit imaginary) universe. They’ll talk about “saving the cheerleader to save the world,” or a roadblock that must mean Jack Bauer is setting up a perimeter and asking someone to holster his weapon.

“Star Trek” fans might have started it all in those pre-Internet days, seeking out understanding and community on the convention circuit as they donned Spock ears and kvetched about the trouble with Tribbles. A common language is a vital component to the creation of any community, whether it’s an assembly of thousands or a society of two.

Shared language creates an intimacy, even among people who have never met before. They feel chemistry in these moments of cultural confluence. When a couple is really getting along, experiences and speech patterns often sync up until both members develop a kind of special language — from the “aww, you’re my schmoopie” exchanged nauseatingly in front of single friends, to callbacks to prior experiences or the familiarity they’ve established.

My longest linguistic love affair to date is with the State of Israel. Israel, now 60 (or older, depending on how you’re counting), is the December to my May, and we communicate in Hebrew, of course. My educational background gave me a head start. Because my vocabulary came from Hebrew literature classes and from the classical texts we studied, my language developed as vital background toward understanding Israel: the equivalent of Googling Israel Hebraically to learn everything I could before we met, and establishing an instant history. (Not that anyone would ever do that for a potential romantic partner.)

Read the rest of “Language of Love,” here.

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

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