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Food and kashrut

Excerpted with permission from on-line discussions in the Mishpacha private communities

Author: Hadass E.
Date: Nov. 27

I love kashrut - I also try to remember to say the appropriate blessings before popping something into my mouth. It really makes you conscious of what you are eating The word "kosher" literally means "acceptable". There is a *lot* of discussion as to what is acceptable to whom.

Author: Todd C.
Date: Dec. 4

One of the things that may be missing from my (limited) practice of kashrut is the spiritual component of eating.

Over the years, I have worked to avoid treif and questionable foods reflexively rather than think about why I'm doing it.

I think that the practice becomes a hollow ritual if one doesn't think about why they are doing something. I have made keeping kosher an end unto itself rather than treating it as a means to an ends--raising ones spiritual level and turning the mundane act of eating into something holy. This is not necessarily easy-- but that challenge is what makes it so worthwhile.

 

Understanding kashrut

Author: George H.
Date: Dec. 9

Basically, kashrut is a whole system of sanctifying what we eat and making us think about it, and much of the system doesn't lend itself to rational explanations that we "moderns" desperately look for to justify the things we do.

Author: Nechama M.
Date: Nov. 28

Because I am still in the process of incorporating kashrut into our home life, I find every aspect of it feels holy--perhaps it's because it is all so new to me, or perhaps I was always meant to be kosher and this just feels right

Author: George H.
Date: Dec. 1

Although I recognize that my level of observance isn't ideal, here's the bottom line for me: Kashrut makes me think about what I'm eating, and where it came from, and how grateful I should be to have it.

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More Mishpacha discussions

Kashrut and our families

Author: Sue L.
Date: Nov. 28

When I was keeping kosher, I still made bacon for my family. This all relates back to my confusion about passing my religion onto my kids, along with my heritage.

Why should I restrict my children's diet, because of my beliefs - beliefs, I might add, that I am unsure of and can not really justify or explain (ie if my kids would ask why we are kosher, I wouldn't be able to answer truthfully)?

Author: Nechama M.
Date: Nov. 28

I've been fortunate in that my non-Jewish husband has become increasingly tolerant of bringing kashrut into our home. At first he was against it, then he agreed to no meat with milk, then just stopped buying non-kosher meat (hopefully that will last). He continued to be vehemently opposed to kashering the kitchen until about a week ago. He was working late a few nights on a project with a Modern Orthodox consultant. This was my husband's first social interaction with an Orthodox person and it was a very positive one. He drove the man home a few times, they got to talking, and next thing you know he comes home and tells me he wants me to do whatever is necessary to kasher the kitchen. Sorry, I know I'm digressing a little here, but this change in him has been very exciting for me.

Author: Nora R.
Date: Dec. 1

My mother and father-in-law are both gone now, as are their parents, so I can't ask them why they observed kashrut. I suspect the answer would be something like, "Because...." or "That's what my parents did." The reason I suspect this is that the dietary laws seemed to have become so mechanical to them that they forgot why they really observed them. When my husband went to college, he stopped observing kashrut, and hasn't gone back since.

Author: Nora R.
Date: Dec. 1

Increasing observance of kashrut will be a slow and gradual process in our home, and may be one that has mixed participation.

Author: Beth G.
Date: Dec. 9

I asked my ten year-old this morning if she thought it would be a good idea to buy only kosher food for the house.

And, she finally said YES!

I'll admit that it probably would have been "no" again if I hadn't told her first that Oreos is getting a hechsher. :-)

So, I asked her why she wanted to start being kosher (except for the pots and pans and dishes....), and she said, "It's a nice Jewish thing to do." Pretty good reason for a ten-year-old, huh!

 

Personal responses to kashrut

Sue L.
Date: Nov. 30

I have absolutely no inner desire, at this point in my life, to sanctify, either for me, or for my family, our eating life, anymore than I have a desire to sanctify our clothing life. I would, however, like to get my family to sanctify our life in general. I have not figured out how to get my children to appreciate what God has given us. Are we saying that we should start sanctifying life, by sanctifying food? I could buy that, I guess. Something to think about.

Author: Nechama M.
Date: Nov. 30

I wonder how I am going to handle going kosher when I have so much disarray in my kitchen, but maybe it will give me a chance to get my act together. I don't know how I am going to have enough cabinet space for two sets of dishes and pots though. This is going to take some thought for sure.

Author: Cynthia B.
Date: Nov. 30

At this point in my life, I have no desire to observe kashrut and find it difficult to imagine a time when I would. I do want to make daily living more conscious, more intentional -- focusing on eating seems to be a part of that.. But I think I am far more likely to start by creating time and space to eat peacefully and by giving thanks for what we have.

Author: Sue L.
Date: Nov. 28

I can't keep kosher out of guilt. I know now that I will not keep kosher until I can define why it is important to me

Author: Ricki H
Date: Dec. 3

Though we do not insist on following kashrut outside of the home, I do believe that our practice within the home helps our children understand that the home should be a place where we find comfort in our our lives as Jews.

I am ambivalent about observance outside the home. I must admit, that I do think about it and it gnaws at me that we are comfortable mixing meat and dairy and eating shellfish outside of the home.

But what level of observance should we maintain outside of the home and how does that impact the sharing we have with our non-Jewish friends?

We all chose which laws we follow and which we don't. This is confusing to me, though I believe that each one of us needs to make those decisions of how observant we want to be.

How much of sharing with our non-Jewish neighbors are we willing to sacrifice? Do we not eat at their homes? Do we not got our to eat with them? Is that level of separation required by Jewish law? These are the questions that I still find unsettling.

Stages of kashrut

Author: Nechama M.
Date: Nov. 27

For me kashrut is an evolving process--giving me time to appreciate the logical and spiritual reasons behind it each step of the way as I move on to the next level.

Author: Sue L.
Date: Nov. 28

I no longer try, even with my father, to evaluate other people's kosherness. I try not to label people as hypocrites anymore, as I did when I was young. I see now that my father is kosher, and practices Judaism, the way he sees fit. That is just as legitimate to me, as any other way.

On this topic:

Kashrut and holiness

Understanding Kashrut

Kashrut and our families

Personal responses to kashrut

Stages of Kashrut

Vegetarianism

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Author: Beth F.
Date: Dec. 2

The forms we filled out for a Shabbat dinner program asked if we had a Kosher home or not. Initially, I felt uncomfortable because I had to ask myself 'by whose standards?'

12. Author: Dianne C.
Date: Nov. 28

For someone who lives in an Orthodox community in Brooklyn it is the easiest thing in the world to keep kosher-- in fact it would be quite difficult not to.

 

Vegetarianism

Related:
Kashrut: an introduction

How is your kitchen organized? An exercise in thinking about kashrut and meaning.

Blessings

.

Author: Melisa C.
Date: Nov. 27

I don't have two sets of dishes or a kosher kitchen and I don't know if I ever will. I'd rather just be completely vegetarian.

Author: Melisa C.
Date: Nov. 27

Can food that requires the suffering of animals (factory raised chickens and veal calves) or of farmworkers (due to inhumane working conditions, poor wages, and chemical exposure) ever be Kosher? What about all the foods whose production damages the environment through the use of chemicals?

Author: Melisa C.
Date: Nov. 27

From an ethical standpoint I have a lot more respect for being totally vegetarian than seeking out kosher meat--after all, a dead chicken is a dead chicken no matter who kills it. Kosher slaughter leaves animals no less dead than any other type of slaughter. So I see myself eventually going all the way down the vegetarian road before I ever worry about having a truly kosher kitchen. Nonetheless I really appreciate the discipline required in choosing my food carefully. I have become much more conscious of giving thanks for my food which I feel should be an obligation for everyone. And when I turn certain foods down or make my choices in restaurants for myself and my sons, I really feel out Jewish identity being reinforced.

12. Author: Dianne C.
Date: Nov. 28

I was part of a group of interdenominational Rabbis. We were getting together at someone's house whose observance of Kashrut was questionable. We decided to bring in food from a kosher restaurant. My orthodox colleagues wanted to eat off paper plates. One of my Reconstructionist colleagues claimed that that would be a violation for him of "kashrut"-- because it was such a waste of paper. For him -- what he considered ethical breaches-- rendered something unkosher!

 

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