Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kosher Living (our way)

Ryan and I have been trying to keep kosher since our two-year anniversary on Oct. 16. What does this mean for us? We don't eat pork, and we do our best not to mix meat and dairy.

Keeping kosher means very different things for everyone. Many Jews who keep kosher avoid meat altogether in order to follow the strictest kosher guidelines.

From Judaism 101 (one of my go-to Web sites):

1. Certain animals may not be eaten at all. This restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs and milk of the forbidden animals.
2. Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.
3. All blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
4. Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
5. Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for bugs
6. Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (According to some views, fish may not be eaten with meat).
7. Utensils that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food. This applies only where the contact occurred while the food was hot.
8. Grape products made by non-Jews may not be eaten.

What are the forbidden animals?

According to the Torah (Lev. 11:3 and Deut. 14:6), animals must have split hooves and chew its own cud. Also fish must have scales and fins, so lobster, shrimp and other shellfish are forbidden.

So why are we doing this?

Ryan and I have always talked about trying to keep kosher for at least a set amount of time for the experience. But, truly, Ryan and I often struggle with ways to live Jewishly. This is something that we can do that reminds us of our religion and way of life.

As I said before, Jews keep kosher in very different ways. The vast majority of Jews do not. The rabbi who is leading our classes keeps kosher, but also eats vegetarian because he is unable to procure kosher meat where we live. The rabbi who will marry us in eight months (!!!!) mixes meat and dairy, but refuses to eat pork. She explained to us that keeping kosher in this way was effective for her because when she goes to the grocery store and to a restaurant she is doing so as a Jew, and not buying or ordering pork products is a daily reminder of her faith.

Ryan and I are still stumbling around on the subject. We make mistakes every once in a while and eat a buttered roll with our roast beef. We don't know if we'll register for separate plates, cookware and utensils. This is truly an ever-evolving thing for us.

But so far, this has been one of the most rewarding experiences for both of us. It helps us challenge each other and when people ask us questions and challenge our beliefs, it helps those beliefs grow even stronger.

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