Why I Choose to Follow the Laws of Kashrut

When I began my conversion to Judaism one of the first things the rabbi had me do was to eat Kosher.  He said it was not necessary but he wanted me to give it a try and see what I thought.  At first I had to read every label and think about everything I ate.  Over time however eating Kosher became an everyday norm.

Why do Jews eat Kosher?

Jews follow the dietary laws described in the Torah.  The laws of Kashrut are mentioned three times in the Torah, making them important.  The Torah states which foods are permitted and which are not.  The rabbis interpret the phrase, “A kid shall not be boiled in its mother’s milk,” as meat and dairy should not be eaten together.

Is There an Easy Way to Keep Kosher?

An easy way to begin eating kosher is to follow a vegan diet.  Vegan diets exclude meat and dairy, therefor making it easier to follow without having to think too much about it.  One does have to think about what things are cooked with and cooked on when eating out if planning to follow a kosher diet.  For example grills that vegetables are cooked on may also be used to cook meat or prohibited items.  Cooking meals at home guarantees you know where your food is cooked and what it is cooked with.  Allowed items can be added if you so choose.

How Does Eating Kosher Add to my Jewish Experience?

Eating kosher for me reminds me of my beliefs every time I sit down to a meal.  It is something I think about on a daily basis, not only on Shabbat.  It makes me think about everything I eat.  It is one of the things that makes me a Jew.

The only thing I miss since I began keeping kosher is pepperoni pizza, but that is a very small price to pay for finding where I belong.

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The Healing Power of Ritual

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the definition of ritual is a set of actions or words performed in a regular way, often as part of a religious ceremony.  The power ritual actions and words can act as a means of healing. The act of keeping kosher and observing Shabbat can be the beginning of small weekly and daily rituals.

Although a ritual is performed regularly and often, it is different from an addiction or habit.  Unlike an addiction or habit, spiritual ritual has a positive affect that one can benefit from, rather than have a need or desire to stop.  Even a small tiny action performed once a week can have enormous benefits.

Many Jews observe a ritual at every meal by eating Kosher.  Simply put eating Kosher is abiding by the dietary laws in the Torah.  Jews do not eat pork or other foods listed as forbidden. We also do not eat meat and dairy together as the Torah states, “a kid shall not boil in its mother’s milk.”  At every meal we are reminded of the dietary laws in the Torah by the foods we choose to eat or not eat. Eating kosher exemplifies self discipline and brings one spiritually closer to God.

Observing Shabbat is another practice that Jews perform and take seriously.  The benefits of observing Shabbat are many. Attending service on Friday night and Saturday morning bring observant Jews together as a community.  No matter how one”s week was, what is going on in ones life either positive or negative, it can be comforting to know in a world of uncertainty where you will be spending your Friday night and Saturday morning and who you will be spending it with.

Each branch of Judaism has a different service although many of the same prayers are said.  Each week depending on what service is being held, the same prayers will be said and will be said in the same order.  This gives Shabbat a structure on which to build.

On Shabbat the Torah states that one is to refrain from doing work.  In American society this can be hard to accomplish as electronics keep us tied to all of the obligations and urgencies of our daily lives.  It may seem impossible to take a day to just relax, spend time with one’s family and to be offline. Once you start doing this as part of a Shabbat ritual it is amazingly rewarding.  At first your friends and family may push back wondering why you did not return their call or text. After some time they will know and come to accept that you are observing Shabbat and they will have to wait.

These are two small steps in observing Jewish ritual.  Performing these actions and words every day or week can keep one grounded as we experience life’s challenges and rewards.  There are only benefits, spiritual enlightenment and a feeling of being closer to God. I invite you to try it.

 

The Cadillac Hotel

The Cadillac Hotel in Venice Beach, California was built in 1912.  It sits along the boardwalk with an incredible view of the beach.  Located on Dudley Avenue, it also houses a bicycle rental shop and Titanic, a shop with giant robots sells hats and other items.  Reportedly the Cadillac Hotel was a popular destination for Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Charlie Chaplin.

The Venice Beach Bar

The Venice Beach Bar is located on Ocean Front Walk near Dudley.  It sits opposite the large parking lot off of Rose Street.  The building was built in 1922 and currently houses a bar and eatery.  It is one of the historic buildings in Venice with a lot of history.  It is legend that the music group The Doors hung out here.

The bar is currently closed for remodeling, but will open soon just in time for the good weather.  The views of the beach and sunset are unparalleled.  If you happen to be visiting southern California be sure to give the Venice Beach Bar a visit.

The One Thing I Did Right in Life

I never wanted to be divorced.  I have had people ask me to marry them, but I knew it would not last.  I never tried to force someone to marry be by getting pregnant or ultimatums.  I have not met the person who is right for me yet.

Even more than divorce, I never wanted to be a single mom.  I felt it would not be good for me and even more so for the children.  None of my partners have been father material so I never made them one.

I feel that children do better growing up in a stable home with two parents.  However I know one can not always predict if a relationship will work out and I have the utmost respect for women who are raising children on their own.  It can not be easy.  I feel good knowing I did not bring children into this world who would end up with difficulties because of a failed marriage or relationship.  I have been responsible in that aspect of my life.  I take relationships seriously, but I would have taken parenthood even more seriously.  So while my life my be in upheaval at the current moment, the one thing I did right was to judge whether or not my partners were parent material and I did not become a single parent.