a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

I fell off the Kosher Wagon

Posted on: October 10, 2010

I’ve never been an addict, though addiction runs in my family.  Since I’ve never been an addict, I’ve never been to any meetings for addicts.  I do, though, feel like telling the missteps will allow me to feel better and just come clean so that’s what I intend to do right now. 

My birthday was on Friday night and my sweet love took me to dinner.  We went to an amazing (non-kosher) restaurant and had an outstanding (not kosher) meal that included scallops and pancetta.  I also enjoyed a raw oyster at Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal after the protest and yesterday, in post-birthday celebrations with friends, had a bacon cheese burger.  Not to mention copious amounts of red wine, champagne, and beer-all non-kosher.

My home, though, is still kosher-Erika Style.  While celebrating my birthday in the various New York City bars and restaurants with friends willing to put down cash and credit to allow me to eat and drink to my heart’s content, I found myself defending my desire to try to be kosher for a year.  I explained the laws of kashrut while friends argued the other mundane and sometimes archaic rules of the Bible.  I drank wine, knowing that it wasn’t kosher, while marveling at how good non-kosher wine is, and aching inside at the pleasure I took in eating those scallops that were seared to perfection on the outsides and tender and sweet on the inside.  I probably ate that bacon cheeseburger yesterday the slowest I’d ever eaten one, for the simple fact that I hadn’t had one in almost a month and a half.

With a trip back to the midwest looming and the knowledge that the ability to keep kosher at home will be near impossible I’m beginning to wonder myself it’s worth while.  I’m not sure how much more I can alter laws of kashrut to make them work for me and my lifestyle in New York.  Mirs suggested that we try to be vegetarian and even said vegan (gasp of horror) as we ate our meals at my birthday dinner and I scoffed off both ideas.  There is no way that I’m not eating meat or cheese, it’s a non-issue because it will never, ever happen.

On the other hand, I found myself incredibly winded and out of shape when we were racing up and down the giant stairs to the JMZ trains in Bushwick.  As we slumped into the benches waiting for the next train, watching the one we missed by the skin of our teeth slithering down the above-ground tracks, I felt disgusting.  Is it the fact that because of my back injury I’ve been completely unable to excersie and therefore have become quite lazy for 2 months?   Was it the oysters and scallops and many glasses of amazing non-kosher vintages from Napa?  Was it 31?  Was it guilt by not only eating but utterly enjoying the meal and those to come the following day in all their wonderful splendor?  Most likely it was a combination of all of those things, coupled with my past views of food that’s making it so difficult.

More than anything, my decision to alter and observe the laws of kashrut is because it is a part of the Jewish experience that I want to commit to, for one year.  When a vegetarian or vegan eats they have to make informed decisions every time they enjoy a meal.  Some of them may do it for ethical reasons, ecological reasons, environmental reasons, political reasons, the list goes on and one.  The reasons that I want to observe the laws of kashrut are just as varied.  I want to do it because it will challenge me to think seriously about what goes into my body.  Finding kosher, organic, and sustainable food will challenge me to think outside of the box.  I like to eat organic, sustainable, and local when possible and that will, inevitable, limit the things that I will be able to eat. 

Like a smoker or anyone else who wants to “give up” something it takes time, and patience.  I’ve fallen of the wagon but as of this morning when I traded the non-kosher bread I purchased at the Farmer’s Market for the bread I noticed a kosher symbol, I’m back on and ready to rally.

2 Responses to "I fell off the Kosher Wagon"

I too hope to be Kosher, how i am going about it though is different from you as all our journeys are different. I wont be able to have seprate dishes and so forth, and my gf isn’t Kosher at all. but I plan on slowly letting go of things, such as I haven’t eaten pork in over 3 months, and next will be to let go of things like cheese burgers and such. my last will be shell fish, i’m not sure how strong I can be there, but as i say the almighty knows our struggles, and I’m sure understands. if you fall off get back on, if your unable to be 100% kosher, G*d knows and Understands why. this is how i see it.


Oh, my kosher isn’t “kosher” it’s Erika Kosher! I’m also taking it step by step…

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