a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

You Just Gotta Laugh

Posted on: April 25, 2011


Have ya’ll read the ranting that happened over my Jewcy post?  It’s pretty funny and got a bit more funny today.  I thought about putting up another reply to this person who clearly doesn’t like Erika Davis but then, I re-read what he’s already written and literally laughed out loud.  Seriously, guy?

Anyhoo, thought it was funny and wanted to share.  In real Black Gay Jewish I know EVERYTHING world I’m counting down the hours until tomorrow night so I can eat puffy food again or at least have a beer and not examine every ingredient in things that I eat.  Ranting and raving aside, there is something to the mindfulness of Pesach that I appreciated while at the same time found incredibly irritating.

Like fasting for Yom Kippur, I’m glad to give myself a little pat on the back for keeping kosher for Passover.  I also like to remind myself that giving up food for 26 hours, like giving up chametz for 8 days can’t be as daunting as the month of Ramadan.  While it’s been difficult to find things to eat at lunch and to turn down invitations for happy hour, the reflection over the past few days has been eye-opening.  I appreciate having to make choices about what I eat and push them back to a religious meaning.  It doesn’t help my issues with kashrut vs. organic/sustainable/local but it did help me to realize that pausing to take time to think about what I ingest (insert the literal/cyber/figurative).  While Torah tells us we’re supposed to abstain from chametz for 8 days I was able to able to take the time and think about and consider what I ate.  Yes, it was because I “had” to but for the first time in my life the “I had to” part of religion made me think in a real way.


It’s kind of like that Jewcy guy. I could’ve went back and forth with him but I decided to laugh it off and I feel better for it.  I could have had a beer with friends but I didn’t and I feel better for it.  Furthermore, going off of chametz for Pesach helped me to think about my feelings about kashrut.  On the first Seder I got into a great conversation with our host’s mother and another Erika about local food.  I stood on the grounds that I try to only eat local food.  Liz asked how I defined “local”.  My answer was food at the Farmer’s Market or food from New York.  Liz’s mother countered, “What if it comes from Buffalo?”  Now most of the food at the farmer’s market doesn’t come from that far away but it was a valid question.  We went back and forth a bit over the merits of getting avocados from Mexico or California, whether eggs were worth the $8 a dozen when you talk to the farmer, and the carbon foot print these farmers leave when they drive into the city to sell their food.  In the end, the answer I settled for in terms of “local food” was the Tri-State.  I still prefer to talk to my farmer.

As Jews and faith-serving people, we have an obligation to take care of the world we were given by God.  Those of use with dietary laws have a whole different set of cards dealt to us.  If I could re-write the laws of Kashrut for 5771/2011 it would have to do more with where the food came from and how the animals were treated vs. strict halacha, but I’m no Torah expert.  How I view  “kosher” doesn’t jive with how an observant Jew would observe kosher laws but they’re what I want to aim for.  While I won’t be able to give up cheeseburgers any time soon, I do want to think more about what I put into my body in relation to kosher laws.  I can’t call it kosher because it’s not, but it’s a step towards mindfulness.

6 Responses to "You Just Gotta Laugh"

I have to admit I don’t think I like your Rabbi’s term “lazy Jews”. I just prefer to use “observant” or “not as observant”.

Yeah…I think she means lazy in terms of being sort of apathetic of their Judaism. Like they take it for granted rather than putting effort into it. I understand why the term pissed that guy off, but maybe it helped him go to shul? 😉 I think that as a New Jew we’re sooo excited about Judaism. We’re so enriched with texts of Torah, Talmud, and rabbis throwing amazing books about living Jewishly. We’re learning Jewishly and absorbing so much information about culture, tradition, food, religion, and peoplehood but we get to do it as adults. Because we got to make this choice. It’s not a burden but rather a decision about who we are religiously. When you take on religion as an adult vs. something that you’re born into it feels different…My friend said it was like when people learn English as a second language, they know how we’re supposed to speak better than native speakers. I had a Russian person tell me that he didn’t understand why we responded with “Good” to the question, “How are you?” He’d insist that “good” wasn’t proper English and he’s right. Not because he’s a better English-speaker, but because he’s learning it as an adult and the nuts and bolts of a language we tend to just jumble up…

She said it again last night in class…lazy Jews, and I thought about you. She described it better this time in terms of people who don’t observe passover dietary laws. She said that someone who calls themselves a “bad Jew” because they don’t keep Passover but don’t have any reasoning for it, just “bad Jew” that they’re “lazy” on the other hand she appreciates the Jew who decides not to keep Passover because they think that following a law that is irrelevant for their lives or because they disagree with Torah she’d be more inclined to listen…
It is still a hard thing to say and I totally agree that it can come off really harsh. She’s not one to let things slide though. She’s really impassioned and really enthusiastic, and incredibly moving to listen to. She gets people excited about their Judaism and probes them, asks them hard questions and refuses to take sugar-coated or generic answers.

Erika, when it comes to serving lamb on Passover you are not alone. Many Sephardic Jewish communities serve lamb at the Seder for the very same reasons that Ashkenazi Jews do not! It’s simply a matter of tradition. I blogged about this last year, here’s the link:


Congrats on your site, you’re a terrific writer and I’m pleased you’re sharing your conversion experience via blogging! I’ll be reading… 🙂

Ahhh, Tori! I’m a huge fan of our site! Your K for P Chocolate cookies were how I survived Pesach with my insane sweet-tooth! Thanks so much for reading.

Glad you liked them! They were a big hit in our house, too. 🙂

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