A big part of our weekly Torah portion, Shemini, deals with our unique national diet. Yes, we are relearning this material only days after living through the stringencies of the Passover kitchen. All the more so, the food we eat is designed to reenforce our distinctiveness as a people.
It doesn’t take a dietitian, an anthropologist, or a rocket scientist to tell us that large numbers of our brothers and sisters believe that kashrut is not applicable in daily life. If keeping kosher is ridiculous in your opinion, how do you suggest the Jews of today stay Jewish? If we take away the qualities that make us different, how can we avoid melting into the general population? Perhaps there are good reasons why the Creator gave us these stricter rules…
I recently had the privilege of facilitating an intercultural dialogue between Jews and Native Americans on the topic of historical trauma and collective resilience. I learned a lot from elders in the Native American community who came to the Holocaust Museum for the event. They spoke of the challenges they see passing down their heritage to the next generation. These wise leaders are fearful that their language, culture and distinct values are in danger of being lost. Does this sound familiar?
The tribal leadership is willing to do what ever it takes to reclaim their way of life. Are we? If we want our children and grandchildren to continue being different, being Jews, we need to set an example. If we commit ourselves to eating Jewishly there is no telling what else might follow or who might be inspired. It takes extra effort to only eat kosher animals, to make sure that they were slaughtered properly, and to eat their meat without even a hint of dairy products. For our brethren who didn’t grow up eating this way it takes a lot of getting used to… but it is so so worth it. Don’t take my word for it; give it a shot! If you already observe kashrut help to teach another Jew the nuts and bolts of holy eating. Embrace your people’s diet; keep kosher!