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A Sweet Start


Introducing Torah (often beginning with the book of Vayikra/Leviticus) to small children by smearing a book or page (hopefully laminated) with honey and letting them lick it off, thus showing how Jewish learning is sweet, is a well known practice. It’s also one that induces in me an involuntary eye-roll because those kids have got a rude awakening coming when they actually find out what they’re going to be reading.

It’s no secret that Vayikra/Leviticus is not my favorite book in Torah. The least favorite, in fact.

(In my opinion) It lacks the rich storytelling depth of Bereshit/Genesis, the compelling narrative of Shemot/Exodus, the epic adolescent rebelliousness of Bamidbar/Numbers, or the… well, let’s just say that Devarim/Deuteronomy isn’t high on my list either.

But I’m a sucker for baklava. So this this story from  the Chabad website might help me to re-frame my feelings about the book that focuses on the Priestly Laws. Because they transform the old smear-the-honey tradition into a “dessert holiday” worthy of the sages.

 

Failure to Communicate


I recently started a new job at a new company and once again I am the only Jew (observant or otherwise) on the block. Which means I have to (get to?) educate my manager and team about certain aspects of Judaism when they intersect with work.

Most often, this comes up when responding to the question “we’re running out to lunch. You want to come with us?”.

But sometimes I find myself digging into the details more than I would have predicted when I first started this journey. Like when I was invited to my manager’s house for the annual Christmas party.

He knew I kept kosher, and actually went to great lengths to make sure there was SOMETHING I could eat (he asked me to print out pictures of the kosher symbols, and texted me from the store as he was buying things. It was actually one of the kindest things a manager has done.)

So there we were, sitting around the fireplace playing the obligatory office-party-game complete with prizes for the winners. Which happened to be chocolate candies.

I won a round and was handed my candy, which I began checking for a heksher. As I did the comments from the other people served as a reminder that, if Kashrut is difficult to grasp for Jews, it can be downright incomprehensible to others.

THEM: Is it the nuts? My candy bar doesn’t have nuts so you can have mine if you want.
ME: No, I’m looking for the special symbol that would tell me if it’s kosher. Which would be ironic, since it’s a Santa Claus candy bar
THEM: Oh! Well, mine’s in the shape of a snowman. So it’s probably kosher.
ME: (slight pause) Uh, that might not be true.

In retrospect, I probably should have just told them I was on a diet, and I was going to save the candy for my kids.

Welcome! !ברוכים הבאים Read Me First If You’re New Here!


Welcome
Creative Commons License photo credit: disparkys

I wanted to take a minute and offer a hearty “Bruchim HaBa’im” – welcome – to any new readers who’ve wandered over here from the Cleveland Jewish News. An article that appeared in this week’s edition (“Connect with each other on CJN Connect“) listed a number of sites “by or of interest to members of the Cleveland Jewish community.” If you want to get the latest GoingKosher information there, click on over to CJNConnect, create an account and check out the “Chatter” section (about halfway down the page).

While I’m extremely excited to be included in the blogs listed, the others are, quite frankly, incredible and worth mention here as well:

That said, if you are new here, feel free to click around and get the lay of the land.

To get a quick overview of the site, check out the “About Us”  page. You might also find the posts on “What This is All About” – Part1, Part2 and Part3 – to be helpful.

If you like what you see, you can stay in touch via Twitter, Facebook, RSS Feed or good old email updates (use the box in the sidebar to sign up).

Most of all, thank you for stopping by, even if it’s just this once. But I hope you’ll come back for more.

VIDEO: Kosher Symbol Blues


While on one level, this is just a cute little ditty, on another it hints at some of the confusing and frustrating moments many of us have when learning to live with the mitzvah of keeping kosher.

Like many human endeavors, our efforts to make things clear have – to the un-initiated – made things even more confusing. does “P” stand for pareve, or for Pesach (Passover)? The answer – like many answers to Jewish questions – begin with the phrase “well, that depends…”

UnKosher: Microsoft Uses Bacon to Poach Employees


Microsoft is trying to steal good programmers away from Amazon and Google.
No surprising news there.

By tempting them with bacon.
Whaaa fuuuh huhhh?!?!

I am not making this up. I couldn’t. I’m not that creative.

But according to this article on Gizmodo, that is exactly what is happening.

Microsoft wanted to double its Kinect for Windows team from 35 to 70. And with good engineers typically already working for other companies, the bacon cart is a great ploy for Microsoft to grab their attention and tell them to “Wake up and Smell the Future”. The food cart is serving free bacon today at Amazon headquarters in South Lake Union, Seattle and has plans to move over to Fremont on Tuesday to be near Adobe and Google.

I wonder if the ADL is going to get involved, because in my mind the implication is either that no observant Jewish programmer is any good; or they’re good, but Microsoft (like a certain cantina at the Mos Eisley Spaceport) doesn’t serve their kind.


[Edit] In my haste to get this posted, I overlooked a point my Rabbi just made: They are saying the same thing about traditional Muslims and Hindus. Not to mention the rock solid programmers who are vegetarian or vegan.

Thanksgiving Seder


NOTE: This post was too fun NOT to share, both here and on The Edible Torah

image courtesy of JoyOfKosher.com

One of the things I’ve marveled at is how, once you start making Shabbat part of your weekly routine, previously “big” holiday meals start to feel a bit empty

Last year I posted links to a few Thanksgiving Haggadot, which gave our American Turkey-centric festival the old Passover treatment.

This year, just in time for your own feast, I’m posting my notes from last year in case you enjoy tormenting your guests and children as much as I do.

Our seder began before we even sat down. You see, on the night before Pesach we hunt for chametz – bits of bread-stuff. So of course a Thanksgiving seder had to include that experience as well. But with all the stuffing around, bread was NOT the target of choice. No, we hunted for… CHOCOLATE!. In this case, we had secreted away some pareve chocolate Hanukkah gelt (we opted for pareve rather than milk chocolate in case some of our kosher-observing guests had already eaten a meat meal before arriving.).

Once we were certain that our house was clear of chocolate, we were able to begin the seder proper with a rousing rendition of America, The Beautiful – all four verses and four (slightly different) choruses, including the one about Pilgrim’s feet (my boys loved that one). You can find the lyrics here.

Next, we said a shehechianu and said the blessings over wine and bread.

We read responsively, sharing the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence together as a group.

That was pretty much the end of the serious stuff. From that point on we borrowed liberally from “Company’s Coming“, with the following additions:

  • When we mentioned “The Bitter Herb”, we produced our ancient beloved bottle of Goldschlager. We keep it around because every year when it’s time to read Parsha Ki Tisa, we say we’re going to drink it. We never do.
  • We included an explanation of the Thanksgiving Seder plate. Of course, we first had to INVENT the Thanksgiving seder plate. Like the Passover counterpart, this plate contained all the items emblematic of Thanksgiving, including:
    • a football
    • a figuring of a pilgrim
    • Pepper (Passover is all about salt – in the water, in the soup, etc. Let another spice get some attention already!)
    • Marshmallows (on top of the candied yams. Nobody in my house ever ate them. It just sat on the table turning into a paperweight.
    • nondairy creamer (as a reminder that this is a fleishig meal)
    • matzo (to remind us of the joy that this holiday brings since WE DON’T HAVE TO EAT ANY!)
    • a cantaloupe

OK, the cantaloupe requires a bit of explanation. One summer, we took a family vacation to visit a friend in Boston. Part of the trip involved going up to Plymouth. But the line to see it’s most famous rock was too long, and the day was already over as far as our kids were concerned. When we expressed our disappointment back at home base, our hostess grabbed a cantaloupe and wrote “1620” on it. She explained that weather and memento-seekers had worn the rock down until it was about that big so we now could say we’d pretty much seen it. Thus, the presence of the cantaloupe on our seder plate.

  • After the meal, we had a rousing hunt for – no, not the afikomen – but the wishbone instead!. The finder of this scrumptious morsel won the right to take it home (her parents were so proud) along with a Sacagawea dollar.

*Pop* Goes The… Kosher Resturaunt?


Yeah, that’s Kosher wondered aloud on his twitter feed whether “this #kosher restaurant model would work in #NYC: #London Testing Pop-Up Restaurant for 2 Days in Dec: “

I wonder the same thing. I wonder if it would be a good way to test the interest in a kosher restaurant in ANY market, and more specifically whether any market might be interested in a restaurant which was good and-oh-by-the-way kosher.

London is Testing Out a Pop-Up Restaurant for 2 Days in December: “Kosher Roast”

“Kosher Roast” is renting out a bar called “The Shop” in the Kensal Rise neighborhood of London. The Shop will be converted into a Kosher restaurant for 2 Sunday’s next month: December 4th and 11th.

This is clearly a concept that the founders of Kosher Roast are testing.

For each of the 2 days, only 60 places are being offered, and tickets must be purchased in advance at £25 each.
>> Purchase your tickets to Kosher Roast < <

With your ticket, you’re entitled to one of 2 menus: Meat & Vegetarian:

KOSHER ROAST SUNDAY LUNCH

    • A selection of classic British bar snacks
    • Roast beef and Yorkshire puddings; goose fat roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables, gravy
    • Coffee/tea and chocolate surprises

KOSHER ROAST VEGETARIAN LUNCH

  • A selection of classic vegetarian British bar snacks
  • Vegetarian Wellington; rock salt and rosemary roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables, mushroom and red wine gravy
  • Coffee/tea and chocolate surprises

The Kosher supervision is being provided by Rabbi Moshe Dadoun, a prominent member of the Porat Yosef Synagogue and Hendon Jewish community.

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