I have to be extra special careful with this Jew&A as several of my family members are reading and will be correcting my errors, I assure you.
Standard disclaimer: I am not a Rabbi, nor do I play one on the Internet. Ready? Play.
I am really curious about how hard it must be to keep Kosher. I mean, just looking at the labels of the everyday foods I eat…well, I just don’t know how you do it, Becca. Is it as difficult as I imagine, or does it just seem hard because here in backwoods Eastern NC there are no options. The nearest Temple is about 50 miles away.
Well, for one thing, I was raised doing it so it seems easy to me because I always have. But you’ve hit on another thing, which is that I live in an area with more Jews than Israel has. I meant to take a picture of the huge Kosher sections in the various grocery stores around here, or even one of the markets that’s all Kosher, but, you know, I only had 2 weeks to prepare for this post. And there are a whole bunch of fun Kosher restaurants as well. Check it out!
But really, you just learn to do it. You look at the box or the can for the little Kosher symbol (Try it yourself! Here’s a whole slew of them.) and pretty soon, you already know that Twizzlers have the O-U symbol and you don’t really have to worry about it. Of course, these things do change, so you kind of should. Except the Twizzlers because I just had a bag last week and I promise you, they still have the symbol.
I mean, it’s not to say it’s easy. There are tons of rules, you can’t eat a burger at the local Wendy’s, and you live your entire life with people asking you “so you’ve never even tasted lobster?” But really, like anything, once you get the hang of it, it’s second nature. Even places without big Jewish communities have Kosher foods in the supermarket, like Cheerios and Morningstar burgers and all kinds of things you never knew were Kosher.
I bet Eastern NC is purty, for all it’s lack of Kosher Pizzerias.
Are the seats in a synagogue called pews?
Stupid question I know but I’m curious.
Yes! And more importantly, there are no stupid questions, just stupid people. Luckily, you’re not among them.
How does one go about becoming a Jew? Is there a process, or classes, or do ya just start going to temple? Also, how does the Jewish community feel about converts? Is there real acceptance or are you always an outsider? Don’t mean to sound so deep but was genuinely interested.
As I told Irshlas in an e-mail, I’ve answered this question a bit before, but since she thinks that DISINTEGRATION IS THE BEST ALBUM EVER, how could I resist answering it again?
There is indeed a process, and if you’ve seen Sex & the City, you may know what it is. This is a bit sensitive, as conversion is different for the 3 major movements of Judaism, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform, so I’ll try to be as general as possible. I distilled the following from my own knowledge but mostly from A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice by Rabbi Isaac Klein, which is the general handbook of the Conservative movement, and is traditional in content.
Since Jews aren’t supposed to try to convert people, the Rabbi will actually turn you down several times. So the first step is to keep asking. That way, we know you’re really serious. And of course, he’ll probably ask you if you’re really serious. But not in that John McEnroe way. Then comes the part where you learn all about Judaism (many places do in fact have conversion classes) and start observing our fun rules. But don’t worry, for every commandment saying you can’t eat bread for a week, there’s another that tells you to get drunk on Purim. This can all take a bit of time depending on how much education you need. Then when you’re ready, if you’re a guy, you get circumcised. If you already have been, you just get a ceremonial prick of blood. If you don’t have that particular equipment, you head straight to Part B which is immersion in a mikva, or ritual bath. Despite a popular Jewish song, there are no sharks in the mikva. Blessings are said and when all is done, you get a Jewish name and you’re officially a member of the tribe. You will not immediately be funny, but it will come to you.
Experiences vary, I’m sure, but I’ve never in my life seen a convert treated any differently than a person born a Jew. Officially, people who join the Jewish people voluntarily are considered to be specially loved by God (that’s also from Rabbi Klein’s book, see, I don’t just give credit to other blogs).
Several people ask:
Why do Jews write God as G-d, and why don’t you?
Jews are not supposed to write the name of God because there’s a prohibition against erasing or defacing the name of God and you worry that if you write it, it could later get defaced. BUT, the name of God is not “God.” God is just an English word. The name of God is more closely associated with the English word Yahweh, but isn’t quite that either. And even with all that, typing on a computer is not considered a permanent form of writing, just a bunch of ones and zeroes on a chip. But, hey, if you like putting the dash in, knock yourself out! I’m not going to stop you. Like all things in Judaism, it’s open to interpretation and those who do it differently will refuse to let their children marry each other. But I digress.
What’s the next major holiday that will rob us of your presence for days on end? And why do you hate dogs?
It’s Rosh Hashanah! That’s the Jewish New Year, and believe me, as it gets closer I’ll talk a bit more about it. Suffice to say, Dick Clark and confetti are not involved. Luckily for my boss and my vacation day count, most of the slew of Jewish holidays that fall this time of year show up on weekends. And you know I rarely post then anyway. You won’t miss me a bit.
Because they hate me, silly.
Thank you Barb, SeaTern, Irshlas, DuJane, and several anonymous people! Here’s the Jewish concept of the month, straight from Proverbs: Charity will save you from death. You heard it here first! Well, no, Proverbs came first by a wee bit. Anyway, this is the last week to give to my friends running the Komen Race for Breast Cancer Research in Boston. And then I stop bugging you about it. Yay! By the way, when you race folks do find The Cure, give Robert Smith a big hug for me, would you? But if cancer research doesn’t float your boat, feel free to give somewhere else!*
*Sadly, this blog is not a charity.