July 4th is just around the corner and BBQ grills everywhere are ready for the outdoor menu. For my family, this is the time of year when we pack up our kosher cooler with Empire Kosher chicken, hamburger meat, Empire hot dogs, and steaks and head out on the road. When we reach our destination, Gloucester, M.A, we get the kosher grill out of storage and fire it up. Even if you are a seasoned BBQ cook, you won’t want to pass up this opportunity to gain a few more BBQ tips from POMEGRANATE, NY’s largest gourmet kosher retailer. Chefs from POMEGRANATE will share some industry secrets about how to achieve the best BBQ results.
The BBQ event will take place on Today, JUNE 29 at 6:30 PM; Rain date: JUNE 30 (Open to the public; free of charge). Come on over to the store’s parking lot at 1507 Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn and savor this gourmet outdoor kosher cooking event, part of its series of monthly culinary events being hosted by POMEGRANATE. 718-951-7112 .
While I was awake in the early hours of Shabbos, I had some great ideas about how to help my friends and family that don’t keep kosher understand my dietary choices. I will be traveling a lot with my family this summer and that means that the conveniences of New York kosher cuisine won’t be as plentiful. So, what is a kosher observant family supposed to do when traveling out of the “kosher zone”?
First of all, it is important to understand the laws of keeping kosher. Some families have been keeping kosher for decades; others have been keeping kosher for a week. Personally, I started keeping kosher in September 2001. Before then, I ate everything and everywhere my heart desired. It was my journey of Jewish re-discovery that I was introduced to the kosher cuisine that would change my eating habits from that day forward. Like many Jewish American families, I associated kosher food with Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and Passover. It was at those times of the year that the kitchen in my house was taken over by brands like Manischewits and Streits. My mom would “put up” the most amazing chicken soup with the fluffiest matzo balls I’ve ever eaten. The oven would overflow with the smells of brisket, kishke, and tzimmus. My family and I would make our annual journey to the kosher bakeries in Skokie and stock up on honey cake and boubka. I loved these times of the year. Even though I wasn’t raised in a kosher home nor one that kept Shabbos, it was the effort of my family to share these holidays in full force that made me the Jewish mom that I am now.
Even though things are different today and I now keep kosher religiously and observe Shabbos every week, my extended family does not. It doesn’t make me love them any less; in fact I love them even more. I just have to prepare my own food plan for my husband and children in advance. This is nothing new for people that have certain food allergies, suffer from lactose intolerance, diabetes, and vegetarians. Just because I don’t eat your food doesn’t mean I don’t love you!
While the laws of keeping kosher may seem limiting to most people, it made perfect sense to me. It is not as hard or isolating as people think, and it’s even good for you. I have attached some links that I find helpful in my attempt to explain my food requirements to people that feel that I have gone off the “creep end”. I am still the same me, I just eat differently and here are some reasons why:
I stumbled upon JewFAQBlog a weblog commenting on news and events. As rabbi/humorist Jack Moline noted, “Everyone who keeps kosher will tell you that his version is the only correct version. Everyone else is either a fanatic or a heretic.” (Growing Up Jewish, 1987).
Kosher Links that will satisfy your kosher curiosity include The Orthodox Union, Star-K Kosher Certification, and KosherQuest. Has a member of your family become kosher recently? How has this affected family occasions?
The Tifereth Sisterhood proudly presents: An inspiring evening featuring singer/songwriter, Miriam Sandler, as she launches her new CD, “The Solution”. Miriam is long standing member of the Passaic community and has dazzled countless Jewish women of all ages with her contemporary “kosher” entertainment. Miriam’s personal expression through her original music was inspired by a relentless search for Truth, and a life-changing decision to pursue a life of values, holiness, and spirituality. Join us as Miriam tells her unforgettable story of sharing the stage with the music industries top megastars and why she gave it all up. Guest appearance by Soprano, Elana Tal In addition to featuring Miriam’s original music, there will also be a beautiful boutique, delicious dairy hor d’oeuvres and a Chinese auction. Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., concert begins promptly at 8:30 p.m. at the Tifereth Israel, 180 Passaic Avenue. Tickets $12 for students and $18 for women.
My Connection To Miriam
Have you ever been so affected by somebody that you just had to let that person know! That happened to me a little more than 8 years ago when a couple of my very close friends introduced me to a Baale Teshuva, Miriam Mendelkorn, now Miriam Sandler
. I was on my own journey of transformation, and a vision like Miriam and her beautiful vocals were just what I needed to see. Not just because she was beautiful (she toured with Gloria Estefan for 10 years, you know what I mean) but she spoke so beautifully about why she let go of the lifestyle as a traveling performer and embraced the serenity of Shabbos.
I was never a professional singer and dancer, but like Miriam, I’ve always been Jewish. There is a time in life when we question our purpose and ponder our future. For Miriam, a week full of crowded theatres and roaring fans had only taken her soul so far. She studied the beauty and signifigance of a Jewish lifestyle and decided to channel her talents in that direction.
As a female singer with a beautiful voice, she had made the committment to sing only for women. I know what you’re thinking, and until I learned the reasoning behind this committment, I was thinking that as well. How crazy, how limiting, she sabatoged her career, etc. The truth is, she gained so much more. Why did she make this committment?
In her journey, as with many other Baale Teshuvat, there are so many beautiful customs, rituals, laws, and prayers that are introduced to our existing lifestyles(Tzniut, Shome Negiah, Kol Isha, Kashrut, etc.). Not everybody agrees with all of these, some not at all. However, for many, it is just what was needed to make present in our own lives. As a Jew, we have automatically built in our souls the potential to live our lives giving it our all. For me, it completed my thoughts, made sense of my concerns, and gave me a higher authority to turn to during unfortunate circumstances (illness, fear, loss). I personally had the opportunity to study some of the sources behind the rituals and customs. I said, “sign me up for the program” and I was hooked (a one month program became six months). I understand that this is not for everyone, and that’s okay. If I was friends with you before I became an Observant Jew, I am still friends with you now. An Observant Jewish lifestyle and the very strong foundation it provides is what I needed to live the best life I possibly could.
My entire family thought I had lost my mind, especially when I wouldn’t eat out at our favorite Italian Bistro. One of the laws I had embraced early on in my journey was Kashrut . It just made sense to me, and I actually felt the changes both physically and mentally. The truth is, I had found the roadmap to living my potential and I was staying on course.
Okay, so why can’t women sing in front of men. The following source behind Kol Isha, a womens voice, may not be for you, and that is okay. While I was searching for a source that would make most sense about this issue, I came across the below source. It made perfect sense to me, to singer/songwriter Mriam Sandler, as well as many other Converts around the world.
Shemuel said: the voice of a woman is ervah (sexually exciting), as the verse says: (Song 2:14) for your voice is sweet and your appearance attractive. (Talmud Berakhot 24a)
Okay, are you still with me? Why does this sit okay with me? Isn’t the luring tranquility of the female voice why both men and women listen to their ipods or blare their speakers at home? The truth is that I wouldn’t ever thought about this until I was taught about it a few years ago. The reasoning behind Kol Isha is both exclusive and offensive to many women. For me, I felt even more grattitude towards a woman blessed with a beautiful voice. Just imagine what her husband must have thought the first time he heard her voice? I’ve heard from some women who had shared their beautiful vocals their husbands for the first time. They were in tears. It was so beautiful to them, and it had meant so much that it was only for their listening pleasure. I found a quote online that described this revelation quite well. In his post, Kol Isha Today, Rabbi Harvey Belovski, Rabbi of the Golders Green Synagogue in London, wrote:
“In a desensitised world, kol ishah seems quaint, almost absurd. Yet it enables us to understand just how delicate our level of awareness should be. It is a tragedy that most men today claim to find nothing erotic in a woman’s singing voice, something that is natural and healthy. Observing kol ishah is one way to rekindle lost sensitivities, enabling us in turn to invest more of ourselves in our special relationships.”
I hope that we all can find our center and value the beauty that is within our own soul.
Listen to my interview with Miriam Sandler on the Jewish Shmooz Network. Our interview begins at 15 minutes into the show.