by Ellen Rank

I grew up in a kosher home. Like the rest of my family, I did not keep kosher outside the house. When I was a junior in college, a new apartment mate asked if we could make our kitchen kosher. Once I started keeping my own place kosher, I decided to keep kosher outside the house. I found it easy and meaningful. Keeping kosher strengthened my Jewish identity and brought new meaning and holiness to my dining.

In these days of counting the Omer, I think back on this experience. Counting the Omer, from Passover to Shavuot, is a daily reminder of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt and journey through the desert where they received the Torah. There, in the desert, the Israelites told Moses: “Everything Adonai has said, we’ll do it, and then understand it.”  It was like that with keeping kosher. I had to make my own kitchen kosher and observe kashrut out of the house, before I had a deeper understanding of how kashrut enriched my life.

“We’ll do it, and then understand it.” I don’t hear people say that very often. Most ask for details and explanations before committing. People want to understand something before they try it — that is the challenge for Jewish educators.

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