Embracing a kosher life – The Australian Jewish News

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Keeping kosher can be a serious commitment, especially if you didn’t grow up to be kosher and have decided to embrace the lifestyle in your young adult years.

This drastic change was undertaken by Oscar Levy, a Melbourne student in his early 20s who began observing kashrut after living outside the home for several years, and it surprised his more traditional family.

“While I grew up avoiding pork and seafood, kashrut’s appeal came after traveling to Israel in my spare year and staying with different families who supported these laws,” Levy said.

However, social pressures among his non-kosher or non-Jewish friends and fear of kidnapping him proved to be a challenge in the beginning.

“In the beginning it was difficult when my non-kosher friends wanted to go to a non-kosher restaurant or have a barbecue with non-kosher meat. “However, I was able to adapt when researching options to eat out, either by bringing my own food to other people’s homes or by taking my friends to kosher restaurants.”

As Sydneysider Jaime Resnik, event manager at JWave, experienced, another motivation for adopting kashrut was to create opportunities to connect with family. Resnik grew up in a highly secular home in Canada and had never dreamed of adopting a kosher lifestyle until she married her husband from a religious family.

“After giving birth to our son, we really missed the element of inviting our family over to our house for dinner. “We recently had a complete refurbishment and we felt it was an excellent opportunity to create a space that would work for us and facilitate the transition to kosher.”

But the uncertain packaging and limited stock in Sydney’s supermarkets came as a surprise to Resnik, who is used to Canada’s kosher variety.

“Since I started being kosher in Sydney, I sometimes find myself running to different grocery stores in the city just to find an ingredient. It can be really discouraging and has probably been the biggest deterrent for us to become kosher sooner than we did,” Resnik explained.

For Melbourne business coach and writer Joel Gerschman, family and cultural connection was also a key driver in her decision to become kosher during her teenage years. “As I learned more about the spiritual dimension of Judaism, I came to appreciate its meaning, its beauty and wisdom, and how its practices enable one to integrate that meaning into their lives. Keeping kosher was no exception.

“One day, while eating what I thought was a vegetarian tofu stir-fry from a popular Malvern Chinese restaurant, I found a piece of pork in my meal. No matter how hardworking, I understood why it is impossible to truly keep kosher when dining at non-kosher restaurants. And ever since then, I didn’t eat any food,” said Gerschman.

Fortunately, the growing variety of new kosher restaurants, eateries and supermarket aisles in Melbourne and Sydney have made it easier for people to live and enjoy a kosher lifestyle.

“Some may be surprised to learn how many products are now kosher in the supermarket. There are several product categories that do not have at least one kosher option,” Gerschman said.

Despite the challenges and slow transition, the rewards young people found by adopting a kosher lifestyle supported the meaning of being kosher.

“Of course there have been some mistakes, but nothing can be fixed with a quick call to friends or family who have been keeping kosher for years,” Resnik said.

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