Being Jewish in a Non-Jewish community – You don’t keep Kosher?

By: Seth Finkle

In deciding what topic to write about for this month, it was my roommate Brad who suggested writing about not keeping kosher. The funny thing is, Brad is not Jewish, and yet sometimes I feel he is more Jewish than I (more about that in a future blog).

It is true that, I did not have many Jewish friends growing up. Most of my friends were not Jewish, and I have spent years, including my adulthood, explaining many different aspects about being Jewish. The funny thing is, I also spent a lot of time telling friends many times over that yes, I eat bacon. It seems that as much as people in my hometown did not know much about Judaism or its customs, they did in fact know that Jews do not eat pork. And, in fact, it was the question friends asked me most frequently:

Friends: “Wait, you are eating bacon?!”

Me: “Yes, why?”

Friends: “Wait, aren’t you Jewish? Why are you eating bacon? I thought it was against your religion?”

Me: “This is not the first time I have eaten bacon with you. In fact, I have eaten a bacon cheeseburger with you before. You always ask me this.”

Friends: “ Oh yeah, right….”

This type of conversation occurred more times than I can truly remember. Did they see on TV or in a movie or, gasp, read somewhere that Jews do not eat bacon and therefore it was true for ALL Jews? I explained and explained again that I am not a very religious Jew and my family does not keep kosher…yes, that is what it is called. It was funny at times how much I repeated myself to the point that it became annoying. I would try to educate or explain something but in the end, I don’t think they actually care for the reason or answer.

Of course, if we did keep kosher, it would have been hard as the closest kosher butcher was about an hour away and our local grocery store had a very small kosher section. I guess I could have been a vegetarian, but pork chops and rice were a staple in the Finkle household. What’s the more of the story? I eat pork and, gasp, am a Jew! 

I will end with a family story. My aunt and uncle in DC are a more religious family and keep Kosher. For my cousin’s college application essay, he wrote about the one and only time that he ate a non-kosher meal. This made me wonder… if I kept kosher, what would be my go for broke meal? Probably a bacon cheeseburger or lobster. But not my cousin. His one-time foray into the world of non-kosher dining was spaghetti and meatballs with a little sprinkle, with the emphasis on LITTLE, of Parmesan cheese. 

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