Once again, our esteemed BeyondBT hosts sent out a plea for posts, and sent out some suggested topics. Two of the topics recently hit home with me, so I’ll blend them a bit and see how it comes out. The topics were: “Kosher Entertainment, where to turn?” and “Am I really glad that I’m a BT?”
A few days ago (or a few weeks ago, depending on when this actually gets posted), I went, along with several other Jewish motorcyclists to the Virginia Holocaust Museum. Although our group was all Jewish, I’m the only one who keeps strictly kosher, both at home and out. I researched it a little bit, and there was only one kosher restaurant in the area, and they had a limited menu. I mentioned it as an option for lunch, and everyone else agreed to go there. I was touched because there have been other Jewish events where the basic message seemed to be “if you keep kosher, then just brown bag it, we’re going to Pizza Hut (or similar, non-kosher type venue).” For more info about my trip to the museum, click here.
In fact, I’m seeing this even in my non-Jewish friends. For example, before I started keeping kosher, I used to eat out with other deaf employees in my company about once a month. Once I started keeping kosher, I pretty much dropped out of that. However, they asked me if there were any kosher places they could go to once in a while. There is one kosher restaurant that is a little ways off. Basically a “long lunch” but not so long that we’d have to stay too late to make up the time. They said they wanted to go and “try it out.” Turns out they enjoyed the restaurant. (One quote really made my day, “THIS is what pastrami is supposed to taste like!”) Now every few months we go over there, so I’m still able to participate in get-togethers.
Another example happened in a week long training event I was at recently. The rule was that if your phone rang in class, you had to buy donuts the next day. One person at my table forgot to turn the ringer off after a break, and her phone rang. The instructor started listing off all the donut places. When he mentioned a Krispy Kreme up the road, I mentioned “Oh, that one is Kosher, I could eat those donuts!” (My rabbi is a mashgiach there.) Later I told her that it was out of her way (there was a Dunkin Donuts a block away from the class) and not to bother, I was just teasing. But the next day she brought in 3 boxes of Dunkin Donuts and one bag from the Krispy Kreme just for me! I was flabbergasted, but she said she wanted me to enjoy the sugar high that everyone else was getting as well.
When I first started keeping more and more Mitzvot, and made the decision that I would keep strictly kosher, I thought to myself, “I’ll do it, but boy, it’s going to be a pain, I hope I don’t wind up regretting it.” Instead, it seems to have brought out the flexibility in more folks, whether they fully understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it or not. This reinforced to me that 1) I made the right choice, and 2) I’m glad I made the commitment, because I’m not only seeing an improvement in myself and what I’m capable of, I’m seeing my friends, co-workers, and even people I’ve just met in an even more positive light.
After I finished writing the above, yet one more example happened. I went to a dinner last night for blood donors in my area. I ate a small meal at home before going, because I figured there’d be nothing there for me. The dinner was held at a local hotel. I saw a basket of oranges on the hotel desk, and asked if I could have one, explaining I wouldn’t be eating anything at the dinner. The desk clerk said that they keep kosher meals in the kitchen, and could heat one up and serve it to me at the dinner. I most definitely was not expecting that! I wound up having a nice (wrapped and sealed by the local Vaad) chicken dinner. More details here.
Maybe I should stop being surprised when things like this happen. But then again, the surprise, and the good feeling that comes with it, almost feels like a reward for following the commitment I made and not taking the easy way out.