Skip to main content

"I thought you were kidding."

This goes into the hall of fame for famous last words. This was when my wife first realized that what she thought of as my weird sense of humor might have a darker side. Here's what led up to that statement: We had just arrived in Salt Lake City and were moving into our apartment in married student housing. I was emptying out our ice chest to the refrigerator... and tossing out the cold cuts we had brought for our two day drive across Nevada and Utah from South Lake Tahoe. "What are you doing?", she asked me; a bit incredulous. "We decided to start keeping kosher when we got to Salt Lake City, remember?" "I thought you were kidding."

Ok... let me fill in a few details of how we went from that first seder to Salt Lake City. (Salt Lake City?!? UTAH??? Uh.... yes.)

After that seder I knew I was not Reform, but I didn't know what I yes was. I figured I must be Conservative. Truth be told, I had leanings in that direction anyway. The synagogue we attended for my bar mitzvah was Conservative with an Orthodox(ish) Rabbi. My brother and I were often the only ones there under 80 (or so it seemed to us) and we got a lot of very positive attention. Also, I had taken some Hebrew as an undergraduate and the teacher was the wife of the Conservative rabbi in Sacramento (about 30 minutes or so from us). Alas, there was a problem... we were close to our families. We ate dinner at my in-laws nearly every Sunday and my Dad was only a couple of hours away, so we thought it would be a bit much if we all of the sudden said we couldn't eat at their houses anymore.

That was it for a the next year or so. I was finishing my masters and decided that I wanted to do research in General Relativity, so I needed to find a new graduate school. I had been at UC Davis for about four years anyway and it was time to move on (migrant scientist, you know). There weren't too many places that did the kind of research I wanted, so the choices were limited. At the end of the day it turned out that the program best suited to us (good advisor, student housing available, support at a TA) was University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. I also found out that there was a synagogue there that had a Reform rabbi and a Conservative cantor; Reform services Friday night and Conservative Saturday morning. Perfect! I suggested to my wife that we should try keeping kosher when we moved. She said that sounded fine, or "ok" or something like that.

So we packed up our one bedroom apartment and headed east to Utah. We actually spent a week or so at Lake Tahoe for a mini-vacation and to say good-bye to my dad. Then we got into our VW Rabbit and made the two day trip to our new home. We arrived to Salt Lake City in the early afternoon, found the university, checked in at the physics department, and got directions to married student housing. We were pretty exhausted when we finally got into our little one bedroom, basement apartment with cinder block walls. My wife was *not* impressed by the place, but we were only here for graduate school and we could bear it. We unpacked the car and I started emptying out our ice chest to the refrigerator... and tossing out the cold cuts we had brought for our two day drive across Nevada and Utah from South Lake Tahoe. "What are you doing?", she asked me; a bit incredulous. "We decided to start keeping kosher when we got to Salt Lake City, remember?" "I thought you were kidding."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…