I recently met up with my Rebbetzin whom I’ve been studying with for the past ~6 months. At the beginning of this semester, we decided that I should start taking some baby steps necessary for conversion. We discussed a few options, however most of them revolved around Kashrut. To a goy, the thought of eating Kosher seems impossible due to all its complexities (but what else is new in Judaism). However, she assured me that I wouldn’t have to look for the words Halal Yisroel on a dairy product anytime soon.
Quite the opposite. After much conversation and deliberation (again, what else is new) we decided upon one infantile step: separating meat from dairy. Even though I wouldn’t be waiting the full six hours between the two, the thought of meals like Parmesan chicken permanently being out of my life was a little off-putting. I grew up in the Midwest where, to stay warm in the winter, it was vital to throw everything you had in a pan and throw it in the oven (i.e. chicken pot pie, tater tot hot dish, etc.). How am I supposed to follow the rules of a good Jew when I don’t even qualify as a Jew yet? So, I did what any anti-authoritarian youngest-child would do and went to the Blue Door Pub the next night and ate a giant cheeseburger with some milk-based “famous sauce”. Although it was absolutely phenomenal, especially next to a tall milk stout, I was aware of a new feeling. It wasn’t guilt, per se, but a sense of responsibility that I needed to uphold. I ended up finishing the beer (oddly enough) and ate only half of my traif-as-hell burger (even odder).
When the weekend was winding down, I was meal prepping for the week days to come. I had chicken in the oven and rice and beans on the stove in an aim to make healthy Chipotle-style burrito bowls. As I was writing down a grocery list for the added accouterments, I stopped when I got to “sour cream”. Admittedly, the “cheese” entry hadn’t caught my eye, however I had to stop writing my list as I realized. After the half-eaten episode at the Blue Door, I couldn’t bring myself to make a weeks worth of meals that were completely not Kosher. The same sense of responsibility came over me, and I knew I had to work out some substitutes for this meal prep.
Even after just a few days feeling this new responsibility, it feels correct to be in touch with my Judaism in this way. Paying attention to the food I make and eat helps me connect more, not only with specific Parshas or scripture, but even why I chose to convert in the first place. For anyone trying Kosher eating for the first time, or just taking baby steps like me, I think we can all agree that something just feels right.
And for anyone who’s wondering, this is what I ended up going with. Who knew guacamole could solve any problem?