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Sunday, November 20, 2016

What I Am. (a small poem)

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I am gauze and ether, I am mist and veil

I am centuries of Torah, thousands of years of cracked Hebrew feet walking these sands

I am Abraham

A swirling twisting dust

A pillar of salt

I turn around and look backwards

Though it is forbidden

I see my family rising from the bitter ashes of Europe

I see my family spread like butter across the smooth green hills of Canada

I see my family sprinkled like dust in a new and old and holy land.

I turn one more time to straighten my scarf in the mirror

Then face forward – it’s off to the mall.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Things that are cool in Israel #10: Holy Sandwich Bar, Batgirl!

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Since my last post about restaurants was kind of kvetchy, I figured I’d balance that with a quickie about something that was awesome the same evening we went to a place and they started giving me THE STORY (read that post and you’ll understand!)

Want to know what’s cool here???

You go to order your sandwiches, and they’re served up with a side of scripture.  That’s what.

Here you go, your typical Israeli deli takeout place, at the Kiryon, our local mall.  Notice anything?

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Eating Out: How Kosher is that Restaurant?

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There's a story some restaurants will tell you here if you ask if they're kosher.
It's a long, long story.  If you don't speak Hebrew, it can be daunting to understand the gist of what they're saying.
They'll take a long time telling it.
They'll pull out all kinds of documentation.
They'll explain some more.
They'll point all around the place.
They may even raise their voice, which is scary for a nice Canadian like me.

You may even buy food there, just to shut them up.  After all, they sure wave around a lot and pull out letters that look like they're from rabbis.

See, the problem is that Israelis know about kashrus.  I remember the first time I was shooed out of a non-kosher restaurant because I was obviously religious, but it has happened a few times since. 

Even coffee, which I might have no qualms about buying in a non-kosher place in Canada, whereas here, they might practically refuse to serve me, which I see as a kind of respect for my practice - even if it's different from their practice - and I like it very much, except the one time, very early on, I had to pretty much beg a server for coffee and then decided it wasn't worth it and left.

In Toronto, if I stuck my head into a typical restaurant and asked if it was kosher, they'd probably say something like...
"Ummm, I dunno..."
"We do have vegetarian items..."
"Let me check with the chef..."
"I think so..."

One of the ways that you can tell, outside of Israel, if a place is kosher is to look at the clientele.  If people with kippahs are eating there, it's a pretty good sign.  In Israel, that doesn't always fly.  A totally-kosher mehadrin place may be full of people who look completely non-religious, and there may just be a few kippahs in the crowd at that local non-kosher McDonald's branch.

The other thing about Israelis is that they know how to talk.  Think the Irish have the gift of the gab?  Well, they may, but Israelis are super-good at pretending it’s theirs.

Here, we've also learned early on that you don't ask if a place is kosher.  You ask if there's a certificate, the teudah.  The teudah means everything, almost always.

If you ask if it's kosher, they may say yes.
Ahhh.... but if you ask to see the teudah, that's when you get the long, long story…

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