Saturday, September 4, 2010

Making Ends Meat

A typo? Never! A corny play on words? Bingo.

Keeping kosher (read: vegetarian Sat-Thu) on campus isn't the least abnormal. Either we've got a lot of observant Jews (25% by population), which I doubt, or we've got vegetarians, vegans, and kids on diets, which is much more likely. Whatever the reason, 11 meals into college, not a single person has questioned the lack of meat on my plate. That being said, I haven't asked the dozens of kids I've sat with whether their fruit platter is a health choice or religious tradition.

I guess I expected kashrut to be an ice-breaker for religious identification, but that has yet to happen. In fact, the only time my peers have learned that I am Jewish (or vice versa) was when Shabbat dinner was discussed. ("I'm gonna head off to Shabbat in an hour" - "Oh okay. So, um, you're Jewish, then?" - "Yep." - "Cool.")

Now, maybe I'm a bit out-of-the-ordinary, but I always want to explain Judaism to people. I want them to ask about what I do, why I do it, and the like. It allows me to shape the views of others; I get to represent my religion is a positive light to someone who has little or no experience. I always thought, however, that, at a school where 1 in 4 students identify with the faith, or where Hillel has its own, fairly extensive building on campus, everyone I met would already have talked to someone Jewish.

I was pleasantly mistaken. I've been able to explain Shabbat to my roommate, prompt a classmate to ask to come to dinner, and exchange a quick overview of kashrut with a Chinese student (during International Orientation, skits were apparently performed in which one of my favorite religious facts was pointed out: Jews and Muslims don't eat pork).

As far as my diet goes: Dewick (the dining hall near me, "downhill" on campus, the larger and, according to us, better of the two main halls) actually has an entire buffet table of vegetarian options - I can grab anything there knowing it's safe. Then I venture out to other stations, checking detailed ingredient information posted. I think a listing of "Roast Pork, Kosher Salt..." is wonderfully ironic. Friday nights are my meat intake: Kosher chicken or brisket (both for Freshman Shabbat yesterday).

Jewish jokes also appear in comedy forums on campus: "Here today because you were turned down from an ivy? Don't worry about it guys - it's not cause you're not smart. It's cause you're middle class and Jewish," or last night's: "Jew walks into a bar with a frog on his head. Bartender asks, 'Where'd you pick that up?' Frog answers, 'Brooklyn, they're all over the place'". Yeah, it wasn't funny when he told it, either.

Though, diverging for a moment, the comedy show a few days ago was pretty awesome. "Yeah class of 2014! Okay, now turn to your roommate sitting next to you. Oh shut up we know you're sitting together - you don't have any real friends yet..." Somehow, we ended up laughing as they made fun of us. Huh.

Anywho (the cheery alternative to anyhow), that's that for that. Happy eating!

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