Keeping kosher wasn’t something I decided to do by choice or belief. Honestly, I just did it because I wanted a ring. (Also, I really loved my husband and wanted to do everything I can to make him happy… but shiny things really help motivate me!)There were two things I had to do in order to get the Tiffany’s princess cut, clear rock that I saved on Zack’s computer. I had to keep kosher and learn to bensch. Two of the last things on my list of things that I ever wanted to do. But, since living together before marriage wasn’t an option to Orthodox Jews, I had to do what I could to end our 4 hour long distance relationship. Also, I wanted to get married rather sooner than later because I figured I am going to look better now when I am younger than in a few years.
Thank goodness G-d invented iPods… ok, maybe Steve Jobs did, but it definitely made my life easier. One of my friends figured out a way to put bensching on my iPod so I could listen to the song over and over on my way to and from class. The problem with this was that whenever anyone asked me what I was singing and bopping my head along to, I would cover up my “loserness” and shout, “Brittany Spears, duh!”
Also, when I was learning to bensch, Zack’s parents would help me by going through the entire thing when I was around. Zack’s brothers would get so annoyed whenever I would come to town, because bensching was an extra ten minutes longer out loud. Also, whenever Zack’s family went to any guest’s houses, they too would have to suffer going all the way through one of the longest Jewish songs ever! But let me tell you, it really, really, really helped. I can bench better than some of Zack’s parents friends! And it always suprises people that I actually know the words. Now, if I could only sing well, then I could be the next Matisyahu! Oh wait, Kol Isha…nevermind.
Another issue is that I can only sing Shir Hamalot to that annoying dragged out tune that came out of my iPod Nano. If anyone ever mixes up the beat I am screwed. So now everyone is starting to realize that if the Shapiro’s are coming over, than we have to do the original tune.
So, I was half way to getting my ring. Now the hardest part of all- keeping kosher! When you grow up keeping kosher all your life, you don’t realize what delicious things there are out there. Also, it was harder for me than most people since my favorite food in the entire world was a cheeseburger (Luckily, I never was into bacon. In my head, not eating bacon was keeping kosher.) Another reason it was so hard for me to keep kosher was because I love chicken-and-cheese quesadillas, chicken alfredo, and pretty much anything milk and meat you can put together. I loved it!! So, now I had to give this all up. But let’s face it, a big shiny diamo- I mean Zack, is totally worth it.
I had to tackle this one step at a time. It may sound silly, but stepping into religion is almost like a jumping into a cold pool. You jump in and yell, “Oh my G-d! Oh my G-d!” , and then turn and try to find a way to get out. But if you slowly take one step and then stop, and then another step and stop, you will be able to enjoy the pool. So in my case, I learned that when I try to dive into anything Jewish, I freak out and binge on cheeseburgers and milkshakes; which is not only unhealthy, but hurts Zack more than anything. But if I take on a mitzvah at a time, I am slowly able to wrap my head around it (and get the kind of wedding I want. But that’s an entirely different story!). So I said to myself, “ok, I am just not going to not have milk and meat together.” I went to my favorite cheeseburger place, had my last supper, and swore off chicken alfredo- just eating regular hamburgers and chicken wherever I went (not in front of Zack of course). After a few months of doing that, I told myself that I needed to go on a diet, so I might as well try cutting out all the non-kosher meat, so that I only eat the salad.
Well, the good news was that I was able to give up all non-kosher meat, but the bad news was that instead of eating salads and fruit, I would just go to the grilled cheese and brownies. Also, I was struggling financially to keep my head afloat because kosher meat is so freaking expensive. Before I started all of this, I could go out and grab a cheeseburger for a dollar. Now, if I go to a kosher place for a PLAIN burger, my tab is $6!! This is one of the hardest and most frustrating parts for me- paying more for less. But honestly, I still eat cheese and fish out, which makes the transition alot easier for me. I told Zack that after we have a kid, I will start only eating at kosher places (what can I say, I live for goals).
So finally after a year of working hard at learning bensching and keeping kosher, Zack proposed!!! But let me tell you that keeping kosher isn’t really the same as going on a diet because I can’t say that I lost any weight. But I definitely learned self-restraint! So I guess it’s good that I actually went on a REAL diet before my “dream wedding”.
- Diamonds are great motivation
- iPod’s are Hashem’s gift to earth
- If you are trying to learn all of benching it is very useful to do it out loud (even if it takes 10 minutes longer)
- In order to start keeping kosher or anything in religion you need to do it slowly. You can’t just jump in to keeping kosher (don’t jump into cold pools). If you are breaking something, but you are still trying it is still ok. No one is expecting everything from you at once.
- Kosher isn’t really a diet, you won’t lose any weight