Friday, October 1, 2010

You Can't Eat Here

I have been wearing a kippah almost all of the time. Apparently that makes a strong statement about who I am and what I do to practice my Judaism. I was going out to dinner with a friend a few days ago and she wanted to go to a pizza place. But as we walk in the owner of the restaurant started telling me that I can't eat at his restaurant.

When I gave him a confused look, he told me that they weren't certified as kosher and I shouldn't eat there. He looked even more confused when I told him it was okay, and I took off my kippah. There are two things at play here; the polarized view of what religion is in Israel, and the owner's respect and concern for me potentially breaking kashrut.

I was very appreciative of his concern for me. It is nice to know that people here understand the symbols and are partially looking out for you. This is just one example of how nice Israelis actually are, despite their rough exterior. What concerned me though, was the stark polarization of religion in Israel.

I'm sure this will come up again and again. In Israel, most people consider themselves either "Orthodox", or secular. To many people, there is no in between. There is no way that someone who wears a kippah could eat in a non-certified restaurant. If I have a kippah on, I should not do anything to break the traditional observance of Shabbat. It makes me stop and think a lot more about what these religious symbols mean here.

It also makes me think about the situation of pluralism in Israel. I was recently reading Rabbi Kravitz's sermon that he gave on Rosh HaShanah this year and here is the link to his sermon that I posted on my blog.

It seems to me that in Israel, there is a lack of understanding of the scope of religious observances that are possible in other places. I heard a friend say that Reform Judaism is something that will not catch on in Israel because there doesn't seem to be a need for it. Being a secular Israeli is pretty close to being in the Reform Movement. While I do think that Reform Judaism (and other manifestations of Judaism) do have an uphill battle in this country, there is a place for it here.

kashrut - Kashrut is the system of dietary laws that govern the way that Jews are commanded to eat.

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