It's a Jew Thing

What's it like growing up an observant Jew in a modern non-Jewish world? Read on...

Monday, November 14, 2005

It was suggested that for my next post I write about the differences between when I lived at home and now that I live on my own, in terms of my Jewish practices. So what I could really think of was three big differences, which are as follows:

1. Keeping Kosher - Away at school I pretty much keep Kosher the same that I did at home with a few small differences. Since all of my roommates obviously don't keep Kosher I don't live in a strictly "Kosher Home" and the oven and such isn't Kosher because non-Kosher items are cooked there. But what I can do at home is good enough for me because it is the best option that I have available at this point in my life. Also, since it isn't a "Kosher home" if I go out to dinner and have leftovers I can bring them home and eat them later. At my regular house I can't do that because it would be bringing non-Kosher food into a strictly Kosher home. That might sound a little confusing but I can't really figure out how to explain it better than that.

2. Riding on Shabbat - As I explained in a previous post, my family does not ride in a car on Shabbat as part of our practice. Away at school I have pretty much stopped this practice. I don't for the most part understand why it was my family’s practice, which is probably part of the reason why I stopped doing it at school. Of course when I am at home I still follow my family’s practice of not riding on Shabbat.

3. Going to Services - At home I didn't go to services every Shabbat after I graduated from Hebrew School (which is when I stopped having to go) but I still went from time to time for Shabbat services, especially if there was a special event going on at the synagogue. And I would go to services on all of the Jewish Holidays... I didn't go to school on any of those days and I pretty much had to go to services, not that I minded at all. But here at school I never had a chance to really feel part of the Jewish community and I have really never felt comfortable at any of the services offered on campus. So, unfortunately, I never because as involved in Judaism on campus as I'd always hoped to in high school. I don't really go to services ever and I always try to go home or away from school for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover so I can observe the holidays in a place I feel a little more comfortable. It's a little to late to worry about that now though, since I am coming to the end of my time at Delaware and will soon move onto another stage of my life where I will have to again redefine the way I practice.

I think that's it for this time. My next post might be my last within the class period so if there is anything else you are really dieing to know about please let me know so I can write about it.


  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger Kristen said…

    I think it is great you kept at least some of your Jewish practices when you went away to college. A lot of people forget where they came from when they go to school, and become a totally different person when they go home. So, it is good to know that there is life on campus outside of being the “drunk college kid”. I have known a lot of people to be completely different around their families than how they act at school. Which I think is stupid cause it just seems like they are being fake! I am glad to know you can be a real person and not forget your heritage and values!

  • At 5:26 PM, Blogger carah said…

    Of course it is difficult to live your life that same way you do at home in every respect. I always felt that no matter how much you actually “practice” your religion, you are still that religion. There are obviously different degrees of Judaism, but everyone is still Jewish. Keeping strict kosher is very hard at school especially when none of your roommates keep kosher. I always make a conscious effort not to mix meat and diary, but I do not have separate dishes and silverware. Regardless of being at school or at home I find it extremely hard not to be in a car on Shabbat. So it is understandable how you do not practice this at school. Being comfortable at services is very important and I understand if you have not yet found services to go to at school. Since my parents go to services every Saturday when I am home I make an attempt to come with them. But no matter how much you do, you are still Jewish!

  • At 1:34 PM, Blogger Tara Raphael said…

    I think it's great that you've been able to keep some of your practices while also realizing the reality of the situation that you're in. To keep a completely "Kosher Home" would be pretty unrealistic when living with roommates who don't keep Kosher. Also, since you're in an environment where there aren't many people who don't ride because of religious readings during Shabbat. Since you obviously remember all of your practices and revert back to them when you're home I think you've most definitely held onto your values.

  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger Meredith said…

    Great idea for your post I wonder who thought of that idea! Anyways I can imagine how hard it must be for you to keep completely kosher here at school. I think it’s very respectful of you that you try your hardest to keep your same faith here at school where there are so many distractions. I think that as you grow in life you have to eventually realize that religion is still a huge part of your life but you have to make it work for your lifestyle. It sucks that you don’t feel comfortable at any services here at school but have you ever tired to be a part of Hillel? I know that they hold services for some of the holidays so maybe that could be something that could help you attend services. This is basically my last comment on your blog but I just want to say that this has been one of my favorite blogs and I learned so much about you, and Judaism as a religion and lifestyle. Thanks and you better look forward to me asking questions all year about Jewish stuff once your blog is done!

  • At 5:57 PM, Blogger George said…

    I really admire your sharing your experiences and have been a silent reader of your blog from its inception. Your post about feeling apart from the local Jewish community raises a thought: Do you think your blog, if started when you first arrived at the University, could have made a difference in how you connected with others? I really am coming from "not knowing", I don't have a preconceived opinion that it "should have" or "wouldn't have", I'm just curious as to what you think. Thank you for increasing my knowledge on the topic - EXPONENTIALLY!

  • At 9:08 PM, Blogger Kara said…

    I really admire you for trying your best to keep as many of your beliefs intact while at school. Coming to college is such a lifestyle change the way it is, but you had to deal with many other obstacles and changes when you moved away from home also. How do your parents feel about the way you practice when you’re at school? Was it any different when you lived in the dorms and ate at the dining halls? I know there is a very strong Hillel program at school and I was wondering if you ever got involved in that organization or not. I can’t thank you enough for all of your knowledge and teaching me so much about Judaism, its practices, history and beliefs. I hope you consider continuing posting after the class is over so we can still comment and learn more!

  • At 10:17 PM, Blogger Shayna said…

    Thank you for your most recent posts. Kara- I love the fact that I feel like I have gotten to know you better this semester through this blog. In responce to Kara and Mer's question- I have tried Hillel in the past... I don't really want to state exactly why I never really got involved because I don't want to offend anyone who might read this blog and IS involved -- let's leave it at my saying that I just never quite found my place there.

    In response to George, thank you so much for your interest in my blog. It's really pleasing to know that someone outside of class is reading it. I also know I have another non-posting reader because she has commented to me in a post on her own blog (because I post on her blog about the same subject). Your point is one that I hadn't thought of before and it's interesting to consider. The thing is that I don't really know if I'd have as many people to read it if it hadn't been introduced as part of class. Things might have been a little different for me though because I might have been able to connect to more Jews on campus earlier in my college career which would definitely have changed my experiences I think.

  • At 11:34 PM, Blogger reenaa said…

    ) It is interesting how you managed to follow most of your customs and traditions even living away from home. Does it take more of an effort on your part or does it just come naturally to you? I have met kids who like being part of such activities and others who merely follow them as customary rituals. I can clearly tell that you are having a ball and you are so into your Jewish heritage. It is interesting to observe the manner in which you are coping with living close to your religious roots, adhering to various norms, even while you live away from home.


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