Rabbi’s Corner

Being Jewish: It’s not just for holidays, milestone moments

rabbi Zimmerman_newAlmost every person can recall the myths they accepted as fact as a child, until a knowledgeable adult, dictionary or Google has proved them otherwise. I used to believe that bats are blind. (While they do use echolocation at night, they still have functioning eyes.)

Another myth I believed as a child growing up in Chicago was that the place and time to be Jewish was either: 1) in the synagogue, 2) on the holidays, or 3) during momentous lifecycle events (circumcision, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, wedding or funeral).

It made sense to me. After all, that’s where the main Jewish rituals govern.

What I’ve discovered with time — and learning, which eventually led me to become a rabbi — was that Judaism matters most 1) in your home, 2) on weekdays, and 3) during an ordinary lunch break. The overtly Jewish things we do at our special times are really there to help inspire us to continue while we are back in our regular mundane lives.

“Know Him in all your ways,” King Solomon says in the book of Proverbs. Ethics of the Fathers says that “All your deeds should be for the sake of Heaven.” The Jew is meant to serve G-d not only with prayer and Torah study, but also with his and her every act. Much like in a marriage, you can’t be married for only the evening hours or committed only on your anniversary. In our marriage to G-d, being there constantly is what makes it real. Our relationship with G-d doesn’t begin or end with the Passover Seder table.

One of the (seemingly) mundane acts that we are constantly doing on a daily basis (or hourly, depending on your diet) is eating. And the obvious question is where is G-d while you grab a bite?

Adhering to G-d’s dietary laws is the Jewish way to eat. Keeping kosher impacts both our body and soul. Whether or not you are fully kosher observant shouldn’t prevent you from taking on a new resolution to, say, henceforth abstain from shellfish. That would be a mitzvah and would sanctify that moment in your life.

Kosher food is more accessible than ever. Why not make it a point to choose the product with a kosher symbol while in the supermarket? Grab a bite at Eli’s Deli, a cookie at Nadine’s Bakery or a sorbet at U-Swirl Frozen Yogurt? Or consider joining the popular “Kosher in Tucson” group on Facebook.

However you find your way to take another bite-sized step in this direction, it is a meaningful way of welcoming G-d deeper into your daily life. And what can be more divinely intimate than that?