After that fateful encounter with the Rabbi on my train trip (see “About”), I slowly began my return to Jewish life practices. Upon return home, I sought out a rabbi and began to discuss a plan for learning and taking on the mitzvot (commandments). The rabbi stressed the importance of going slowly, so as not to burn out and he suggested the first place to begin was keeping Shabbat and keeping kosher. Shabbat was more difficult and I have more stories to tell later about this transition. But, my wife and I were not afraid to go kosher, which meant koshering our kitchen and eliminating many of our favorite restaurants and cuisine. French dishes include delicious delicacies which are not on the kosher list!
Going kosher doesn’t mean you have to throw out the kitchen
It is extremely important, and I cannot stress this enough, to do everything under the supervision of your rabbi. It will save you from countless mistakes, heartache and unnecessary expenses.
The first thing to do after making the decision to keep a kosher home, is to undertake an inventory of what is in your kitchen. You might be surprised to find quite a few packaged and canned goods sporting the necessary kashrut symbol. Throw out all your leftovers in the fridge, freezer or cabinets.
Next make a division of all the pots, pans, utensils, dishes, silverware, and so forth into those that can be koshered and those that cannot. For the latter group, you will need to toss them out or give everything away to a shelter for the homeless. Using the information you received from your rabbi, you will know which items can be koshered. Probably you are going to need to buy some new stuff. This part can be fun.
The day the Rabbi showed up with a blowtorch
When my wife opened to door to our rabbi with his blowtorch, she let out a small gasp of fear. She had invested quite a bit of time and money in designing our gourmet, albeit treif, kitchen and was not so happy about the prospect of the rabbi coming to torch the place. But the truth is, that many of your utensils can be made kosher by heating, such as with a blowtorch or through immersion in hot water. It depends upon the type of utensil, how you used it previously and how thoroughly it can be cleaned. So, when you see the blowtorch, don’t panic. It will save you money.
There is more to organizing a kosher kitchen, and we will cover some items in the next post, such as separate utensils, ovens and sinks for meat and dairy. In the meantime, relax and enjoy the journey.
By Oren Laurent