feeding dog kosher food

Are You Serious? Fido Has to Eat Kosher l’Pesach?

Becoming Religious Includes Your Pets

One of the ways you can tell if a family was once secular is if they have a dog. It is extremely rare to find a dog in a frum-from-birth home. When Mom and Dad decide that they want more Torah in their lives and embark on a mitzvah-observant lifestyle, giving away the family dog or cat is not an option. The kids are pretty attached to the family pet, and giving away their precious friend is something that could make the adjustment to a new lifestyle painfully difficult.
There are actually quite a few halachic considerations for your pet too, and in some ways, having animals give you the opportunity to do more mitzvot.

Kosher Food

When it comes time to clean out all the chometz before Pesach, this includes the chometz in your pets’ food. Fortunately, pet stores carry special Pesach food for all your animals. (more…)

The Enduring Kippah

The Enduring Kippah: Why and When Do We Wear One?

The Kippah: Why Do We Wear It?

A few posts back we were talking about frum clothing and I mentioned the kippah or yarmulke as it is known in Yiddish. For the ba’al teshuva, making the kippah a constant part of our life may be one of the most profound aspects of our transformation. We wear the kippah to remind us to be in awe of a higher power, and also to show respect, but more importantly, the kippah reminds us to be humble.


israel vacation

Kosher Vacations Today Are Nothing Like They Used to Be

Going on Vacation—Kosher Style

We have passed through the three weeks, the time period when we reflect more intensely on the loss of our Temples. Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting, set aside to mourn the destruction of both Temples is now behind us. If you are new to being observant, these special days on the Jewish calendar may be unfamiliar to you. They were certainly not on my radar screen. But, now we move on to the next period of time on our calendar—vacation! And just because we are observant Jews, it does not mean we have to make any sacrifices when it comes to having a great vacation. (more…)

kosher internet

The Ba’al Teshuva and the Internet: Do I Need to Burn My Smartphone?

You made the big decision to become religious and have gone through the hard work of koshering your kitchen, switching your Saturdays to Shabbat, and living a more focused life. But what about your smartphone? Tablet? Surfing the web? Because you are now orthodox, do you need to throw out all of your internet devices and boycott the internet?

Is There Life Without Internet?

For me the answer is definitely “no,” especially since it is my profession. Today, telecommuting is huge, so you need the internet. Plus there is a ton of great stuff on the web today, including Torah classes, music, movies, dating sites, kosher versions of Craigslist and apartment rental portals, there is even social media for the religious Jew. The truth is that our lives have become digital, and to take on a self-imposed exile from the internet may be admirable but not necessary. (more…)

Jew in the City—in Panama City!

Panama City’s kosher restaurant scene is on fire

Truth is, the best kosher dining outside of Israel is still in New York, followed by LA, in my opinion, but Panama is experiencing a Jewish revival and for Orthodox Jewish couples and families looking for a quick and affordable get-away, Panama City is rapidly becoming a kosher destination of choice.

Jews Have a Long History in Panama

The first Jews arrived in Panama during the time of the Spanish Inquisitions, escaping persecution and death. The next wave arrived in the mid-to-late 1880s in pursuit of economic opportunities. By the time the Panama Canal was completed in 1911, the total Jewish population in Panama City was 505, barely a blip on the demographics charts. But, over time the population grew.


What? You’re Going to Torch My Kitchen??!!

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!


Jews parents-image

You Keep Kosher and Your Parents Don’t, Now what?

You Keep Kosher and Your Parents Don’t, Now what?

What is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you first become religious? Telling your mother that you can longer eat her cooking. This is guaranteed to start the fireworks.

I spent most of my life in France, growing up in Marseilles and then later living in Paris. Until a few years ago, I was not a religious Jew, leaving me free to enjoy all the delicacies of fine French dining.

After my wife and I made the decision to become religious, one of the first mitzvahs our Rabbi suggested we take on was to go kosher. This meant totally redoing our kitchen, an experience I will share with in a separate post, and limiting our diet to only what is allowed by the kosher laws. The most difficult part of the journey to keeping kosher was telling our parents that we could no longer eat their cooking. How do we balance our new lifestyle with the Jewish mitzvah of kibud av v’am—honoring your father and mother?