Lively. That’s the best word to describe the funny, smart, active young people who visited us recently from Israel.
We felt so fortunate to be a short stop on their tour to sing and dance across America as part of a cultural exchange celebrating the city of Ariel, Israel. As I prepared to feed young people from a different part of the world, I pondered a significant question.
“Is that kosher?”
At the grocery store, Brookshire’s head caterer patiently explained markings on the back of packages. My favorite was a can of sardines marked certified by a rabbi in New Jersey. I bought two.
One website explained that the head cook must be Jewish. Ah! A wondrous new way for me to avoid the kitchen. If I become kosher as a gentile, could I forever be demoted to helper in my own kitchen?
Still, I’ve traveled in foreign countries and lost weight. I know what it’s like to look at our plates wondering what we are fixing to risk in our mouths.
I settled on fruit, bagels, cream cheese, salmon, and yes, sardines. Once our company arrived, we discovered the one thing they wanted while in Texas: juicy ribeyes. My husband fired up the grill at dawn and we enjoyed steak with our scrambled eggs. Naturally, I burned the bagels, by the way.
Our new friends explained that kosher began as a way to keep people healthy and safe in an era of food pathogens and no refrigeration. We enjoyed a lively discussion about how God protects us in creative ways, if we only let Him. His purpose is to protect us for companionship with Him. He desires to separate us from evil, not each other. God often separates us from evil in order to keep us closer to Him. Not to burden or isolate us, He chooses to draw us closer to Him so we understand His deep and abiding love for us. In that understanding, we become better equipped to share His love and peace with others.
“There are as many kosher traditions as there are Tribes of Israel,” an insightful gentleman laughed robustly.
One young man, a reflective son of a rabbi, shared how his parents encouraged him to be free and innocent of legalisms, instead carefully respecting both his own beliefs and his hosts’ simultaneously throughout the trip.
In that beautiful moment of mutual understanding a new phrase dawned in my heart. Hospitality can be sacred.
Perhaps your family is enjoying all the clamor and confusion that happens when extended family gathers. Bruised feelings may be unavoidable with everyone scurrying to feed a horde or care for multiple generations. May I offer you this bit of encouragement? Even in the chaos called family, hospitality is a sacred gift. In hospitality, peace has a chance. Blessings to you, dear ones.
Cathy Primer Krafve, aka Checklist Charlie, lives and writes with a Texas twang. Contact her at CathyKrafve.com.