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February 12, 2016     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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February 12, 2016
 

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 -.,= By Sara Lippmann (Kveller via JTA)--My first transgression was a chees- esteak. I was 6 years old, maybe younger, staring down the gateway to deviance. If my dinner plate were the back page of Highlights for Chil- dren, I had the answer in the bag. What was wrong with the picture? A gross violation of church and state. The flagrant commingling, no--outright canoodling-- of two items that had no business being together: milk andmeat. At home, we observed the laws ofkashrut: two sets of sil- verware, two sets ofdishware, tape. At home, not only did the two food groups not appear at the table simultaneously, but the order of ingestion mat- tered. Whereas later in high school, I'd live and die by the dictum "beer before liquor," as a child we adhered to this rule of thumb: '!Burgers for lunch means no ice cream spongesofdifferent colorsand for hours!" pots labeled with waterproof "Can you keep a secret?" EWISH 5 House and home, real estate, travel, food and dining, cars, fashion,jewelry, Judaic/ , entertain- ment, books, sports, games, music, art, crafts, hobbies and leisure, clubs and organizations, volunteering. Advertising Deadline: February 17, 2016 For More Information, Call: 407-834-8787 my mother asked. We were at Momma's, a cheerless and aptly named pizza joint adjacent to West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. I nodded at the foot-long cheesesteak before us. With a plastic knife, she sawed the greasy log in half. My mouth watered. One for me, one for her. Our pagan tradition was born. Philadelphians, as you've probably heard, have loud, outspoken opinions on who has the best cheesesteak in town. There are Pat's fans, Jim's diehards and, more re- cently, acolytes of Tony Luke's. My mother and I didn't have time or interest in supremacy of taste. This was the suburbs. We needed proximity and convenience. "Don't tell your father," she'd say, and I'd beam. I loved having something private, a ritual reserved for just us. This was our secret. Usually we ate right there. It was always Momma's on a Monday for our heart- clogging adventures. I don't know where my father was: working late; at a meeting; playing tennis; coaching my sister's softball team. My sister is not part of this memory, having been too obedient to rebel or, as she asserts, hav- ing simply never acquired the taste. Once in a while we got our foil-wrapped rolls to go, then demolished them on our porch. Technically this was OK. Technically we were not desecrating our home--we sat on the steps, hovered over wrappers, we lived in accordance to don't ask, don't tell. If questioned, we'd say we stopped for pizza. At that age, I understood life as a simple equation of cause and effect. I was a child of fears. Something terrible might happen at any moment. When we'd read that prayer on Yom Kippur--who should live, who should die, who'by water, fire, etc.--I'd picture the Book of Life opening onto a lectern of clouds. Like my Santa-abiding classmates with their "naughty and nice," (JNS.org)-- On Interna- tional Holocaust Remem- brance Day and the anni- versary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khame- nei published a video titled "Are The Dark Ages Over," ex- pressing doubt whether the Holocaust took place and complaining about European nations' ban on Holocaust denial. Khamenei laments that the Holocaust denial bans are not justified by European laws regarding free speech. In the video, which was translated by the Middle East Media Re- search Institute, the Iranian leader also calls on Muslims to fight Israel and the Jewish state's Western allies. The vid- I believed my false steps car- ried dire repercussions. In synagogue, I worried. I worried about cheesesteaks and setting fire to the rug, hacking my sister's sweat- shirts to bits. I worried about watching too much crap TV--and then lying about it. I worried about the countless trinkets by the cash register of the 5 & 10 that found their way miraculously up my sleeve. Our home embodied awild maze of religious contradic- tions. Despite his strict up- bringing, my father possessed a curiosity about the world. I'd seen him snarf down Roy Roger's roast beef and Gino's fried chicken in other people's kitchens. But there was a line in the kashrut sand that could not be crossed. Where he might cave for a fancy bite of filet mignon, he refrained from lobster, cheeseburgers and pork. My father, I'm still convinced, would rather I become a drug addict than a bacon eater. My mother pointed out his hypocrisy and ate whatever the heck she pleased at restaurants, a fact that fueled countless argu- ments. But I loved my covert alliance with my mother. The cheesesteak was our quiet rebellion. Here we were, getting away with shit. This is what was irresistible--more than any allure of saltY meat and cheese. My thirst for the ver- boten deepened, expanded. Quickly, I learned the art of deception. Of acting one way, doing another, keeping things to myself. Cheesesteak night forged a two-sideness to my character. For many years, I saw myself as a child divided. Get good grades, be a good girl. Then, go be bad. Treifwas the least of my offenses. To be clear: I was bad--for a nice, Jewish girl. Eventually the novelty. wore off. I grew up. Sneaking around lost its appeal. More than anything, I began long- ing for all the disparate parts of me to come together as one. Although I haven't had a cheesesteak for 20 years, contradictions persist. We don't keep a kosher home. My husband eats everything under the sun. My son, joy- ously, shares his father's pal- ate. My daughter has never met a salami she doesn't love. While I may no longer indulge in my ol' Philly standby, I remain a flagrant mixer of dairy and meat. I'll spring for the rare oyster. My father is scandalized. He beats his breast, "When each genera- tion becomes more and more watered down, what will become of us?" And yet, here we are, ac- tively trying to raise men- sches. Good people, with full and open hearts, yiddishe neshamas. My kids attend progressive day schools, where they are taught Hebrew and Jewish values and to love who they are, where they came from, to celebrate their vi- brant and important past and to embrace the people they are becoming. Every morning I pack a dairy lunch in accordance with school code, even though I don't believe goodness is tied to diet. I hope my children continue to passionately en- gage these old texts in fresh, probing ways and eke out their own traditions. We're a family, united. And yet, unlike the rest, I can't bring myself to adopt their boundless gastronomy. Why not go whole hog? I don't know if it's lingering superstition, cultural indoctrination, an age-old fear, nostalgic respect for my father or something else entirely. Maybe I need to hold back on this final frontier so that there is still a place left to go, should I ever feel again the pull to transgress. Sara Lippmann has writ- ten for American Baby, GQ, Details and other magazines. She co-hosts the Sunday Sa- lon, a monthly NYC reading series, and lives in Brooklyn with her family. Kveller is a thriving com- munity of women and parents who convene online to share, celebrate and commiserate their experiences of raising kids through a Jewish lens. Visit Kveller.com. amenel Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei eo includes images of major European Holocaust deniers such as Roger Garaudy, Robert Faurisson, and David Irving, highlighting their alleged persecution in the West. Iran is also in the midst of organizing its annual Holo- caust cartoon contest, This year, the first-place prize money is $50,000, more than quadruple last year's $12,000. There will also be a separate portrait contest focusing on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netan- yahu. "We're really concerned this contest is used as a plat- form for Holocaust denial... and anti-Semitic speech," Ira Forman, the U.S. State Department's special envoy to combat and monitor anti- Semitism, told JNS.org.