Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Helping Hand and a Sausage

From a story that happened only a few weeks ago, let me take you back 9 years to when I first moved to Manchester.

Before moving to Manchester I spent 10 year in Southend on Sea.  It was good to get back amongst Jewish people again as previously to that I had been in Bournemouth and Leicester.  There were about a dozen of us in Southend at the beginning.  All single and all looking to take our lives to the next stage (ie find the perfect partner and get married).  Over the years, one by one and sometimes two by two, the group began to splinter as people found partners, and therefore found another life. Sometimes the numbers went up, but Southend wasn't a real pull for Jewish singles in their 20's and 30's so most of the time the group shrank. 

I went to plenty of Jewish Jewish singles events in London but there are only so many of these that one can attend whilst keeping his sanity.  I went to far too many of them and a change was definitely required.  

So, I packed my belongings into a handkerchief, tied them to the end of a long stick, slung the stick over my shoulder and headed off to Manchester, where I heard that the streets were paved with gold. After spending a week running around buying furniture and generally having the beginnings of a fantastic adventure I contacted the local synagogue.  They introduced me to a young Rabbi who I am still very friendly with today (there is a story there as well).  He took it upon himself to make sure that I never spent a Friday evening alone and slowly he started to introduce me to the Jewish way of life.  I had experienced Friday evening meals before, but not quite like these.  At my Fathers house in Southend they consisted of the prayer for wine, then bread with no washing in between and straight into a delicious meal.  After devouring the meal we would sink back into the settee and watch The Simpsons or a football match on TV.  So the proper way of doing things were a bit of a mystery to me.  But one which I slowly started to enjoy.

My level of observance at the time was such that I would only eat meat that "could" be kosher.  So I would eat chicken and beef from the normal supermarket and from non-kosher restaurants.  But, I would never eat any meat that could never be kosher. So I would never eat pig or shellfish.   Then I had a revelation, a turning point in my life.  I experienced my first proper kosher beef sausage.  There are few times in my life when I have been affected so profoundly by a piece of food.  The smell sent me back to my childhood and my saliva glands started flowing in anticipation.  The sound of cutting into the crisp skin made my eyes open wide with pleasure.  Then the taste...  The taste was an explosion of senses.  Sight, sound, hearing, and touch all squeezed together in experiencing the pleasure of a simple sausage.  That made me consider the possibility of buying kosher meat more often.  But I didn't.  The familiarity and the “buy one get one free” offers in the supermarkets kept me loyal to their treif meat.

It was a few weeks later when I entered my garage one morning to get out some crumpets for breakfast.  I went to open the door to the freezer, but the normal suction and pull on the door was missing.  The door had been left open a crack all night.  This had never happened before and funnily enough, at the time of writing, has never happened since.  I went through the contents of the freezer throwing away all of the items that had defrosted beyond the ability to use or re-freeze. 

The vegetables I kept.
The potatoes I kept.
The lollipops I kept (I am a kid at heart).
The meat I had to throw away.

So that is all of my non-kosher meat that had to be thrown away.  The thing is that I did have a few pieces of kosher meat that I had purchased.  They were all sat safe and sound in the fridge and were still perfectly edible. Was this a message that I should destroy all of my non-kosher meat?  I took it as such and never bought non-kosher meat from that day on.

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