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