April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

We are a funny people and when I say people, I am referring to the Jewish people. Let’s go back in time to the first Friday night dinner. Adam brought home some really good bison and expected Eve to cook it because they were having company. Unfortunately, Eve had just prepared a cheese omelette on the only cooking rock they had. What to do? Well, they only had the one rock and they had fire, so, they burned all of the dairy off of the rock, waited until it was cooled off completely and then used it for the tasty bison.

With changing times have come more convenient modifications. Say hello to the Shabbos mode oven. Now, everyone should, of course, ask your local rabbi and follow his guidance. I grew up in a house where my mom used her Shabbos mode oven. When I got married, I was using my sort-of-Shabbos-mode oven. And then husband #1 decided to go to a bishul (cooking class), where he came home all giddy and said, “You can’t use the oven on Shabbos anymore.” And then he never went back to that class and that is where our marriage reached its first milestone. Our neighbor’s thought they were listening to a Pay-Per-View fight. Soon after we welcomed an inconvenient and extremely annoying Moledet Shabbat Hot Plate. Burnt chicken on one side and undercooked kugel on the other…good times.

When we decided to re-do our kitchen, almost 10 years ago, I decided that I was going to take a class on what you can and cannot use your warming drawer for, or if you can use a warming drawer at all. Again, consult your local rabbi and follow his guidance. One rabbi says keep it on low, one rabbi says keep it on high. One rabbi says you cannot use it at all. Kind of like the three bears, but not really. And then there is the subject of warming up sauces. How much sauce is too much? “A puddle,” one rabbi said. Now, I don’t know where this guy lives, but we get some pretty big puddles. What constitutes a puddle? Can one of the three bears please tell me if I can warm up the porridge on shabbos??

Our religion seems to ebb and flow, within its limited confines, but to embrace change. Well, not all the time, especially with following the rules of keeping a kosher home, but with certain things..like preparing for Passover. It is much easier to clean your counter with boiling water than with a blow torch…just saying. My rabbi sends out his yearly guide and it makes me smile. Especially when husband #1 tells me to do something and I can reply, “If it ain’t in the guide, talk to the hand, mister!” Rabbis definitely try to make things a little more manageable so we all don’t go crazy, run away and change religions.

But I just don’t understand it. I just don’t understand how our forefathers managed to get ready for all of the High Holidays without the modern conveniences we have now. Did they have an extra ice box in an adjoining hut? Did man and dinosaur live peacefully enough that no one ate food they were saving for company? How did those women do it with just fire and no actual stove? Forget about getting an eight-burner, six-burner or two-burner; these women had no burners!! Soup? Meatballs? Freezing ahead of time? How?

I know what complaints people have in our society, “Would you believe my lady quit last week-who is going to peel all of those onions?” Frantic posts on Teaneckshuls looking for anything that might resemble a cleaning lady. I can only imagine if Trump actually builds a wall what those posts might say. I actually shudder at the thought. (Though I am not endorsing either candidate. I am actually just writing husband #1 in on the ballot and hoping that others might follow suit.) We panic and have anxiety attacks and for what? No one is going to starve. The rabbis are on our side. You can eat a puddle of whatever you want right out of the warming drawer, after all.

Now that I have son #2 in Sha’alvim, I can just ask him my halachic questions, actually, I had better not. Because as my wise husband #1 often says, “If you ask the question, you need to follow the answer.” Good thing that doesn’t apply to questions I ask him.

Good luck with the holiday preparations and remember, the holidays are about spending time with your family and not the food. Unless your family doesn’t like you and then, in that case, food is love and knock yourself out!

By Banji Latkin Ganchrow

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