How to be Kosher on the Cheap

Keeping kosher can be both easy and difficult. It also comes with a pretty hefty price tag…or does it? Here are some tips on how to eat kosher without putting too much of a strain on your wallet.

  1. Dollar Tree sells dishes of every size, color and shape imaginable. Jewish Law requires the complete separation of meat and dairy at all times, and dishes are no different. Pretty dishes can be expensive as hell, so dollar stores and thrift stores are two great ways to get what you need for cheap.
  2. Use disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils so separate dish sets won’t be an issue. These can be found in supermarkets and Dollar Trees. But it is very wasteful, so I recommend not doing this. 
  3. Go vegan/vegetarian. Many products that are certified vegan are also certified kosher. Canned fruits and veggies are commonplace and kosher, and you can do so much with tofu.
  4. Artscroll has a whole section that helps you with keeping kosher.
  5. Shop at farmers markets. Fresh produce doesn’t need any kind of kosher stamp, and locally grown is the way to go.
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A List of Kosher Websites That I Love

  1.  Chabad*-Main website of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement. Contains Torah lessons, holiday guides, articles and much, much more.
  2. Aish*-Similar to chabad.org. Offers Torah thoughts, advice, coloring pages, and even a Kotel Cam to keep an eye on the Western Wall/Wailing Wall.
  3. Jew in the City-Helps to break down stereotypes about Orthodox Jews (coughcoughholeinthesheetcoughcough)
  4. ArtScroll*-Can be used to purchase seforim, tallit, ritual items and aids in keeping a kosher kitchen. I recommend getting their Basic Jewish Library to start. It’s $150, and you get a Chumash, four copies of their Family Zemiros, a Tanakh, a Tehillim with interlinear translations, and a really nice siddur. All of these are hardcover except for the Family Zemiros. Don’t try to visit their website on Shabbos, though. You won’t be able to access anything. Their app is running a promotion right now where if you download it, you get the current Daf Yomi volume free in Hebrew only.
  5. Frum Satire-They’re just plain hilarious. They like to make fun of frum people but not in a mean way.
  6. Out of the OrthoBox-Does the same thing that Jew in the City does.
  7. Kosher Innovations-Sells really neat ideas for shomer Shabbos Jews, including but not limited to KosherLamps, Shabbat water games, and more.
  8. Kosher Casual-sells casual tznius clothes, sleevies for short sleeve shirts, running skirts for all you athletes out there, headscarves and more.
  9. Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters-Provides up to date Jewish news, information about Lubavitch, and other resources
  10.  Sefaria*- contains all the books listed here and much, much more. It’s free of charge, but there is a donate option. This site is perfect for broke Jews because they never ask for your credit card information. I love it. They even honor the Daf Yomi cycle of Talmud study.
  11. Tznius.com-online clothing retailer. Sells headscarves, tops, skirts, an accesories. There’s even a list of tznius Purim costume ideas.
  12. Joy of Kosher*-Think of JOK as a Jewish version of 30-minute meals. The magazine is published by Jamie Geller, who is the Jewish Rachel Ray (and a baal teshuva)
  13. Kehot Publication Society-You can purchase seforim here.
  14. COL Live-Primary news source for Chabad on the Internet.
  15. Orthodox Union-most reliable kosher certification in the country. They also have Torah lessons and a news section.
  16. The Jewish Daily Forward-Most well known and trusted source of Jewish news on the Interwebs.
  17. Chabad on Campus International-seeks to be a “home away from home” for Jews on campus and offers a wealth of social, educational and spiritual programs at campuses across America and around the globe.
  18. Kitzur 365– provides not only the text of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch(Condensed Code of Jewish Law) but also translatons and daily text message study reminders. Kitzur 365 paired with Sefaria to me is an unstoppable force in your daily study. 

Am I missing any Sites? What are some of your favorites? Leave your thoughts down in the comments below.

*Website has an app for Android. I don’t use iTunes, so you may want to check for yourself.

Why Trump is Toxic to Jews

Donald Trump is not a good person. He’s bad for women, Hispanics, everybody. For crying out loud, the guy has rape allegations under his belt. Judaism, to me at least, is all about questions. But if anyone dares to question him, he shuts down and whines about fake news. And what baffles me is that an overwhelming number of Jews voted for the stupid creep.

Another aspect of Jewish life which Trump does not poses by any stretch of the word is kindness. Trump is not kind in the slightest. He’s rude, mean, racist, and ugly inside and out. He’d rather sell his own soul than give to any kind of charity. Some people just want to watch the world burn, and Cheeto Voldemort is one of them. He’s conrent to watch a man bleed to death in front of him. That is not , by any stretch of the word, the mark of a decent man or of a good president.

A good president would not refer to neo-Nazis (who chanted “Jews will not replace us!” by the way) as “very fine people.” All forms of racism must be denounced by all government officials, and Trump not only does not meet this criteria, but he praised the Nazis. Praised them! A baby man child such as this is worthy of no respect. He sure as hell hasn’t earned mine.

Not to mention the fact that he’s a disaster for education. Betty deVos should do the walk of shame through King’s Landing, not just Cersei Lannister. (Although make no mistake, they’re both evil old witch-hags.) Students of all ages, myself included are in peril due to her greed. Loan sharks can once again prey on students. Meals cpuld end up not being as easily accessible. Education is key to Jewish life. If it wasn’t, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, OBM, would have never urged people to set their kids to Jewish schools.

In conclusion, Trump is a mean-spirited orange racist bastard who needs to be impeached, institutionalized, and imprisoned, in that order. If we as Jews support such as man for the most powerful office in the country, what kind of example are we setting for other nations?

Unpopular Opinion: Why Abraham Was Directly Responsible for Sarah’s Death

This week’s Torah parshah is Chayei Sarah, meaning “life of Sarah.” It’s ironic, isn’t it? After all, it’s all about her death. I’ve honestly never understood that. But anyway, here’s my take on it.

Taken from chabad.org (source can be found here)

When the news reached Sarah that Isaac was nearly sacrificed, the shock of his near loss coupled with the relief of his life being spared was too much for her to bear, and she died. Abraham purchased the Machpeilah Cave and the surrounding field from the local Hittites for her burial grounds in Hebron.”

Now some may call Avraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son brave or an act of faith, but it’s actually an act of terrorism. Faith in G-d is all well and good, but there are limits. In the above passage, it states that after Yizchak was nearly killed, the stress and fear for her son’s life and the resulting relief that what she feared had not indeed come to pass was too much for Sarah to handle. Avraham caused that stress, and in doing so, doomed his wife. He screwed them both over. This story is proof that stress really is a killer. I know about stress! I’m in college!

Thoughts?

The Difficulty of Kibud Av Va-Em (Honoring Parents)

Honoring my parents has always been difficult to me. Most of my followers here on WordPress know that I was raised by a single mom. Don’t get me wrong, she did the best she could raising me. But for the last few years, I haven’t felt like a daughter. I feel like a lightning rod. I feel as though I’m the one who cleans up the messes and absorbs all the dysfunction, not too different from Meg Griffin of Family Guy fame. There’s a double standard between the way Mom treats me and the way she treats my stepdad. When I’m out of work, I’m expected to be the perfect obedient housemaid and clean messes I wasn’t even there to make. When Brian quit his job, he was allowed to sleep until noon and play his war games all day. Every time I try to stick up for myself, I’m never taken seriously.

Today was the last straw. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had an angry outburst. When Mom asked me to clean up, I burst out, “Why should I? You never do!” Immediately, I regretted what I had said. Mom had a major surgery not a week ago, and I was incredibly cruel to her. But the emotional toll this has taken on me is too much. I’ve spent so much time eloping after others and trying to be selfless that I haven’t been taking proper care of myself. The worst part is that Mom doesn’t even know what she’s doing to me or how much power she has over me.

And then there’s my birth father. He has broken promise after promise after promise, not only to me but also to my sister’s as well. All three of us hate him, and not without reason. He’s never been there for any of us. He had money for cigarettes but not child support. He blamed everyone for his actions: Mom, Grandma, even me once. The guy can’t take responsibility to save his life.

One of the most well known mitzvah is that of Kibud Av Va-Em (Honoring parents). It’s one of the most difficult mitzvot I’ve tried to take on so far. It’s the only one that I’ve been truly, truly struggling with. Does this make me a bad Jew or a bad person? Does G-d even care?

On Acts of Random Kindness

Today is the day before my mother’s surgery. She’s scared, but then we all are. My stepdad and I have been cleaning the shit out of our apartment as a result. And one of Mom’s coworkers sent us a bag of grocries from the Safeway down the street. 

Kindness isn’t something that one finds on a daily basis. In fact, it’s extremely rare in Trump’s America. Humanity is not a smart species. We elected Bush twice and Trump once. Nor are we a kind species. From politicians restricting what I can buy with food stamps and women’s rights to crime in our world, one would think that there are folks who just want to watch the world burn. But I believe we can be a kind species. 

And that’s why mitzvah actually does mean “Good deed.” There are mitzvah which can also be classified as good deeds. The world needs help, there’s no doubt about that. Do what you can to help. Give tzedakah. Volunteer. Visit a sick or lonely neighbor. Leave a nice note inside a library book. The possibilities are limitless.

Any thoughts?

#MeToo

Me too.

If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted copied and pasted “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

I was thirteen. I was walking Luca when some guys in a yellow truck pulled up. The worst the driver did was wave, but it was the Latino guy next to him that did the talking. He kept saying things like “You’re pretty” and “Come with us!” The guy had to have been in his thirties at the very least. I was thirteen. It scared the shit out of me for weeks on end afterward, and I couldn’t even walk to the bus stop without looking over my shoulder.

I was thirteen.

My Take on the Nazi Bullshit in Virginia

It’s bullshit. It’s scary. It’s fucking WWII all over again. My mother is worried about me wearing my Star of David in broad daylight. I understand where Mom’s coming from, but I’m not going to give in to fear or hate. If I do, then the Nazi asswipes get exactly what they want. I’m not going to give them that satisfaction. I’m Jewish, goddamn it. That’s who I am. I’m not trading the only fucking identity I’ve ever known for anything. Not for the Nazis (yes, that’s what they are), not for Mom, not even for G-d Himself (Herself?) I don’t know any other way to be. I’m not scared for my own safety, but for my grandma’s. She’s just a seventy-something year old woman who’s obsessed with her stupid cat and Wheel of Fortune, yet there are assholes who would wish her harm. She’s everything to me, and I hope to G-d she knows it. Virginia is no place for an old Jewish lady right now.  Learn kung fu, carry mace, do whatever you have to do to stay safe. We live in a scary world right about now.

On Finding My Comfort Level with Jewish Observance

It’s finally fucking happened. After years of alternating between full kosher but no tznius, tznius but no brachos, I’ve finally figured out what I’m comfortable with Jewishly. I’ve been what I call religiously bisexual for a number of years now and it’s confused me to no end. I’ve been pissed off at the Big Man because of it, but I believe that I’ve made my peace with G-d. I used to feel as though He hated my guts. After all, why else would He plague me with an absent birth father, depression, anxiety, and constant unemployment? 

But I realize that maybe these trials were not a punishment, but a test that I damn near failed. My faith has never been strong. I don’t know if this is due to the fact that I was raised with almost no religious education (let alone a Jewish one), but all I know is that I’m happy now. I don’t have the patience to be a full on Hasid. But I’ve found where I belong in the Jewish world. After all, Judaism is who I am. I don’t know any other way to be.

I’ve just made my first bracha in a long time, and it felt damn good. If I forget a blessing, I won’t sweat it. G-d will understand. I’m still learning the ropes after all. It’s strange, feeling like this. But I like it. Thoughts?