Jay, Brenda Spigelman Ajzenkopf & Melvin Harold Rosenberg
When it comes to cultural taboos, there are always those who find a way around them. This is certainly the case with pork and the Jewish community in the United States. Due to social pressure, shame or even humiliation, many are forced to deceive those they love, possibly sneaking in that strip of bacon in Vegas or lying about that ham for dinner in Spain. In this collection of stories, pork and deception go hand in hand as Jewish protagonists ingest pork despite the religious directives against doing so.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Los Angeles, CA
My wife keeps kosher and I do not. We were at a company picnic one day, sitting at a table with a friend who is Jewish and his wife who is not. Neither of them kept kosher.
So I went to get food at the buffet. They had ribs. Knowing that my wife would get upset if I ate pork ribs in front of her, I asked, “are the ribs beef or pork?” Pork was the answer, so I loaded up on other food at the buffet. I returned to the table where much to my astonishment the wife was chowing down on the ribs! We never said a word about it.
Say It Isn’t So
Brenda Spigelman Ajzenkopf
When my son entered Talmud Torah at the age of seven, he was asked to bring his lunch to school and to join the other children who ate in the school cafeteria. Of course, the lunch needed to be kosher, which is something our family was not. On a particular evening, we had a lovely meal of breaded pork chops, one of which I gave to my son for lunch the following day. He always came home from school recounting what he had learned. This day they had discussed the eating habits of the Jewish people and that we are not allowed to ingest pork. He was a smart little boy and reminded me that he had eaten pork for lunch. My husband and I told him to say it was veal, which he did, and today at the age of thirty-nine, my son still recalls our anxiety over this. He did not wish to take pork in the form of veal to school after that. He never did it again.
My Mother, the Reader-Feeder
Melvin Harold Rosenberg
Los Angeles, CA
My mother read Parents Magazine, and that’s probably where she learned that bacon is good for you. This was in 1932 or so. So even though she only shopped for meat at a kosher shop, she fed my sister and me bacon. But when she did, she would race back and forth to the living-room to keep an eye out for her mother, my Bubbe. My rich Uncle Sam had bought Bubbe a chauffeur-driven limo, so you never knew when she’d turn up. If she did my mother would fan away the treyf aroma like an insane windmill. My Bubbe was such a loving and wonderful human being, though, that if she detected the sinning, she turned the other nostril.