Tonight, I had Shabbat dinner at the house of an Orthodox Jewish family.
Having grown up a secular Jew, I was understandably nervous about all the Shabbat customs to be aware of: no physical contact with members of the opposite sex, keeping quiet after the Bar’chu until the blessing over the Challah, etc., etc.
The family had a boy my age. It was fascinating hearing about his private, 67-student, Orthodox high school where he spends 13 hours of his day, 6 days a week, studying Torah and Hebrew.
Compared to my typical, public school education, our lives were worlds apart. It seemed impossible to me. I couldn’t imagine upholding every Shabbat tradition each week, dressing in the Orthodox fashion, even simply going to temple on a regular basis – all things him and his family do on the norm.
Maintaining my 10 months of Vegetarianism and 1 month of Veganism, I politely declined when I was passed a large platter of chicken breast. I shared that I was a Vegan.
He looked at me in shock. “You don’t eat any meat?”
Somewhat embarrassed, I shook my head no.
This revelation seemed to only excite him. “None at all? No fish? Or eggs? What about milk?”
I chuckled at his awe and told him no, I don’t eat any of that.
“Wow, that’s amazing. I couldn’t imagine living like that. How on earth do you do it?”