Becoming Kosher and Orthodox in Budapest and NYC

2010/06/02, 7:56 am
Filed under: Judaism | Tags: , ,

Shalom, and welcome to our site. We intend to talk about our experiences regarding the decision to go Kosher and Orthodox.  But first a little background:

Call me M. I am a management consultant in the sci/tech  publishing world. Currently I am on a job requiring me to live in Budapest Hungary. I am Jewish, raised Orthodox by my parents who were Holocaust survivors. I was married for 30+ years, three kids, got divorced, quit my job that I also had for 30+ years to become a consultant. I was involved in the Conservative movement of Judaism for most of my life. Until 3 days ago.

Call my Fiancee D. She had also been married, five kids and two grandchildren. She was born Christian and lived in the U.S. South. How we met will be a story for another time. Just know that we found each other last year, and have lived together in Budapest since November 2009.

The differences in our religions were discussed, and given that our kids are all adults there was none of those really difficult decisions that couples with similar backgrounds  have to make. We were planning to simply respect each other’s religious and cultural backgrounds. Then D. started reading.

D. had gotten hold of Dimont’s book “Jews, God, and History” and almost immediately began asking me questions about Judaism, The questions came fast and furious, night and day. I could barely keep up!! But the questions D. were asking began to have  a profound effect on me. Her questions became my questions. I began to (re)think Judaism from my own perspective.  A few days ago, D. decided that the rules and customs of Judaism, and in particular the humanity and charity-giving aspects,  made perfect sense to her, and  that she is convinced that she wanted to convert. And not just convert the easy way, but through an Orthodox conversion process, which could take a year or more! Although I thought it was great, I wanted D. to understand the difficulties and challenges as well, so I tried to mildly dissuade:

-“It’s really hard to convert, you’ll have to learn some Hebrew”

-“Your family will resent you, and me, if they think I pressured you”

-“You’ll have to face the Beit-Din (a panel of three Rabbis who will certify that the individual knows enough about Judaism and is serious enough about converting) and be questioned. You will be rejected three times. You will be frustrated. You will be overwhelmed!”

-“You’ll have to go to the Mikve (ritual bath) in front of those three guys”

To no avail! D. was convinced this is what she wanted. Great!

A day or two after that discussion, D. felt that we should become Kosher immediately, since that would be the quickest way for her to immerse in Judaism. This resonated instantly with me since I was going through similar thoughts about reconnecting more intensely with Judaism. So, in a matter of hours last Sunday, we cleaned out our fridge and pantry. We got rid of all that delicious Hungarian Mangalica pork, the bacon, the other trefe, and basically emptied out everything!  We felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment, spirituality, and certainty that we were doing the right thing for ourselves.

But wait! Now that we have cleaned out the non-Kosher stuff, and now that there was not a trace of food, what are we going to eat???

To be continued…