Reasons for Aliyah as I have heard from many over the past 10 years:
Idealism, Torah, Alimony, Unemployment, Jewish Day School, free Health Care, Lost your Job, Never wanting to work again, Fraud, Murder, Arson, Arrest, Argentina, Europe, Obama, Working as illegal alien for too long, The Jewish Homeland, taxes you have to report, Israeli Women, Jewish Men who do army, the municipality and ministry of interior.
These are all very valid reasons.
The real reason I moved to Israel is kosher food. I may have said this, but I will say it again. Food is the backbone of a society. All social interaction has food at its base. That is why I always liked fast days. Fast days were the only days I didn’t have to pull out the triple-wrapped lunches. I don’t know why my mom triple-wrapped her TV dinners that she made for me. She never wanted her son to think he was eating non-kosher food, which was only wrapped once. And never was there anything exciting when I opened up the packaging.
Food is the backbone of American culture. Keeping kosher kept me separated from every normal person in the society. Normal means not Jewish. I love being Jewish and unique, but not when unique means hungry. Unique would be great if it included a cheese burger or Tony Roma’s ribs. They say kosher meat is better, healthier, but I can tell you that it does not look tastier. And when you see those kids smiling, you know they are enjoying their pepperoni pizza. I was never able to share in that joy. Vegetarian pepperoni does not taste like pepperoni, and I know that because I never smiled like the non-Jewish kids. Now that I am Israeli and I can eat, I can be American. All I have ever wanted to be was a normal American, with nothing exciting in my life.
Even if some religious Jews end up sitting down with their non-Jewish friends and business associates, you don’t fit in when you pass on the steak for the salad bar; and then check each piece of lettuce at the table. All that you are doing is causing more anti-Semitism. On Wall Street, everybody thinks religious Jews are vegetarians. That is not true. Religious Jews also like meat that is wrapped up and served in airplane form.
You can force them to join you in the kosher restaurant. However, that will cause more hatred of Jews, as everybody will start protesting about how it is impossible that a steak can go for $30 at a fast food joint. ‘It is kosher, it is healthier,’ and now your friend is having a heart attack, because he can’t send his children to college. It is food that separates us, which is why there are laws about who can cook kosher food. We are always worried about inter-marriage and have been for centuries. And my question to you is- Are there not beautiful non-Jews? And even more so- If Jews were more strict about the laws of who can cook for you and what foods you can eat, where would the inter-marriage rate be?! Yes, I may intermarry in Israel, and end up with a Mizrachi woman. But we both are considered normal in Israel, because we can eat together.
As a kid in Rochester, you could only eat at Friendly’s. The regular menu was not for the Jews. Even there, I would have to ask for the ice cream menu. Only Goyim can enjoy the delicious hamburgers; that is the Goyim and the other kids in my class at Jewish day school, whose parents loved their children (if you can eat non-kosher, you are a goy. In my world of childhood, any kid who said ‘We are going to McDonald’s,’ was a goy. Any kid who was allowed to have anything more than a coke after a little league baseball game, was a goy. To sum it up, any kid who smiled was a goy).
As a kid, I thought eating out meant ‘We are going over to Ben’s house for dinner.’
Eating at Chuck E. Cheese’s was the worst experience as a kid. I couldn’t eat. The action wasn’t eating, it was watching other kids enjoy themselves. See, it wasn’t kosher. All the other children were having fun. I was playing pin-ball. My mom tried to make me feel better, ‘David, don’t worry, those other kids are going to hell.’ That is where I want to go, mom, in hell you can get pepperoni. And the pepperoni in hell is made out of meat. In hell, that is where a ‘kid can be a kid.’ You can enjoy yourself in hell. In hell, you can eat non-kosher, because you are already in hell. In hell, you can just eat the pizza and you don’t have to play with a mouse before you eat. In hell, huge mice aren’t scary.
Chicago deep dish pizza is enjoyed by many non-Jews. It is huge, thick and enjoyable. Kosher deep dish pizza is a millimeter. In a society where Jews are second on the food chain, the kosher people lie to their own. In Israel, there is no need to lie. There are so many kosher places that we can finally enjoy the Israel deep dish pizza, or as they call it, lasagna.
I used to depend on all rabbis as a youth in America. The rabbis were the backbone of the religious community, and the ones that gave that mark that said it is kosher. In the US, they give that kosher symbol thing and it is happiness. I remember when Mars bars got a hechsher (a kosher symbol), it was a fiesta. Even though fiesta is not kosher. Sometimes, it would get confusing if they had the made in Nebraska sign, with the state of Nebraska shape and an NE inside. It had a symbol, so I ate it, due to confusion and a lot of other people enjoying themselves. There were a lot of Jews that day at the shule picnic.
It is very complicated. My friend Cindy Uziel Aboud just ate some cheesy stuff because it had the ‘R’ with the ‘O’ around it.
Now that I live in Israel, I do not trust all the rabbis. Many rabbinic organizations are scamming people. Do not buy the Rabbanut laundry detergent. It tastes disgusting. Even lemon flavored Tide is revolting. It is almost as bad as Lemon Diet Coke.
Nonetheless, it is Israel and everything is Kosher, unless you are Ashkenazi on Passover. Then nothing is good for you to eat. You start to feel the segregation again. The Mizrachim/Sefardim can enjoy everything. But the Ashkenazi rabbis, making it a point to always remember the pain of the destruction of the Temple, also do not allow you to eat food that is kosher for Passover. In America, I was fine not eating for 8 days, because nobody enjoyed Passover. But in Israel, I see people running around eating pita and eggplant.
How is eggplant not good to eat on Passover? Did they start making eggplant bread? Ashkenazim love suffering and cannot fully give up their favorite aspect of Judaism, so we have Passover and then two months of mourning a year. So, for 12 months a year, we make it a point to find ways to feel like slaves. Passover being what it is and the shilshul of shwarma cannot take away from my reasons for my connection with the beauties of Israel and the returning of the Exiles.
Kosher Burger King is the real reason I moved. It was my first interaction with redemption. I remember standing on line, staring at the menu. It was on the wall. It was huge, which meant exciting. I felt the final presence of the messiah at our doorstep. The pangs of the redemption. All the years of persecution and exile were over, we have a menu on the wall. I first asked for the hat. I felt like a king. I had the crown of the Messiah on my head.
The menu was confusing. The only choices were for meals. I just wanted the burgers. I wanted to know why the non-Jews in America, or the whole population outside of New York City, were always smiling. It was because they could order the burger without a whole meal. I wanted to know how non-Jews who ate so little, were also fat. So I got the whole dinner. I have a hat, a meal of happiness, I have been redeemed.
I still don’t know how to order a burger. They don’t give me the choice to just get food. It always has to be a meal and that bothers me. Even in redemption we still have to make things better. For instance, there was a family size. It was 3 burgers, 2 orders of fries and a bottle of coke???!! This would make sense if it was for a family of me. Even Single Kilimnick Family Size is bigger than that. Kilimnick Size would be 90 burgers, 80 orders of fries, a coke keg, no salad. Israel also has different family dimensions. There should be choices: Family Size, Super Family Size, Ultra-orthodox Family Size. They must have the same problems in different neighborhoods in America where they don’t use birth control.
I had no dating life. In America, I couldn’t go anywhere. There was nothing normal as a Jew in suburban America. I couldn’t enjoy a night out at TGI Fridays. A date for a religious Jewish couple was Shule. I have a vivid memory of a conversation I had on a date where I said, ‘Let’s go hear the rabbi’s sermon. You sit on that side of the partition; I’ll sit on this side…We will talk about the cantor after the service. If we are lucky, the sisterhood might put out a nice spread…Maybe some Kiddush.’ Kiddush is what brings Jews to synagogue on Saturday morning. A spread that does not fill anybody up, is an important Jewish tradition. As Jewish people, we go far out of our way for rugulach. And it did save money on the date. Also killing two birds with one stone, as she met my parents on the first date. We did not go out again.
How often can you go bowling? That was the only other outing. In high school I got sick of using the bumpers. That was not cool for high school socials. The other guys in my Yeshiva High School would make fun of me. I was only around guys. I had no dates anyways. And who is scoring 200?! Thanks to the bumpers! The point is that if I would have gone out, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything exciting.
Kosher Burger King, that is a date. I am talking about class. If you want happiness, in a smooth way, Kosher McDonald’s has that happy meal.
The Kosher thing really is that big of a deal. If they didn’t hate me for not being able to eat with them, they hated me more for taking them to the kosher restaurant, so they could all go broke. If the anti-Semites knew how much kosher food costs, they would not call Jews cheap. They would call Jews ‘thieves.’ In New York, my friends hated me for taking them away from Perkins to go broke on a slow cooked fast food hamburger. It was the separation that made it hard. Even so, that was my identity and what made me the man I am today, living in Israel, part of a whole society, whole country, that the world hates for being different.
When you are eating non-Kosher, you can also eat disgustingly אכילה גסה.
It is a huge deal. I even went all the way to LA to eat a hot-dog. The only kosher Nathan’s at the time was in Los Angeles. I flew in and competed in the Nathan’s hot-dog eating competition. The Nathan’s in Jerusalem closed down because when they had the competition in Jerusalem, the whole city showed up for free hot-dogs. They Jerusalemites never had a hi-class eating competition and they understood competition as gift. After three dogs, the local Jerusalem folks had the chutzpah to complain, ‘Stop, I’m already full…can you bag the rest, to go?..I’ll eat them later.’ But it wasn’t like that in LA. It was the big leagues of food champions. I showed up ready to eat.
I lost and I like to blame that on my religion. Because I am a religious man, I thought I would do well from my natural Jewish training, forced to eat in huge amounts every Shabbat and holiday. However, it wasn’t a buffet. If it was a Kiddush (post services refreshments), I would have won, because that is my training grounds. I can take down more than the person next to me, if I load up my plate with all the food, as I do so well at Kiddush. But elbows do not help in the Nathan’s competition. I was competing against bigger men. I went up against Ray ‘The Bison’ Meduna. A man ranked number 12 eater in the world, due to his powerful jaws and lungs; even as an amateur claiming fame as the Texas State Kolache Sweet Dough Eating Champion. “The Bison,’ a man that could eat people. I had to use tact. I tried psyching him out. I went up to his face, ‘I am David ‘The Jew’ Kilimnick and eating too many hot-dogs is achilah gasa (eating disgustingly). I use a fork, because I have manners.’ He did not seem fazed by my antagonizing antics, as menacing as I was. The use of Jewish law and threatening him with inappropriate eating habits was not working. So I threw in a ‘You have bad midot (character traits).’ I know religious Jews are loving this right now. Non-Jews are thinking, this guy can’t eat. Oh, I can eat. I was just trash talking the competition, Jewish Style. And I was with ‘The Bison’ on the first four hot-dogs. And then he kept on eating.
Truth be told, I lost the competition right away. They said, ‘On your marks, get…’ I stopped them and turned, ‘Where is the washing station, I have to do nitilat yadaim (pre-meal hand washing).’ I had to do that, the competition included bread. I don’t want to go to hell for not washing my hands and achilah gasa. The competition also didn’t include mayonnaise and chili, but I requested them. They said that it was the first time on American soil that anybody packed up the food and asked for a to go bag.
The point of the story is, I would not have lost in Israel, because everybody would have gotten up to wash.
I think there should be a falafel ball eating competition. There wouldn’t have to be an 8 minute time limit. The upchucking would start after a good 2 minutes. The beauty being that I wouldn’t have to travel to be in a food eating competition. If it happened in Israel, it could be kosher and we could all finally feel like normal Americans. This is the time of redemption we have prayed for, when all Jewish kids have a fair chance at competitive eating.