Include being Jewish in your routine
By Laura Seymour

The holidays are over and we are back in our “routine.” Routines can vary from family to family, but should always involve keeping Judaism at the forefront. Do you have a “Jewish” routine? Does it include reciting daily blessings, attending weekly Shabbat services, ongoing conversations about Jewish ideas or reading Jewish books?
We all express our Jewishness differently and Judaism fortunately has many entry points. For some, Judaism is expressed through at-home observances. For others, activities such as regular attendance at synagogue, volunteer work with Jewish organizations or playing basketball at the J is a profound way to experience the faith. There is no “right” way to practice Judaism, but Judaism is an “active” religion, requiring participation. There are many so-called “cardiac” Jews in that they feel their Jewishness in their hearts. It’s certainly important to “feel” it, but just as important to “do” it.
A good example of the “hands-on” Jew is what I call “Gastronomic Jews.” These folks define their Jewishness through what they eat, and through all the holidays and traditions.
One way for you to tie food to Judaism is to invest in the book “Tasty Bible Stories: A Menu of Tales and Matching Recipes” written by Tami Lehman-Wilzig. This is a children’s book with simple recipes and ideas. But it offers a great introduction to connecting food to a Jewish story.
For example, in discussing Adam and Eve, prepare wonderful apple recipes from pie to baked apples. There is a recipe for lentil stew — perfect to tie with the story of Jacob. There are also recipes in this book that can work with discussions about Sarah and Abraham, who made hospitality an important part of their lives. There are lots more recipes and stories in this book. If you like cooking and eating, use your own recipes and be ready with a great story.
These family meals and story times will become treasured memories that your children may grumble about today (aw, mom, not another story!), but will be repeated to the next generation, along, perhaps, with family recipes. If you are really organized, you can write the next book!
Laura Seymour is director of Jewish Life and Learning at Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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