November 20, 2008

The Kosher Refrigerator

On every floor of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) there is a family lounge that contains, among other things, a sofa, television set, and an assortment of refrigerators. The designated contents of each refrigerator are marked by a large sticker that reads "patient food," "parent food," "breast milk," and so on.

Of course, the refrigerator that I most wanted to get into--the one labeled "kosher food"--had a padlock. As I stared at the refrigerator, imagining what oddities it might contain, a woman about my age came into the room and opened it. I was surprised, and frankly a bit disappointed to discover that the locked refrigerator didn't contain anything weird at all. From what I could tell (and I got a good look), all it held was food.

Bypassing my normal sources of information and authority on world religions--the Internet and the hosts of The View--I decided to do something crazy and pose my questions about the refrigerator's contents to the expert right in front of me. Over the next half hour, I asked the woman a ton of questions about the kosher diet and Jewish beliefs and practices in general. As it turned out, the woman was very knowledgeable and genuinely happy to answer my questions. Go figure.

Through my conversation with the woman, I came to realize a lot of things, one of which is that each religion has its own refrigerator that people looking from the outside imagine to be filled with strange practices and bizarre and often bigoted beliefs.

I wish that people who have questions about the contents of my refrigerator would simply ask me, rather than believe others' theories about what might be in there. I can't speak for the woman at the hospital, but I feel pretty confident that she feels the same way.

15 comments

James and Monica said...

Such a great way of putting it! A friend of mine set up a blog to open that fridge to everyone with questions!
http://mormonism-todd.blogspot.com/

Reese said...

Amen. Especially out here where we are a minority, people think the strangest things. I agree with you in that it is just as important for us to be genuinely interested in others' beliefs as well.

HM said...

No kidding. I once had a Baptist friend ask me what Catholics did during Mass, since she knew we don't read the Bible. Hey, at least she asked!

DESJ and Company said...

As an Orthodox Jewish reader of your blog,
(a) any more questions about Judaism? Happy to help :)
(b) I agree 100%. I'm sure she felt the same was as you. Ask us.

We're all the same when it comes
down to it.

BTW I'm sure the kosher fridge contained lots of yummy homemade food from the groups of Jewish women who cook for hospitalized families. I should know-i've been the happy recipient of way too many meals of that sort.

-Sara

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Hear, hear! I get a little annoyed when people assume that my refrigerator is full of all my husband's other wives. Of course if he had them, that seems like a good place for them.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

Very cool post! Loved it!

Janille said...

Oh I love it!

I always wonder why other people aren't as interested in asking me directly about my refrigerator contents because I LOVE to hear about other people's refrigerators! Maybe they are afraid that we might have similar things in our refrigerators . . .

Kristen said...

AMEN.

that girl said...

If people are going to ask what's in each other's refrigerators than they need to be prepared to answer. Because with every fridge there is bound to be something distasteful in there...

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Ilana said...

Kosher food is just like non-kosher food, no exciting surprises. (Unless you really like matzah balls or gefilte fish.)

It's so funny all the ideas we get about other people's religions; I always find talking to non-Jewish people so fascinating, just as they find my lifestyle very foreign and, in some ways, strange.

It's great to give someone the chance to explain their beliefs and lifestyle, instead of relying on stereotypes and misconceptions. In the end, it's true, we really aren't all that different from each other.

Shosh said...

As another Orthodox Jewish reader of your blog - you couldnt be more accurate with this one! whenever i read articles about religious Jews in the newspaper, I cringe, because so often, the information is totally wrong. I'm always willing to explain whats in my refrigerator to anyone who is willng to ask! I have more to say but my 14 month old just figured out how to open a vaseline container....

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I love looking in other people's "refrigerators". I just have to remember to keep my "fridge" clean and presentable in case anyone wants to have a peek. =)

Donna said...

This is a brilliant analogy, and it's so true.

mommyofthree said...

Well said!

Jana said...

Sara and Ilana,

Thanks for your responses.