Non-observant Brooklyn Jews Learn About Kosher with Brooklyn Jewish Experience

It was a double-header for the Brooklyn Jewish Experience (BJX) last week, as distinguished Torah scholar and author Rabbi Yitzchok Fingerer conducted two separate programs in a single day: one for college students and young professionals at the Flatbush home of Mr. and Mrs. Mendy and Gitty Pomerantz, the other at Ohr Navaah Women’s Torah Center, where he served as a substitute for Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein.

The BJX students were treated to a delicious, elegant meal, easily the equal of a royal sheva brachot. With their painstaking attention to detail, the Pomerantz family really made the shiur and dinner into a very special event.

Rav Fingerer began by offering insights into Jewish numerology, speaking at first about the number seven as it relates to the seven days of the week and the diatonic scale of seven music notes, then discussing in length the uniqueness of the number eight in relation to Judaism: The Mishkan was inaugurated on the eighth day; circumcision is on the eighth day; Chanukah is eight days. He explained that just as eight symbolizes transcendence so do the laws of kashrut found in Parshat Shemini, the only Parsha in the Torah referred to by a number. Through various responsa (by the Chida and other revered Torah scholars), profound stories and humor, Rabbi Fingerer introduced the students to the importance of kashrut observance. He then discussed various Halachic scenarios and delved into a machloket (disagreement) between the Radvaz, Ohr HaChaim (Vayyikra 11:7), Rekanti, Abarbanel and Rabbeinu Bachaya concerning the Chazir (pig) as it relates to Messianic times. Rabbi Fingerer analyzed the Gemara (Chulin 109) illustrating that kashrut is a tool to help us grow closer to Hashem and that He gave us these laws because Hashem loves us, not to deprive us.
As the class concluded, the Q & A session was conducted by Rabbi Moshe Fingerer, a business professional and BJX volunteer who is usually behind-the-scenes, but was asked to participate since Rabbi Yitzchok Fingerer needed to leave early to fill in for Rabbi Wallerstein later that evening.

As a direct result of the class, a young professional who works on the Upper East Side and lives in Sheepshead Bay publicly asked at the Q & A session what he can do to “fix” that he hasn’t been eating kosher. He told Rabbi Moshe Fingerer that he is going to strengthen himself and begin keeping kosher. This young professional admitted that keeping kosher will be a real challenge for him, particularly at work and with his non-Jewish friends but that he now understands the importance of kashrut and will do everything he can to make kosher a regular part of his life. What’s more, the participant was so uplifted by the class that he also committed to begin learning one-on-one with a BJX mentor! Many of the attendees agreed that they would try to focus more on keeping kosher inside as well as outside the home. One look at the students faces after the class showed how much they enjoyed Rabbi Fingerer’s informative and inspiring class as well as the warm hospitality and delicious dinner provided by the gracious hosts Mr. and Mrs. Mendy Pomerantz.

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