Food Policy

How we “do food” at B’nai Or
Following most of our services and events at B’nai Or, we have a short kiddush (a ritual with wine or grape juice and a special braided bread called challah), and then an “Oneg Shabbat”(“Shabbat delight), where people are invited to bring food to share for a light potluck buffet. The foods that we bring to share may be vegetarian, vegan, dairy, or kosher fish with fins AND scales (tuna, salmon, trout, halibut, etc.). You might be familiar with kosher symbols, called hechshers, such as OU or MK.  At B’nai Or, food for our events may be kosher but it is not required, as long as these guidelines are followed. Please read the ingredients on what you are purchasing or preparing to ensure that it contains no meat, poultry or shellfish products. If you have questions about whether a food is appropriate to bring to B’nai Or, please ask one of our volunteers or email Reb Sherril at rabbi@bnai-or.org.

Some ideas for what to bring
As much as possible, go for the nutrition! Homemade is always appreciated! What seems to work well are: cheeses; salads; washed and cut-up fruit; breads; party sandwiches; real juice; reasonably healthy cakes, pies, and cookies; chips and salsa; other finger foods. At this time, we do not have access to a kitchen so we are not able to heat up food, or keep things cold for more than a few hours. B’nai Or always supplies ritual foods such as wine, grape juice and challah.

Preparation of food for sharing
Food allergies are becoming more and more common. Some of us are vegans or vegetarians, or limit certain food ingredients for health reasons, or we keep kosher. Knowing what is in the food we eat makes maintaining a food practice, for health or spiritual reasons, much easier, and allows people with diverse eating habits to enjoy meals together in community. Know what is in whatever you bring, and please don’t be surprised (or insulted) if someone asks, “Are there nuts in this?” or “Is there fish in this?”
Please observe guidelines for food safety, such as using clean hands and washing all fruits and vegetables before preparing them. Prepare ahead (wash, cut, slice and dice at home please!) and bring enough food to share with 6-8 others, if possible. If you are unable to bring an offering, or you forget, don’t worry – please stay for the kiddush and shmoozing!

Eco-kashrut: conscious eating
Small steps taken by individuals and communities can really help the environment. Please take home your containers, and recycle them whenever possible. Consider using organic and/or locally grown products in your food preparation. We are working towards obtaining reusable dishes, cutlery, and drinking cups.

Wine and grape juice
In Judaism, wine or grape juice represents the life force and symbolizes times of joy and celebration. We do not require traditional “kosher” wine or grape juice. The reason for this is that for a wine to be considered kosher, it must be under the constant supervision of a Shabbat-observant Jewish man, from the time the grapes are harvested until the wine is bottled.  This particularistic paradigm does not fit with some of our contemporary ideas and ideals!  For some people, the sweet kosher Concord grape wine is an important part of Jewish ritual, but it is not the only wine that is welcome at B’nai Or!  Wines used for our rituals at B’nai Or may be kosher or non-kosher. We offer red wine and white grape juice to make it easier for congregants and guests to choose, and for anyone who is following a 12-Step program.

Your opinions and feelings matter.  IF you have questions or ideas about how to improve our onegs and potlucks, or would like to help with set-up and clean-up, we’d like to hear from you! Please contact Reb Sherril at rabbi@bnai-or.org.

Text inspired by and adapted from the website of Makom Kodesh, http://www.thejfcc.com/food.

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