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Spirituality and Food: A Love Letter To Myself

September 28, 2021

A loaf of challah bread for Shabbat.

PhotoRieth

A loaf of challah bread for Shabbat.

Food and spirituality have always been heavily intertwined for me throughout my life. Growing up, food was my love language. It was what brought me and my dad together, it was what healed me through my mother’s chemo treatment, and with a perturbing sense, what made me helpless. In Jewish culture, you are raised to love your family dishes and always indulge in food. 

To experience the braised brisket and roasted vegetables at Rosh Hashannah. To eat that one meal with a family friend you have never seen before, but you feel like it’s family. For me, my dad is the most inspiring foodie I know. He made me passionate about the spices, aromas, and the obvious chunks of coriander in yellow rice. Shakshuka and Schinztel. Ice cream from my grandmother’s fridge, my middle school cafeteria’s grilled cheese, and matzo ball soup. Israeli salad with couscous, curries, and solutes of spicy broth. 

Being Israeli has taught me to be creative and to love my roots. Food from my dad’s kitchen taught me the essence of Israeli ingenuity. My mom taught me about health. When she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, she would have certain phases. Passionate phases. Green Juice. Zucchini Noodles, Gluten-Free, Vegan, NON-GMO, Home-Grown. 

Many people would say that this was toxic, a seven-year-old should not be exposed to such diets, but my mom made me feel clean. Living with my mom, my relationship with spirituality was about being in control of what happened in my life. 

This control turned into a toxic form of self- insecurity. 

From the point of sickness, I gained a sense of guilt that I had never felt before. An urge to be perfectly perfect. Living with a sick parent wasn’t easy. When I was 10, I didn’t know who to turn to about my emotions. My mom had to be selfish, or else, she would die. Wanting love from someone who is too tied up in their own sickness to love you first is tiring. At a young age, I gained a sense of independence. I still was passionate about eating, but there was something in my heart that changed. I wanted to control what I ate so that I could minimize the mess in my life.

To experience the braised brisket and roasted vegetables at Rosh Hashannah.”

I no longer enjoyed eating as pleasure, but as a sense of control and stress- relief. My family didn’t notice that much, I seemed to be as much of a happy person as I was before the passing of my mom. It was internal, the explosions of favor and experience were no longer there, I was eating food to fill a void in my life. 

The void was nothing connected to Judaism, as it was in the past. Judaism used to bring food, family, and familiarity to me, but now, I had lost the joy of my favorite memories, because I was so focused on controlling everything around me to be perfect. 

Perfection is bullcrap. 

I won’t say that I have moved on from my eating problems, but I have become more enlightened about this so-called perfection I deemed to succeed at. If I was to be perfect, I would probably die. And if it wasn’t for things I pushed away to be perfect, I would have missed out on having laugh attacks with my best friend, joining USY and meeting new people, connecting closer to my dad, having snuggle parties with my dog Dibs, training to become a dental assistant, My grandma blowing out the Hanukkah candles as if they were birthday candles. My little cousin Harel and I playing a game of makeshift soccer in the living room. The awkwardness of preteen Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and discovering that I love to dance. Eating boreks and freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning with my dad and grandparents in Qiryat Yam. Playing games and slurping ramen noodles with my cousin Jay and Sam. 

This is a love letter to the things that I would have missed out on if I was trying to perfect 24/7. This is a loving ode to my life and a reminder that it gets better. 

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About the Contributor
Photo of Isabella Bamnolker
Isabella Bamnolker, Page Editor

Isabella is entering her second year of Globe as a sophmore. She is excited to write intresting stories, connect with new people on the Globe staff, and start working as a page...

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