When a vegetarian “goes kosher,” it takes a chunk of the necessary adaptation out of the equation. Such was the case with Alyse Opatowski, who took the kosher “plunge” two years ago.
Opatowski, 30, is the daughter of Ruth Malman and Dr. Michael Opatowski. She owns a business, We Talk Real Talk, in which she facilitates gatherings so that people may discuss issues and have face-to-face conversations, as an antidote to the impersonal world of technology.
Growing up, Opatowski attended Denver Jewish Day School where she learned about kashrut. A vegetarian since the age of five, the separation of meat and dairy, and being conscious of what we put in our mouths, resonated with her even as a child.
Opatowski had been living in San Francisco before returning to her hometown of Denver two years ago. Upon moving into her new home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, she decided that would be a good time to “go kosher.”
She never eats meat and is lactose intolerant, so her diet has largely been pareve, that is, neither meat nor dairy. She did, however, need to obtain all new dishes and kitchenware to make her home kosher.
Processed non-meat and non-dairy products and ingredients are not necessarily kosher and require hechshers (kosher certification symbols) on the packaging.
Even though Opatowski doesn’t eat meat, she maintains a set of meat dishes for use on rare occasions when she hosts carnivorous guests.
Part of her reason to keep kosher is that all guests will feel comfortable eating in her home. That has also been her biggest challenge — when friends who are not kosher or non-Jewish stay overnight. She needs to educate them about the rules of her kitchen. She wants them to be mindful, but also wants them to feel comfortable.
Alyce Opatowski keeps kosher because “it’s an important custom and law which resonates with me, Jewishly, environmentally and personally. It is nice to be conscious about separation.”
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