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Advice for the Kosher Traveler

July 17, 2016 | by David Kilimnick

Summer is upon us and that means one thing: vacation. Here are some survival secrets for the kosher traveler.

Summer is upon us and you know what that means: vacation. The world is your oyster. But what if you are a kosher keeping Jew and don’t, for example, eat oysters? How do you keep kosher on your trip?

Never fear. Here are some survival secrets that will help you enjoy your trip as a kosher traveler:

Love TV Dinners

TV Dinners were made for Jews. They are that special packaged dinner that is waiting for you in the harshest of circumstances, saying, ‘Even though you keep kosher, we still have something for you to eat.’

The dividers allow for clean distribution on your plate. Class is a four course dinner, served on one tray. Who else at the party, who else in the hotel, who else on the ship, has their own compartmentalized meal?! TV dinners are special.

Know Your Kosher Symbols

If you are not a ritual slaughterer, then this will be helpful.

Studying your kosher symbols may be hard, but there are ways to get around that. All Kosher symbols have some kind of border. Biblical shaped outlines are the most trustworthy. Tablets, Jewish Stars, Boxes. Do not trust acute shapes. Any angles sharper than 60° are not religious. Inside the border, there should be two to three letters. Four letters is definitely not a kosher symbol. Kosher keeping Jews keep their acronyms to three letters, or less. There will likely be a ‘K’ or an ‘O’ in the acronym. (For a handy dandy card with the major kosher symbols click here).

When Vacationing Always See the Main Tourist Attraction

The major tourist attraction in a particular city is the kosher restaurant.

As a kosher keeping Jew, you travel for one reason -- to find the city’s kosher sites. As your friend, I do not care to hear that you saw the castle. The question is, ‘Did you eat there?’ That is what the people back home want to hear about. ‘Should I waste my time going to Belgium? ‘Is the kosher food decent?’ Being able to relate that information is the sign of a great Jewish explorer. No one is going to ask if that castle was tasty.

I spent a day touring Brussels and I found Haagen-Dazs. It was gorgeous. The greatest vacation of my life. That was an adventure. I saw 32 flavors. Pistachio, praline, dulce de leche.

Find Chabad

No matter where you are in the world, Chabad is closer to New York than you. Stuck in Bangladesh? Chabad has a kosher meal. How do they get it? Don’t ask. That is the miracle of Chabad.

Thanks to Chabad, you can vacation in the wild without hunting, and still eat kosher food. Before Chabad came around, Jewish vacations were limited to Miami Beach.

And people ask why Chabad is in Thailand. Chutzpah.

Carry Plastic Dishware Everywhere

For centuries, the kosher traveler’s cuisine was restricted to finger foods and pita sandwiches. Now the kosher traveler can civilly eat anything a plastic knife can cut through. This includes boiled vegetables.

With your own plastic dishware, you can fit in at any dinner party, even with those who don’t keep kosher. If they do not understand kosher, make a few snide comments about their china and how filthy it is. People may not respect your religious practice, but they will respect your fear of germs.

Prepare and Work on Your Survival Skills

We are not hunter-gatherers, so make sure you have decent internet access on vacation. That could save your life. Stuck in the rainforests of Southeast Asia? Internet access can help you find a Chabad. Make sure you have a decent web browser and screen. How beautiful it is to view the tropical rainforests from your room, while eating a vacuum packed kosher meal.

You want to see a serious traveler? Locate a Jew in the eastern mountains of South America, who can find a kosher restaurant. That person can survive anywhere. You could stick them in the most desolate of places -- even in Canada -- and they will survive.

Fly as Much as You Can

Planes are a hub of kosher food, when traveling. Due to the lack of kosher symbols placed on food in Europe, I have started booking extra flights, just for the food. This also gives me a chance to see the whole country. I need breakfast, that is a flight to Madrid. Lunch? Heading to Rome. By the time dinner comes around, I am in Prague and I am not even hungry.

Need more incentive for flying? Kosher people get served first when traveling. It is the greatest luxury a kosher keeping Jew will ever have. Kind of like sitting in a very tiny seat in first-class, with people hitting you. This service may be the number one cause of anti-Semitism. But you know what? I am fine with that.

On a few airlines, though, I’ve noticed that vegetarians are starting to get served first. Now, I ask you, what did vegetarians ever have to go through as a people to deserve this honor? I just hope that something positive comes from this and the anti-Semites will come to hate vegetarians too.

Pack Food

If you are flying out of America, I understand you do not have much room. You are already smuggling a bunch of clothes and electronics. Nonetheless, for any vacation, the wise kosher traveler loads up on their nonperishables. For the kosher Jew, that means salami.

How often do customs really check your bags anyways? And if you are the reason for the new epidemic that kills all of the insects on your vacation, do you really care? At least you won’t feel bad about forgetting the repellent.

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