Josh's Jewish Reminders

Josh Ring

These are three things that have made me think about my Jewish upbringing since I got to college:


I was walking to my first class of the day on the other side of campus. It was sunny and warm. I thought I was going to be a little late to class so I walked quickly. While I was walking, I felt like I was forgetting something that I needed for class. I looked down at my feet to make sure I was fully clothed and that my fly was zippered. I checked my pockets for my wallet and key to my dorm room. I tried to feel my knapsack behind my back to make sure I had books in them. I knew they were in there; I remembered putting all the books I needed into my knapsack right before I left my room. It was the last thing I did before I left. Still, I stretched my arms as far backwards as they could go to feel around in the bag. I could feel my notebook and textbook. Finally, I ran my fingers through my hair. It was just hair. I gasped for a second. I thought I had forgotten my yarmulke. Then I remembered that I don't wear a yarmulke. In high school I always had to check if I was wearing a yarmulke before I went into school. It was a school rule to wear one even though I didn't at home. I'd always run my fingers through my hair or tap my head to make sure I had one on. I didn't want to walk into the building without one. I didn't want my teachers to see me walking down the block without one. In college, I don't wear yarmulkes at all. I don't have to. I don't know why I checked my head for one that day. I went to class still thinking about it.


I was walking down my hall towards the bathroom. One of my hall mates was coming out of her room on the far end of the hall past the bathroom. Ma Nishma? I said. She didn't respond. What's going on? I repeated. Hey Josh, not much, she answered as she gave me a smile.
When I walked into the bathroom and she had walked past the door, I looked at myself in the mirror and shook my head. I hate it when I slip into Hebrew and no one knows what I'm saying.


I sat down next to my friend at a table in the dining hall with my tray full of food for dinner. I had pizza and baked ziti and some water to drink. I was talking to my friend while I was eating my food when he suddenly asked me, "Hey Josh, don't you not eat meat and dairy together?" I looked at him oddly and tapped my foot slightly when I answered, "Right, why do you ask?" "The ziti has meat and cheese in it," he said.
I looked down at my plate and saw that there were, in fact, little pieces of meat in it. It looked like little chunks of hamburger meat. I thought I had tasted something like meat while I was eating it, but I figured I would just ignore that. I didn't remember seeing on the cafeteria line that the sign in front of the ziti said it had meat. I could've asked, but I never heard of baked ziti with meat before. I thought it was just pasta, cheese, and sauce. That's what it was when I used to eat it in high school. I looked at my friend with a smirk on my face. "Don't tell me these things. If I don't know, it's not a sin."
After a few seconds, my friend asked me, "What's the rule about meat and dairy, I mean, where does the rule come from?"
I knew he was interested because he was Jewish even though he wasn't religious at all. I answered in an almost mock scholarly way as I imparted some of my high school halachic knowledge: "Well the source in the Bible says, "Thou shalt not cook a kid in its mother's milk.'"
"Oh, that is kinda gross when I think about it." He looked at his plate and then at me again. "That doesn't mean I'm gonna stop doing it though."
Neither did I. I finished my plate and got some dessert.

More by Josh Ring:

Josh's Dinner in the Cafeteria October, 2003

Josh Tells a Bedtime Story August, 2003

Josh Graduates High School July, 2003

Josh Gets Contacts June, 2003

Josh Gets his Checkup May, 2003

Josh Plays the Sitar April, 2003

Josh Goes to Prague March, 2003

Josh Visits the Holocaust Museum February, 2003

The Subway January, 2003

Josh Ring Gets a Ride November, 2002

A Cold Front Was Supposed to be Moving In October, 2002

Dogs August, 2002

Josh Ring Supports Israel June, 2002

Josh Ring's Track Meet May, 2002

November 2003

Niles Goldstein

France and Antisemitism
Michael Shurkin

Jay Michaelson

No Pulp
Dan Friedman

Raphael Cohen

Koby Israelite
Matthue Roth

Josh's Jewish Reminders
Josh Ring

Our 390 Back Pages

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From previous issues:

The Reason for Jellyfish
Hal Sirowitz

Matthue Roth

Anything You Want to Be
Ben Cohen