Why my kosher kitchen is even more precious now

By Lindy Diamond, Editor Cape Jewish Chronicle

Every year on 13 August I get a pop-up reminder on my phone that it is the anniversary of koshering our kitchen. I see the message and smile, remembering the mammoth task and the journey that led up to it.

It had started before Pesach — our goal was to transition to only buying kosher meat for our home. But things snowballed, as they do, and after realising the shortage in free-range kosher options, we decided to go pescatarian, and then, in time, realised how easy it would be to take the extra step to have a milchik kosher kitchen.

Cue the entrance of Rabbi Maizels z”l. I emailed him our deep desire to have a kosher kitchen and asked if he would be able to help us. I cringe a little now, knowing how busy and sought after he must have been. But he found the time for us, and on the evening of 13 August, 2017 he arrived at our house to help us with this transformational mitzvah.

Rabbi Maizels and I went through the rituals of koshering my dishes, in what can only be described as the calmest, most in the moment, deeply grounded way. His presence is one that can’t easily be explained, but if you’ve ever been around him, you know what I mean.

I remember feeling a little nervous at first, having him standing in my little kitchen, dipping — dipping everything that was to remain, giving a very gentle shake of his head for an item that just couldn’t be properly koshered and should be donated.

There were a million things Rabbi Maizels could have spoken to me about in our evening together. Subjects like Jewish learning and the rules of kashrut spring to mind. But he spoke to me about his time as the editor of his ‘varsity newspaper. He spoke to me about my girls; the fact that the younger two were battling to fall asleep, about my eldest who was finishing up a school project. He asked me the functions of some of the items he was koshering, and he told me about his own kosher kitchen — strictly the domain of Rebbetzin Maizels.

It felt deeply personal and yet deeply respectful of boundaries and it was just wonderful.

In the years that have followed, my kosher kitchen has given me such a sense of joy and pride. Whenever I would see Rabbi Maizels he would always ask about my family, my eldest’s school project and about how the kosher kitchen was going, and I would answer honestly that it was the best gift anyone could give for a Jewish home. And when, on occasion, I would rush with checking herbs or eggs, I would chastise myself with a, “what would Rabbi Maizels think?!” and slow myself down to do it properly.

Now, at the risk of sounding sentimental, I feel like every dish in my house is utterly precious, having been made kosher by this kind, wise and Godly man. The memory of koshering my kitchen is made bittersweet as I feel the profound loss of Rabbi Maizels with the rest of our community and Jews around the world. May his memory, and the mitzvot he did in our community, be for a blessing.

Published in the print edition of the February 2021 issue. Download the February 2021 issue PDF here.

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