Yadidya Greenberg is the creator of The Kosher Omnivore Quest, a blog about Kosher slaughter, Kosher meat and animal welfare. I admire his intention to be conscious and ethical in the way that he eats animals and am so happy that he agreed to share his thoughts with us.
Let’s get to know Yadidya Greenberg and learn from him.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I was born in Jerusalem and grew up on a small kibbutz in the north of Israel until I was eight, when I moved to Boulder Colorado. About five years ago I decided to devote myself to a path of being very conscious and ethical in the way I eat animals. As a part of that process, three years ago I decided to learn kosher slaughter. I eventually ended up moving to Nebraska to work in a kosher slaughterhouse where we process cattle. It’s been good to get experience doing slaughter work, but my real passion is in exploring the intersection of Judaism and animals. In that vein, I’ve started a blog and YouTube channel that discuss the topics of kosher slaughter, kosher meat, and animal welfare. When I’m not shechting or blogging, I love exploring the Rocky Mountains, dancing up a storm, or enjoying a good beer.
How do you connect to Judaism?
I connect to Judaism in a vast number of ways. One way is through community. I never felt like I fit in anywhere until I became religious and having that is essential to my Jewish life. Another is through ecstatic prayer. This was something I got a lot of practice on in my Yeshiva, where we would daven shachrit for an hour and a half every day. Another is through study. I love to learn halacha and gemorah, but tend to get bored learning chasidut. My heart connection is emotional and I don’t like intellectualizing it, I’d rather intellectualize halacha. Lastly, I very much connect to Judaism through animals and food, but if you want more on that subject you’ll just have to check out my blog. 😉
Tell us one of your favorite holiday memories!
When I grew up, on kibbutz every year we acted out the chad gadya song. People came up on stage dressed as goats and dogs and sticks and fire. It was pretty fun for that age, but more memorable are the many Purims I celebrated in Yeshiva. Basically on Purim anything went, but our Megillah readings were especially interesting. Instead of simply booing when Haman’s name is called, we would destroy old chairs and tables, and then break out into techno parties while the reader, who also happened to be our Rosh Yeshiva, was being duct taped to a student.
What’s most exciting about having friends and family over for a holiday?
Impressing attractive single women with my cooking skills is probably the most exciting… but meaningful conversation would probably be a close second.
How does a perfect holiday celebration look and feel to you?
This really depends on the holiday. A spectacular Purim would entail a crazy fun party with people wearing really creative outfits. A perfect seder has lots of creative sharing and very little dry intellectual discussion of the haggadah. I guess the most important bit is being fully present and connected with the theme of the holiday and having the participants bringing their own unique gifts to the table.
How do you prepare to host people for a holiday meal or celebration?
Living in the middle of Jewish nowhere, I don’t have a lot of chances to host big crowds. That’s why I usually go elsewhere for holidays. Since I’m always being hosted, I usually take on cooking a special meat dish for a meal I’m attending. Often times I’ll make heritage chicken or turkey. This is especially meaningful because one can’t buy kosher heritage meats in stores and I’m literally one of the only people in the world who has access to it.
What’s your absolute favorite holiday dish?
I generally keep gluten free but every year on Pesach I gorge myself on handmade shmurah matzah, and on Chanukah I love eating latkes and sufganiyot. All these foods make me feel terrible but it really wouldn’t be Pesach or Hanukkah without them. As for cheesecake on Shavuot morning, that is one food I can do without. I don’t eat dairy at all now, but when I did I’d skip the cheesecake and eat some cottage cheese and veggies instead. It’s one thing to eat a few latkes at night or matzah at a seder, but cheesecake first thing in the morning is just not how I want to start out any day.
What is one food “truth” somebody important shared with you that feels really meaningful to you right now?
“You are what you eat.” I know this is a pretty cliché line, but when I started to raise and slaughter my own animals, that cliché line became a very palatable reality.
What is one thing you hope to improve vis a vis your holiday experience?
Being married is definitely #1 on that list.
What’s one tip or trick you’ve discovered that makes the holidays smoother, more positive and meaningful?
Don’t take on too much. I’ve certainly not perfected this, but it has been a big problem for me in the past and will always ruin a holiday. I cook most everything I make from scratch, so things can get overwhelming very fast if I take on too much. Making fewer courses in preference for leaving energy to connect to the holiday and your guests is a choice you will never regret.
Check out the previous Chag Notebook post featuring Chanie Apfelbaum.