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"No Thank You" Helpings

For the record, I am 55 years old and I grew up in a home wherein we had to at least taste everything that was put on the table. We were always told, "You don't have to like it, but you do have to taste it."

There were (and are, thank G-d) six of us kids, and we all pretty much learned to eat everything. Our mom made one dinner and everyone was expected to be at the table in a shirt with buttons. Shorts were ok even for dinner, but shoes and socks were de rigueur! If someone totally could not eat what was on the table, there was no escape. If you didn't want the liver, you could load up on the lima beans! To this day, I have this notion that a meal must include a green salad, two veggies of different colors, a starch and a main. For us, dessert more often than not was either applesauce or baked apples. The fact that we had a dozen apple trees in our yard, meant that in full harvest years, we ate apples at breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, in between snack, and late night snack. It also meant picking duty for each of us in the orchard each day.

We were not allowed to leave the table until our father dismissed us. We each had to recount the day's activities and give a short talk about something we learned that day in school or in life (don't hit a big kid!!- a good lesson learned early in life....!) In my senior year of high school, my mom often would make me shave before dinner (even though I had shaved that morning before going to school) because she felt that one could not approach the table looking "like a shtunk." I guess a shtunk was an unshaven bum or something!

We truly were well mannered. And we all learned to appreciate the work behind a good meal. To this day, I always say thank you to the person who cooked the meal. And I still have my mother's notion that somehow ketchup has a stigma attached to it. It totally kills me to see my (grown) kids put ketchup on my roast beast dinners.

Indeed, we inhabited a different world!

Posted by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport