Essay: Keeping kosher away from home

I went home for the beginning of Passover, an eight-day-long Jewish holiday that does not allow me to eat leavened bread or anything that rises. The beginning of the celebration was easy because I was surrounded by family members who have the same food restrictions, but I have grown nervous about finding meals once I head to class this week.

When I lived with my parents before coming to GW, I did not need to worry about keeping my Passover diet because all of the meals they cooked did not include bread. But eating without bread on GWorld will be a struggle because a majority of my go-to dining vendors sell bread with nearly every meal. GW Hillel will provide free lunches for those keeping kosher during Passover, but GW still has few kosher options for students celebrating Passover, and I am anticipating a difficult week ahead.

Friday night was the easiest to refrain from eating bread because Passover began in the evening. But I have a hectic class schedule and may not find time to prepare meals that do not include bread during the short breaks in my day.

When I wake up to my alarm, all I normally think about is an egg and cheese bagel from the GW Delicatessen, but that will not be an option for me. Panera Bread Company, Uptowner Cafe and Cafe Aria will also be out of the question because most of their food uses bread. I also do not have enough GWorld funds to purchase meals at vendors that sell meals without bread, like Beefsteak and Sweetgreen. The yogurt cup in my refrigerator may suffice but it might not be filling.

At home, I typically snack on matzo, legumes and vegetables, but all of the snacks I typically bring to fill up during class also need to be scrapped during Passover. The protein bars and bag of Wheat Thins lying in my backpack could curb my hunger, but they are all off the table because each snack contains wheat. I worry that I will not have food to munch on during the times in my day when I cannot head home for a meal.

Later, I may look to grab lunch before I head to the Mount Vernon Campus for a University Writing class. All of the dining vendors on the way to the Vern Express, like &pizza and Potbelly Sandwich Shop, are ruled out and Pelham Commons, GW’s only dining hall, does not offer Passover-friendly meals. GW Hillel’s free lunches may become my daily meal, but the student organization’s townhouse may be out of the way from my other daily activities.

When I finally head back home for the end of my day, I can munch on a piece of matzo with jam. But as a freshman, I cannot cook a more filling snack in my residence hall room because I do not have a kitchen and need to rely on the food I purchase myself. Whole Foods may be my savior for this week because I can buy a meal without bread from its hot bar, but all of the buffet meals may put a dent in my GWorld funds.

The key to keeping a Passover diet on GWorld is staying with friends who also celebrate the holiday. Eating with peers who are also experiencing the same difficulties makes the holiday more bearable on campus because I am constantly reminded that I am not the only one trying to keep a strict diet for eight days. Still, observing Passover for even a week is hindered by constant inconveniences in the dining program.

After a late night of studying for finals at Gelman Library, I might wrap up my night with a Starbucks iced coffee. The pastries could be a good late-night snack but I cannot eat them. I can’t help but wonder how I will get through the week on a tight budget without the comfort of my family’s Passover meals, but I will have other Jewish peers to help me along.

Zachary Nosanchuk, a freshman majoring in political communication, is a columnist.

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