Back-to-school time means it’s almost the holiday season for Torontonians in Canada’s largest Jewish community.
Synagogues of all denominations advertise their Rosh Hashona and Yom Kippur services on signs that line the Bathurst Street corridor from St. Clair Avenue West up to Richmond Hill. These two holidays are what are known, in Judaism, as the “High Holidays”—the most religiously important ones of the year.
Rosh Hashona is celebrated with two festive meals, where families gather to commemorate the Jewish New Year. Bonnie Rodak, from Thornhill, knows that she’ll be enjoying the first meal at her daughter’s home. But she knows with equal certainty that she won’t be asked back for night two. That’s because her daughter made a mid-life conversion to Orthodox Judaism, which demands a more rigid adherence to Jewish law than Rodak has ever practiced or been comfortable with. Her daughter can’t formally invite her back for night two because Rodak would need to drive in order get there, and driving—or asking someone to drive—on a Jewish holiday is totally off-limits for Orthodox Jews.
How do secular parents like Rodak learn to celebrate the holidays with their Orthodox children? They get a taste of PORK—a support group whose trayf-ish initials stand for Parents of Religious Kids.