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Flying the Kosher Skies: A Funny Story About Taking the Kash-Route

A friend of a friend recently shared this story with me via email. Here it is, word for word:

After my wife, Lisa, and I moved to Reno from Cleveland, we found ourselves traveling back to the Midwest on a regular basis. My entire family lives east of the Cuyahoga River, otherwise recognized as the great cultural and geographical divide in that city. Reno, although surrounded by scenic beauties, lacked the indulgences needed by a lifelong urbanite: brown mustard, professional sports, and enunciation coupled with non-twanged accents. Flights became the necessary evil. And, I'm afraid to fly. Actually, I'm afraid of airports, if they'd just pick me up at home, I'd be alright. I discovered that the online air travel service I was using at the time provided a virtual cornucopia of in-flight meal options. To break up the monotony of flying, I decided to try every meal option offered. It would take a year or more to get through the Vegetarian, Asian, Children's, and Kosher selections. But, hey, I consider myself a somewhat adventurous eater, and there's something exotic about a Hindi meal at 30,000 feet, even if it it's over Nebraska. Vegetarian came first, on a newly emerged from bankruptcy TWA. Same meal as my wife's regular in-flight service, minus the meat. No need to repeat that one. Kosher came next. TWA to Cleveland, mid-August, 2003, departing 6:30 A.M. Perfect flying weather, not a cloud in the sky and no wind. When you're aviophobic, you tend to notice these things. Seated in the very last row, Lisa and I took our seats as usual and the plane quickly filled to capacity. I was calm knowing we were about to leave on-time, and visions of latkes, matzo ball soup, and a mile-high corn beef soon distracted my attention away from the fear. Then, we sat. And, sat some more. No announcement from the cabin. No apparent reason to be at the gate when we should be nearing Salt Lake City. The flight attendant approached my seat, bent down and spoke to me in a whisper: "Mr. Mauceri, sorry, but we couldn't find a rabbi this morning to certify your meal. We've been looking for an hour." Suddenly, it seemed every baby on board was crying. All eyes were upon me. I defined impatience. I was the cause of the delay. What did I do to cause such a problem? Had stepping from my world to the world of flavors unknown, from the Goy to the Jew, somehow broken some law of physics or electro-optics? Ah, the guilt! "That's alright, I'll take a non-Kosher meal so we can leave now," I uttered. I couldn't admit that this was all some gastronomic experiment gone horribly haywire. Without saying a word, the flight attendant turned from me, picked up the wall phone to signal the pilot, and off we went. Sunk as low as possible in my seat, I nibbled away at an overripe apple and a stale Subway sandwich, the apparent prize for misguided dining.

I would have guessed that those kosher airline meals arrived at the airport pre-certified, and I'm amazed that they'd hold a flight for lack of a Rabbi.

Have you ever embarrassed yourself (or gotten away) with something similar? I'm wracking my brain for comparable experiences that people may have had in sampling others' religious rituals and rules. The best I can come up with is taking Communion at a wedding, but my guess is that some of you can trump that.

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