In Israel, you don’t have to think about being a Jew. It’s the default state. Others have to think about distinguishing themselves as not being Jews. For the first time in my life, I have to think about being a minority, and keeping my traditions while living in an apathetic nation.
OK, seriously, that’s hardly true. I mean, Palo Alto schools shut down for the high holidays. Still, it is a useful first approximation.
Diet: I never kept kosher in Israel. At 23yo, I became a vegetarian. This means that most kosher rules are irrelevant to me (still relevant: wine kashrut rules and dairy rules. Wine kashrut rules are (a) exotic (b) weird and (c) unless you demand a certificate, the fact that most wine is handled in an automated fashion should really be enough. Dairy: nobody sells camel or pork milk around here, as far as I know. I eat at non-kosher restaurants, which probably handle my food with non-kosher dishes, which makes my food technically non-kosher. The alternative would be all-home-cooking all the time, which is obviously unfeasible for a single guy. So I keep kosher as much as reasonable by default…
Shabbat: This post really started because I read the Shabbat Manifesto. Even the logo is an admission of failure: it shows Saturday as the 6th day of the week, using a Monday calendar. I usually set my preferences for a Sunday calendar whenever I can. The post is also infected by severe ludditeness: “avoid technology”. What’s technology? Why is a book not technological, but a car is? What about when books will all be e-books? I prefer to interpret it as “be a day from which you do not gain material benefits.” So no working (as much as possible), no going to the gym but yes to easy hikes, drives to the library or enjoying a leisurely breakfast at IHOP. I also try (managed to do it once) to go to a synagogue on Saturday morning.
Holidays: I try to observe most holidays, but I’m not amazingly good at it. I managed to learn about the Talmud on Shavuot (not a very good lesson, but oh well), I observed Yom Kippur, I observed Passover and so on.
Community: This is where I managed to hit pay-dirt. I managed to join a number of Jewish young-adult organizations, among them JND (where I am now serving as communications officer).