Four Questions with Kristin Eriko Posner
On all other posts, we share inspired ideas for celebrating our Judaism;
on this post, we talk to the women who give us reason to celebrate.✨
Welcome back to your favorite not-so-weekly series! Today, I'm so thrilled to be featuring the unbelievably cool, too-inspiring-for-words Kristin Eriko Posner. A Japanese American and Jewish lifestyle expert, home cook, and former interior designer with a passion for throwing epic dinner parties, I can all but guarantee that Kristin's one of the coolest women you've (n)ever met. Through Nourish Co., the lifestyle brand she founded back in 2017, she celebrates both her Japanese and Jewish heritage and helps multi-ethnic households create nourishing new rituals via hosted gatherings, story-telling, cooking, and design. The Nourish Co. site offers everything from a Japanese and Jewish cookbook zine to interviews with cultural leaders. And later this year—just in time for Hanukkah!—Kristin is set to launch a limited-edition, artisan-made heirloom shop, too.
But my personal favorite aspect of her work is her incredibly unique, tried-and-tested trove of recipes. Each combines the best of both cultures for a final result that’s as beautiful and meaningful as it is delicious (think: mochi latkes, a chicken soup with gyoza kreplach, and a melt-in-your-mouth brisket made with Japanese tonkatsu sauce, for starters). Kristin also has original recipes for summer challah panzanella, Hawaii-inspired hamantaschen, and a Japanese kamaboko (fish cake)-inspired gefilte fish. How awesome is that?!
Today, Kristin's got hundreds of readers and is inspiring people left and right (namely, me!). You can follow her on Instagram at @bynourishco, learn more about Nourish Co. over here, and find our full conversation after the jump.
YOU'VE BUILT AN EXCITING CAREER OUT OF COMBINING YOUR JUDAISM & YOUR JAPANESE AMERICAN HERITAGE. WHAT'S BEEN THE most challenging PART OF THAT?
It'’s really been a journey. Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt like my Japanese heritage was slipping away from me. I’m yonsei (or fourth generation) on my Dad’s side, which means that my great grandfather immigrated from Japan to Hawaii. For many reasons, that side of the family identifies very strongly as Japanese American—we spoke only English at home, even though my Mom is from Japan. Like many families, food was the main way I grew up connecting to my Japanese heritage.
When I met my husband, who comes from a very secular Ashkenazi Jewish family, it was important for me to learn about his background. We took Judaism 101 classes at our synagogue, and I just fell in love with Judaism. For the first time in my life, I felt a deep sense of belonging. Still, during the conversion process, I had this moment of crisis. I was afraid that becoming Jewish would mean losing more of my Japanese parts that I already felt I had lost. Our rabbi really encouraged me to realize that there was plenty of room for both.
What do “ritual” and “tradition” generally mean to you?
Our ancestors healed, connected, and celebrated via ritual. That’s one of many reasons that I believe that these long-standing habits and practices are so important on a spiritual and soul level. When I first began blending these two cultures together (first through food, and now through design), I noticed that people were really curious and engaged with what I was doing. I realized it wasn't just us who felt this way about the importance of ritual, and that we weren’t the only ones searching for more examples of how to do time-honored things differently and creatively.
There are rituals and traditions in both our Japanese and Jewish cultures that no longer resonate with me or my husband. But I don’t think that means we should throw them all out. It takes a bit more work, but it’s been really fun for us to update our traditions, taking the parts that are meaningful to us and leaving behind the parts that aren’t. I believe it’s what our ancestors have done from the beginning of time, and it’s what’s necessary for the survival of our cultures.
My ultimate vision for Nourish Co. is for it to become the go-to place for anyone seeking sanctuary, inspiration, and nourishment—those things that feed the soul. I want it to be a beacon that lights the way for people as they simultaneously look back to their histories and forward to their futures. Ultimately, I’m hoping to create a new conversation about what cultural traditions and religion (or spirituality) can be in a modern world.
“…I realized it wasn't just us who felt this way about the importance of ritual, and that we weren’t the only ones searching for more examples of how to do time-honored things differently and creatively.”
Speaking of rituals...
what does your typical morning routine look like?
If I’m being honest, I’m really not a morning person, so it usually takes me some time to get out of bed. I set my alarm earlier, knowing this. The first thing I do when I get out of bed is have a big mason jar of hot lemon water. Then my husband and I eat breakfast together. Depending on the day, I’ll do some strength training, journaling, or go for a quick walk. I try to tackle my 3 biggest tasks of the day first (before checking social and email), with a bowl of matcha to help me get started.
What's your favorite Jewish holiday
My favorite Jewish holiday has to be Shabbat. I love that it’s considered the holiest holiday on the Jewish calendar, and it comes once a week! It’s absolutely brilliant to me that we are commanded to rest, connect with our loved ones, and, through this time, gain the energy needed to get us through the rest of the week.
That being said, Shabbat is probably also the holiday I struggle with the most. On Fridays, my husband and I are really tired from the week, and sometimes all we can muster up the energy for is lighting candles and watching Netflix.
Still, we’ve worked it out so that, for the most part, we agree not to make plans on Friday nights. Now, I look forward to knowing every week that at least we have Friday evening to relax with each other. I'm working on being more intentional about our Saturdays as well. It's all so challenging and necessary in our 24/7 always "on" world, but it starts with effort.