Contact Us

Keeping Kosher

Keeping Kosher


Dear Rachel,

I have recently begun studying more about my Judaism, and one of the things that I would like to try to do is to eat only kosher food. The problem is that I still live at home, and my parents really are opposed to this. What should I do?


Dear L.G.,

Food is always a sensitive situationFirstly, I want to commend you for your desire to make changes and grow in your observance of Judaism. It sounds like this is a solo journey for right now, and that takes tremendous strength—so you should be proud of yourself.

Food is always a sensitive situation, as it is such a core part of spending time together as a family and sharing. Not to mention that, if your Jewish mother is at all typical, she definitely wants to make sure you are fed properly and eating well. And if she can’t provide that for you, it might make her quite uncomfortable.

What I would really suggest is to speak openly and honestly with your parents, so that you can try and understand what their concerns are. Is this an issue that they feel you are pulling away from them, or won’t be eating with your family? Is this about convenience? For example, if you wanted to be a vegan or vegetarian, would they also have a problem with that, or is this specific to keeping kosher?

The more you can understand their concerns, the better you will be able to deal with the issues at hand. Likewise, the more they understand why eating kosher is important to you, and your motivations behind doing it, hopefully the more accommodating they will be.

In general, though, I would do all you can to assure your family that even if you are eating different foods, you are not trying to pull away from them. Whenever possible, try to see if you can cook yourself a kosher version of whatever the family is eating. Or better yet, offer to make kosher food for everyone, if that is possible.

The more you can understand their concerns, the better you will be able to deal with the issues at handFrom a practical perspective, you really only need a few pots and pans to cook what you need, and I would speak to your local Orthodox rabbi about what you need to do in order to use the oven or other appliances in the home.

Whenever a child decides to do something different than the rest of the family, it can be threatening and scary. I have no doubt that the more your family sees that your interest in Judaism is making you a better person and a more committed and loving family member, the more open they will become to understanding how this is important to you. Keeping kosher should not be something that separates you from them, but should ideally make you all more sensitive of the needs of others.

I wish you much strength and blessing in your journey, and may you and your family only grow closer from this.


"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Lisa Providence, RI April 30, 2013

Parents Are Opposed to Keeping Kosher You don't have as many choices as you want when you're living in your parents's home, but you can ask them for compromises:

1. You can buy your own kosher food and eat it yourself.

2. If they want to eat non-kosher food, ask if you can prepare your own kosher meals.

3. When you go to restaurants, don't order dishes that are not kosher. Reply

Karen Joyce Kleinman Chaya Fradle Bell Los Angeles, CA via August 28, 2011

I think it is important to remember that Above all the laws, there is the love, grace, mercy and understanding of G-d. We do what we can do. When we are not able to do, then G-d understands. I know some people who become, personality wise, OBNOXIOUS in their insistence of keeping Kosher to the point of YELLING, screaming, name calling and other ways being very MEAN to their own family members. With all we do in the way of Mitzvahs, we must remember to do it with love, to show love, and to be kind with others who may not share our desire to do the mitzvahs. How better to attract them than to be loving and kind. Reply

Tommy arcola, illinois August 27, 2011

I have not made my conversion yet but I have been keeping totally kosher, not only do I feel better spiritually but I feel it physically. G-d does everything for a reason! Reply

Anonymous Scottsdale, AZ USA August 25, 2011

Keeping Kosher while at home I cannot understand why your family is opposed to you keeping kosher. I suspect it is generated by the fact that kosher foods are more expensive and maybe you have not had the idea of offering to pay for the difference.

It is also difficult to shop for kosher foods and maybe your family does not have the way to change their shopping habits. Reply

Sam barsam Hove, U.K. via August 25, 2011

Keeping kosher in a 'non-koshe' home It depends what you mean by 'non-kosher' There are various degree of kashrut.
One must remember Honour your father and your mother is also a positive mitzvah, and you should also repect their beliefs aswell as being true to your self.
A formuala I am sure can be worked out with each respecting the other. Reply

Hodayah Ashdod, Israel August 25, 2011

congratulations! My suggestions cause i've been there is to talk to your rabbi, he will surely help you with what to do and most likely how to approach your parents and then you need to go step by a kashrut book (if you really want to do it the right way), laws of kashrut are very extensive...but it's all worth it. You will need different pots ,silverware, plates etc for meat and dairy. I started with meat pots first and then i bought the dairy pots. You could start if its possible buying only kosher food for the house and then start buying all the utensils. When you have the new pots (if you do it) before you use them kosher the stove, oven, sink and counters (always talk to a rabbi)...There are a lot of small details thats why i think a book will be a great investment. Anyways i wish you best of luck, may hashem help you in this journey you are about to begin, this is what we need to do teshuva. There is an excellent rabbi that i follow online his name is rabbi lazer brody...he is amazin Reply

TheGideonLion Simcha Diego, CA August 25, 2011

Dear Rachel and L.G. Dear Rachel, what sound advice you offered! Your warmth and caring shone through as you focused your concern on family cohesiveness. If I may, I'd like to offer a thought, which I hope does not spark controversy but thoughtful reflection. The word "kosher" roughly translates as "acceptable", "fitting" or "appropriate". Already we have a problem of interpretation. Although there is no lack of scholars who immediately contend this claim, saying halakhah clearly defines the laws of kashrut therefore no problem of interpretation, I respectfully hold my ground. L.G., I appeal to your compassion, logic, and sensibility when I ask you, is it appropriate, fitting, or acceptable to slit the throat of a docile, peaceful little lamb when our cups runneth over with an alphabet of "eisev" (vegetation, herbs, seeds, fruits) from apples to zucchini? Please re-read B'reshit (Genesis) 1:29 and reflect on G-d's ORIGINAL intent for humanity. Thank you. Reply

Karen Bell Los Angeles, CA via August 25, 2011

To G in N.Y., although I don't keep Kosher I have an idea for you. There are two of you, so you have four of everything and put the rest away in storage. You have two of everything for milk dishes and two for meat dishes, two pots, two pans, two of everything and just either get rid of the rest or find a storage space. If people come over and the storage in inside your own place, bring out the appropriate design of plates, etc. If you label the boxes they're stored in, you'll always know which is which. Is this do-able? Reply

Tserel Shaindel - Chicago Chicago, IL August 24, 2011

Discomfort and Guilt You could be reminding them of what their recent ancestors (Parents and Grandparents did) thus making them feel a bit guilty for not embracing it themselves. You might need to reassure them that you don't judge them for NOT being kosher but you also do not wish to be judged for wanting to accept into your life that which is your birthright as a Jewish person. Reply

Malka West Lafayette, IN August 24, 2011

Intrusion How about "baby steps" to lessen the feeling of intrusion on your parents? Even just a few pots and pans and an area in which to store them may be more than they can handle at the moment. What if, at first, you gave up all obviously treif things (like BLTs and shrimp gumbo); then, after a short while, you could eat only foods marked with a hechsher; then separate milchig from fleishic (within a meal, not to the point of separate plates, etc.), and so on. Baby steps for you, but more importantly, baby steps for them. Who knows? Maybe they'll like what they see and be comfortable enough to join you! Reply

Chana clearwater, Florida August 24, 2011

Kosher in a non Kosher house I understand Rachel's dilemma. I am a Jew by choice. The mother in a non Jewish house. I keep kosher, but have no way of knowing if something is used iin a non kosher way when I'm not home. My family is cooperative but they forget. Not sure there is anything I can do. Reply

Judy Resnick Far Rockaway, NY August 24, 2011

To G. from New York Start by going through your gifts and dividing up the dishes, pots and flatware. "This frying pan will be for dairy meals, and this roaster will be for meat meals. These bowls will be for pareve, neutral, like salad and vegetables. The Corelle will be for dairy meals, and the Wedgwood will be for meat meals." Once you have every dish, pot and fork categorized, then you can paint on a dab of color or stick on a label as a reminder of what it is. Then figure out which kitchen shelves are for dairy utensils and which shelves are for meat utensils. If there is not enough storage space in your tiny kitchen, consider purchasing inexpensive freestanding cabinets or a breakfront which can hold silver and china but stay in the living room. Buy a big toaster oven for dairy baking, a microwave for meat meals and keep your regular oven pareve or neutral. Contact your local Chabad or Orthodox rabbi for more practical tips on keeping kosher in a small NYC kitchen. Good luck! Reply

Rochel Los Angeles, CA August 21, 2011

to kashering my home use paper and plastic.... :) Reply

Anonymous Antwerp, Belgium August 21, 2011

I had the same problem when I was still living at home. Just as becoming Jewish or start studying Judaism will be a big change in your life, it also we a big one in your families. Remember with that, that you made this choice for yourself but your family didn't make this choice. They will need time to adapt to this new situation. What I did was make little changes step by step. Everytime I made one I tried to explain, what is the change, where its for, why and most important why it matters to me. Give them time, to learn, to understand and to accep it. GIve the same respect as you want them to give you. In time I'm sure you and you family will be fine. I wish you lots of succes and joy on your journey. Reply

G New York, NY August 21, 2011

Kashering my home I am recently married and have TG been given numerous sets of dishes and flatware for my home as both my husband and I grew up in kosher homes. However, we haven't used a single dish yet! We're having trouble organizing our very tiny Manhattan kitchen -- so, instead, we are using a single set of dishes and flatware for everything, and, frankly, I'm very uncomfortable about it. Can you offer some suggestions for how to organize a small kosher kitchen? We want to toivel our new dishes and put them to use soon.
Thanks in advance! GB Reply

Yiska Staten Island, New York August 21, 2011

Congratulations ...On your desire to keep Kosher. I've been there, my parents didn't see the "point" although at age eleven I was determined to keep Kosher at least to some degree.
I hope your parents come to understand your convictions and, G-d willing, comply. Reply

Related Topics