When I was little, milk was pretty simple. It came in a carton, and there was always some of it in the fridge. At some point in the late ’80s, we changed to big plastic gallon-sized jugs. But the milk stayed the same. Following the highest standard of Jewish law, all of our milk came from a special farm where the milking was overseen by a Jew, thus ensuring that it contained 100% cow’s milk and nothing else. This special Jewish milk, called chalav Yisrael, was (and still is) more expensive than the ordinary stuff. But we never dreamed of having anything else.

Fast forward 20 years. My kids also enjoy milk in their cereal (and out of their cereal, it seems). But they have choices. In addition to regular milk, we have soy milk and almond milk, which Y won’t touch, but R and A like very much.

Besides for costing much less than chalav Yisrael milk, these alternative milks have another benefit:

Jewish law dictates that we do not eat milk and meat together. In fact, after a meat meal, we wait six hours before eating or drinking dairy. Now, obviously, you cannot expect a little baby to wait six hours before having a bottle. But by the time the kids are a bit older, we teach them to wait. This means that after having hamburgers for supper, R will gladly enjoy a glass of almond milk before saying bedtime Shema, but Y gets just water.

This past Friday (before Shabbat), I tucked Y into his bed and closed the door.


“Yes.” I poke my head into the room.

“I want a drink.”

“Okay, I will bring you water.”

“I want milk.”

“But you just had cholent!” I reply, referring to the Sabbath meat-bean-potato-and-whatever-else stew, which the kids also eat on Friday afternoons.

“So I will have almond milk.”

“But you never liked almond milk.”

“Now I do. Please bring me almond milk.”

A moment later I return with a disposable cup with an inch of almond milk. “Here is your milk. Enjoy.”

“I changed my mind,” he replies without looking.