Question:

My husband and I maintain a vegetarian home for ethical reasons. Our kitchen, appliances and utensils have never come in contact with meat, chicken or fish. However, we are not very observant, and I would never claim that we keep kosher. My question is, do we keep a kosher home from the perspective of guests?

We are becoming more and more involved with our local Orthodox synagogue and are beginning to have friends who are Orthodox in our home. Can we serve them directly from our kitchen, or, because the emphasis on kashrut is not fully there, do we need to act as I would in any other non-kosher home (take-out food, paper plates, etc?)?

Response:

It just so happens that just last week I koshered the home of a vegetarian family. The adjustments they had to make in their life were minimal. The koshering job was not all that complex.

But yes, koshering still had to take place. And until that point, an observant Jew was not able to eat the food cooked in their ovens and utensils.

Now this wasn't due to the lack of devotion. It's actually due to something very practical.

The reality is that unless food is certified as kosher, there is a decent chance it isn't. It wasn't that many years ago where you could purchase a loaf of bread and assume it only had 7 ingredients. But today, the many additives and oils make foods you'd never imagine non-kosher.

I'd hazard a guess that 90% of the food you buy is supervised kosher. And for the other 10%, there are easy kosher substitutes. In your case, going kosher doesn't mean searching out hard-to-find and expensive meat or getting used to having two separate sets of dishes—both the hardest parts of eating kosher. All it would take is having a rabbi come over and doing a kashering job and you checking the labels before buying food. As part of the koshering job you would need to immerse some of your service utensils and continue to do so with new ones as you purchase them. There will also be a few more details to learn regarding thing like checking greens for bugs and being careful about buying only kosher wines. You can learn about these and other aspects of kosher living in our kosher section.

Why not go this extra step and be able to invite your observant friends to your house? Even better, you'll know you're keeping the important mitzvah of eating kosher.