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.