Okay, so I shamelessly stole that awesome title from Azriela Jaffe’s book, and will pay back the favor by linking it here. (Thanks, Azriela.) I haven’t actually read the book but I’ve heard lotsa good things about it.
Neither have I ever dealt with this issue personally, but many of my friends have. The thrust is that when someone decides to keep kosher, or go from “regular kosher” or “kosher style” to strictly kosher, they may be unable (unwilling?) to eat in their families’ and friends’ kitchens. Result? Confusion, perceived judgment, and hurt feelings. IMHO, one of the main issues is that the parties involved become emotionally bogged down and thus unable (unwilling?) to see things objectively.
So, for the purpose of distance and illustration, let’s look at four analogous instances. Ready?
My husband is doing a bris. He suggests that the family serve kosher food at the bris to honor the Jewish symbolism of the occasion. They decline. They offer to order him a kosher meal. Or, sometimes, they don’t.
We have guests over that are gluten-free. It’s my first experience with gluten-free eating, so I poke around online and ask them for ideas. “Don’t worry,” they say, “don’t put yourself out. There are lots of things our son can eat. Thank you!”
My friend tells me an acquaintance invited herself over for Shabbat dinner, and asked what she’d be serving. “Brisket,” she said.
“Oh, sorry, I can’t have that. It’s too fattening.”
At a holiday dinner, my mother-in-law brings out a number of dishes, most of which, coincidentally, contain mushrooms. It turns out that her guest is allergic to mushrooms.
1. Is it the responsibility of the bris host to order my husband a kosher meal? Is it reasonable for him/her to be offended if my husband can’t eat the “regular” (non-kosher) meal?
2. Is it my responsibility to make sure I have gluten-free food for my guest, or should he/she fill up on GF food prior to coming? Should I be hurt if he/she won’t eat food that I thought, erroneously, was GF?
3. Is this guest rude?
4. Who feels worse: the guest, or my mother-in-law?
What do you think? Have you ever been in any of the above situations?