The Kosher Question
Just in case it’s not hard enough to find a mate who clicks with you on every emotional level, don’t forget that they have to eat the same way you do, too.
Back in the day, it was easier. Every Jew ate the same way because there was one set of rules. Also, there were no restaurants.
But then, came Reform Judaism. And then conservative, conservadox and reformative. And conservaformadox, or whatever name people give to their immensely specific interpretation of what’s convenient for them to follow.
It’s 2010 – let’s not pretend we’re all obeying the letter of the law. Some of us are so far from it that we don’t even know what letter the law starts with. (Lammed?) The argument over whether or not we should be kosher is too long to have in an 800-word column. So for the purpose of saving space, I’ll just accept you for whatever rules you follow…Except if you put orange juice in your cereal. That’s kosher; but it’s also disgusting.
The “kosher” spectrum (in practice) ranges from people who wait 6 hours between meat and dairy to people who don’t even wait ten minutes between pork and more pork. Some people eat Glatt kosher in the home and have a cheeseburger out. Some people don’t mix meat and milk, but don’t ask if there was any butter used while cooking. Some don’t keep kosher at all, but won’t eat at an In-N-Out burger because they have a bible verse on the bottom of their cups. We all have our rules.
The problem is finding someone you can fall in love with who also happens to have the same exact rules. You can love a Mets fan and hate baseball. You can love a movie buff and prefer books. You can even be sterile and love someone who wants kids. But you cannot disagree on food, since it’s something you do together every day of your life. You also can not love someone with a dog if you’re allergic; let’s be realistic, the dog is staying put.
Relationships often involve compromise – at least relationships that last more than a few days. And we’re used to compromising on food, since no one has the same exact tastes. She might prefer spicy. He might prefer salty. She could love to go out. He could love to cook. And while it’s a safe bet that we all love Chinese food, it’s our level of kashrut that will determine if something can really last.
As much as you want to think you can compromise for your partner, our interpretation of kosher is often so ingrained in our personalities that we couldn’t comprehend living a different way.
Awhile back, I went to a Denny’s with a girl I had just started dating and a few friends. I’m comfortable eating at Denny’s – as long as I’m eating eggs or potatoes. When the girl I was with ordered a side of bacon, my friends say that my face looked like she had just put orange juice in her cereal. I didn’t intend to react. I didn’t even know it consciously, but I couldn’t comprehend dating a Jew that liked bacon. It was already woven into my being.
So what do you do if your love is ready for ribs and you won’t eat anything without an OU? Barring living next to a mall that has a food court with varying degrees of kosher food, either you’ll have to compromise more than you’re comfortable with – or you have to be honest.
JDate’s “Do you keep kosher?” question is a good start, but if you really want to be sure you’re compatible, let your date pick the restaurant (or at least the dessert place). And bring it up early, which can be done casually by asking about how your date grew up, etc.
And if they ever put orange juice in their cereal…Run.
*Comedy Central is a registered trademark of Comedy Partners, a wholly-owned division of Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks.