I am writing this from the condo, having just polished off the kosher dinner that I cooked and shlepped to the annual time share vacation that we participate in every year with my parents and brothers and their wives and children. The family rents the time share location for a full week but we ( me and the kids) come for the Sunday – Tuesday of the week – after Shabbos, and returning on Wednesday so that a) I have time to prepare for the next Shabbos at home, and b) because it’s too onerous for me to even think about preparing all of the food for the family for longer than three days.
Over the years, we’ve become accustomed to bringing our own kosher food and trying to ignore the non-kosher food the rest of the family brought, or buys, and eats alongside of ours. Over time, I’ve more often elected to cook so much food, everyone can eat kosher and we don’t end up in this weird divided place with the “kosher eaters” and “the non-kosher eaters.” It also gives me a small degree of pleasure to see my family eating kosher food, which isn’t the case the rest of the year.
This year I was placed in a particular dilemma, which I thought I’d share with you, because I bet many of you will relate.
I just celebrated my 50th birthday. At the time share, the family got together and decided to offer me the gift of everyone being taken out for dinner at the local kosher restaurant that was within a few miles of the time share.
Normally, I would have snapped up the opportunity to get a paid-for kosher meal I didn’t have to cook. But this time, before going to this time share, I went online and found mostly very negative reviews for the only kosher restaurant that was a realistic alternative. It was way over priced, and service was notoriously slow. So, now I had a big problem. If we went out as a family (a whole lot of us) and my father treated everyone to the meal ( as would happen), the bill would be enormous. If the food was just okay and not amazing (which is what online reviews said), and the service was terribly slow to boot, I would be feeling responsible for the quality of every bite they ate, and every nickel my father spent, worried that he’d be thinking, “Geez, if I have to spend all this money for it to be kosher, does it have to be this bad?”, or, “You know, if I didn’t have to take the whole family out to a kosher meal, it would have been a third of the price to just order pizza!” Although I appreciated the offer for a meal out, instead, I insisted that I had brought enough food to amply feed everyone ( true) and we could use his money for other purposes.
I wonder about the experiences of others who are reading this essay. Have you ever felt that you were defending all of kashrus when going out to a kosher restaurant with non-kosher eating relatives? Do you shlep along enough kosher food for not just you but for the rest of the family when you go to a mixed family vacation? Do you think there’s anything to be said for the one or two kosher meals that you manage to get your family to eat when the rest of the year they are eating trafe? Does it give you pain to see your family eating non kosher food without a second thought? These are the thoughts on my mind this evening
Fresh from the trenches –
A kosher Jewish mother and wife, and also a daughter, a sister, a sister-in law and an aunt to those who are not. . . . complicated business, isn’t it?