Hi, I’m 16 years old and I want to keep kosher. However, my parents do not. I’ve tried buying kosher foods but the kitchen isn’t kosher. Is there anything I can do? Do you have any suggestions or tips for me? Thanks!
First of all, a good way to get on the road to kashrut (dietary laws)—and for many, the best way to stay—is to be a vegetarian (you can get your kosher fleishigs (meat) cravings satisfied outside the house). Even your vegetarianism might be met with some opposition, but it is a legitimate way to become conscious of eating. This consciousness is strengthened by introducing berakhot (blessings) before and after you eat. You can do this by saying the motzi before eating bread, and by saying the appropriate blessings on fruits and vegetables, cakes and cookies, etc. These blessings are easily found on the Internet, or you can ask a rabbi or observant friend. They can be said in an undertone and need not be audible to others if you think this will add to greater household conflict or discomfort.
Don’t concern yourself at this point with dishes and flatware. There are so many different ways that Jews define their kashrut observance (even within Orthodox circles) that it is impossible to fully satisfy any one particular path. It’s a shame that what was proposed to unite us now seems to divide us.
Simply put, vegetarianism (or veganism) may be a kashrut path not only for those starting out on the road to kashrut, but for many a lifestyle choice that is good for both the body and the soul.
Rabbi Moshe Waldoks serves an independent shul, Temple Beth Zion (TBZ), in Brookline.
For more information on keeping kosher, check out MyJewishLearning’s page on Kashrut.