Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Very Kosher Dinner

Tonight my husband, daughter and I were invited to dine at the home of a non-Jewish friend who had shared Shabbat meals here with us numerous times. Raised in South Carolina, she was taught to reciprocate when friends have you over, and had tried numerous times, with carefully handmade invitations (inserting photos, fancy fonts, etc) to cajole us to allow her that courtesy.

Trouble is, we keep kosher.

"Oh, no problem!" she chirped, insisting. Her elegant invitations of carefully constructed handiwork kept coming--offering many, many dates from which to choose.

Finally unable to keep inviting her to Shabbat meals without accepting her pleas, we chose a date. "But we don't want you to go to the trouble," we warned.

"I've already spoken to the Va'ad several times, and believe me, I've got it all covered," she responded. The Va'ad of Seattle is the Jewish regulating body that, among other duties, oversees kosher production and restaurants in our area. If anyone has a kashrut question, he just calls the Va'ad. Which our friend did. Over and over.

With some trepidation, we left tonight for our dinner. We'd had a previous experience with Jewish friends who assured us of their knowledge but, oops, made a big mistake that led to intense embarrassment. Would such a cringe-inducer happen again?

Turns out that tonight's host had gone to huge inconvenience to make sure that every jot and tittle was observed. Paper plates and plasticware. Food ordered from a certified kosher restaurant to be delivered and quickly served hot. An array of accoutrements (salad, fruit) all prepared by a certified outlet. Kosher, wrapped cookies. And as we sat down, she methodically showed us the heckshires (kosher marks) on every item put on the table. All with a pleased smile.

What a privilege to have such devoted friends. What a pleasure to spend time in the company of people who like you enough to make sure you're comfortable. "I figured it's a matter of trust," she exclaimed, "and I was not going to let you down." Wow. I was moved. Well, after such a lavish meal, I can BARELY move. But in this case, the complexities of keeping kosher didn't separate people of different backgrounds--they brought us together.


  1. Is there such a thing as kosher fast food? What does one do when one is travelling and not certain of the preparations? Did you hedge your bets and have a quick snack before you left?

    As to that Southern hospitality: it's very difficult to outdo it.

  2. Ruth Anne, In some cities there is indeed kosher fast food, of the usual kind; in Seattle we have a kosher deli at our Albertson's that makes sandwiches and also a kosher Noah's Bagels. When traveling, most Jews pack stuff they can't get elsewhere, rely on fresh fruits and veggies, and eat the bounteous junk food available in any market (because lots of junk food comes with a kosher certification). Families travel with big coolers of food.
    You're right about the Southern Hospitality!

  3. That's awesome! What a good friend.

  4. What a kind and considerate thing to do. It shows, I think, how very much this family loves and respects you, that they would go through all this trouble to have the pleasure of your company.

    I know so little about keeping kosher that this is very interesting to me.

  5. What fun! I have never heard of any non-kosher-keeping non-Jewish person daring to call the Va'ad HaRabbanim! Not that it's so terribly scary or anything, but it must just seem like some strange and impenetrable fortress from the outside. What a great story... and what a great blog!

  6. That's amazing!!

    In my company, one of the partners hosted a meal for all of the managers and up from our group at his home. Two of the managers were Orthodox, so he actually had a local restaurant deliver to his home - on china! - sealed hot meals at exactly the right time for them and the spouse who came. Considering he lives up in Stamford, CT, and the restaurant was in Manhattan, this is no mean feat and certainly not cheap. It's nice that there are those who will go out of their way to be so considerate...! You have great friends.