A depiction of kosher poultry slaughtering, Shalom Koboshvili, 1940
A depiction of kosher poultry slaughtering, Shalom Koboshvili, 1940

I am 10 years old. How can I get my family to keep kosher?

Dear Mensch: I am a 10-year-old girl and my mom suggested I write to you. Unlike a lot of kids, I really like Hebrew school and learning about how to be Jewish. I have a friend in Hebrew school who is totally kosher. At her house, we only eat kosher food and we use different dishes for eating meat and things made from milk. I think being kosher is cool and I want to be kosher at home, but my mom says we don’t have a kosher kitchen and it’s too hard to make one. Can you help me convince my mom to be kosher? — Hannah

Dear Hannah: Mensch admires your desire to lead a Jewish life, but he cannot convince your mom to be kosher. People, including your mom, should make their own choices about religion as well as diet. Your mom is correct that it is difficult to maintain a kosher kitchen, but, as you know from visiting your friend’s home, it certainly can be done.

If your mom is not ready to take this step (and remember, you are to honor your mother), there are certain kosher rules you can ask her to help you follow. Ask her please to excuse you from eating non-kosher foods like pork and shellfish (but make sure you eat plenty of vegetables instead). Ask that your meals do not include meat and dairy mixed together. Help with the food shopping, and picking out certain foods with a hechsher (a seal meaning “kosher”).

Take steps your family is comfortable with at home. When you are out or visiting others, you can politely decline to eat certain foods, but you cannot demand special treatment. As you get older and make more of your own decisions, you can be more kosher.

Jonathan Harris
Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris is a synagogue administrator and writer-editor living in San Francisco with his wife, three daughters and an ungrateful cat. He can be reached at advicemensch@gmail.com.