How to Entertain Someone More Kosher Than Yourself

Harlow and Grey Goddess Line

Goddess Party Supplies from Harlow & Grey

 

If you have regular contact with friends or family that are stricter in their observance of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) than yourself, it can be difficult not being able to reciprocate their hospitality. But with careful planning, attention to detail, and an honest conversation, you can feel comfortable inviting over anyone, regardless of how strictly kosher they are.

UNDERSTAND THE SITUATION

If you do not keep a kosher kitchen and want to invite someone over for dinner who does, you will need to do three things:

  1. Purchase pre-made food from a kosher restaurant
  2. Keep the food from touching ANYTHING in or from your kitchen and home
  3. Serve the food on disposable serveware, dinnerware, cutlery, and drinkware

Essentially, there is really nothing you can prepare or serve if you don’t keep kosher and the other party does. This is because everything in your home is considered contaminated by non-kosher food. Every surface, every dish, every utensil…everything. This includes beverages too. You can’t just buy a kosher wine and serve it in your wine glasses, because your glasses are treif (Yiddish for not kosher) since they have contained non-kosher beverages before. I also recommend that even if you don’t usually, consider covering your table with a disposable tablecloth.

AN HONEST CONVERSATION

This really is the first step in inviting over anyone who is stricter in their observance than yourself. Without explicitly discussing how you will accommodate their dietary needs and follow kashrut, you will probably get a polite decline. Any ambiguity in how the food got to the table will create an uncomfortable situation, so you must explain how you will handle each step when you do the inviting. If your friend knows you aren’t kosher, a simple assurance that “oh, I’ll do it kosher” won’t really assuage their concern. It is probably believed you don’t really know the depth of laws in order to keep kosher, so you will have to assure them how you will purchase the food, contain it, and serve it, including beverages.

DISPOSABLE DINING

Long gone are the days of the plain-old white paper plates. There are tons of options for disposable dining that will make your table look lovely. Here is my shortlist of amazing disposable party supply companies:

Harlow and Grey

Paper Eskimo

Bash

Party City

Don’t forget that in addition to the dinnerware, anything that you serve the food with (serving spoons, knives, etc.) should also be un-used. You can find disposable serveware at any big party supply company like, Party City.

I have a friend who did exactly this…had a dinner party for someone who had a much higher level of kashrut than she did. Although it took much persuading, in the end the guest was amazed and honored by the effort she made. So don’t be intimidated by someone else’s kashrut observance. Being close to Jewish people is one of the single most important factors that can improve your own practice. So go ahead and develop that friendship…perhaps it will even lead you to your own kosher kitchen.

L’Chaim!

 

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  • When you decide to go from non-kosher to kosher observance at home, it’s a good idea to practice by using two completely different color schemes of disposable dishes/flatware/drink ware/serve ware (try blue for diary and red for meat and green for pareve). You can purchase labels from the kosher kitchen store or hardware store. Buy inexpensive cook ware. Once you and your family are careful about not mixing meat and dairy dishes/pots/utensils, etc. then buy yourself fancy dishes, silverware, and cookware. I know a family who practiced keeping kosher using everything disposable for a year before they felt confident about not making mistakes. The husband surprised the wife by buying new China dishes, good silverware, and crystal drink ware. Go the extra step to make people feel welcome in your home. You will be doing a big mitzvah.

  • Thank you so much for this article. We are planning to have an orthodox Rabbi friend and his family over for dinner. He told me where to order the kosher food however I had not considered using a plastic table cover and plastic wine glasses! Thanks for the tip!