Guide for the Perplexed

By Shira Levine

Published September 30, 2005, issue of September 30, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The day it is suggested that your mother’s kitchen isn’t kosher enough is the day the cinnamon-raisin kugel hits the fan. The Jewish holidays can be a stressful time for families, particularly for those whose members adhere to different levels of religious observance. Nearly every clan has someone in need of a special diet, but accommodating guests with soy chicken and gluten-free challah is a cakewalk when compared with the intricacies of the laws of kashrut.

Thankfully, the family grappling with issues prompted by new observance now has somewhere to turn.

Azriela Jaffe, an observant Jew from a nonobservant background, has documented her own experience and created a how-to book for families. “What Do You Mean, You Can’t Eat In My Home?” offers guidance for the less observant family flummoxed by newly observant relatives and vice versa. Jaffe delves into dozens of possible scenarios and gives tips on how to alleviate strains on family relationships and keep holidays and other family celebrations joyous.

The book tackles potential family conflicts using playful chapter headings like “What Do You Mean, You Can’t Go to the Beach With Us Anymore?” and “What Do You Mean, You’re Getting Married? You’ve Just Met Each Other!”

“What Do You Mean” is, at its heart, an attempt to bring into harmony two of the Ten Commandments: the Fourth (keeping the Sabbath) and Fifth (honoring your parents). How does one honor, respect and stay connected to family, embrace religious observance and not cause loved ones to feel rejected? A tall order, indeed.






Find us on Facebook!
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.