HMS; 5764-26 Kashrut V: Setting up a Kosher Kitchen

Lessons in Memory of my brother Dale Alan Konigsburg

May 2, 2004 – Number 5764-26

Kashrut V: Setting up a Kosher Kitchen

Rule 1. Do not try and do everything all at once. The biggest mistake that people make when making their home kosher is to try and do everything all at once. Everyone learns about Kashrut slowly and develops their Kosher Kitchen over time. There will be all kinds of challenges and setbacks, learn from them and prepare to grow in your observance. Those who try too hard are often defeated by frustration.
Rule 2. Every mistake has a way of being fixed without having to start over again. Mistakes are part of being human. Kashrut is set up for human kitchens. You will not be the first Jew to mess up a Kosher kitchen, and you will not be the last. We have Rabbis to answer our questions when we err.
The first stage in setting up a Kosher kitchen is to start small. Try buying only kosher meat at first. Get used to shopping at a Kosher meat market. Next, take a look at your pantry. The probability is good that much of what you already own is Kosher. Look for Kosher symbols on the labels of all your food. Decide which stuff you will need to replace and as you use up the old stuff, try and replace it with Kosher alternatives. Find brands and foods you like. Once you are going on the food coming into the house, it is time to tackle meat and milk. Without changing dishes, begin preparing meals with milk and meat separated. Take a look at recipes and try making substitutions. Experiment with your favorite recipes to find the mixture that tastes the best. Decide how long your family will wait between meat and milk meals (the usual time is three hours – but see last week’s lesson) and begin to enforce it on yourself before subjecting your family to the wait. This process could take from a couple of months to almost a whole year. There is no rush. We know what our goal is, and we want to make sure that everyone in the family is on board and ready to assist in keeping the kitchen Kosher.
Since the rules for switching a kitchen to Kashrut are very similar to kashering a kitchen for Pesach, It may be worth your while to plan to do both at the same time. Kasher for Pesach, and then after the holiday, you can just add the Hametz. If you are buying new dishes, you can use the new ones first for Pesach and then just use them for the rest of the year. Pesach dishes can be switched to year ‘round use without any additional work. To switch them back is more difficult, and may be impossible so the NEXT time Pesach rolls around you may have to purchase new Passover Dishes and save them after the holiday for the next year.
When everyone in the family is ready to make the change, it is time to switch the kitchen. First, before you buy any new dishes, consult your Rabbi. He or she may actually come to your home and take a look at what you are using and determine if it needs to be given away or if it can be rekashered. Many items can be kashered and doing so may save lots of money on the transition. After the Rabbi has given his opinion. You might want to go and visit some families that already have a Kosher kitchen and see what they use in their kitchen. It is a good idea to have a friend who has a Kosher Kitchen already so you will have a friend to offer advice, support and to give you tips and tricks to keeping kosher. Now you are ready to go out and buy the dishes you will need.
Pick a day, invite the Rabbi to come and help, and figure that it will take most of the day to get the kitchen kashered. You will need a big pot of boiling water, some tongs to dip stuff in the water, soapy water and a sponge or damp cloth and a lot of patience. Empty the cabinets. Start dunking and drying the dishes that can be kashered. Empty to refrigerator of food (it should all be kosher food in their by now) make sure the dishes the food is in are kashered or switched to new dishes. Wash out the refrigerator and return the food to the shelves. Wash out all the cabinets and drawers, reline them and put the new dishes and the Kashered ones inside. Make sure that the meat dishes are fully separate from the dairy ones so there will be less confusion. Mark the drawers and cabinets for those who may not know you have a Kosher Kitchen. Donate dishes that can not be kashered to a family in need (a homeless shelter or an immigrant aide society)
The last stage is to determine what to do about eating out. Non-Kosher food can no longer be brought home from a restaurant. It is always a good idea to support Kosher restaurants in the area. Finally always remember the last rule of Kashrut
Rule 3 – No matter how Kosher your kitchen may be, there will always be someone who is “more Kosher” than you are and will not eat in your kitchen. Ignore such people. Find a level of Kashrut that you are comfortable with and if that is not enough for someone else, then they should not eat in your kitchen. You can not please everyone. Stick to a standard that meets your needs best ( so your good friends will eat with you for example) and don’t worry about everyone else.

Next week: Kashrut VI: Controversies in Kashrut – When The Rules Are Not Clear

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