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Turning a Kosher Boy to the Dark Side

Message to the boy: Dump her

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The first question-and-answer in New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton’s advice column, “Hey, Mr. Critic,” concerns a girlfriend who, “after two years of endless nagging,” got her kosher boyfriend to agree to eat treyf one night. After praising various pork and shellfish dishes at various New York City restaurants, for this particular instance Sifton suggests—what else?—Chinese food:

As my hero Arthur Schwartz, formerly the restaurant critic for The Daily News and author of “Jewish Home Cooking,” put it: “The Chinese cut their food into small pieces before it is cooked, disguising the nonkosher foods. This last aspect seems silly, but it is a serious point. My late cousin Daniel, who kept kosher, along with many other otherwise observant people I have known, happily ate roast pork fried rice and egg foo yung. ‘What I can’t see won’t hurt me,’ was Danny’s attitude.”

I wrote all about the “safe treyf” phenomenon last month in my article about Jewish Christmas.

But back to the question. “Helping you use food to persuade someone to abandon his religious principles cannot end well for me,” Sifton notes. “(Nor for him, if his mother finds out.)” I’d like to go a step further and adopt Dear Prudence mode and address the boyfriend: Um, dump her. What kind of girlfriend asks her boyfriend more than once—never mind nags him for two years—to abandon his commitment? What the hell is it to her? (I don’t mean that rhetorically: If I had Prudie’s acumen or a psychologist’s training, I’m sure I could come up with some very good answers.) “Take this boy to the Prime Grill for a kosher steak and tell him you love him,” Sifton advises. Good thinking. But I’m pretty sure she only loves herself.

Meals for a Mensch and the Discerning Sports Fan [NYT]
Related: Jewish Christmas [Tablet Magazine]

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allan siegel says:

You actually printed this? Is it supposed to be clever or serious? Or maybe just plain stupid… I mean really really stupid – Marc are you supposed to be some kind of Ann Landers wannabee… get a life.

I believe this is precisely the sort of issue that The Scroll should, and does, cover for its reader’s benefit. Plus, I like Marc’s reasoned take on it.

shualah elisheva says:


technically, they didn’t “print” it, so don’t worry your pretty kopf in advance of tu b’shvat. for my part, i find marc’s statements to be both clever and serious.

i find your ad hominem attacks on a tablet reporter [whose take on this small microcosm of greater jewish issues is, again, well taken] to be the “really, really stupid” part of the article.

Calm down. Marc Tracy didn’t print this. He’s aggregating news of Jewish interest, which is his job. The article in the Times makes my blood boil, too, but only because the girlfriend in question is so self-centered (and a bunch of other things not fit for print). I can only hope her boyfriend stumbles across this and dumps her.

Steph F. says:

Marc, I’m with you. As another advice columinist (Dan Savage) likes to say, DTMFA.

J Carpenter says:

and I can hear Mom say: “and so you actually kiss this girl? who knows what she eats—“

How committed is the boyfriend? Even if the girlfriend is a nag, he DID agree to eat Chinese.

:) If S/HE needs to drink milk for an ulcer,ok. But this is not veg/etarian vs carnivore. This is upfront religious principle.
My late m-in-law put out a ham for our engagement party (‘so the relatives should not be uncomfortable). It was HANUKAH!
The handwriting is on the wall here.
Luckily, my husband disagreed & can now give you chapter & verse as to why this was a disservice to all (as well as leaving a bad taste:))

just a reader says:

If he is weak enough, not to concede his friend’s wishes to eat treif, he won’t be strong enough to drop her. Sooner or later she will notice what a weakling she got, and once she squeezed him sufficiently she will drop him. What a poor lemon.

Gotta agree with Marc here. While the “temptress” might sound fun in fantasyland, in real-life, relationships should be about helping our partners access their best self. Commitments – whether religious or otherwise – are the basis of a healthy life.

Totally agree with you, Marc. I know someone who used to have a gentile boyfriend and she made him wait an hour before he could kiss her after he ate treyf. I’m certainly not an advocate interfaith relationships, however I believe in a committed relationship, people should have a mutual respect for their partner’s beliefs/morals.

Chana Batya says:

I thought Sam Sifton’s advice was excellent when I read it in the Times. His tongue-in-cheek recommendations for treyf fare at various high end restaurants made me smile, but I loved his parting shot, to eat at Prime.

Years ago, Ann Landers published this letter:

Dear Ann: should a wife be expected to keep kosher for her husband?
Answer: only if he’s Jewish.

Exactly. That woman will never be happy with her kosher boyfriend and he will never be happy knowing he compromised himself for her.


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Turning a Kosher Boy to the Dark Side

Message to the boy: Dump her

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