When you are a baal/baalas teshuva, going home *especially at the beginning* can feel overwhelming. You love your family, of course, but if your family doesn’t keep kosher, or don’t keep to your new standards, things can be a bit tense. That’s where these questions come in. With a little bit of planning, your visit home can be an enjoyable time to reconnect with those you love.
This set of questions is intended for you to use as a guide– really more of a conversation starter with your LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi) or a mashpia/advisor. Having good people to ask questions will make things MUCH easier 🙂
1)What is the cooking situation in your families kitchen? What kind of stovetop do you have? What kind of oven? Are there ways to kasher these? How can you deal with non-kosher sinks and counter tops?
- Many stove-tops can be kashered with some pretty easy steps, ovens that are self-cleaning are able to be kashered too. Is your family open to you kashering parts of their kitchen for the short term? If not, investing in an electric skillet could be a cheap way to make things easier. Talk with your LOR/Advisor about your options
2) Are there any issues with non-frum or possibly non-Jewish family helping you cook?
- There are some pertinent halachos regarding turning on flames/ovens, there also may be things to be careful of such as not placing your cookware/dishes in the non-kosher sink. This question in particular is a great one to talk with an advisor about. Maybe even a friend who has been frum for a while and has some more experience- especially when it comes to finding the words to thank family for their help, while still staying true to halacha.
3)How long will you be home for?
- For shorter trips home, sometimes its easier to bring mostly prepared foods/easy to prepare foods. For longer trips home it might be worth investing in some more cookware to be able to prepare more foods.
4)What kinds of kosher food will you be able to buy when you get home?
- Is there a kosher grocery? If you keep cholov yisroel/pas yisroel/bishul yisroel do they have the products you would need? Are there any kosher restaurants near you? Do they have acceptable hechsherim?
5)What kinds of foods do you want to be able to have while you are home?
- Based on what you know about your local groceries, what should you plan to bring with you from the frum community you are in? I often stock up cheeses, meats and wine. The good thing is, these freeze or keep well so I can keep my parent’s freezer well stocked and ready for future trips home. Especially for beginning trips home, it’s probably a good idea to write out a general menu for yourself- that way you will have an idea of what foods you will need to bring with, and what you can pick up once you are already there.
6)What kinds of ‘issues’ do you anticipate having with your family?
- Does your family make a big deal about eating together? Do they care if you eat off paper plates for every meal (mine did… boy was that a surprise!) Are there any kosher treats your family might love? (I am all about bringing home the best that kosher has to offer… my family has always been pretty in to food, so bringing home some great bakery treats, fancy ice creams, those new caramels, that great new sauce… yeah, I try my best to impress them so they won’t care as much about all my new rules), Do they like to share? Should you bring extra food so you won’t feel like you are running out when your big sister is always staring longingly at your plate instead of her own?
7)What about shabbos?
- Will you stay home? Is there a frum community or chabad house you can go to ?
Okay well, that should give you a good start. I know it can feel overwhelming, just remember that your family loves you, and sometimes a deep breath can go a long way. Also know, even if things don’t go the way you hope, they can and will get better and more enjoyable over time! Wishing you much hatzlacha and shalom bayis!