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Did I make a faux pas?

I don't quite know whom to ask regarding this situation. I was in charge of a large gathering/celebration in my community. As the attendees of the celebration were a mixed group, some kept kosher, some not, some Orthodox, some conservative, some reform, and others who were not Jewish. The event was held at a local community center and we had it catered by the best kosher caterer in the county. (who prepared the food in their place, we did not use the kitchen at the community center at all.) I personally drove over a half hour each way to pick up the huge cake from the best kosher bakery around. In case there were any questions I made sure to photograph the kosher certificates at the bakery as well as the caterers establishment. I even had the assistance/advice of the local Rabbi to ensure every base was covered.

The event was last night (began after shabbos) Most every one raved about everything, the location, the food, the decor, etc. Everyone except one man, who complained rather loudly that there was nothing he could eat, as it "was not kosher enough" The Rabbi who advised me quickly went to the gentleman, and told him everything was ok, and kosher, and got from me copies of all of the certifications to show the gentleman. The man took one look at the certifications and said that since the certificate was signed by a Rabbi who was from a conservative yeshiva, it was not "kosher enough" Mind you, there were many other attendees who are Orthodox, including one Rabbi, who all ate and said everything was wonderful and approved it all as kosher and fine. (I had asked the Orthodox Rabbi about the certificates and for both the caterer and bakery, and HE said they were "fine, good" before I hired them for the event.)

I really thought I had my bases covered, and wanted to make sure as the host, that since the event would have a mixture of attendees, I would not be offending anyone, and would be providing not only a wonderful evening/celebration, but cater to all the various food requirements. (some attendees had food allergies as well as dietary requirements, and some were vegetarian as well as kosher)

So, did I commit a faux pas, or is it as one close friend who was helping me with the event say, "some people just want to complain, and will create a reason to complain just to get attention"?

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  1. I'm sorry if this was upsetting but there is a clear policy on this board not to comment on the acceptability/quality of kosher supervision as it quickly goes off topic and may become negative. The fact of a single complaint at your event illustrates the problems that comments on this topic might raise. I hope that in any event you enjoyed the event and received many compliments for your hard work!

    3 Replies
    1. re: iris

      Firstly, a huge thank you to all who responded, I am forever grateful for all that took to time to respond and assist.

      I am sorry that I may not have been as clear as I could have been. I was very worn out from planning and hosting the celebration, I am afraid my brain was mush as I wrote. I want to be clear, I was not asking for anyone to critique the behavior of the guest, nor to ask if the event was, for lack of a better/easier was to explain it, "kosher enough" I came to ask if I had missed something, or did something wrong. We were also dealing with a language barrier, as the gentleman with the issue was not fluent in English, and I am not fluent in the Russian dialect that is his native tongue. To quote him he was saying the food was "not right kosher" The Rabbi who was assisting with the man was trying his best to act as an interpreter, from what I could tell they were speaking a mixture of Russian and Hebrew.

      As circumstances are presently, I am in the position of being the hostess for several upcoming events and celebrations, at which many of the attendees of the event I was speaking about will also be invited. Our extended family and community include pretty much all of the diversity present within the Jewish community. Represented are reform, conservative and Orthodox as well as a local Rabbinical College - a Chabad Lubavitch Chasidic Yeshiva. (not to forget dear friends, neighbors and friends of other faiths) My desire is to host events where all invitees will be comfortable and feel welcomed, and I was looking for input to assist me in making sure I accomplish my goals. While I am well familiar with keeping a kosher home, what I grew up with was neither Orthodox nor Chasidic, though through extended family and school/social contexts I did have some exposure to those. I want to ensure that future events meet all the needs/expectations specific to all who attend, no matter the affiliation.

      1. re: PuniceaRana

        At least you are dealing with a religion with a basic set of rules You could be dealing with a crowd of vegetarians.

        1. re: PuniceaRana

          If you are in Morris County, NJ I can personally attest that kashrut there can be confusing. I was once at an event there at which I was supposed to receive a kosher meal and I did not. A non-kosher caterer was supposed to subcontract from a kosher caterer to get some packaged kosher meals for those in attendance that kept kosher and instead they made the "kosher meals" themself. Sounds like in your case your guest was simply confused.

      2. I can't comment as to whether or not it was "kosher enough," but I'm in the camp that says some people will always find something to complain about.

        Given your efforts and the fact that everyone else seemed to enjoy the meal? I'd say you did an awesome job -- mazeltov on a wonderful event!!

        1. You know the answer: There is one in every crowd.

          1. If the local Rav approved of the kashrus of the event it would be disrespectful to publicly complain (even if one personally disagrees).

            I keep certain hiddurim in kashrus, and I might inquire about specifics of the kashrus, but even if I ended up in a position where there wasn't anything I could eat there, I would just smile and enjoy the simcha without eating. The same would apply if I didn't want to eat the food for some other reason. If I just didn't like the flavor or cuisine would it be appropriate to Kvetch? I don't think so.

            1. You asked the local Orthodox rabbi beforehand. He approved of everything you did. That's all you could have done. There is always going to be someone finding something to complain about.

              1. There's always one who will complain.

                It sounds like you did right, since everyone else was eating and enjoying, and you had the rabbi's approval for all the food that was served

                1. If that person was so worried about the Kashrus, than they could have checked it out before attending the function

                  1. One out of how many??

                    Count your blessings.

                    One group I am a member of has a solution for this type of behavior. Inform the complainor that they are responsible for the next gathering. Period. End of discussion. Let them enjoy the responsibility.

                    1. I have to admit I'm VERY curious as to who this caterer is and what bakery this is that this guy would have a problem with but everybody else including an Orthodox Rabbi would eat from?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Beaconstreet

                        I'm curious too. It makes me wonder whether the description is completely accurate.

                        1. re: zsero

                          That was my thinking also, that somewhere along the line somebody was mistaken.
                          I've never heard someone who keeps kosher actually use the term "not kosher enough." That is often something that people who don't keep kosher say

                          1. re: Beaconstreet

                            Not chalav yisrael
                            Not glatt
                            Not yashan
                            Not mahadrein
                            Not badatz
                            Not closed on shabbat

                            They could all be translated to "not kosher enough" by the OP. And "Conservative rabbi" is oftentimes used to describe an Orthodox rabbi who is "not reliable". None of this really matters in this case. All people are going to be able to do is put their own view on what "kosher enough" means and say whether they agree with the one guy or not.

                            What matters is the OP made the best effort she could and asked the local Rabbi, there was one guy who decided that wasn't good enough and was rude about it. The only faux pas in this situation is the guy who was rude.

                            1. re: avitrek

                              Fascinating that the original post about narrow minded ness is responded to by posters suggesting that only their particular Orthodox values or rabbis are valid. Why promote your own narrow view at the expense of spoiling everyone's camaraderie on this board?

                              1. re: iris

                                There was another similar thread recently, where someone retold their view of a dinner party, presented the discussion in a way that specifically highlighted the reasonableness of that person's actions, and then openly asked if they did something wrong.

                                The natural reaction I had in both cases was -- based on the way we were given the facts, how could we think anything other than the idea that the OP was completely right and the offending party was a complete loser. But maybe the facts we were given didn't tell the whole story.

                                If the OP really wanted to know if this person's views were justified, then we could probably get some more facts and leverage the community here to learn more about how particular people may view this subject.

                                If the point is just to grow camaraderie and make the OP feel better, then this thread did just that. But that's no reason to take offense at someone who might challenge the presentation of the original facts.

                                1. re: iris

                                  Iris, Which responses are you referring to? Because cannot see a single one along the lines you're describing.

                        2. What is a "conservative yeshiva"? I wouldn't eat anything certified by the representative of such an insitution, but I've never heard of one.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: zsero

                            I assume it's a reference to a place like JTS.

                          2. You did nothing, nothing, nothing wrong. There are so many levels of kashrus, even among the Orthodox that, unless you know the greatest stringency observed by the most stringent guest and are willing to use that as a baseline, you will never be able to please everybody.

                            Having said that, the complainer was incredibly rude. I have been to events (with pretty high level orthodox certification) where it was not up to the level of some of the guests. They went to the caterer privately and asked for something like a fruit plate, which was acceptable. When it was brought to the table, they simply "explained" that they were on a strict diet.
                            It really is the nicer way to behave.

                            1. Different people accept different kashruth certifications, and if you are serving a diverse group, you can't expect to cover everybody's bases.

                              In many kosher supermarkets, you'll find meat refrigerators separated by different types of kashruth certifications. Same cuts of meat, just each one prepared under the supervision of a different community. All of them are kosher, and in fact, glatt kosher; each customer chooses the type of certification on which they rely.

                              As to your future events, I think you will run yourself ragged if you try to figure out, for each one, which certification is going to be universally acceptable to everyone, only to learn in the end that there is no such thing. My recommendation would be to pick a certification and stick with it; maybe mention on the invitation that the food will be prepared under the supervision of Rabbi xxxxx of XXXX Congregation, or put a sign out at the event. Those with questions can address the supervising rabbi, and those who don’t wish to rely on that particular certification will know to refrain from eating.

                              It was very rude for that one guest to offend you with his comment; if his needs are so particular, he would also know that he should inquire in advance whether the kashruth supervision is acceptable to him.