Our Two Cents | Must conflict over kashrut lead couple to break up

Dr. Sharon Ufberg and her three children offer advice about family, love and life. Send your questions to [email protected]

I have been dating a girl who keeps kosher, while I eat absolutely anything and everything. I am Jewish but was not raised kosher and have no interest in keeping kosher myself. Given some comments my girlfriend has been making lately, it’s clear this is getting to be a real problem. Short of just giving in, do you all have any thoughts on my dilemma? E.S., San Francisco

Alexis: This doesn’t have to be so tricky — it’s really a matter of respecting one another’s personal choices. Your girlfriend wants you to respect her food choices, and she should respect yours. If she’s unable to accept that you don’t want to keep kosher, it’s good to find this out immediately — if it’s really a relationship deal breaker, it’s important that you know this now. Frame a conversation about this conflict as a matter of respect rather than religious observation. Agree to make compromises that work for you both — perhaps you won’t eat pork or shellfish at her place, or she’ll agree to giving you a certain shelf in the fridge for your nonkosher food. There is plenty of room to get creative about the arrangement that works best for you both. Whatever happens, try to honor one another’s feelings. Hopefully, your girlfriend will consider your needs and you will consider hers, too.

Sharon: Whether it’s kosher, vegan, gluten-free or low-fat, everyone has his or her own sensibility about food and what one finds acceptable to eat. Kosher adds another layer of complexity because it throws religious observance into the mix. There is no way to ask someone to compromise their “kosherness” when it is a part of their spiritual expression. I imagine your girlfriend wants to elevate your eating experience with the best of intentions, but it must feel like an encroachment on your own sense of independence around what gets put in your body and why. It would be best to be open about your differences and see how the two of you can make peace with them.

Jessica: Wow, I’m sorry that your girlfriend’s comments are making you feel pressure to change your ways. I am a vegetarian, and while I don’t eat meat or fish, I respect other people’s eating choices. It sounds like you may want to talk with your girlfriend about how and why eating kosher may not work for you. Do you guys live together? Do you eat most of your meals together? Maybe you could give eating kosher a shot, but agree that one meal per day you get to eat your way (or as they call it in the health/fitness world, a cheat meal). If you’re not comfortable eating kosher, don’t be scared to speak up. There has got to be some compromise.

Saul: I am not sure how to resolve eating out together if she is strictly kosher. If you want to try to dine together, I’d suggest you try being creative in the kitchen and make dinner at home rather than taking her out to eat.

Dr. Sharon Ufberg is a Napa-based radio host, journalist, consultant and integrative health practitioner. Her daughters live in San Francisco: Lawyer-turned-writer Alexis Sclamberg, 28 and married; and hair colorist Jessica Sclamberg, 26 and single. Saul Sclamberg, 24 and single, studies chiropractic in Los Angeles. Read more at http://r-2-cents.com.