Noa Kattler Kupetz
From just peeking into our lunchboxes, it’s clear that we have different opinions concerning kashrut. As I eat a slice of pizza, a friend next to me gnaws on a warm chicken and cheese panini. Next to her sits another friend, eating a turkey sandwich picked up from kosher Subway that morning. Together, we represent the notorious and controversial kosher debate on campus.
“I keep kosher at home, that’s it,” chicken n’ cheese Panini eater said.
The average Milken student spends 35 hours a week on campus, and that’s not even counting lishma, sports practice, or those who show up on Sundays. During the school year, Milken becomes our second home. At times, it can feel that we spend the majority of our lives on campus, seeing our teachers more than we see our parents.
For some, the value of keeping kosher only in the home stems from families’ desires to keep the home a pure, holy place. So Panini Girl, why aren’t you respecting your second home as you would your first?
“Wait, did you heat that up in the microwave?” my Kosher Subway eating friend asked.
“Yeah, but don’t worry, it was in the meat one,” chicken and cheese said.
Here is the dilemma: are Milken’s kosher microwaves really as kosher as the handwritten signs plastered to their faces claim to be? I watch as Kosher Subway’s cheeks turn red, her hands already crumpling up her sandwich and reaching towards the trashcan.
“It’s not fair. How can I keep kosher on campus if I can’t even rely on the microwaves?” she asks. Kosher for her means the “full commitment”: waiting for a period of time between eating meat and milk, having two sets of silverware, two sections of the fridge, etc. Milken makes an effort to cater to followers of this practice, banning bake sales of dairy products on days when Vicki’s lunches contain meat, and providing dairy and meat microwaves.
“It’s crazy. I’m going to heat up my kosher brisket, and the girl in front of me pulls a cheese enchilada out of the meat microwave. Not to mention the microwaves are in the Milken Mart, surrounded by yogurt and ice cream bars,” kosher subway friend said. Obviously, monitoring the food that goes into the microwaves is a tricky job, but it would be incorrect to claim that Milken doesn’t care about individual kosher needs.
Milken students are advised to not bring shellfish, mixed meat and milk, and pork to school, foods that are tref. But shouldn’t Milken respect those who choose the spiritual path of not keeping kosher as they respect those who choose to?
Completely changing school policy to allow students to bring tref foods to school would go against many kosherkeeping students’ values, but the kosher policy definitely needs to be tweaked. Milken must face it: many of us are bringing mixed dairy and meat products to school, along with unkosher meats, resulting in the deterioration of the “kosher-ness” of the microwaves and our campus.
“Why don’t we have a non-kosher meat microwave? We’re a pluralistic school- doesn’t it say that in the mission statement? I respect that people who want to keep kosher have a microwave, but shouldn’t those who don’t keep kosher have a separate one, too?” Adam Almany ’14 said.
Shouldn’t Milken respect those who choose not to keep kosher as they respect those who choose to do so?
One solution is to install an additional microwave in the student store. Another microwave would ensure comfort for those who no longer want cheese in the meat microwave and creating an option for those who want to heat up their cheeseburgers and other mixed dairy and meat products.
Ideas of how to improve Milken’s kosher policy are beginning to circle around school, and are worth being listened to by the Judaic department. It’s about time we acknowledge and change the current kosher situation on campus.