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Review: What Do You Mean, You Can`t Eat In My Home?

Title: What Do You Mean, You Can`t Eat In My Home? Author: Azriela Jaffe Publisher: Schocken Books, New York, N.Y. Reviewed by Aharon ben Anshel

One of the most difficult things that the ba`al t`shuva (someone who has become Torah observant), or even the F.F.B. (frum from birth), must deal with is enjoying shalom bayit with their less-observant family members on issues of kashrus in the home, Shabbos observance and other religious customs and rituals.

When a person makes that fateful decision to become observant of the 613 mitzvos he or she is separating themselves somewhat from the family that is still following the status quo. How a person handles the myriad set of problems and confronts the issues will affect how and when certain of their loved ones may be supportive of their efforts and even to one day follow their path.

Azriela Jaffe`s What Do You Mean You Can`t Eat In My home? uses the Socratic method of asking questions and answering them to address many of the situations that confront the newly observant in dealings with the families they grew up in.

She deals with keeping kosher, Shabbos, issues of modesty, education (“What do you mean you`re dropping out of graduate school to learn in yeshiva?”)

Jaffe`s last book, Two Jews Can Still Be A Mixed Marriage, was an alternate selection of the Jewish Book Club, and her books have been translated into several languages, and a small business advisor, she wrote Honey, I Want To Start My Own Business (which was a Wall Street Journal best book of 1996).

Jaffe asks: “Can`t we just avoid the whole situation?” — just bury our heads in the sand and carefully avoid frustrating situations? Her reply is that how we deal with the challenges reflects who we are and what message we may then relate to the non or less observant who may take a cue from our behavior toward the modification of their own. There`s nothing that “sells” our lifestyle to our friends and relatives than seeing it up close in action and finding meaning and joy in joining our observances.

We read a bound galley version to write this review — the book won`t be out until the middle of September, 2005, just in time for the Yomim Noroyim, and will not only be a welcome addition to the reference bookshelf — but a useful “tool” to give as a present to friends and loved ones, facing this challenge from either end.

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