In practice, Jews tend to be selective about kashrut. Some are strict about the dietary laws at home and away. Others pick and choose – fussy about some things but not about others. Some make no effort for kashrut at all. It’s very confusing, especially when one is invited somewhere for a meal and really does not know whether to accept or not.
One of the biggest problems is when it comes to public functions, weddings, Bar- or Bat-Mitzvahs or other celebrations, and dinners and other events arranged by Jewish organisations. There ought to be an accepted rule in every Jewish community, including Israel, that regardless of people’s personal levels of observance, every function is automatically catered kosher.
Reports from the United States suggest that in New York every communal function is kosher, because that is what the community wants. In Los Angeles the constituency is less concerned. In very small communities it all depends on whether there is a significant orthodox or traditional presence in the community. But with respect, that is a very strange type of democracy.
In political matters, voter power is legitimate. In Jewish life, it sends out a quite inauthentic message. It says, “We show our Jewish identity by showing how little respect we have for Jewish identity.” It says, “We cater quite happily for every kind of Jew but marginalise the Jew, however rare he or she may be, who is really committed to the Judaism that is lived on a daily basis”.
Sometimes it says, “We are dealing with communal money here, and kosher costs too much” – in other words, “We are raising money for Jewish survival, but it is not Jewish survival that we’re spending the money on!”