Family & Education

Ask Hilary: My son ate treif at a party

Our agony aunt advises a mum whose son was served non-kosher nuggets, and a wife struggling with her husband's ill health


QMy son was invited to a birthday party recently, and when he came home he told me that they’d eaten chicken nuggets, which came from a local takeaway restaurant. Clearly, they weren’t kosher. I was horrified, particularly as my son’s friend goes to the same Jewish primary school as him, so this is the last thing I expected. We’re not super frum, but we’d never give our son non-kosher meat. How do I stop it happening again? My son is only five.


AYour shock is understandable. You had a reasonable expectation that any family sending their child to a Jewish school would keep a kosher home. You certainly didn’t expect them to feed your son non-kosher food, which goes against the way you’ve brought him up, and the culture of the school both boys both attend.

Unfortunately, schools can’t legislate for what goes on in pupils’ homes, or for the dietary and religious decisions parents choose to make. In some ways this is a good thing: we don’t live in a theocracy and people should be free to make their own choices about how they live their lives. But you have every right to be angry.

Perhaps you could contact the school and, without naming any names, tell them what has occurred. You could ask if it’s possible for them to send a memo to parents asking that they don’t serve non-kosher food at parties in future. They won’t be able to enforce it, but it could make parents think about the choices they make.

As for your son’s friend, it might be worth having a — delicate — chat with the parents,saying that you’d appreciate it if they didn’t feed your son anything non-kosher in future, or you won’t be able to 
let your son go there. Tread carefully; you don’t want to cause problems for your son.

When he goes to anyone else’s home, make it clear in advance that kashrut is important to you. No, you shouldn’t have to, but if you have any concerns, it’s wise to pre-empt the situation. These days, there are so many children with allergies or on special diets that saying your child keeps kashrut won’t make him stand out any more than saying he doesn’t eat dairy, wheat or nuts.

QMy husband has suffered from ME for several years. He was diagnosed before we met and told me after we’d been on a few dates, by which time I’d fallen for him. I said I understood and would be there for him, but I don’t think I really understood what it would mean. He’s well most of the time, sometimes for several months, but when he gets ill life is tough, for both of us. I know it’s far harder for him than for me but I do struggle sometimes. I’m young and want to be a wife, not a carer. It’s affected our social life and my career and we have virtually no sex life. I do love him and I want to help him, but I don’t want this to be my life forever.


A You’ve always known he had ME — he didn’t conceal it from you. But that doesn’t mean you knew what you were letting yourself in for. Loving someone who is chronically ill is not easy, and you’d be a saint if it didn’t make you question your feelings and the future of your relationship.

It’s natural to want to help and care for the people we love. But becoming your partner’s nurse is neither healthy for you, nor your relationship. As you say, you want to be his lover, not his carer. You deserve a sex life and a social life and you need to invest time in your career too. Otherwise, you will start to resent him and stop being attracted to him altogether. Relying on you to care for him isn’t good for him either.

It sounds as if you both need help. It’s important that you talk to someone you trust, whether it’s a friend or relative, so you aren’t dealing with this on your own. But longer term, you need expert help. It’s possible he could get some care and/ or support from an external source, freeing you up to be his wife and to share the good times with him, as well as the difficult ones. There may also be practical things you can both do to make your lives easier. Why not contact Action for ME at or the ME Association ( The ME Association has a helpline: 0844 576 5326 or email ME Connect on


Contact Hilary via email at Or write to her at 28 St Albans Lane, London NW11 7QF. Every letter is completely confidential.

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