Question: I am an Jewish American soldier. I live in the barracks and want to start keeping kosher. I share a common kitchenette with a roommate including a stainless steal sink, microwave, refrigerator, toaster oven, and a single burner. Is there a way we can both eat what we want and still be able to observe Kashrut? Besides the obvious of having my own dishes and utensils…what about both of us washing our dishes in the stainless sink? Sharing the fridge? Sharing the burner and toaster oven? Is there a good website where i can find a list of laws for keeping kosher? I need to present this material to my leaders to try and get better living accommodations so that I can keep Kosher fully, and I don’t want to go speak with them when I cant find the answers to their questions. thanks for the help.
Answer: Thank you for writing, and good luck on your decision to keep Kosher! There are many good websites devoted to this subject- just about every Kosher certifying agency has one. You can check out www.star-k.org for starters, but any Google search will give you valuable information. Washing dishes in the same sink should not be a problem if you are careful to make sure that you don’t use hot water (over 115 degrees Fahrenheit). There is no problem sharing a fridge, as long as you are careful that nothing non-Kosher spill onto the Kosher food. Sharing a burner is OK as well, as long as you are careful not to put your vessels on a surface on which non-Kosher spilled. The toaster oven should not be shared- you will need your own that can be designated for Kosher only.
Rabbi Aaron Tendler