Dressing Orthodox in Public While Not Keeping Kosher


If a Jew were to eat at a non-kosher restaurant, is it preferable that he not wear a kippah while doing so in order to not mislead others?

The reason I am asking is because I personally know a couple like that. They wear the costumes of Orthodox Jews (the husband wears a kippah and the wife wears an orthodox style hair covering and long skirts). But they dine out at non-kosher vegan restaurants. They are not intentionally being rebellious. This is just the level they are at.

The first time I met them, I saw them entering a non-kosher vegan restaurant in a shopping center I frequent. Seeing what appeared to be an orthodox couple entering this restaurant, I asked them if the restaurant was kosher because I wasn’t familiar with it being on the list of kosher restaurants in town. They explained to me that it has no supervision, but they are comfortable eating at almost any vegan restaurant. This encounter led to a friendship with this couple in which I learned they also drive to synagogue on Shabbos when the weather is not conducive to walking.

When non-orthodox Jews enter non-kosher restaurants, we think of this as normal behavior on their part. But the very sight of a man in a kippah entering a non-kosher restaurant might confuse others into believing it is kosher. So wouldn’t it be better if a Jew who plans to eat there remove his kippah before doing so?



  1. What a delicate and sensitive dilemma! There is a Halacha called Maris Ayin. Maris Ayin is doing something that is permitted but looks forbidden. Doing such things is forbidden because of the impression that it leaves. A classic example of Maris Ayin is for an obviously-religious looking Jew to be going into a non-Kosher restaurant to ask the time. There is nothing ostensibly wrong with their actions but because it looks wrong it is forbidden to do it. With the couple in question their actions do not even fall under the category of Maris Ayin because what they are doing is forbidden. There are so many potential Kashrus issues with eating non-supervised vegan food that it is not possible to say that such food is Kosher. There are issues of bugs in the leafy vegetables, there are problems with Bishul Akum, there are problems with Yayin Nesach, and that is just to list a few of the problems.

    Even though it is inadvertent and they are not doing anything, chalilah, to rebel against Hashem, nevertheless, by wearing his Kippah in such establishments it is as if they are proclaiming that the restaurant is Kosher when it is absolutely not. That, in turn, might cause someone to eat there thinking that it is Kosher because he saw them eating there, which would be a terrible sin. Obviously the real answer to the dilemma is to tell them that they should only eat from now on in restaurants that have Kashrus supervision. But if that is not a viable option then I think that it would be correct to tell him that he should not wear his Kippah when eating in non-Kosher eateries.

    What makes the situation even more delicate is that it is possible that when told he may decide that he doesn’t need to wear his Kippah at all and such a move would be a tragedy. Perhaps the best solution is to have someone who they look up to as a spiritual mentor speak with them and to explain to them what the problems are with eating in non-Kosher restaurants and explore with them the possible options.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team