A Reader Writes: Would You Feed Your Child Tarfus?

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childDear Editor,

I recently saw a story that reminded me of a different incident, both of which I think would be of interest to Matzav.com readers. In the recent story, a young Hispanic babysitter at Lefferts Park in Crown Heights was seen sharing her non-kosher takeout food with a Jewish child in a mini stroller whom she was watching.

Tarfus! Metamtem es halev!

The babysitter either had no idea that the child was not to be eating treif or fed him treif on purpose. Can you imagine? And I am sure the parents have the strictest kashrus at home. Yet they leave their child with a non-Jewish babysitter who is feeding their child treife food.

The incident happened yesterday at around 1:30 p.m. The teachers of Bnos Menachem preschool in Crown Heights witnessed the young Hispanic babysitter at Lefferts Park sharing her the food with the Jewish child she was watching.

When she was approached, she hurriedly closed the container.

The young boy was 1 1/2 to 2 years old, with dirty blond hair, wearing a forest green sweater and brown pants. He was in a green city mini stroller. The woman left the park walking towards Lefferts between Troy and Schenectady.

In a different incident which I witnessed, a frum child being watched by a “nanny” was given non-kosher candy – candy that had animal gelatin and was purely treif. When I observed this and said something, the nanny could not understand what I was talking about. She got defensive and said that “the parents let” and she “loves the child and takes care of him like a mother and it is not my business.” Basically: Butt out.

What are we doing to our children? We cry and scream about their chinuch and about this and about that, and here are people allowing their children to be fed tarfus. Unbelievable, my friends. Unbelievable.

A Distrubed Matzav Reader 


  1. A religious man who understood Polish heard two Polish home workers
    “bragging” to each other about how they Triefed up their employers kitchen! WAKE UP everybody.

  2. Well, if tatty had a job, then mommy could stay home with the kids. problem solved.

    This problem is nothing new; it’s always a risk with a non-Jewish babysitter. I distinctly remember an incident, from when I was 5, during a playdate. The friend’s babysitter tried to feed us treif chicken for lunch (from her takeout) but we were old enough to know not to eat it; unfortunately, my friend’s baby sister was only 1 and there was no way for us to stop her from eating what she was being fed. The babysitter was fired because we told our parents what had happened, but it remains a cautionary tale. If you want to be 100% sure is for the mother to stay home and raise the children like she’s supposed to.

  3. I have seen a non jewish nanny feeding a four year old treif pizza. These types of incidents probably happen every day. If your children are being raised by goyim do not expect better.

  4. Important points, but inappropriate responses. People saw this child being given trief take out, and approached the sitter? You saw a nanny giving a child treif candy and approached the nanny? Can you explain to yourself why you did that? Did you think that the sitter and nanny had per chance exceptional yiras shomayim, and would resolve never to do such a thing again?!

    Let’s say nanny had told you, “Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize, thanks so much for helping me out here”. Do you really think that from now on, she would not do it again? Giving the child candy is as normal to her as you brushing your teeth. Why should she take anything you, a seemingly meddling stranger, more seriously than if a bespectacled gentleman approached her and asked that she not hold the carriage with her right hand? Her response to you was as normal as could be. If her response would have been abnormal, and she would have said oh thank you, she STILL would have continued her practice of offering her candy to the child.

    So, what should you or the teachers have done? You should have very discreetly followed her, even if it took hours out of your day, and gotten the address of the child. Then, you should have knocked on the door, introduced yourself to the mother, and tell the story.

    The teachers should have selected one representative to do the same, being careful not to antagonize the sitter or reveal that she is tailing her, and discovered the address of the frum child. One who cares will take action, regardless of the effort involved. The principal can take over the class for time needed, but no one can take over the job of the one who discovered a child being fed treif.

    Don’t write sad letters into Matzav; DO SOMETHING!

  5. I could say that I personally witnessed even Jewish Russian babysitters misunderstand kashrus. They were wonderful babysitters and babysitting for a lady whose husband was in kollel.
    After that, I was very wary of my own Russian sitter. Not because they didn’t care or not even for not being warned. They just were ignorant.
    It’s quite scary!

  6. What’s so surprising about this? For too many of us our Yiddishkeit is “a mile wide and an inch deep” (i.e. very shallow). For too many of us, that one has the “right” brand of stroller is more important than the neshama of the child being strolled therein.

  7. To wonder why #2,

    You made me laugh. Those who dislike Kolel will find any place to make a disparaging remark. At least it gives me some comedy during a busy day! 🙂

    If someone said they are upset about the prices of bananas going up, you would say if Kolel wouldn’t be taking strong potential banana delivery men away from good jobs in the banana industry, the prices of delivery would be lower and there would be no banana problem :).

    In Lakewood, one of the largest areas of Kolel families, it is an extreme rarity to have a non-Jewish babysitter. In fact, the few cases I know are not Kolel families…But sorry to get some facts in your way, I know it’s not convenient to your theme song… 🙂

  8. Let’s face it, the concept of kashrus is totally incomprehensible to non-Jews, and even to many uneducated Jews. I have many times been asked questions by non-Jewish co-workers about kashrus, and they really don’t get it. Some people even got mad at me because I declined to sample their home-baked goodies.

    It’s not that they’re being malicious – they just don’t understand. The babysitter probably just thought she wasn’t “depriving” the child by eating in front of it and not giving it any.

    The bottom line is just what Chazal say – generally speaking, you can’t trust anyone to keep a halacha they’re not obligated to keep themselves. This means that you don’t trust your babysitter – in most cases they really think they’re being kind-hearted. So get a Jewish babysitter. Better yet, as noted above, let the father get a job so the mother can stay home with the babies. How can a non-Jew teach children how to be Jewish? Pass up on the expensive chumras and go with the basic halacha, then maybe you can afford to let Mommie raise her own children.

  9. Its “nice” that the Comments assume this is being done out of ignorance
    by the baby sitters. Did it occur to
    anyone that it could also be done on purpose!

  10. to #7:
    You are 1000% correct! Who says these wives are kollel wives?
    I hate to say this but Crown Heights is not a kollel community in general. They were probably wealthy ladies who needed the break- if you want to knock someone!
    Many non kollel men work. And from all the ladies I know whose husbands are in kollel, my friends do not hire goyish babysitters. (I only know one friend who did and we were critical of her)
    I was only saying that one should be careful even with a Jewish nonfrum babysitter. It doesn’t mean the lady has to quit her job and her husband quit kollel but just to do things differently. I subsequently sent my kids out to a frum babysitter (with more inconvenience, of course!)

  11. oops I meant to say that many non kollel wives also work!
    Not all working women have husbands in kollel. And many non working wealthy ladies I know have goytas watching their kids- nothing at all to do with kollel!!!!
    Many doctor’s wives and wealthy businessmen have wives who don’t have to work yet they still hire ladies to give them a break.

  12. There is an Issur YiChud because Akum Chashud al RiTziCha besides kashrus issues of Busur Shenialem Min Ha’aYin and being MeTaruf KayLim

  13. Look, kollel is wonderful if you can afford to do it without the mother having to work; no amount of Torah learning is going to make up for mother not being home to pass it on. A Jewish woman belongs at home, period. And if the husband has a job, kal vechomer. If you want things to be done to your liking, then you need to do it yourself- and that includes raising your kids. Also goes for keeping your kitchen in order. I’ve hired cleaning help in the past, but I have NEVER let them near my kitchen- even without any malicious intent, there’s so much that can happen unless you plan on teaching them all of Yoreh Deah.

  14. to wonder why:
    You can say all you want about kollel, but that is not what the gedolim hold. The kollel system is built around the women supporting their husbands or having someone support them. Money does not come from nowhere but you have no right to say that women staying home is more important than kollel. It’s a wonderful system even with its limitations.
    Most people do not stay in kollel forever- they mostly just do it for the first few years of their marriages. And most do not hire ‘goytas’ either. A lot of times the husbands help out with the babysitting during their bein hasedorim, to limit the hours of babyitting.
    A man not going to kollel has its own set of problems, so nothing is perfect.
    But no one has the right to say that we should abolish kollel if a lady has to work- since that is how the system is set up.
    You are NOT the authority on kollel, sorry!

  15. It seems all the commentators here are ignorant of the Halacha (O”ch 343) that there is no obligation to stop a child below the age of Chinuch from eating non-kosher foods. Unless you construe that leaving a small child in the hands of a non-Jewish babysitter is equivalent to the parents actively feeding the child non-kosher, which is Assur. In any case, it is advisable to inform the parents of what the babysitter has done since she may be violating the parents’ instructions.

  16. That’s terrible about the home workers mentioned deliberately treifing a kitchen, but the struggle over babysitters is one that even gentile families have. I know of many vegetarians/vegans who catch babysitters, even family members, feeding children meat or dairy products when the parents are away. It’s also a struggle baal teshuvah families have with extended family who are less observant. Similar struggles happen in all families over TV/movies/videogames, with sitters allowing things that parents would not.

    On the other hand I know of gentiles who are very stringent about neighbourhood children who are Jewish or Muslim and will not give them food they aren’t permitted and warn them when other people offer them food they shouldn’t eat. With kashrut it can be more difficult, as it is more complex than halal, and there are so many levels people keep that it’s easy even for well intentioned people to make a mistake.

    Truly though, the only way to know for certain what your children are doing is to be the one there with them. And that is difficult for families that must have both parents working.

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