Dietary Laws 11/18/2013
Role of Kosher food in contemporary Jewish life
Failing: stuff that happens in community, learn as we’re growing up. Reflect on what it means to
have these practices. As a social scientist/observer of community—keeping Shabbat connects
you to the community. Rituals/practices that build social cohesion. It’s hard to practice these
Roots in Hebrew bible, but are developed in the rabbinic tradition. At every time in Jewish life,
they’d had to find a way to keep Kosher. Difficulties:
Kosher meat would have been the most difficult (esp. beef).
Overview: Why does Food Matter?
Theological/Legal: god commands it
Spiritual: holy people
Making all the food eaten a religious/spiritual act: relationship with god is implicated
Ethical: fellow creatures
Mystical: prepare mouths to speak with god
Working together in community to share in all these responsibilities. Assisting each other to
participate in keeping Kosher
Keeping each other informed Cultural: identity defined by what, who, and how we eat with
Food so wrapped up in these communities that go back to the old country (Poland, Russia,
What it reminds us to be Jews in this world
Different standards of keeping Kosher: certifications
Rabbi has to be there often enough: all the rules having to do with keeping Kosher are being
Kosher: What is “fit”
Similar to how vegetarians react when they realize they’ve eaten meat
What we can and can’t eat
How food should be prepared
When some foods can’t be eaten (Passover)
Pareve: distinguishes between meat and milk—neither. Neutral.
Kosher 101: Quick FAQ
• If an animal cannot be eaten, its flesh, milk, and eggs are also forbidden
• If allowed: birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law
• Blood must be drained from meat and poultry or be broiled out of it before it’s eaten • Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten
• Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for bugs (which can’t be eaten)
• Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy
• Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (according to
some views, fish can’t be eaten with meat).
• Fish: scales and fins
• Utensils (including pots and pans and other cooking surfaces) that have come into contact
with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into
contact with nonkosher food may not be used with kosher food. This applies only where
the contact occurred while the food was hot.
• Grape products made by nonJews may not be eaten.
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