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Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What is "Kosher" Food?

Have you ever wondered what Kosher meat is or why some pickle jars have the words: Kosher Pickles printed on the label? Just what is Kosher?
Merriam-Webster dictionary -
1 a: sanctioned by Jewish law; especially : ritually fit for use like kosher meat.
b: selling or serving food ritually fit according to Jewish law, as a kosher restaurant.
2 being proper or acceptable, or satisfactory, as is the deal kosher?
It all has to do with Jewish dietary laws from the ancient text: Kashrut

The word is a Hebrew derivative of Kaf-Shin-Reish, which means fit, proper, or correct. Rabbis or religious officials do not bless food in order to make it kosher, as the urban legend goes. However, there are blessings that Jews observe and recite before food is eaten, just as Christians and Muslims do in certain tradition. 
Passover, watercolor-1855 by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
Myth Dispelled: Kosher dietary laws are observed all year, not just at the holy celebration of Pesach (Passover). It is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which this year begins at sundown on Monday April 14th, this year in 2014. 
History of Kosher [Lubicom Kosher]
1312 BC: After 300 years under the Egyptian rule, the prophet Moses and his brother Aaron lead tribesmen out of Egypt on a route toward the Dead Sea in Caanan, following the trade route that Moses previously took when running away from Egyptian authorities. The Jews wandered for 40 years. They sustained themselves with manna, according to the scriptures and Hebrew traditions.
1275 BC: Moses brought the Torah from God on Mount Sinai, whose rules were more than the Ten Commandments and included dietary restrictions that formed the basis of kosher food requirements. Among those rules was a ban against mixing meat and dairy products, like not boil a young goat's meat (kid) in its mother's milk. Kosher animals, those not forbidden for consumption, are animals that chew their own cud and have split hooves. Fish must have fins and scales, thus sharks, dolphins, seals, and whales are forbidden to eat. Fowl (birds) also have a list of detailed requirements.
Kosher is NOT a style of cooking – any food can be kosher if prepared according to Jewish law. There are Chinese restaurants in Philadelphia and New York that serves kosher food in respect for their orthodox Jewish customers.
Health was not the only reason why the dietary rules of Kosher was created, for example, there is no scientific reason why camel or rabbit meat is not healthy. It is simply because it is written in the Torah, and since it comes from God no reason is required.
Without getting into too much detail, here is the gist of what Kashrut entails:
  1. Certain animals may not be eaten at all. This restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs, and milk of forbidden animals.
  2. Of the animals that may be eaten, birds and mammals must be killed humanely in accordance with Jewish law; for example, the animal must not be killed in presence of other animals to be slaughtered for food and the animal must be calm and unsuspecting.
  3. All blood must be drained from meat and poultry or broiled out of it before eaten.
  4. Certain parts of animals permitted to eat cannot be consumed.
  5. Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for insects, for they cannot be eaten. [There are exceptions, as ancient custom of culinary preparations that include roasted locust (grasshopper)].
  6. The flesh of birds and animals cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. Some believe that fish cannot be eaten with meat.
  7. Utensils, including pots and pans, that have contact with meat may not be used with dairy or vice versa. Utensils that have come in contact with non-kosher food cannot be used. That applies only if contact occurred while food was hot.
  8. Grape products made by non-Jews is forbidden to eat.
Famous Kosher Oriental Restaurant, Rome-Italy
There are more rules but you get the picture.
At Jews News website, the difference between Kosher (Hebrew) and Halal (Islam) – difference between ritual slaughter practices of Jews and Muslims.
One of the main laws forbids eating blood, because life is in the blood.
Sources and References

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