This document is posted monthly to the rec.food.cuisine.jewish newsgroup.
This FAQ contains:
When Hillel, one of the revered Jewish sages, was challenged to teach the Torah while standing on one foot, he gave the famous reply: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: this is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Now, go and study."
It is in this spirit that the following material is presented. "On
one foot," the basics of the Jewish dietary laws are:
The rest is *complex* commentary.
The following is presented only as an informative outline of this
complex area of Jewish religious law. Because Judaism does not have a universal
authority for interpretation of Biblical commandments, the fine points
practice depend upon which school of thought one follows. Nothing in this information, therefore, should be taken as being authoritative. For serious advise, one should always consult one's own authority on the "halakha," the body of interpretation of Jewish religious law. [The "shorthand" for this is CYLAH; consult your local authority on "halakha."]
In the spirit of Hillel, we also ask that you "do unto others as
you would have them do unto you." Please treat other posters with
the same respect you expect for yourself. Bear in mind, please, that, along
with having Jewish posters who represent the entire spectrum of religious
practice, there also may be non-Jewish readers or posters who are
interested in the Jewish style of cooking or because the dietary laws are similar to those of their religion. We want everyone to feel equally comfortable and welcome.
This FAQ is fondly dedicated to the memory of Pat Gold, whose untimely death on October 7, 1996, is still felt by many who cared for her. Pat loved the creativity of cooking, and her interest in Jewish cuisine put her on a path to exploring her Jewish heritage. This FAQ is based on her concept and includes much from her research, writing and input. Those of us who cared for her can only hope the path on which she had embarked led her to peace.
The FAQ was written/compiled/edited by Pat Gold, Beth Greenfeld, and Ruth Heiges.
Valuable contributions were made by: Abe Leibowitz, Andrea Herrera, Debra Fran Baker, and Robert Sharp.
It cannot be over-emphasized that this FAQ in no way purports to be authoritative. Interpretations of the laws of kashruth can be made only by a competent rabbinic/halakhic authority.
Accordingly, and since they are intended only as a broad explanation of the Jewish dietary laws, changes and/or additions to the explanations will be made only if something is shown to be patently misleading.
Additions, such as useful toll-free phone numbers, catalogue/mail-order companies, and the like should be submitted to:
Wherever Jews have lived, from the ancient Middle East to the modern Americas, they have eaten the local foods. So what are Jewish foods? They are those local foods which are allowed by halakha and, in some cases, developed or adapted to meet Jewish needs. Jewish cuisine is not only East-European food. Every Jewish community -- Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Yemenite, Italian and others -- has met the requirements of Judaism in its own way and with its own cuisine.
Reasons, other than kashruth, for Jewish cuisine include:
1. Shabbat: Two Shabbat rules, in particular, have influenced the development of Jewish food. One is the prohibition against removing the unwanted parts of a mixture, such as the bones from fish. This resulted in the development of gefilte fish, which (at least in theory) has no bones.
Better known is the rule against putting things up to cook on Shabbat. Since stews, and other long cooking items may be put up before Shabbat, a range of such dishes was developed. The most well known of these is "cholent" (called "hamin" by Sephardic Jews).
2. Holidays: The effect of the Passover on Jewish food may ultimately have a FAQ of its own, but other holidays have had their effects as well.
Rosh Hashanah, with its emphasis on sweet things, has led to honey cake and "taigelech." A pun on the Yiddish word for carrots -- "mehren" -- which can also mean "to increase", has led to carrot tzimmes. Shavuot, characterized by dairy foods, has led to blintzes and cheesecakes.
What constitutes kosher food?
In determining whether a recipe you want to post is kosher, bear in mind the basic concepts of kosher food: no mixing of dairy and meat; no pork or pork products; no shell fish.
This also applies to food products containing such ingredients. For example, a food coloring made from a shell fish would be considered unkosher and would taint the food in which it might be used. Similarly, using, e.g., an animal fat together with dairy ingredients renders the product unkosher and taints even the implements used in making it.
If a recipe is not in keeping with these basic requirements, consider whether substitutions can be made to adjust it for "kashruth" (e.g., substituting margarine for butter in a meat recipe). If you are unsure of how to make such substitutions, post the recipe and ask for suggestions as how to do so. Please note clearly that the recipe is not fundamentally kosher.
The following provides further details as to which foods are acceptable.
Meat That Is Allowed
Beef Veal Venison Mutton Lamb
1. The animal from which the meat is taken must have been slaughtered in accordance with prescribed Jewish ritual.
2. All liver must be broiled before use in recipes, because of a prohibition against ingesting blood.
All meat must be kashered by (1) soaking and salting or by (2) sprinkling with salt and broiling. Liver may be kashered only by broiling.
Ashkenazim generally soak and salt all meat, while Sephardim omit this if the meat is to be broiled. Note that if the meat was not kashered within three days of slaughter, it should be kashered by broiling. For meat which has been frozen. [Consult your local authority on "halakha."]
3. Because the sciatic nerve and certain parts of the fat must be
removed in order to eat the meat of the hindquarters (this is a laborious
job and takes special training), filet mignon, rump and sirloin steaks,
leg of lamb, and London broil usually are not available in kosher form
in North America, though they may be in other parts of the world.
Meat That Is Not Allowed
Any animal which does not both chew its cud and have a split hoof, such as rabbit or hare, pig, horse, dog or cat.
POULTRY AND OTHER FOWL
The Torah names the bird species which are not kosher. Since we are not certain to which birds all of these ancient Hebrew names refer, only birds which traditionally have been eaten are allowed; primarily, domesticated fowl.
Please note that they are considered to be meat. They must
be slaughtered by a ritual slaughterer (shokhet), and the prohibition against
mixing dairy products with them applies, as for with other sources of meat.
Fowl That Is Allowed
Chicken Turkey Quail Cornish Hens Doves/Pigeon (Squab) Goose Duck Pheasant
Note: All liver must be broiled before use in recipes, because of a prohibition against ingesting blood.
Note: In the U.S., the only fowl which are kosher-slaughtered, commercially,
are chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese.
Fowl That Is Not Allowed
In most general terms, birds of prey are not allowed.
Fish That Is Allowed
Fish must have both fins and scales that are detachable from the
skin. All fish which have them are allowed.
Fish That Is Not Allowed
All shellfish (shrimp, lobster, clams, oysters, scallops, etc.) and crustaceans (crabs, crayfish/crawfish, etc.)
Scavengers/"Bottom-feeders" (such as catfish, monkfish), unless they have fins and scales.
Sturgeon (and, by extension, sturgeon caviar) and swordfish -- some Conservative opinion finds these acceptable. [Consult your local authority on "halakha."]
FRUITS, VEGETABLES AND GRAINS
All fruits, vegetables and grains are allowed.
Grape Products: Because of the sacramental dimension of wine in Judaism, a special body of laws governs grape products. Kashruth-observant Jews use only those grape products which have proper supervision. This applies to wine, grape juice, grape jelly, vinegar, and all soft drinks that use white grape juice as a sweetener. It does not apply to fresh grapes or raisins.
NOTE: All kosher Israeli wines are produced under conditions of Passover kashruth. They are, thus, all KLP (Kosher l'Pesach) year round.
Israeli posters should note that all local produce must be tithed before it may be used. This is generally done for produce sold in stores and markets, but should be done by the consumer for produce bought directly from the farm. [Consult your local authority on "halakha."]
SEPARATION OF DAIRY FROM MEAT
Meat and dairy ingredients must not be mixed together.
This prohibition against mixing dairy and meat also extends to the plates, cutlery, utensils and cooking vessels used in association with them, necessitating a full set of each in a kosher kitchen. In addition, many keep additional sets and equipment which are pareve (neutral).
Sephardic tradition considers glass dishes to be neutral. [Consult your local authority on "halakha."]
Although cheeses are dairy, some cheeses are not kosher if they are made with animal-origin rennet from a non-kosher animal.
The Conservative movement has a broader definition of kosher cheeses. [Consult your local authority on "halakha."]
PAREVE (neutral) Food
Fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits and grains may be eaten with either milk or meat dishes.
NOTE: Some communities do not permit fish and meat to be cooked together, and some do not permit fish and dairy to be cooked together. They may, however, be served at the same meal on separate dishes and with separate utensils. It is not the place of this FAQ to get into the details or reasons for these practices.
Pareve (neutral) cooking oils such as vegetable oils and shortenings may be used with both milk and meat dishes.
Flour, without dairy additives, is pareve.
Most insects and other "creepy crawlies" are prohibited. Snails are, therefore, unkosher, and certain food additives or colorings made from insects are unkosher.
One who keeps kosher also will exercise care in using products containing gelatin, which can be of animal origin.
"What do these words mean?"
A lot of Jewish/Yiddish or Hebrew terms (and their adaptations into English) are often used by posters. Here are some of the key ones.
Many Jewish/Yiddish or Hebrew terms (and their adaptations into English) are often used by posters. Here are some of the key terms.
Ashkenazic/Ashkenazim: Refers to the Jews whose origins were in Eastern Europe, particularly Czarist Russia, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany.
Blech: Metal; refers to a metal placed over the lit burners on a stove for use in warming or keeping foods warm during the Sabbath. Also known as a "platta."
Brakha or bracha: A blessing.
CYLAH: Consult your local authority on "halakha."
Fleishig or fleishedik: Meat.
Glatt: Means "smooth;" a particularly high standard of "kashruth." It can also be referred to as "mehadrin."
Halakhic authority: A rabbi or rabbinical authority (by an individual or a religious group) trusted for making decisions in religious matters.
Hekhsher: Indication on a food product that it has been processed under the supervision of a recognized Rabbinic authority.
Kashruth, Kashrut, Kashrus: The body of Jewish dietary laws.
Kashering or Koshering: These terms are used in reference to making utensils or a kitchen kosher. It also refers to the salting process used for meat (also known as "melikha)."
Kosher: In keeping with the Jewish dietary laws.
Kosher salt: Coarse salt used for koshering meat; i.e., drawing out the blood by soaking in salted cold water ("melikha"). Kosher salt can also be used in cooking.
Mehadrin: See glatt, above.
Melikha: From the Hebrew work for salt (melakh); the salting process for drawing blood from the meat.
Milkhig or milikhdig: Dairy.
Mitzvah: Commandments - things commanded by God to the Jews in the Torah. It has the colloquial meaning of "good deed."
Pareve: Describes food which is neutral -- neither dairy or meat -- and which consequently can be used with either.
Platta: Same as "blech." See above.
Sephardic/Sephardim: Refers to the descendants of those Jews who lived in the Middle East since the post-Second Temple exile and those expelled from Spain and Portugal by the Spanish Inquisition during the late 15th Century. Many of the latter settled in North Africa and other countries of the Mediterranean Basin, the Baltics, France, Holland and England; eventually, also in the Americas.
Shabbat or shabbos: The Jewish sabbath.
Shekhita: Ritual slaughter, a method which is particularly humane, preventing undue suffering to the animal.
Shokhet: A trained ritual slaughterer.
Simkha or simcha: A celebration or happy occasion.
Torah: The Bible.
Treif or taref: Not kosher.
Are there any Internet "kashruth" resources?
There is a great proliferation of Jewish resources, in general, on the Internet, including a lot of new ones on "kashruth." Rather than attempting to provide a comprehensive list, it is recommended that one do a search, using one of the popular search engines. The following are only a fraction of some of the helpful sites.
Steven Ross Weintraub maintains a website dealing with "kashruth" from a Conservative standpoint on his personal web page: Kashruth, Theory, Law & Practice by Steven Weintraub
KOF-K Kosher Supervision
Orthodox Union (OU) Mailing list: Orthodox Union Kashrut Alerts, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kosher Overseers Associates of America (Half Moon K)
Kitchen (Mimi Hiller) gives links to various sites (private and commercial)
which deal with kosher food and cooking, including many, if not all, of
the additional resources listed below.
The Usenet Newsgroup, soc.culture.jewish, maintains an extensive copyrighted FAQ (in 11 parts) dealing with myriad facets of Judaism. Part 4, Section 6, contains "Jewish Dietary Law and Kashrut."
Section 6. Jewish Dietary Law and Kashrut 6.1. What is Kosher? Doesn't a rabbi just bless the food 6.2. How can I learn about Kashrut? Is there a "Kosher" FAQ? 6.3. There are a wide variety of kosher symbols. How do I learn who's behind them? 6.4. I'm going to be in <XXX>. How do I find the kosher restaurants? 6.5. Do I need to have a kosher kitchen and kosher home to keep kosher? 6.6. Why do different groups wait different times? 6.7. Why are there different customs on Pesach (i.e., Kitniyos)? 6.8. I'm a vegetarian health-food proponent. Is kosher food healthier? 6.9. Is vegetarianism kosher?
The following separate FAQ related to Judaism is also published as part of the S.C.J. FAQ:
o Jewish Resources by Mail Order and Computer Steve Seidman <email@example.com> ---
The section on "kashruth" may be accessed as follows:
All portions of the FAQ and of the reading lists are archived on shamash.nysernet.org [184.108.40.206] and on rtfm.mit.edu, and are available for anonymous FTP; on shamash.org as follows:
If you are accessing the archives on rtfm.mit.edu, use this path
Mail: The files may also be obtained via Email by sending a message with the following line in the body of the message:
Where (portionname) is replaced by the appropriate subdirectory and filenames; for example, to get the first part of the reading list, one would say:
All-Kosher Index™ of the United Kashrut Authority
Asian American Kashrus Services - The largest kosher website
Asian American Kashrus Services - List of Symbols (Supervision)
Asian American Kashrus Services - All about kashruth
Rabbi Eidlitz - Author of "Is it Kosher"
Hekhsher Information -- Rabbi Eidlitz, Kosher Information Bureau
Israeli Cuisine and Wine -- a detailed exposition by Daniel Rogov, a leading food and wine writer in Israel
Jewish Communication Network
Jewish Vegan Lifestyle -- within the TORAH laws
Judaism and the Art of Eating
Kashrus.Org -- listing of kosher fish
Kashrut.Com - Kosher food information and product alerts
Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws -- the Judaism 101 FAQ
Kashrut Guide Index -- Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa
Kashrut FAQ -- "Judaism 101"
Kosher Overseers Associates of America (Half Moon K)
KOF-K Kosher Supervision
Kosherfest '98 -- USDA kosher
reports and other new product info
The Kosher Nexus -- electronic newsletter, an entertaining look at the latest in the world of Kashrut. To subscribe, send an e-mail with the body of the message reading: subscribe HAGAHELET
London Beth Din -- details of supervised products, suppliers, restaurants
Orthodox Union (OU) -- includes excellent primer on "kashruth" Mailing list: Orthodox Union Kashrut Alerts
Star K -- articles, recipes
"What Makes Wine Kosher?"
Archives of the rec.food.cuisine.jewish Newsgroup
"Baker Boulanger" -- Jewish holiday baking, plus other recipes
Chinese recipes, kosher
Gourmet Kosher Recipes
Jewish Communication Network - Jewish Food - articles and recipe links
Kedem Kosher Kitchen -- a few special recipes using wines
Kosher European Food - British company specializing in kosher meals to groups throughout Europe
Kosher Express - recipes (Subject: Mastercook III Archive)
Kosher Food & Recipes - The Mining Co.
MCIII Archive -- Israeli Cooking
Virtual Jerusalem's Living Kitchen
Commercial, Mail Order and/or Phone Numbers
American Gourmet -- kosher, sugar-free, fat-free and diabetic items 1-800-966-7263 or 1-800-966-SANDY
Arctic Pacific Fisheries, Inc. -- smoked fish
Auerbach's Cyber-Kosher Shopping Source
Brauner's Kosher Bakery - variety of products made from spelt flour
Chocolate Emporium - parve specialty chocolates & confections
Cleary's -- organic
maple syrup and products Toll-Free 1-800-461-8872 (Canada and U.S.)
Toll-Free Fax 1-800-843-5668
Delancey Dessert Company -- Gertel's Bakery products 1-800-254-5254
Donut Man, The -- 14-inch kosher donut
Egg Farm Dairy -- specialty dairy products and cheeses
Empire Kosher Products
Everett HealthCare, U.K. -- vegetarian and vegan food supplements
Excellent Kosher Baked Goods -- Brand's and others
Fairytale Brownies, Inc. 1-800-FAIRYTALE
Food for Thought -- kosher gift baskets
Golden Hill Kosher Gourmet Catalogue
Israel Book Shop -- labels for kosher kitchen 800-333-6700
Israel Direct -- food, wine, food gift baskets
The Jewish Mall - Mail-order foods
K-of-K Your kashrus questions answered at 201-837-0500, FAX: 201-837-0126.
Kosher Caterers -- US National Index
Kosher Express - recipes, articles, products
Kosher Grocer -- on-line shopping for home; hotel delivery for travelers
Kosher Mall - great variety of products, recipes, articles
Kosher Net -- restaurants, suppliers, online shopping, products
Kosher Nosh -- deli selection
Kosher Notions -- labeling systems and accessories for the kosher kitchen
Co. -- kosher-certified vitamins and supplements 1-800-951-9985
Kosher Supermarket -- online grocery shopping; international delivery, including to hotel rooms
KWOTI-Kosher Wines on the Internet -- Israeli, French, Italian, California, New York, sparkling
Manischewitz - products, electronic greeting cards
Mansoura Middle Eastern Bakery -- Sephardic pareve baked goods
Maramor Candy Co. -- kosher candies 800-843-7722
Mill Basin Kosher Deli and Fine Art Gallery
Mr. Bitts -- preservative-free baked goods
My Chocolates -- mehadrin pareve Belgian chocolates
Negev Home Foods -- Gourmet and traditional kosher foods, sent throughout continental United States via FedEx, including meals to vacation destinations. Call toll-free 1-800-834-NEGEV
New York Flying Pizzas -- courier delivery of pizzas and rugalech
The New York Smoked Fish Company (smoked fish certified kosher)
Old Jerusalem Trading Company
-- gift packages of foodstuffs
Old Santa Fe Company - Mail-order Mexican sauces and tortilla mixes: 800-662-4552
Rokeach -- Online Kosher Food Market; recipes; electronic greeting cards
Second Avenue Kosher Deli - Mail order [NOTE: Open on shabbat.]
Star-K: hekhsher information (410) 484-4110; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To Life Food and Herb
Company -- organic food, herbs, and vitamins
Kosher Restaurants and Travel
Jewish Web - guides to New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Miami
KosherLink(TM) - kosher-restaurant database for the New York City metropolitan area
Kosher Restaurant Database - searchable
Kosher restaurants in the US
TraveLinks -- for traveling kosher in the US
Les différentes communautés juives de France -- French Jewish community home page, incl. kosher restaurants in Paris
Local Eyes - tour guides;
searchable for kosher restaurants
The Food Industry, Kosher Foods and Modern Technology - An Essay
The Kosher Dietary Laws and Their Implementation in the Food Industry - An Essay
Kosher Living - An Essay
The Kosher Slaughterer - An Essay
"Safe Treyf" -- about the Jewish love affair with Chinese food from the "Brandeis Review," Summer, 1996.
Should a Modern Jew Keep Kosher - An Essay by Dennis Prager - Part 1
Should a Modern Jew Keep Kosher - An Essay by Dennis Prager - Part 2
Maintained by Ruth Heiges
Revised: 6 November 1998