Kosher – a brief description

Hechscher 5778 2017-2018

Jewish dietary laws

Jews, who are very observant in terms of food,follow the rules already outlined in Pentateuch. These rules were defined in more detail in later writings and are summed up under the term „kashrut“. The consumption of blood is strictly prohibited. This means that during the slaughtering process the animal‘s blood should extract completely. This is why the animal isritually slaughtered, which means that it is killed by a quick cut of the throat without preceding anaesthetic, as a preceding anesthetization inhibits the exsanguination.

Meat and fish

Land: In the kosher kitchen, only multigastric mammals with 4 legs and split hooves are permitted, which means neither meat frompigs nor horses, camels, rabbits or wild fowl. The meat from the cow, sheep, goat and chicken is only considered kosher, if a professional „Shochet“ (ritual butcher) cuts through their nerves, trachea, esophagus and jugular vein with one quick cut. Meat that is purchased at the kosher butcher hasto be watered, and salted and cleared ofthe last remaining traces of blood at home. Only then will it be considered kosher, which means suited for consumption. Deer is also considered kosher, provided that they are ritually slaughtered, but not shot.

Air: Birds – except birds of prey – are allowed to be eaten

Water: Fish must have scales and fins, or else they are not considered kosher – „trejfe“ – and therefore prohibited in the ritual sense. Not kosher are also turbot, catfish, shark, eel and sturgeon (therefore also caviar). Other animals that live in water, like crab, shrimp and other shellfish such as mussels are not considered edible.

The biblical commandment not to cook a kid in its mother’s milk

This already limits your menu considerably. In addition it is difficult to obtain. However,the by far most difficult organizational problem isthe strict separation of milk and meat, which complicates social contacts outside the orthodox community.

Supported by the biblical law, that you „shouldn’t cook a kid in the mother’s milk“, there is a strong prohibition ofthe use and consumption of milk and milk products with meat products at the same time. Therefore you have meat and milk dishes. If you consumed a meat dish you have to wait several hours until you are allowed to consume dairy foods. With dairy foods, which are digested faster and more easily, the waiting time is reduced, a half an hour is sufficient.

Milk and meat have tobe stored in in two separate refrigerators and must be prepared in different dishes. The dishes must be rinsed in different sinks and dishwashers. While travelling it can become so difficult to comply with the rules, that orthodox Jews rather take some gefilte fish with horseradish and red beets along with themfrom home.

Parve – neutral

There are obviously foods that are neither meat nor milk (e.g. fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits). Those foods are called ‘parve’, which means that they are neutral and can therefore be consumed with either milk or meat dishes. The etymology of the word „parve“ could not be clearly defined up until now.

The rule of strict separation between meat and milk also pertains to all kitchen equipment and kitchen tools such as pots, plates, cutlery etc. They must be kept separately.

This requires separate cupboards and separate dish washing. A ritual Jewish household basically requires all utensils in quadruple: for milk and meat and for milk and meat during Passover, where all leavened food must be omitted from the home. Therefore the dishes that are usually used can‘t stay in the kitchen and must be kept separate from the passover dishes (and removed and hidden during passover time)

And what does all this have to do with wine?

Alcohol in the form of wine or brandy has been consumed by Jews since biblical times. In order to comply with purity laws comparable to those applied in German beer brewing, a trained monitor supervises the vintner – and the Rabbi provides the wine with its purity stamp.

Koscher Food

Hechscher 5778 2017-2018 PDF