About Kosher Food
What is kosher food?
The word kosher in Hebrew means "fit" or "suitable." Kosher foods are those that conform to the dietary laws of the Jewish religion. Taken from the Bible, these laws describe lists of permitted and forbidden foods, humane methods of slaughtering animals, a prohibition against the eating of blood and a prohibition against mixing meat and milk.
Why can't we consume meat and dairy products at the same meal?
The Bible specifically forbids "seething a young goat in its mother's milk." The Talmud interprets this as a general prohibition against cooking meat and dairy products together and against eating such a mixture. Over the years various interpretations of the law have resulted in a complete separation of meat from dairy. If you look around the E. Café you will notice that everything from the utensils to the refrigerators and ovens are labeled meat, dairy, or pareve (meaning neutral).
What is the purpose of observing Jewish dietary laws?
Despite perceptions that kosher food is healthier or more natural, the purpose of keeping kosher is not medical, but spiritual. Following these dietary laws imposes the need for self-discipline, self-control and awareness of God's commandments. It is a path towards holiness.
What are some other guidelines for keeping kosher?
- Fish must have fins and scales. Examples include salmon, tuna and sardines but exclude other types of fish such as catfish and sharks which have smooth skin. Shellfish, scavengers and bottom-dwellers such as shrimp, lobster and oyster are also excluded.
- Meat animals must have a cloven, or split, hoof and chew their cud. Examples are cattle, sheep, goats and deer. Animals that don't meet these qualifications are horses, donkeys, camels and pigs.
- Most domestic fowl are kosher including turkeys, chickens, capons, ducks, geese and doves. Birds of prey are not kosher and the Bible lists twenty-four varieties including eagle, ostrich, vulture and hawk.
- Also prohibited are "winged, swarming things." In addition, all living things that crawl or creep on their belly, including rodents and lizards, are considered non-kosher.
- However, all fruits are vegetables are kosher and designated as pareve, or neutral in state being neither meat nor dairy.