Kosher Cuisine

  • Eating Kosher has become popular even for gentiles.
  • 41% of packaged food in America is marked Kosher.
  • The attraction of people to Kosher food is their desire to connect with God and the Bible.

Kosher is a designation connected to the Bible. Moses the prophet inspired by God placed in the Torah the laws of Kashrut.  An animal to be Kosher had to have two signs, which were split hooves and to chew its own cud. Fish needed to have fins and scales. Only the specific birds mentioned in the Torah are Kosher to eat.  Milk and Meat are forbidden to be cooked together. The Torah is the wisdom of God and the reason for the laws of Kosher are part of the divine wisdom.

Some certifications that the product is Kosher.

On the way home from my trip from America on Russian Airlines the stewardess was enjoying eating a Kosher Meal provided by them for their customers.  Kosher food is not only enjoyed by Jews today but also by gentiles.  In Kosher restaurants are not only Jews with Yamulka skull caps, but people from all sides of our society.

In America only 2-4% of the population is Jewish, so why is 41% of the country’s packaged foods marked Kosher.  Kosher foods meet the broad range of requirements of Jewish dietary laws. The laws define which animals are allowed to be eaten for example cows and chickens, and not pigs and shellfish. Meat needs to be slaughtered with special rituals in order to be Kosher. Milk and meat are forbidden to be mixed together for example a cheeseburger is not kosher.

To be certified kosher, food companies must work with certification bodies like OU the Orthodox Union of Rabbis which says that the majority of Kosher products have their seal of approval. The Kosher industry is estimated to be worth as much as 17 billion dollars. The popularity of Kosher foods seems to be growing. In 2009 it was only 27% of packaged foods when in 2014 the Kosher sign appeared on 41% of all packaged foods. New business for OU certifications grow by about 10% each year.

If less than 4% of Americans are Jewish, and not all Jews keep Kosher even less than half of all Jews, then who is buying all the kosher food. It seems the gentiles are sometimes more attracted to Kosher food products than Jews.  The word Kosher means Clean without any religious connotation. Some people gravitate toward Kosher foods for positive health and taste perceptions and cleanliness. There are many unknown reasons why the demand for Kosher is so big. For sure Kosher Candies are not always free from sugar. Also Kosher products are not always free from preservatives. There is something about Kosher which attracts the world’s eye connected to the Jewish people and the Bible. People recognize the Jewish people as the people of the Bible sometimes called the Chosen people. People need God and his help.  Through eating Kosher products even for gentiles people feel connected to the Lord.

Falafel an Israeli favorite.

The Lord sent Jonah on a mission to the city of Nineveh recorded in the Bible, the story of Jonah and the Whale. Israel was then divided into two parts Judah and Samaria. In Samaria the Jews were beginning to lose faith in God. The Assyrians were already penetrating the country with the intention of conquering the land. God sent Jonah to the city of Nineveh on a mission to bring the people of Nineveh who were not Jewish the message of the Bible with the hope that through arousing in them the interest in the Bible amongst the gentiles of Nineveh the Jews of Samaria would also regain their interest in observance of the commandments of the Torah. The mission of Jonah was so great that it scared him and initially he backed down and was swallowed up by a whale. God forgave him and he was able to complete his mission. Many Rabbis ask the question why Kosher food is sometimes more popular amongst gentiles. One of the campaigns of the Lubavitcher Rebbe was to bring Jews to eat Kosher.

Americans are snapping up kosher food products across the country prompted by health concerns and a belief that kosher meats and poultry are a safer choice amid fears of mad cow disease and bacterial contamination. Empire Poultry the largest kosher poultry producer rejects three times more chickens after inspection than the USDA does alone.

Not only Kosher food has become more popular throughout the world, also Israeli Cuisine.  People want to connect to the Land of Israel the land of the Bible. They feel that it has for them a blessing. There are various kosher certification signs which you may find on a package in a supermarket the OU is the most popular but there are special certification in different areas in America and throughout the world.

In Exodus 23:19-20, Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. Behold I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way.

Empire a famous name in poultry.

The Torah mentions the prohibition of cooking meat and milk together. Jews are not only forbidden to cook meat and milk together even to eat a cheese burger is forbidden. After mentioning about the prohibition of cooking meat and milk together in sentence 19, is mentioned “I will send you an angel to watch for you the way, and bring you into the land.”  The Zohar esoteric Judaism relates the connection of these two passages relating the help of an angel, to the eating and cooking meat and milk together. Meat and milk are two products of a Kosher animal like a cow.  Producing meat requires slaughter of the animal, cleaning its inwards, salting, removing forbidden fats, and in the times of the holy temple sacrifice of these forbidden parts on the altar. Milk is a product which comes from the cow without any pain even with pleasure.

The Zohar relates the contrast between the two products of the cow which come through pain and sacrifice and without pain but with pleasure as two approaches in spirituality. There is spirituality which concentrates on self-sacrifice and prayer.  There is spirituality whose goal is spiritual freedom and bliss. The Torah says to separate meat and milk; and not to mix the spirituality of self-sacrifice with the spirituality whose goal is spiritual freedom and bliss. The Jews were released from bondage in Egypt by the hand of Moses who is called in the Torah an angel. Judaism does not emphasize that their redemption came through Moses but that it was the hand of God. Moses is not called in Judaism their Messiah. The Jewish people experienced spiritual bliss at Mount Sinai but after the sin of the Golden Calf the way of spirituality of Judaism became the way of self-sacrifice.  They built in the wilderness a tabernacle for sacrifice and a temple for sacrifices in Jerusalem. Christianity and Hinduism emphasizes the salvations of the Messiah and spiritual freedom. The Hindus are vegetarian.  Islam follows the way of self-sacrifice as its highest achievement.

Even though these two ways of spirituality have come in the world through separate religions, Baha”i faith and Progressive Jewish Spirituality have united them together as a Universal faith.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.

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