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On ITV 1 this week there was a programme called 'Strictly Kosher' that featured various aspects of everyday life of a cross section of Jewish people living in Manchester. It included an insight to their beliefs on religion and filmed celebrations at a circumcision, a barmitzvah, a batmitzvah and a wedding ceremony. Joyfully presented with the key character portraying her ‘joie de vivre’ of her family focused her love of family life.
Today we use the term ‘strictly kosher’ in our daily language to mean above board, acceptable and lawful ~ however the true meaning of kosher is something quite different. It relates to what is permitted in the diets of observant Jewish people. The word itself means 'fit' or 'proper' in terms of food consumption.
The origins of the rules of Kashrut are found in the Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible. The reasons for these rules are not given. For thousands of years Jews have debated 'Why keep Kosher?' Possible explanations include health benefits, environmental considerations, to reach holiness through self-control, to practice religious ritual and to be separate from other groups. The debate is on-going the short answer I go with is because the Torah says so. For an observant Jew no further reason is needed.
There are three categories of Kosher Food.
MEAT: Only animals which have split hooves and chew the cud are permitted. Cows and sheep are fine – pigs, horses and rabbits are not, along with birds of prey. Kosher poultry includes chicken, turkey, geese and duck. Animals which can be consumed are ritually slaughtered and no blood can be eaten.
DAIRY: Dairy products from kosher animals are allowed. However these cannot be mixed with meat or poultry in the same recipe, at the same meal or even on the same dishes. Therefore, kosher households have two sets of everything to do with food preparation and delivery from pans and plates to tea towels and dish cloths.
PAREV: Foods with no meat or dairy content are parev. All eggs, fruits, grains and vegetables are parev and may be served with meat or milk meals. Fish which have fins and scales such as tuna, salmon, cod and herring are kosher. Shellfish are forbidden.
Processed food is a complex issue in the Jewish world. It is often hard to know the source of ingredients and how they have been manufactured. So Rabbinic authorities scrutinise products made for the Jewish and non-Jewish market and a system of certification exists to guide the shopper.
For more information or exciting Modern Jewish Recipes with style look onto www.jewishcookery.com