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Keeping Kosher: Jewish Dietary Laws
Use the following websites to locate answers:
For those who keep kosher, observance of the dietary laws is both an opportunity for:
1. Obedience to God
2. Preserving the faith of Judaism
The importance of the laws of kashrut to the Jewish people has been demonstrated in
times of persecution, in which Jews have been forced to eat non-kosher foods (usually
pork) under penalty of death: many Jews chose to die rather than break kosher.
Kosher Terminology
The word "kosher", which literally means “GOOD” or ”PROPER” came to indicate an
item "FIR FOR USE.” Kashrut thus means "fitness" for ritual use. The Hebrew word for
non-kosher is trayf, or “TORN” (from the commandment not to eat meat that has been
"torn" by other animals).
How to Keep Kosher: The Laws of Kashrut
The following table summarizes the classification of foods under the laws of kashrut.
Kosher (permitted)
Trayf (forbidden)
Beef, sheep, goats, deer
Pork, camel, hare
Chicken, turkey, quail, geese
Eagle, hawk, vulture, birds of pray,
Salmon, tuna, carp, herring, cod
Shellfish, octopus, clams, swordfish,
Meat eaten separately from dairy
Meat eaten with dairy
Wine or grape juice made by
Jewish supervision
Wine or grape juice not made under
Jewish supervision
Soft cheese, Kosher hard cheese
Non-kosher hard cheese
These restrictions include the flesh, organs, milk and any by-products
Only animals that chew their cud and have cloven hooves are kosher. These prohibitions
derive from specific instructions in the Torah. These instructions were then interpreted,
expanded and modified by rabbis as Jews encountered new cultures and situations.
All fruits, vegetables and grains are PERMISSABLE (Gen. 1:29), with the exception of
grape products. Due to laws against eating or drinking anything offered to idols, and the
fact that WINE was often made for pagan offerings and celebrations, all WINE and
GRAPE juice that is not made under Jewish supervision is prohibited.
These animals must have no DISEASE or FLAWS IN THE ORGANS.
Kosher animals must be RITUALLY SLAUGHTERED in order to remain kosher (Deut.
12:21). The primary goal of ritual slaughter is to rid the animal of as much BLOOD as
possible, for ingesting blood is forbidden by the TORAH. Ritual slaughter involves cutting
the animal's throat with an extremely sharp knife with no nicks (this is regarded as the
most humane method of slaughter).
MEAT and DAIRY products may not be combined or eaten at the same meal. Although
the Torah merely prohibits boiling a goat in its mother's milk (Ex. 23:19; Ex. 34:26; Deut.
14:21), the Talmud interprets this as forbidding meat and dairy to be eaten together.
However, fish with dairy or eggs with dairy are permitted.
What constitutes a "separate meal"? Opinions differ a bit as to the details, but most
Jews wait between three to six hours after a meat meal before consuming dairy
The kashrut extends to non-food products. Utensils like pots, pans, sinks, dishwashers,
potholders and plates take on the status of the food they touch in the presence of heat.
For this reason, most kosher households have at least two sets of dishes, one for meat
and one for dairy.