Reconsidering Kosher

While running errands Wednesday getting my car registered in Texas and getting a Texas driver’s license (getting fingerprinted no less, how Big Brother do you get?) I caught an interesting program on NPR’s All Things’ Considered.  In the aftermath of a kosher slaugherhouse being raided by immigration authorities, some rabbis are coming forward with thoughts on rethinking what it means to be kosher.

Is it enought to follow Torah prescriptions? Is Halakha enough? Is following ritual slaughter practice and eating the right foods and not mixing meat and milk and so forth the end of it? OR in the modern world does ethical religious eating require more of us? Do we need to eat food processed at a plant that obeys immigration law and provides health care to its employees and uses local organic ingredients?  Just how holy does our food and our eating have to be?

The program had my full attention because a ministers’ study group to which I belong discussed just these issues this past April.  In fact, we asked ourselves, “What would a UU kashrut look like?”  Is it enough to serve fair trade coffee at coffee hour or does our UU faith require more of us?

Listen to the NPR program here:

Support is growing in the Jewish community to change the standards for kosher certification — to include an ethical component. A group of conservative rabbis has drafted guidelines. The orthodox movement has resisted the idea, but may be open to independent certification on ethical issues.

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