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Soul Food

A widely-circulated article points to the growing popularity of kosher food among non-Jews in the United States. In Europe, meanwhile, the campaign for animal welfare has revived old charges of Jewish carnality, and a number of countries have gone so far as to ban kosher slaughtering.  

Relevant Links
For Some, Kosher Equals Pure  Kim Severson, New York Times. Many consumers are motivated by hygiene and morals, not religious scruple.
EU-Sponsored Group Accused of Defamation  Jonny Paul, Jerusalem Post. The UK Jewish community recently lodged a formal complaint against an anti-kashrut project funded by the European Union.
Why Kashrut?  Moses Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed. Among the 12th-century philosopher’s justifications are avoiding cruelty to animals,  eschewing the idolatrous practices of antiquity, and considerations of health—all in the space of a single chapter.
Eating Your Values  Dyonna Ginsburg, The Jew and the Carrot. Social-justice groups in Israel and the U.S. urge a “kashrut” seal for workplace safety and conformity with minimum-wage laws.
Locusts, Giraffes, and the Meaning of Kashrut  Meir Soloveichik, Azure. Sifting historical and contemporary explanations, an Orthodox intellectual settles in the end on divine love and Jewish difference.

Articulating both the meaning of kashrut and its many regulations has challenged Jewish thinkers, Maimonides among them, for millennia. Today, some Jews find in the tradition's dietary discipline an inspiration for a contemporary ethics of consumption. Others promote, alongside traditional strictures, a system of ethical certifications of kosher products. 

In the end, though, kashrut may be most about what it most seems to be: a biblically ordained and distinctively Jewish fellowship of the table in which family religious recipes set the tone even as all are welcome to join in.

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