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Thoroughly Modern Matzah Thoroughly Modern Matzah
Thursday, March 25, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

When Jews the world over sit down next week to mark the birth of Jewish history, matzah will figure prominently at the table. Matzah baking is an exacting task; according to traditional law, the entire process, from first kneading to exit from the oven, must be accomplished in 18 minutes flat, with not a speck of leaven in sight. For thousands of years, these specifications and others were laboriously met by hand. Yet this most ancient food has a modern history, too. The first matzah machine was invented in 1838 in France. With rabbinic approval, the technology moved steadily eastward.  The...
Wine Wine
Friday, February 26, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

On Purim, which falls on Sunday, Jews are commanded, among other things, to drink. While all manner of intoxicants will do, pride of place has always gone to wine, humanity's favored escape from consciousness since the dawn of recorded time. Wine, the Psalmist wrote (104:15), "gladdens the human heart." That's not all it does—which may be why the Hebrew Bible has ten different words for alcoholic beverages. Wine was offered in the Temple in worship, refrained from by priests and ascetic Nazirites. The rabbis accorded it a prominent role in ritual, not only at Purim and Passover but also on the...
Soul Food Soul Food
Monday, January 18, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

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.   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...
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Editors' Picks
The Titanic's Kosher Meal Marshall Weiss, JTA. The availability of kosher food on the Titanic sheds light on England's role as a transit point for Eastern European Jews on the way to America.
Why U? Helen Chernikoff, Jewish Week. As secular universities offer kosher food and religious students opt for more traditional—and cheaper—colleges, Yeshiva University risks losing not only its market share, but its raison d'etre.
Pareve or Starve David Errico-Nagar, Kol Hamevaser. While his predecessors praised vegetarianism as an ideal but not as a practice, Joseph B. Soloveitchik was fully in favor of Jews abstaining from meat.
The Lost Tribe of New Mexico Irene Wanner, Seattle Times. Straddling the border between Colorado and New Mexico, San Luis Valley is home to Hispano communities, where research shows that almost everyone is related by blood. Jewish blood.
Creaming the Competition Elli Fischer, Jerusalem Post. Ruling Haagen Dazs ice cream to be non-kosher, the Israeli chief rabbinate misconstrues Moshe Feinstein's position and once again demonstrates its contempt for Diaspora Judaism.
Bugged by Kashrut Jonah Lowenfeld, Jewish Journal. Whereas fifty years ago Jews rarely worried about bugs in vegetables, today there is a growing market for bug-free produce which is certified kosher. But stricter observance comes at a price.
A Stunning Discovery Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post. As Holland, among other countries in Europe, seeks to ban Jewish ritual slaughter, new research demonstrating that stunning animals does not minimize their suffering has come not a moment too soon.
Communal Table Stanley Ginsberg, Forward. What exactly are "Jewish baked goods"? The ones that come first to mind—bagels, rugelach, challah—can all be traced back to the Gentile European societies in which the Jews found themselves living at various times.
Kosher Food for Gentiles Andrew Adam Newman, New York Times. As mainstream brands increasingly pitch to consumers who keep kosher, Manischewitz is doing the opposite: creating kosher products you can serve for Easter dinner.
Something Rotten? Fred MacDowell, On the Main Line. A visitor to Denmark describes the local Jewish community's struggles over mixed seating, kosher butter, and carrying umbrellas on Shabbat. The year? 1909.