Learn the basics of Judaism food restrictions as spelled out in the Jewish Dietary Laws. Also, learn if all Jews keep kosher by following these laws.
Followers of Judaism: Food Restrictions
The Jewish faith is based in ancient laws and traditions. One set of laws, the Jewish Dietary Laws, govern the diet of Jews. Judaism food restrictions based on these laws have been in place for more than 3000 years. The laws include instructions about which food can be eaten, how they must be prepared and even about certain foods not being paired together at one meal. The foods that meet the requirements of these laws are called kosher foods. Those who follow the laws are said to “keep kosher”.
Facts about Kosher Foods
The original Jewish Dietary Laws have been amended over the years with rabbinical extensions. Below are some of the instructions about kosher foods and keeping kosher.
- Only animals that have a split hoof and chew cud are allowed.
- No blood can remain in the meat when it is eaten.
- Animals that are allowed under Judaism food restrictions must be killed in a manner that adheres to Jewish law. This is typically performed by a Jewish butcher who has been carefully trained in how to properly slaughter the animals.
- If a product is made from grapes, it must have been made by a Jewish person in order to be considered kosher.
- Meat and dairy products cannot be eaten at the same meal.
- The animal or bird must have been healthy at the time of slaughter. Animals that die of a natural cause may not be eaten.
This is only a sample of what is written in Jewish dietary laws. There are even rules regarding the utensils.
It’s Not Just the Food
In addition to choosing the right foods, prepared in the correct manner, those who keep kosher must also take care with the utensils that they use. If a certain utensil was used to prepare meat, that utensil cannot be used to prepare dairy. Many Jewish households that keep kosher have separate utensils, bowls, plates and silverware for meat and dairy to rule out the possibility of breaking this Jewish dietary law.
Do All Jews Keep Kosher?
Seeing how involved a process it is to follow all of the Judaism food restrictions, a natural question would be do all Jews keep kosher? The answer is no. While many Jewish household maintain certain parts of the Jewish Dietary Laws, such as not eating shellfish, very few keep fully kosher. By some estimates, only 15% of Jewish households keep kosher. Most of these are the Orthodox Jews, who maintain the most rigid standards according to the laws.
Some modern Jews simply choose not to go to the extra expense and hassle of keeping kosher. Others feel that the Jewish Dietary Laws were only written as they were for health reasons based on the conditions that existed 3000 years ago. They feel such laws are no longer needed with all of the additional health standards that are in place.
Some Jews no longer keep kosher, but to those who do, following the Judaism food restrictions are an important part of their heritage and their faith.