Keeping Kosher in Europe

December 31, 2019

EnglishIn the following article of mine, which was published in the recent Jewish Press’ Kosher Food Supplement (but so far not available on their site), I explore some challenges of keeping kosher in Europe. It’s easier than ever, but you still need to explore some issues. This is written primarily for a North American adience, but there is a lot in it for Europeans, too.

Keeping kosher in Europe

Twenty-three years ago, I undertook a fifteen hundred mile road trip with a couple of friends. The three of us were Europeans and for the first time, we undertook such a long road trip without packing food rations for an army; we were traveling in the United States. Even though our trip would take us places where there was no significant Jewish community we knew of, we could rest assured that any supermarket would be generously stocked with thousands of products supervised by the leading American kashrus agencies. When we were left wanting for deserts, we ended up adding OU certified baby foods to our shopping carts. The stuff is actually edible and can taste just fine. It‘s better than the sugar overloaded stuff that passes for adult desserts.

Back in our home countries, we would never do that unless we wanted to become frutarians. Yours truly has repeatedly gone on vacation with two weeks‘ supplies of vacuum packed meat, canned tuna, odorous, pungent, delectable cheeses, hoards of
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A Historic Pessach Kosher List from Very Dark Times

March 25, 2015

MouldyBreadEnglishAny and every Jew, even a great number who don’t usually have the good fortune to keep kosher, are now scrambling to purchase an assembly of mostly certified kosher-for-Passover products. But what do you do when this abundance is not available where you live? And more importantly, what were Jews of past generations to do, when food might be scarce, and their movements constrained?

Below is a historic document from one of the very darkest times of Jewish history, shedding some light on how they made efforts, even in the shadow of death, to keep Passover and celebrate whatever little freedom they still had, while praying to be redeemed once again from a valley of death. Read the rest of this entry »

Pourquoi les différentes listes de cacheroute diffèrent-elle les unes des autres?

October 8, 2013



20130203 - Kosher Day Strasbourg - avec Rabbin Folger

Kosher Day 2013 Strasbourg – le fichier audio

Février dernier, j’étais l’un des conférenciers invités à la Journée du cacher / Kosher Day 2013 à Strasbourg.

Le sujet de mon discours était: Pourquoi les différentes listes de cacheroute diffèrent-elle les unes des autres.

Aggrandissez ce post (cliquez ci-desous) pour écouter l’enregistrement audio ou pour lire les impressions de cette conversation publiées en suite en Echos-Unir.
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Cows moo-ve over: camel milk coming to Europe

July 8, 2010

Is Chalav Stam endangered?

The Talmud prohibited the consumption of unsupervised milk of gentile provenance, lest it contain an admixture of kosher and non kosher milk. However, as the codified halakhah also stretched the definition of supervision to include potential supervision (i.e. the Jewish supervisor sits behind a fence and if he would get up, he could see whether the non-Jew was milking a non-kosher animal, e.g. a camel or a mare), therefore, some authorities ruled that milk produced in a farms that have no none kosher animals to milk, is permissible.

Consequently, some Jewish communities have customarily allowed themselves to consume the milk on the general market, since non kosher animals are not customarily milked in Europe.

Now, however, that may be set to change. Reuters UK reports that:

European grocery shelves may soon be invaded by milk from that proverbial ship of the desert, the camel.

An animal famous for bad breath and ill humour might seem an unlikely source of liquid to lubricate a bowl of breakfast cereal or froth up a latte, but promoters from the United Arab Emirates say it is healthy — and almost like mother’s own.

The European Commission recently approved plans for screening camel milk, and will send an EU panel to inspect the UAE’s two dairy farms producing camel milk — Al Ain Dairy, with “Camelait,” and the Emirates Industry for Camel Milk and Products’ “Camelicious,” found in most UAE grocery stores. (hat tip: SBA)

Will the kosher consumer still be able to argue that milk on the general market is permissible? Read the rest of this entry »

But is it Still Pork?

December 10, 2009

The Talmud, Shabbat 30b, reports how Rabban Gamliel taught how in Messianic times, our daily material needs will be met without effort, and some of the pain and drudgery that is a hallmark of life, will disappear:

R. Gamaliel sat and expounded, the Land of Israel is destined to bring forth cakes and wool robes [from the trees and the fields–af], for it is said (Tehillim 72:16), There shall be an handful of grain in the land. יתיב רבן גמליאל וקא דריש עתידה ארץ ישראל שתוציא גלוסקאות וכלי מילת שנאמר (תהילים עב) יהי פסת בר בארץ

This statement didn’t earn Rabban Gamliel universal admiration. Indeed, the Talmud reports that one disciple reacted with derision and laughter, quoting from Kohelet: there will be nothing new under the sun. Not to be undercut, Rabban Gamliel replied by pointing out that these phenomena already exist and won’t represent any radical change in nature:

But a certain disciple scoffed at him, saying, but it is written, ‘there is no new thing under the sun!’ Come, and I will show you their equal in this world, replied he. He went forth and showed him morels and truffles [which resemble cakes–Soncino]; and for silk robes [he showed him] the bark of a young palm-shoot [which has a downy, silk-like substance on the inside–Soncino]. ליגלג עליו אותו תלמיד ואמר אין כל חדש תחת השמש אמר ליה בא ואראך דוגמתן בעולם הזה נפק אחוי ליה כמיהין ופטריות ואכלי מילת נברא בר קורא

Rabban Gamliel clearly envisages the material transformation of the world in the Messianic era not to be any major departure from the nature of nature today.

What if that day is slowly but surely arriving? Read the rest of this entry »

How Trustworthy is the Fish Monger or Fish Restaurant?

November 24, 2009

EnglishSome news articles that stimulate our consideration of halakhic standards.

Here is the case of …

Mysterious Sushi.

While livestock and fowl, which halakhically require she’hitah, need to be produced under strict kashrut supervision, fish is exempt from the requirement of ritually regulated slaughtering, and may be purchased without supervision. Nonetheless, purchasing fish from an unsupervised merchant is not worry free. Substitution by related species is quite common, even though sometimes a genus consists of both kosher (with scales) and non-kosher species (lacking scales). Thus, fillets should not be purchased from unsupervised stores, unless they are made into fillets in presence of the customer, so that the customer can identify the fish first, usually by seeing the skin with scales still attached (exception: salmon may reliably be identified by its peculiar pink flesh).

Nonetheless, many kosher customers are either not aware of the severity of matter, or consider substitution unlikely. So, the following report may come as a surprise: Read the rest of this entry »