"Traditional Judaism injects sanctification into the ordinary habits of everyday life.Keeping kosher helps us pause and think about what we eat, and how we eat it, and elevates the act of eating." What does it mean to keep kosher Many may be familiar with the basics: no bacon, no shrimp, no cheeseburgers. But the Jewish dietary laws go deeper than that, and How to Keep Kosher explores the ins and outs. Why are some foods deemed kosher while others are not Why can't you mix meat and dairy dishes How do you turn a nonkosher kitchen into a kosher one Do you really need multiple sets of everything -- dishes, pots, pans, and utensils How do you keep track of what's what Whether you are thinking about adopting a kosher lifestyle or already have a kosher home and just want tounderstand what it is all about, Lis Stern's How to Keep Kosher is essential reading. You will learn about the biblicaland historical origins of keeping kosher, the development of the kosher certification system, specific food preparation requirements for Shabbat, Passover, and otherholidays, and how to actually set up a kosher kitchen.
For some, keeping kosher is as simple as eschewing bacon and cheeseburgers. For others, keeping kosher is a complex series of rituals that may appear intimidating to the uninitiated. Whether readers are simply curious or are considering keeping kosher themselves, Stern's resource is a good place to start. The author, a conservative Jew who started keeping kosher as a young girl, provides a clear, concise summary of Jewish dietary restrictions. This isn't a simplistic overview, but a serious and impressively researched digest that tackles basic and complex issues, and examines the historical and legal reasoning behind the laws. Stern offers both Orthodox and conservative opinions on a range of issues, from what's considered an appropriate hechsher, or symbol, to how to make a kitchen kosher, and she discusses the laws of the Sabbath and various Jewish holidays, too. Of course, many of the topics Stern covers in a paragraph or two have inspired pages and pages of Talmudic discussion, some of which rabbinic authorities still argue about today, and as Stern herself isn't such an authority, she advises readers to address further questions to their own rabbis. Her recipes for traditional Jewish foods, such as Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls, as well as her suggestions for innovative kosher dishes like Enchilada Lasagna, nicely complete this enlightening book. Agent, Doe Coover. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 17, 2004
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Excerpt from How to Keep Kosher by Lise Stern
I have been keeping kosher since I was about nine years old. That's when my family made the switch, and I remember the elaborate changes that I objected to initially, changes that evolved into personally meaningful practices. As I was a child at the time I began keeping kosher, I just accepted the various laws of kashrut at face value, without questioning the source and reason -- this is just what we do. No pork, no meat with milk, only "kosher" meat -- meat that has been slaughtered according to the laws of shechita. Chicken, which many general cookbooks categorize separately from meat, is as fleishig as beef under Jewish dietary laws. Fish, however, is considered pareve, neither meat or dairy. Fish could be served before meat, but it couldn't be served with meat. And eggs, which come from chickens, are also pareve, and can be served with meat.
Yes, it is confusing, but I just filed away the rules and followed them. Later, however, I wanted to understand these dietary laws; I thought, it may be easier to understand the various laws of kashrut if I had a better sense of where they came from.
I wanted to understand why the laws are what they are -- not the philosophical or spiritual reasons, but the practical reasons. The why I was seeking was not really the logic or justification of kashrut, but the historical roots. I was curious about the sources for the laws of kashrut. What were the origins of the basic laws of kashrut (not to mention the wealth of detail) that we observe today? What exactly does it say to do in the Torah, the Talmud, the Shulchan Aruch, and other writings of Jewish sages over the millennia and beyond, and how did that all evolve into the way kashrut is observed today, in the twenty-first century?
Regardless of the whys, I appreciate kashrut as a way of sanctifying meals, but understanding the sources helps give a sense of the bigger picture, of how kashrut has been a part of Judaism since the time of the Torah. The biblical verses that set down the basic laws of kashrut provide a fascinating glimpse into our own history as a people. To think that we have maintained some observance in how we eat for thousands of years -- it is a kesher, a tie, a connection between our ancestors and us as Jews living and eating and working in the twenty-first century.