Rabbi Yoffie endorses flexitarianism, the “kashrut establishment”

(Crossposted to Mah Rabu.)

Last week in Toronto, the Union for Reform Judaism held its biennial convention, and as in past years, URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie delivered a sermon laying out goals and initiatives for the next two years.

The sermon began with a great shout-out to the Biennial’s host country:

We Americans, it needs to be said, do not know Canada as well as we should. [...] I have a question for the Americans sitting in this congregation: How many of you can name the last three Prime Ministers of Canada?

Well, we Americans need to do better. The Canadian political system is far from perfect, but remember this: it has well-regulated banks; tough gun control laws; legalized marriage for gays; and an excellent, publicly-run health service – all matters of importance to Reform Jews and worthy of emulation by the United States.

This American (who can name the last three Canadian prime ministers and knows all the words to “O Canada”) says hear hear! (However, I was surprised that this was the only mention of health care, an issue that was featured so prominently two years ago, given that this sermon was just a few hours before the House passed the health care bill.)

The major initiatives are about food and technology. David A.M. Wilensky has already weighed in on the technology part, so I’ll leave that alone for now. There’s a lot to say about food; I’ll just focus on two points.

First, kudos to Rabbi Yoffie for endorsing flexitarianism (though he didn’t use that word). “Flexitarian”, the American Dialect Society’s 2003 Word of the Year, refers to someone who isn’t fully vegetarian but eats mostly vegetarian. There are different reasons for not eating meat, and a flexitarian lifestyle makes sense under some of these but not others. If you’re vegetarian because of a categorical opposition to eating meat, then being flexitarian doesn’t make sense, since eating any amount of meat is wrong. But even if you’re not opposed in general to eating meat, there are solid reasons for eating less meat than the standard American diet, mostly based on the effects of meat consumption. And if two people cut their meat consumption in half, that has the same effect as one person becoming fully vegetarian.

Rabbi Yoffie lays out some of the reasons for meat reductionism:

My proposal is this: let’s make a Jewish decision to reduce significantly the amount of red meat that we eat.
[...]
[M]eat consumption in North America has doubled in the last fifty years, and we can easily make do with far less red meat than we currently eat. And contrary to what many think, Jews are not obligated to eat meat on Shabbat and holidays. The Talmud suggests that fish and garlic are the foods that we should serve to honor Shabbat (Shabbat 118b); it also instructs us to eat meat in modest quantities (Hullin 84a). Remember too that in biblical Israel, the common diet consisted of barley bread, vegetables, and fruit, along with milk products and honey. My point is this: for the first 2,500 years of our 3,000 year history, Jews consumed meat sparingly, and we can surely do the same.

And we must. The meat industry today generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change throughout the world. According to a U.N. report, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas than all transportation sources combined. And the preparation of beef meals requires about fifteen times the amount of fossil fuel energy than meat-free meals.
[...]
Professor Gidon Eshel of the Bard Center has suggested that the effect of reducing our collective meat consumption by twenty percent would be comparable to every American driving a Prius instead of a standard sedan. And this twenty percent reduction is something that every one of us – every Jew, every family, every synagogue – can do.
[...]
Perhaps we can begin by offering some Shabbat dinners and Passover Seders that will delight with their variety, creativity, and taste, and that will be a model for our members of healthy, festive, meat-free meals.

This is a way that non-vegetarians can make a real difference in our environmental impact and our use of resources. Vegetarian meals are already standard at public functions throughout much of independent progressive Jewish culture; this would be a welcome shift if the URJ brings it into mainstream Jewish institutions as well.

Unfortunately, Rabbi Yoffie’s sermon goes downhill after that:

What about kashrut? This is not about kashrut. There are many Reform Jews who find meaning in the observance of kashrut, wholly or in part, and we deeply respect their choice. But it is not a choice that the great majority of us want to make.

In fact, the rejection of kashrut was long a hallmark of North American Reform Judaism. Kauffman Kohler, an early leader of the Movement, proclaimed that “Judaism is a matter of conscience, not cuisine.” Ours is an ethically-based tradition, and Reform leaders saw no connection between the intricate rules of kashrut and ethical behavior. Sadly, for too much of the kashrut industry, this disconnect still exists; in recent years, kashrut authorities have failed in their duty to treat workers, immigrants, and animals with compassion and justice. For that reason, we applaud the Conservative movement for creating a new system of kosher certification that takes ethical factors into account.

Nonetheless, we – as a Movement – have put kashrut aside, and kashrut is not the issue for us. We do not accept the authority of the kashrut establishment, and its problems are for others to resolve.

What is he trying to accomplish here? Is this just a “No Ortho” disclaimer to preempt reactions along the lines of “I’m Reform, so you can’t tell me what not to eat”? Or is there something more to it?

The reason I find this problematic is, of course, framing. One could advocate for the exact same practices, but frame it differently, and the way Rabbi Yoffie framed it seems like a big missed opportunity.

He does note that ethical eating is about “what is proper and fit to eat”, a translation of “kashrut”:

But we do now realize that we need an approach of our own–our own definition of what is proper and fit to eat. Because our ethical commitments remain firm, and we understand – as we did not a century ago – that Jewish eating has a profoundly ethical dimension. We now know that God cares what we eat, and that eating can be an entrance to holiness. We now see that when we eat with mindfulness, even the humblest meal can become a sacred act.

But rather than framing this sacred eating as a form of kashrut (cf. the framing of “eco-kashrut” and the “Hekhsher Tzedek”), he frames it as “not kashrut”, with no connection to the dietary laws in the Torah and Talmud (which are part of the textual heritage of all Reform Jews, regardless of practice). He could instead have framed it as a modern application of those laws — not only in the general category of sacred eating, but in some of the specifics. For example, I see a strong connection between my kashrut observance and my meat reductionism, and find that one reinforces the other. Kashrut sharply limits what meat I can eat (I can’t just pick up a McDonald’s hamburger, or french fries for that matter), makes meat less accessible and more expensive (more accurately reflecting the true cost of meat consumption), and makes me think twice about eating meat even when I have kosher meat available to me (since it means no dairy concurrently or for a while afterwards). The original kashrut in Leviticus 17 restricted meat consumption even more, limiting it to sacrifices (until Deuteronomy came along and loosened the rules). (To have a brief “No Ortho” moment of my own, I find that these restrictions on meat, which I think of as being at the center of kashrut, lose some of their power if everything, even vegetables, can be considered “not kosher” based on where it was cooked or whether it’s broccoli. But that’s not an important point.) So when Rabbi Yoffie cites texts supporting meat reductionism, it’s strange that he doesn’t include the Torah’s most obvious example of a structure limiting meat consumption. This structure can be an inspiration for modern efforts at meat reductionism, whether or not those modern efforts incorporate specifics of that classical structure.

Rather than framing kashrut as something that has multiple approaches (which might include vegetarianism, eco-kashrut, the inaccurately named “Biblical kashrut”, etc.), Rabbi Yoffie says “There are many Reform Jews who find meaning in the observance of kashrut, wholly or in part”, suggesting (again) that there is a well-defined external definition of “wholly” observing kashrut, and that other kashrut practices are merely “in part”, and everyone’s kashrut practice is on a linear spectrum from 0 to 100.

Of course I agree with his condemnation of Agriprocessors et al., but when he (as the leader of the largest Jewish denomination in North America) implicitly equates kashrut with “the kashrut establishment” (see the parallelism in “…kashrut is not the issue for us. We do not accept the authority of the kashrut establishment…”), he also grants power to that establishment and in a sense does accept its authority, in the sense that he does not challenge the connection between kashrut and that establishment.

Also, the frame of “rejection of kashrut” is strange in the 21st century. As Rabbi Yoffie notes, the majority of Reform Jews don’t keep kosher. This means that the majority of Reform Jews in this generation (unlike in Kaufmann Kohler’s generation) can’t “reject” kashrut, since they didn’t have it in the first place. See this post and this post for more discussion of this point.

Oddly enough, if Reform congregations follow Rabbi Yoffie’s recommendations and hold more vegetarian events, they’ll actually be more accessible to people with various kashrut practices, though this is apparently just incidental.

36 Responses to “Rabbi Yoffie endorses flexitarianism, the “kashrut establishment””

  1. Word. I figured if I got the technology stuff, you’d snap up his foody stuff.


    David A.M. Wilensky · November 10th, 2009 at 3:35 pm
  2. bz – why would he frame this as Kosher at all? For Reform Jews, Jews who find connection through the establishment of the URJ, local congregations, Camps, et al, they don’t keep kosher but are tied to the ethical commandments. Your framing may work for you but in turn really doesn’t do much for a vast majority of Reform or other Liberal Jews.

    I believe that this initiative (which I have written about a bunch on RJ.org and my blog) is very important to promote through an ethical understanding of the world. It is less important in my mind to connect this issue to Torah, Talmudic or any-other Kosher legal structure.

    When dismissing the structure of Rabbi Yoffie’s speech (who seems to get a ton of air time of Jewschool) you are dismissing a vast majority of active Reform Jews and the way they engage with tradition. To reach the wider group, not just those of us how feed off our RSS of important blogs like Jewschool, we must address people in a way that speaks to them as Jews. If a committed Classical Reform Jew, who never would in a million years stop his consumption of bacon heard that his leader was advocating for some sort of Kosher frame work, then we would lose that person. If he heard the rabbi pushing for ethical eating based on environmental, economic and emotional concerns, we may be able to push him to a higher level of participation in the Jewish world.


    dcc · November 10th, 2009 at 4:39 pm
  3. A very interesting speech by Yoffie. By changing perhaps ten words at most it could have been given by an Orthodox rabbi. His deliberate separating the issue from kashrut was correct. Kashrut is only one set of criterion that food must pass in order to be acceptable for consumption. Ethical considerations, tithes and other halachic issues such as kodshim are also necessary criteria, but they aren’t kashrut.

    Also exciting is that the URJ is partnering with Hazon to bring Hazon’s food education curricula, and Community Supported Agriculture programs to their congregations.


    Daniel · November 10th, 2009 at 4:40 pm
  4. dcc – If the goal is just to “reach the wider group,” doesn’t that lead to exactly the same problem we encounter when facing the ‘Frumest Common Denominator’? Yes, the Movement needs to reach people where they are as Jews, but it also needs to take them somewhere else. Otherwise there’s no movement. To do otherwise would mean always being reductionist in philosophy and theology.

    Interestingly, I think if Yoffie had framed ethical eating as part of Kashrut – as bz suggests – it very well could have reached a wider group. It would be interesting to see some data on what people would have preferred. Survey, anyone?

    I’m not convinced that the bacon-eating “committed Classical Reform Jew” would be “lost” if RJ began advocating its own style of Kashrut. If a Reform paradigm of kashrut were to be focused on ethics of production rather than on dietary restrictions, and still explicitly called kashrut, this Classical Reform Jew could very well find a new religious identity, and be pushed to the “higher level of participation” that you (and I, as well) advocate for!

    Ultimately, what surprised me most of all is that when Rabbi Yoffie states that “we need… our own definition of what is proper and fit to eat,” he is basically calling for a Reform definition of Kashrut. Why not call a spade a spade?

    In any event, I’m with bz on this one – it’s more about framing than content, and the content is solid. There’s a voice in all three of the major North American Movements calling for ethics in food production and consumption. About time.


    JEP · November 10th, 2009 at 6:16 pm
  5. If a committed Classical Reform Jew, who never would in a million years stop his consumption of bacon heard that his leader was advocating for some sort of Kosher frame work, then we would lose that person. If he heard the rabbi pushing for ethical eating based on environmental, economic and emotional concerns, we may be able to push him to a higher level of participation in the Jewish world.

    Then why not split the difference and leave out kashrut entirely (cf. Numbers 23:25), rather than say “This is not about kashrut”?


    BZ · November 10th, 2009 at 6:29 pm
  6. Well said BZ. It’s amazing to me how folks continue to produce good ideas and put them in such poor frames. The URJ should hire you to vet their speaches. It’s a shame you don’t know anyone involved …

    :-)


    Chorus of Apes · November 10th, 2009 at 10:45 pm
  7. This goes back to our old discussion on my blog, BZ. You have ideas, some of them good and all of them creative, but you don’t have a constituency. Do you know that the majority of Reform Jews (yes! Reform Judaism exists outside of NY, DC, LA, Boston!) hate kashrut? They HATE it. If you mention kashrut in the same paragraph as ethical eating, all they will hear is “blah blah blah blah, kashrut, blah, blah, blah, blah,” and they will totally tune out? Did it ever occur to you that there is more than one way to frame things, and that Rabbi Yoffie was doing his own kind of framing? By framing ethical eating as “not kashrut,” Rabbi Yoffie was trying to get people to actually do it, i.e. live a more flexitarian lifestyle. I’m a big fan of actual results and persuasion and knowing your audience–that sounds like framing to me.


    Katrina · November 11th, 2009 at 11:19 am
  8. Katrina writes:
    Do you know that the majority of Reform Jews (yes! Reform Judaism exists outside of NY, DC, LA, Boston!) hate kashrut? They HATE it.

    I grew up Reform in Illinois (and in a kosher home), so please don’t condescend.

    But suppose that this is true of the majority of Reform Jews. Let’s say you’re arguing for a particular local issue and talking to an audience that HATES black people. If you say “Don’t worry, building this subway line doesn’t mean that black people are going to move into your neighborhood”, then yes, it might help get them onto your side, but is playing explicitly to their prejudices the honorable way to go?


    BZ · November 11th, 2009 at 12:21 pm
  9. And again, why not just not mention kashrut at all, rather than asking the audience, in effect, not to think of an elephant?


    BZ · November 11th, 2009 at 12:40 pm
  10. BZ – As I was listening to Rabbi Yoffie’s sermon in Toronto, I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t believe he isn’t going to mention kashrut!” He didn’t mention the k-word until the very end of that first section of the sermon and its absence was notable. I don’t think he could have gotten away without saying anything about it.
    That being said – loved your post. I completely agree with you about framing the flexitarianism as kashrut.


    BRabbs · November 11th, 2009 at 7:41 pm
  11. JEP – I refer you to a less harsh version of Katrina’s comment. This blogger is right. Most active Reform Jews don’t keep kosher and won’t. I don’t know if Rabbi Yoffie “keeps” kosher but I sure don’t and I would be pissed if he started to support it. Because in the end to “keep” kosher you either have to kill your own chicken or rely on a morally deficient system and fund a group of people who do not accept you as practicing Jews. Ach anyway…different strokes for different folks.

    BZ – your subway bringing blacks to your neighborhood comment was out of line and I think you know that. Kosher does not speak to a vast majority Reform communities, regarless of location, for the reasons I outlined above. It has no meaning to so many people who keep it let alone the Reform Movement that does not. Finding no meaning in a frame work and choosing not to use it because there is no meaning within its confines is different than systematic discrimination based on race or religion. So your subway reference and I suppose Kosher wine production should be left out of this comment stream.


    dcc · November 12th, 2009 at 10:13 am
  12. dcc writes:
    Because in the end to “keep” kosher you either have to kill your own chicken or rely on a morally deficient system and fund a group of people who do not accept you as practicing Jews.

    …or not eat chicken at all.

    As I wrote in a comment on the Mah Rabu thread:
    It seems strange to me that kashrut (i.e. refraining from 99%+ of available meat) is framed as being on the “right” while vegetarianism (i.e. refraining from 100% of meat) is framed as being on the “left”, when in practice, a non-vegetarian kosher diet is actually a middle ground between an unrestricted omnivorous diet and a fully vegetarian diet.

    Finding no meaning in a frame work and choosing not to use it because there is no meaning within its confines is different than systematic discrimination based on race or religion.

    Finding no meaning in a framework and choosing not to use it is also different from “HATE”, which is what Katrina wrote and what I was responding to. And my comment wasn’t about systematic discrimination, but about individual prejudice.

    Also, you imply that “there is no meaning within its confines” is axiomatic and can’t be challenged by the introduction of new ideas. But Rabbi Yoffie’s remarks, up until the “This is not about kashrut” disclaimer, would be consistent with the proposition that perhaps there is meaning in kashrut, viz. the value of reducing meat consumption. Rational people shouldn’t have difficulty weighing these values against the other competing values you bring up and coming to a conclusion on their own; the categorical disclaimer only seems necessary for people with irrational visceral responses (such as those that Katrina mentions, to which I was responding; these people may or may not be straw men).


    BZ · November 12th, 2009 at 10:34 am
  13. dcc writes [Kashrut] has no meaning to so many people who keep it let alone the Reform Movement that does not.

    Where is your data on those who keep kosher but find no meaning in it? Or is this the “I have some friends who say…” sort of argument? Because it weakens yours.


    dlevy · November 12th, 2009 at 12:04 pm
  14. dcc writes:
    Because in the end to “keep” kosher you either have to kill your own chicken or rely on a morally deficient system and fund a group of people who do not accept you as practicing Jews.

    Or, aside from the vegetarian option, there is another way: set up an alternative kosher meat industry. This isn’t something that you or I could do on our own, but the Reform movement collectively could if it wanted to (especially if collaborating with the Conservative and Reconstructionist movements).

    This connects to another framing issue that I hinted at but didn’t fully articulate in the main post: The Reform movement (via its leadership) in North America (unlike in Israel) shouldn’t be talking about itself as if it is a powerless minority, when it is actually a plurality. Doing this reifies and reinforces powerlessness. (As Jon Stewart said at the end of this brilliant clip: “Truth to power? You’re the White House! YOU’RE the power!”)

    If everyone in the Reform movement decided that they wanted to keep kosher except that they didn’t want to be vegetarian and didn’t want to support the unethical kosher meat industry, then they would have enough purchasing power to support a huge new kosher meat industry that would dwarf the existing one. If they have other reasons for not being interested in such a project, that’s fine, but let’s be honest about that, rather than equating kashrut with the “kashrut establishment” and suggesting that that status quo is inevitable (as Rabbi Yoffie did).

    The existence of an Orthodox monopoly on kosher meat isn’t inevitable; it’s a choice that the (much larger) liberal movements have made. (This choice is even more problematic in the case of the Conservative movement, which holds unequivocally that kashrut is binding. Even the new Hekhsher Tzedek requires that participating products also have conventional kashrut certification, but the Conservative movement does not provide such certification. This can be compared to a Baucus-style individual mandate without a public option, where the Orthodox kashrut industry is the health insurance industry.)

    (One reason there hasn’t been much of a push for a liberal Jewish kosher meat industry may be because many of the people who would be interested (myself included) are vegetarian or flexitarian anyway.)


    BZ · November 12th, 2009 at 12:43 pm
  15. dlevy- I don’t have data. Fair point. But I do know that a vast majority (close to 80% at last count) of Reform Jews don’t keep Kosher.

    bz- As always you bring up good points with which I disagree. I don’t believe it is imperative for Reform or Liberal Jews to create an alternative Kosher establishment to eat ethically and act as Reform Jews. I refer you to Rabbi Yoffie’s statements on eating grapes.

    And BZ the “most people” you mention aren’t members Reform congregations anyway. Not that Rabbi Yoffie should dismiss you (and I disagree with his statements that do) but he isn’t talking to those who aren’t members of Reform congregations when he takes the to the bima as the leader of the Congregational Arm of the Reform Movement.


    dcc · November 12th, 2009 at 3:38 pm
  16. The existence of an Orthodox monopoly on kosher meat isn’t inevitable; it’s a choice that the (much larger) liberal movements have made.
    Neither is the near Orthodox monopoly on soferim and mohalim and Jewish bookstores, mikvaot, and airport shuls.
    Also, it would be nice to break Chabad’s monopoly on being nice to people abroad.


    Amit · November 12th, 2009 at 3:58 pm
  17. FYI: jcarrot.org/wheres-the-beef-not-in-the-urjs-new-ethical-eating-initiative

    Check the first graph…someone seems to be framing this within the Reform Kosher mindset.


    dcc · November 12th, 2009 at 4:14 pm
  18. dcc writes:
    I don’t believe it is imperative for Reform or Liberal Jews to create an alternative Kosher establishment to eat ethically and act as Reform Jews. I refer you to Rabbi Yoffie’s statements on eating grapes.
    What BZ is saying is that Reform/Liberal Jews are not “alternative” to anything. They’re the vast majority. It’s the ORthodox who are “alternative”.


    Amit · November 12th, 2009 at 4:34 pm
  19. Also perhpas of interest:
    blogs.rj.org/reform/2009/11/president-yoffies-shabbat-serm.html#comment-192392

    (BTW: I don’t work for the URJ (anymore))


    dcc · November 12th, 2009 at 5:30 pm
  20. Amit writes:
    Neither is the near Orthodox monopoly on soferim and mohalim and Jewish bookstores, mikvaot, and airport shuls.
    Also, it would be nice to break Chabad’s monopoly on being nice to people abroad.

    True on most counts, but there is now a large number of Reform mohalim.

    (Are there any airport shuls outside Natbag?)


    BZ · November 12th, 2009 at 5:43 pm
  21. but there is now a large number of Reform mohalim.

    This century, the Reform have been useless in accommodating those of us who see no reason to slice up our boys’ genitals.

    At some point, either Reconstructionists or the Reform will either make accommodation, or a new denomination will be established.

    The Intactivist Jewish community will become too big to ignore forever.


    DK · November 12th, 2009 at 5:52 pm
  22. dcc writes:
    dlevy- I don’t have data. Fair point. But I do know that a vast majority (close to 80% at last count) of Reform Jews don’t keep Kosher.

    But keeping kosher isn’t just a binary thing, particularly among Reform Jews.

    This recent JTA article says:
    “A 2007 movement survey of 14,000 Reform activists and clergy revealed that 58 percent of those older than 40 brought shellfish into their homes, compared to 39 percent of the younger crowd. Forty-three percent of the older group ate pork at home, compared to 29 percent of those 39 and younger; and 16 percent of younger Reform Jews ate only kosher-certified meat, compared to 9 percent of their elders.” (And I wonder whether the latter group is defined to include or exclude vegetarians, who certainly keep kosher by that standard.)

    I don’t believe it is imperative for Reform or Liberal Jews to create an alternative Kosher establishment to eat ethically and act as Reform Jews.

    I didn’t say it was imperative; I just said it was an option, so that the Rubashkin’s boogeyman is not in itself a reason (collectively) not to keep kosher. (There may be other reasons, or a reason may not be necessary.)


    BZ · November 12th, 2009 at 5:55 pm
  23. DK writes:
    This century, the Reform have been useless in accommodating those of us who see no reason to slice up our boys’ genitals.

    Finding a non-Orthodox mohel may have been difficult a few decades ago, but it’s always been easy to not find a mohel.


    BZ · November 12th, 2009 at 5:59 pm
  24. I think what DK is saying is that the movements who claim to respect the choice of foregoing circumcision as a valid Jewish choice haven’t provided resources for other means of welcoming male Jewish babies into the covenant. I know there are some resources on the internet, but I’m not sure there’s much if any put out by official movement bodies.


    dlevy · November 12th, 2009 at 6:20 pm
  25. Why would welcoming male Jewish babies into the covenant (without circumcision) be different from welcoming female Jewish babies into the covenant?


    BZ · November 12th, 2009 at 7:52 pm
  26. Does the Reform movement accept foregoing circumcision as a valid choice?


    em · November 12th, 2009 at 8:24 pm
  27. I don’t have the sources on hand, but there was a time I found myself dating someone who claimed to have had a Reform conversion without circumcision, so I did the research and found that it was, in fact, an accepted practice. Looking at some sources now, it looks like the Reform movement is less lenient about infant circumcision, unless I’m missing something. Here’s an example of a Reform Responsum from 1982 on the matter.


    dlevy · November 12th, 2009 at 9:14 pm
  28. Geez. That responsum begins “During the last thirty or forty years most American children have been routinely circumcised in the hospital after birth.” That can’t possibly be true! Most American male children, maybe.


    BZ · November 12th, 2009 at 9:45 pm
  29. I had never been under the impression the Reform movement thought infant circumcision was optional. There are alternative ceremonies and rabbis who will do them, but I didn’t think it was remotely mainstream.

    It’s kind of funny you brought up circumcision and conversion. Several years ago my husband was told by a rabbi (a Reform one) that adult male converts who were circumcised as infants needed to undergo a symbolic circumcision, a small cut or pinprick or something to draw blood. I think it had the effect of putting conversion out of his mind for a long time. Then just last week, he said he’d been doing some research on the Internet and that the Reform and Reconstructionist movements don’t require the symbolic circumcision for adult converts, but I thought it was just men who already were circumcised who were let off the hook.


    em · November 13th, 2009 at 1:52 am
  30. You’ll certainly get looks in a non-Reform mikvah without a circumcision. Oh wait, all mikvot are non-Reform. At that point, it’s basically just up to you and your (future, potential) partner.


    ML · November 14th, 2009 at 8:54 pm
  31. em-
    the ceremony is called hatafat dam brit, and according to most non-Reform interpretations is required even in the case of a Jewish male was not circumcised on or after the 8th day. also, so i’ve been told, is less painful than a TB test.


    Justin · November 14th, 2009 at 9:50 pm
  32. @ML–

    There are some Reform mikvot…I know that Shir Ami in PA has one…


    Ruth B · November 15th, 2009 at 3:01 am
  33. BZ writes: Are there any airport shuls outside Natbag
    I know that JFK has one. With a rabbi.


    Amit · November 15th, 2009 at 7:15 am
  34. ML -

    Mayyim Hayyim in Newton, Mass., is “for the full diversity of our people” (from their website).


    cantorpenny · November 15th, 2009 at 5:06 pm
  35. “The original kashrut in Leviticus 17 restricted meat consumption even more, limiting it to sacrifices (until Deuteronomy came along and loosened the rules).”

    Huh…? I actually went and read Leviticus 17 and can’t figure out what you mean. The only restriction about meat in Leviticus 17 is that sacrifices can only be brought inside the Temple/Tabernacle complex, next to the altar, and not in other locations.

    As for meat consumption the only restrictions are the prohibition on consuming blood or consuming injured or already deceased animals. But there’s not even an implied prohibition on eating meat.

    To the contrary the Leviticus 17 text states explicitly that when one goes out to trap/hunt animals in the field for food, the blood must be evacuated and covered with dirt before eating the meat.

    Anyway the original discussions of kashrut in Leviticus come in chapter 11, in which the Torah outlines which animals may be eaten and which may not. There’s no restriction placed on the general consumption of meat within those guidelines.


    Eric · November 17th, 2009 at 2:24 pm
  36. Eric writes:
    Huh…? I actually went and read Leviticus 17 and can’t figure out what you mean. The only restriction about meat in Leviticus 17 is that sacrifices can only be brought inside the Temple/Tabernacle complex, next to the altar, and not in other locations.

    See verses 3-4. The plain-sense meaning is that meat (of species fit for sacrifices) is forbidden unless it is in the context of a sacrifice. (Of course, the rabbinic interpretation, informed by the later text from Deuteronomy, is that these verses refer only to sacrifices outside the designated location, not general slaughtering.)

    To the contrary the Leviticus 17 text states explicitly that when one goes out to trap/hunt animals in the field for food, the blood must be evacuated and covered with dirt before eating the meat.

    That’s talking about chayah (wild mammal species) and of (birds), not beheimah (domesticated mammal species, fit for sacrifice). But yes, I should have specified.


    BZ · November 17th, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Leave a Reply

If your comment does not immediately appear, do not freak out and repost your message a dozen times. Please note that all new visitors must have their first comment approved by the editor, and you must provide a legitimate e-mail address and use the same username for the system to "remember" you. The editor maintains the right to refuse comments deemed inappropriate or unhelpful. Users who repeatedly delve into ad hominem attacks or other troll-like behavior will be banned.

Trackback (Right-click & 'Copy Link...') | Comments RSS

"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik