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Explaining Kosher Jewish Dietary Laws to Non-Jewish Friends

If you ask your non-Jewish friends to explain what kosher food is, they may say that it is food blessed by a rabbi, or that it was prepared in a certain way – if they give you any response at all. Being Jewish, you are proud of your religion and your heritage, and you want your friends to fully understand both–including what kosher means.

Trying to explain what kosher means may be a bit of a challenge. Though you’ve been kosher your entire life, it can be difficult to find the words to explain it in a way that your non-kosher friends will understand. However, giving them a clear understanding is exceptionally important, especially if you reside in a Jewish nursing home and your non-kosher friends plan on bringing you food.

In an effort to simplify the explanation of your diet, here are some helpful pointers that will help you explain kosher to your non-kosher friends:

Start with a Simple Explanation

The best way to inform kosher to your non-kosher friends is to start with a simple explanation; you might try this short, easy-to-digest (yet informative) description:

The word ‘kosher’ is Hebrew for ‘fit’ or ‘appropriate’, and kosher foods are those foods that are deemed fit or appropriate by the regulations of kashrut, the Jewish dietary law.

Explain the Importance of Being Kosher

Let your friends know how important keeping kosher is to you and your religion. The best way to do this is to inform them that following the laws of kashrut is one of the most important aspects of your religion. It’s a way to uphold the fundamentals of your beliefs.

Give an Overview of Kosher Foods

As you know, there are specific foods that are deemed appropriate by kashrut. Provide your friends with an overview of these foods:

  • Land mammals that may be eaten include those with cloven hooves and chew their cud. Examples include cattle, sheep, deer and bison. However, pigs may not be eaten.

  • Common fowl is acceptable, such as chicken, ducks and turkeys.

  • Sea animals must have fins and scales in order to be eaten; however, shellfish and bottom feeders may not be eaten.

  • Understanding the rules that govern a kosher diet can be difficult for someone who is not kosher. Simple explanations are the best way to begin explaining kosher, and of course, let your friends know that if they have specific questions, they can certainly ask you.

Do you have any stories explaining kosher to your friends? Did you find it easy or difficult to do? Please share in the comments below!

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