Kosher food (Hebrew Kasher כשר ) is food that is permitted according to Jewish dietary law.
Jewish dietary law forbids the following:
Eating of insects, shellfish, lizards, and snakes, with the exception of Arabian locusts.
Eating of any mammal that does not have a cloven hoof or does not chew its cud (eliminating all carnivores and
omnivorous animals like pigs).
Eating of carrion or blood.
Eating certain parts of the animal.
Birds of prey are prohibited and song birds, though not prohibited, are not eaten.
Eating of meat that has not been slaughtered by a Shochet (ritual Jewish slaughterer) according to the rules of
Kashrut set forth in the Halacha is
must be healthy and must be slaughtered while still living, without stunning, to ensure proper drainage of blood.
"Boiling a kid in its mother's milk" is prohibited - this is interpreted as a prohibition on eating any dairy dish with any meat or
poultry dish, or cooking meat in vessels used to cook dairy dishes or vv, or using dishes or knives, forks and spoons
that have been used for dairy on meat or vv. A period of time must elapse following a meat meal before it is permissible
to eat dairy foods following. Usually this is taken to be 6 hours following Maimonides, but some believe it is
permissible to eat dairy after the blessings have been said and the table cleared from the last meal. The reason for the
broad prohibition is to ensure that there is no possibility of committing the transgression, putting a fence ("siyag")
around the original commandment.
Fruits of trees that are less than three years old are "orlah" and therefore prohibited.
Most of the prohibitions and permissions of specific animals are listed in
Leviticus 11 . The
prohibition on boiling a kid in its mother's milk is given in
Exodus 23 :19,
Exodus 34:26 and in
In addition to the above, it is forbidden to eat any grain grown on Jewish-owned land during a shmeetah (sabbatical
year). This prohibition raised a severe problem for early Zionist settlers in Palestine, since they would have been
bankrupted by it. A compromise solution allowed them to perform a fictitious sale of their crops to Arabs. This
compromise has been in effect ever since, but has been challenged in 2008.
For fruits grown in Israel, different portions are set aside for charitable purposes - terumah (contribution to
the Cohen priests of the temple)
Maaser Rishon (first tithe ) and Maaser Sheni (second tithe required in certain years). For dough, a portion known as the Challah must be set aside
for the use of the priests in the temple. For private persons who get fresh produce that has not undergone rabbinical
supervision, "setting aside" may be fulfilled by discarding a portion of the food, according to some traditions.
Beef must be slaughtered so as to assure drainage of blood, without stunning the animal. This is considered inhumane
Wine or grape products made by non-Jews are not kosher. However, this rule is not followed by at least some
Conservative Jews. Whiskey is kosher no matter who prepared it.
During Passover, it is forbidden to eat leavened bread or any yeast products or fermented drinks such as beer. A
special unleavened wafer, the Matzoh, is prepared from flour that has been under supervision. Eastern Orthodox Catholics
use unleavened bread for communion, honoring the last supper of Jesus, which was a Passover Seder supper. Wine
and whiskey are permitted. During Passover, Ashkenazi Jews are not allowed to eat legumes (beans) rice and corn as
well. However, some very strict traditions insist that Matzoh that has been broken and become wet, and foods made from
such Matzoh, may be unkosher.
Colloquially, an act that is not ethical or is illegal is often referred to as "not Kosher."
Muslim Halal laws follow kosher laws
in many respects, and therefore at least some authorities to eat Jewish kosher food.
Synonyms and alternate spellings: