Food and Judaism

Leonard J. Green­spoon; Ronald A. Simkins; Ger­ald Shapiro, eds.

  • Review
By – August 16, 2012

The laws of kashrut require that obser­vant Jews give thought to every­thing they eat. For them, what foods can be eat­en, how those foods must be han­dled, and the set­ting in which they are con­sumed are dai­ly deci­sions; rang­ing beyond those ques­tions are far-reach­ing issues of the­ol­o­gy, moral­i­ty, ethics, social behav­ior, and even mys­ti­cal forces. Food and Judaism, a spe­cial issue in the series Stud­ies in Jew­ish Civ­i­liza­tion, presents a wide-rang­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing group of essays cov­er­ing top­ics as var­ied as the holi­ness of kugel in Cha­sidism and the adap­ta­tion of Jew­ish food­ways in the south­ern Unit­ed States. 

Stim­u­lat­ing essays offer sev­er­al inter­pre­ta­tions of ethics and veg­e­tar­i­an­ism in Judaism; oth­ers exam­ine how women became the arbiters of kashrut — set­ting the stan­dard for obser­vance or lead­ing their fam­i­lies toward assimilation. 

Draw­ing heav­i­ly on bib­li­cal and clas­sic texts, but also on mem­oirs, cook­books, fic­tion, and recent schol­ar­ship across sev­er­al fields, the authors, both schol­ars and lay researchers, expand the sub­ject of this book far beyond what the title sug­gests. Fresh ideas and much unfa­mil­iar infor­ma­tion, in a gen­er­al­ly acces­si­ble for­mat, con­stant­ly draw the read­er in. Illus., notes.

Maron L. Wax­man, retired edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor, spe­cial projects, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, was also an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Harper­Collins and Book-of-the-Month Club.

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