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.