People usually associate the term kosher with foods and dietary laws. It actually means fit or proper. Rabbi Ron Isaacs’ new book applies the term to all aspects of life. Using a question/answer format, he discusses a wide range of topics including abortion, circumcision, business ethics, friendship, charity, family relationships and ecology. The discussion of each issue contains several parts: what’s kosher, what’s not kosher, what the experts say, and sources. The kosher/not kosher sections explain the Jewish laws relating to the issue. What the experts say and sources are quotes from traditional Jewish texts about the subject. These include Bible, Talmud, Kabbalah, and texts of various scholars. A chapter about the sources of Jewish law and a brief bibliography offer direction for further research. This book is a useful ready reference source because it provides quick answers on a variety of subjects. It will also be a good source for teachers who want to start discussions on issues such as gossip, the treatment of the elderly, and forgiveness. Serious students will want to consult the original texts or resources with more extensive coverage such as the Encyclopedia Judaica, but Kosher Living is an acceptable addition to home, public, and synagogue libraries.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.