Food is clearly an integral part of Jewish culture and the laws of kashrut are central to the way that Judaism deals with food. This volume of essays by Reform rabbis and Jewish scholars “celebrates the ideology of educated choice” (jacket note). Each paper addresses an aspect of our relationship to food and to halachah. The book encourages liberal Jews to think about kashrut and how it relates to their lives. Rather than using the rigid approach of Orthodoxy, the authors of these essays encourage readers to consider mindfulness as they eat, think about eating meat and what it means, consider the way the animals are treated, and care about the working conditions in the places that grow and process food. They examine the infamous T’reifah Banquet that took place in 1883, the health issues related to food and its production, the inequities in modern society, and fasting. By expanding the parameters of kashrut to include ethical considerations, these essays make readers focus on the sanctity of food and its importance in the lives of all people. The Sacred Table is an excellent resource for individuals, educators, and liberal synagogues.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.