Israeli Rabbinate Declares Non-Orthodox Jews ‘Kosher — and Delicious’

By Rob Kutner

Published February 17, 2010, issue of February 26, 2010.
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Jerusalem — In a historic ruling, the Israeli rabbinate has finally decided to recognize Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Jews — as the perfect entree for Shabbat dinner.

Israeli Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Moshe Metzger issued the ruling yesterday. The Sephardic chief rabbi agreed with the declaration of Jewish edibility, adding only: “preferably stewed with dried fruits, over couscous.”

The decision has brought controversy to Orthodox authorities, who are divided as to whether their brethren can be eaten during Tisha B’Av and the Three Weeks, but the ruling eases the burden on kosher meat manufacturers, still struggling to keep up with demand after the Agriprocessors closure.

However, some are already taking issue with the methods of slaughter, which include luring liberal Jews into the abattoir with Debbie Friedman tunes and back issues of The New Yorker.

Rabbi Mordy Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification division, said that ethical slaughter advocate Temple Grandin has been hired as a consultant and was working on a design for a “group hug machine” to soothe Jewish livestock before shechting.

Despite the debate, the ruling may provide a way out of current long-standing disputes. For example, liberal Jewish women seeking to worship at the Western Wall will now be granted a designated space — atop a grill smoking with mesquite briquettes.

Likewise, the divisive question of “Who Is a Jew” may reach new resolution. “We now accept all converts to Judaism from any movement,” said Rabbi Metzger, “provided they are nicely marbled and easy to catch on foot.”

Wasting no time, June Nathan has already published a cookbook, “The Newly Recognized Foods of Israel,” containing mouth-watering recipes for “Jewish Theological Tzimmes” and “B’nai Brisket.” Likewise, Hazon’s Neil Savage is calling for a new commitment to eating only Jews that are “locally sourced and raised without chemicals” — a difficult challenge considering how many liberal Jews are sourced to New Jersey.

Predictably, non-Orthodox movements found the news harder to swallow. Rabbinical Assembly head Rabbi Jackie Schonfeld protested: “The Conservative movement follows Halacha. You should at least have to wait an hour between eating us and milk.”

But how will this impact the Jewish future? “The Orthodox are already the fastest-growing denomination,” says demographer Steffen M. Cohen. “This will only accelerate their growth, specifically at the waistline.”

Rob Kutner’s annual Purim shpiel, ‘The Shushan Channel,’ goes live Saturday, February 27 at 92Y Tribeca. You can buy tickets here.


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