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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
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Kosher Food Production

Title: Kosher for Everybody – The Complete Guide To Understanding, Shopping, Cooking And Eating The Kosher Way
Author: Trudy Garfunkel
Publisher: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint, San Francisco, CA

 

Title: How To Keep Kosher – A Comprehensive Guide To Understanding Jewish Dietary Laws
Author: Lisë Stern
Publisher: Wm. Morrow, div.
HarperCollins Pub., New York, NY

 

Title: Kosher Food Production
Author: Rabbi Zushe Yosef Blech
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing, Ames, IA

 

 

Whether we are involved in kiruv, or in kashrus management, at home, in shuls, or in institutional management, we have a need for a kashrut authority to refer to. One or more of these recently published books might just fit the bill.

The most elaborate of these is certainly not for everybody – Rabbi Zushe Blech’s Kosher Food Production is really a textbook for teaching college courses or for training those involved in professional kashrus as mashgichim and in hashgacha management. This manual is written with exacting detail. Rabbi Blech has produced a classic that explains just about every aspect of kashrut for the working professional who has to deal with the myriad aspects of kashrut year-round and for Passover.

Rabbi Blech explains the kosher certification process, basic halachic concepts, ingredient management (for food production and institutional use), fruits and vegetables, dairy, fish, flavors and essences, oils and fats, meat and poultry. In a series of essays, Kosher Food Production discusses many individual subjects, such as what could be treif about vitamins and food additives; how wines, liqueurs and cheeses are produced; and what could rend either kosher or not.

But such authority comes at a price – $150 – quite a bargain for a lifetime of knowledge and scholarship distilled into one portable, convenient volume, but expensive if all you have a simple kashrus question. Kosher For Everybody, on the other hand, is an easily understandable paperback for less than $20.00. Trudy Garfunkel lists major kashrut identifications to look for when shopping, a selection of menus to start with, advice for vegetarians and people who may be lactose intolerant or allergic to milk products (which includes many Ashkenazic Jews).

This is a perfect small book to help anyone who has not grown up in a frum household to begin to understand the practices of kashrus and kitchen and food management for the kosher home. A literal bonus is the directories of kosher sources, including kosher hotels and resorts throughout the U.S. and worldwide, kosher-for-Passover tours, summer youth camps, mail-order kosher food purveyors, restaurants and caterers, kosher bakeries and markets.

Finally, there is How To Keep Kosher, a very attractively published manual. It is designed for the kiruv market and the less knowledgeable who wish to bring their kashrus observances up to par.

Ms. Stern not only discusses issues of kashrus – her book revolves around the Jewish calendar and goes somewhat into Shabbos and holidays observances.

She too includes a number of “starter” recipes, and goes into detail how to kasher a kitchen. One section even quotes a world-renowned ichthyologist, Dr. James W. Atz, of New York’s American Museum of Natural History, who is a leading authority on which species of fish are kosher and which are not. Although Ms. Stern also presents non-Orthodox points of view to kashrus observance, it is apparent that her own predilection is toward strictly Halachic observance.

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