Photo Credit: Yaakov Goldman

Title: The Great Game of Kashrut
By Rabbi Don Channen and Rabbi Yaakov (Jon) Goldman
Self-published, 88 pages
Available only on greatgameofkasrut.com

 

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With its full color cartoon illustrations, spiral binding and horizontal, large-size format, it’s easy to dismiss The Great Game of Kashrut as a mere children’s book. Ah, but first impressions can be misleading…

The Great Game of Kashrut operates on multiple levels simultaneously. The core of the book is a deep dive into 32 everyday kosher dilemmas, such as Case #29: Can Shimmy Be Sure His Pizza Is Pure? (i.e., can pizza baked in an oven that was just used to bake meat in gravy be eaten?) or Case #2: Busy Bubby’s Bungled Breakfast (i.e., can eggs fried in butter in a recently used meat pan be eaten?).

Each case is given a two-page spread. The left side is a full-page illustration that presents the case and the kashrut question it raises. Each case presentation has a headline, often a rhyming one, such as Case #3: The Plot Didn’t Thicken ‘Til Chaim Cut The Chicken, or Case #25: Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, Where Did My Neveila Go?

The right-side page includes some whimsical elements such as a small rhyming conclusion to help the reader remember the psak (halachic ruling), but it also contains enough halachic detail, vocabulary and citations of primary sources for the most scholarly of readers.

The book’s distinctive spiral binding and two-page-spread-per-case design allows a teacher, parent or grandparent to introduce the case in a classroom, at a Shabbat table or other gathering while retaining access to the deeper discussion on the other side.

As an average kosher consumer, I read through each case and tried to guess how the law would rule. In multiple cases, I realized I had been much more strict in my own kitchen than the halacha requires.

In Case #19: The Dishwasher Drama, for example, “Sleepy Sam” accidentally washed a dairy pot and a meat pan together in the dishwasher. According to The Great Game of Kashrut, there are three reasons why the halacha declares the utensils and the dishwasher itself to be kosher. And so, back into the dairy utensil drawer went the spoon I accidentally washed in a meat dishwasher.

In the introduction, Channen and Goldman offer ten reasons why their gamification of the laws of kashrut works so well. Among their reasons are that it debunks myths about kashrut, teaches the kosher consumer which variables are important to share when asking a shailah (halachic question) and, “It’s playful enough for children and lomdish (deeply academic) enough for adults.” Goldman writes, “This is the book I wish I had when I was learning for semicha.”

The Great Game of Kashrut is unlike any sefer about Jewish law you have ever studied. Here’s hoping the team of Channen and Goldman go on to create new books that apply their innovative methodology to other areas of halacha.

Currently, the book is only available from the authors’ website: greatgameofkashrut.com.

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