Was bedeutet 'koscher'?

What does 'kosher' mean?

'Kosher' is a term used primarily in Jewish dietary laws. It refers to food that is prepared and consumed in accordance with those laws. In the rich Jewish culture, few aspects are as deeply rooted and widespread as the dietary laws known as 'kashrut'. But kosher food is not just about what goes on the plate. It reflects centuries-old traditions, spiritual significance and a commitment to mindful eating.

In a broader sense, 'kosher' also means something that is considered right, lawful or acceptable according to certain standards or regulations that are not necessarily limited to Jewish dietary laws. For example, one might say that a business deal is 'kosher', meaning that it is fair and lawful.

Jewish dietary laws, the 'Kashrut'

Jewish dietary laws dictate which foods may be consumed, how they must be prepared and how they should be consumed.

1. Food groups

Food is divided into three main groups: meat, dairy and parve (neither meat nor dairy).

- Meat: Only certain animals are considered kosher, including cattle, sheep and poultry. These animals must be slaughtered in a specific way. Additionally, certain parts of the animal are permitted while others are not. Fish must have fins and scales to be considered kosher.

- Dairy products: Milk and dairy products must come from kosher animals and may not be prepared or consumed with meat or meat products.

- Parve: Foods that are neither meat nor dairy fall into this category. These include fruits, vegetables, grains and many other staple foods.

2. Preparation

Slaughtering (shechita) of animals for kosher meat must be performed by a trained and certified person, using a sharp knife to quickly sever the trachea and esophagus. This procedure is believed to minimize the animal's pain.
Preparation in the kitchen is also subject to kashrut rules – for example, new kitchen accessories must first be made kosher in a mikve (a ritual Jewish bath with natural water).

3. Separation of meat and dairy products

Kosher dietary laws prohibit the mixing of meat and dairy products. This includes not eating them together in one meal and keeping utensils used for meat and dairy products separate. In religious Jewish households, there are therefore two sets of dishes and separate dishwashers for the two product groups.

4. Certification

Many kosher foods are marked with a certification symbol that indicates that they meet the standards of Jewish dietary laws. Certification is done by a recognized certification body under the supervision of a rabbi.

The spiritual meaning of kosher food

Eating kosher isn't just about following a set of rules. It's also imbued with spiritual meaning and symbolism. For many, observing kosher dietary laws is a way to connect with their faith, honor tradition, and promote mindfulness in everyday life.

Mindful Eating

In the fast-paced modern world, the act of eating can sometimes become a mindless routine. Kosher eating promotes mindfulness by encouraging individuals to be aware of what they are consuming and the impact it has on their body and soul.

A connection to heritage
For Jewish communities, kosher food is a tangible connection to their ancestral roots and cultural identity. Through the rituals of kashrut, they honor traditions passed down through generations and affirm their connection to a shared history.
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