Jewish Customs

Essay by volcmsoftblgrl17College, Undergraduate May 2005

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For the extra credit, I decided to become an Orthodox Jew for two weekends. My immediate family, including my step-dad are Jewish, but we do not follow as in depth as my aunts, uncles and cousins do. During the two weekends, I spent Friday and Saturday at my aunt's and uncle's house in Van Nuys. According to my uncle, only about 25% to 30% of Jews in America keep kosher to one extent or another.

First off, there are many diet rules that they must follow called kashrut. The laws derive from a few fairly simple, straightforward rules:

1. Certain animals may not be eaten at all. This restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs and milk of the forbidden animals.

2. Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.

3. All blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it before it is eaten.

4. Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.

5. Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (According to some views, fish may not be eaten with meat).

6. Utensils that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food. This applies only where the contact occurred while the food was hot.

7. Grape products made by non-Jews may not be eaten.

During the two Fridays I observed them, I learned what a strict Shabbat truly is. During Shabbat, on top of strict diet rules, we are not able to watch television, drive a car or go shopping.

At about...

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