This story came in from reader Joel with this vote of support: “Good coverage of the dietary laws without treating observant Jews like zoo animals.”
That was about a month ago, but I wanted to save this story from the Associated Press for the High Holidays. (Shana tova!) After all, Jewish holidays are all about eating, and when I was at The Jewish Journal we would often have a pair of High Holiday cover stories for the 10-day stretch from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur; one was typically a food issue.
So let’s explore this story from Jerusalem:
The men behind a unique six-hour eating marathon in Jerusalem want diners to know two things about locusts: First, they taste great stir-fried, and second, they’re kosher.
When 240 observant Jews sat down to the 18-course dinner earlier this month, they were served a veritable zoo of animals that were unlikely candidates to be eaten under traditional Jewish dietary laws, known as kashrut.
Eating kosher, the organizers want to say, does not just mean chicken soup and matzo balls; the list of animals eaten by Jewish communities around the world throughout history is longer and stranger than most people think.
What’s wrong with chicken soup and matzo balls? Put them together, and you have one delicious meal.
That’s really no surprise. But what is a surprise to at least this GetReligionista who isn’t kosher but also isn’t completely unfamiliar with kashrut is that locusts are as clean as Hebrew National hot dogs.
We’re off to a good start. What’s next?
There’s a paragraph about what the Bible clearly prohibits: pork, shrimp, anything prepared by Paula Deen. And then the story explains a fact about kashrut that many people outside the Jewish community don’t understand: it’s not simply about what can’t be eaten but about how even clean animals must be prepared.
Without witnesses, more animals may go the way of the peacock. It was one of 30 birds pictured in a 150-year-old Italian book on kosher poultry, but no one alive remembers how to slaughter it in a kosher way, the organizers said. So today peacock is off the Jewish menu.
Sparrows, doves, deer, grilled cow udders, even the shibuta — “a fish mentioned in the Talmud, the ancient commentary on the Bible that defines Jewish law” — were on the menu. Dare I say that this is one tasty story?
As far as fact-checking this story, it passes the test of my limited knowledge and reasonable Google dexterity. This looks like a story that really gets religion.
Anyone notice anything I missed?