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First Kabbalah, Now Kashrut

According to the Ynet article, “America Goes Kosher,” kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) is the new Kabbalah. Kosher restaurants in large metropolitan areas have suddenly become fashionable, and the Hollywood trendsetters have not only staked out their own tables but their own rooms in such establishments. The article reports:

In the last decade, kosher food sales in American supermarkets have reached a growth rate of 15 percent as opposed to a four percent growth rate for food that is not kosher. Eleven million Americans buy kosher food, and they are responsible for a yearly turnover of $9 billion. What’s interesting in all this data is that there are only just over six million Jews in America and even fewer keep kosher. Slowly but surely the kosher food market is being taken over by non-Jewish Americans who are on the lookout for kosher food that is not just gefilte fish and matza.

Kosher food manufactures and restaurants are doing something right. How have they gotten individuals who have no ties to kashrut for religious reasons to buy their products and enter their establishments? One survey suggests that many non-Jews eat kosher food because they believe it is healthier. There may also be a spiritual element, however. Someone quoted in the article suggests that “The kosher trend fits in with modern life. Like the Kabbalah, it combines the old with the new. Kosher food meets spirituality and health in one plate, and that’s what people are looking for today: a little spirituality with an everyday practicality.”

What can the Jewish community learn from this phenomenon? Just like the kosher food industry (with a little help from a few celebrities), the Jewish community can transform its image from one of gefilte fish, matzah and old world Jewry to one of gourmet food and welcome to all if it offers programs and events that intersect with people’s needs.



5 Comments

  1. Another “old and new” element I notice is the fact that the animals are slaughtered humanely, and people understand that. With all the emphasis on free range and grass fed meat and poultry, Jew and gentiles alike are obviously going to be interested in the animals’ final moments as well.

    Comment by Ron in Croton — August 10, 2007 @ 9:19 am

  2. For years devout Muslims without access to halal food have been buying Kosher food. Now that there are more devout Muslims in America, that is all that is happening.

    Comment by Dave — August 17, 2007 @ 7:29 pm

  3. Check out http://www.notjustgefilte.com

    It opens up the door to so many kosher restaurants.

    Comment by Ariel — February 5, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  4. What does the Kabbalah say (if anything) about the kashrut laws? I can’t believe they let this one slip. These old guys could expound on ANYTHING in the Torah and found a mystical hidden aspect to EVERYTHING therein. So what’s up tribe?

    Comment by Jack Jones — August 15, 2009 @ 9:12 pm

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