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Is Rabbit a kosher?

Is Rabbit a kosher?

The Fundamental Laws of Kashrut:
The rules of Kashrut derive from seven simple principles. Here is a simplified version of these laws:

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 cooked 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.

( from «Dietary Laws», Encyclopedia Judaica , vol. 6, 26-45)

Kashrut prescribes that a large number of animals are not to be eaten. Any animal who has cloven hooves and chews its cud may be eaten; such animals as the camel, badger, hare and the pig then may not be eaten. Sheep, cattle, goats and deer are all kosher and may be eaten. From the water, anything that has fins and scales may be consumed; prohibiting all shellfish. Things get more complicated when discussing birds as the Torah has a list of forbidden birds but offers no categorization.

Along with the rules dictating which meats Jews should and should not eat came rules on how the consumable animals could be killed. This ritual slaughter, called shechitah , is often referred to as humanizing the process of killing animals as the laws insure that the animal suffers as little as possible ( Kosher Living ). The shochet (the name for the Jewish slaughterer) must by law kill the animal in such a way that the animal does not suffer needlessly. And all the blood is drained and covered. The shochet makes a quick, deep stroke across the animal’s throat with a perfectly sharp blade. It is important that the blade have no nicks or unevenness to ensure that there is little pain. No animal which dies of natural causes or which has been killed by another animal may be eaten. It is also mandated that a rabbi oversee the entire procedure in order for the food to be considered kosher.

One must also wait between eating meat and dairy for a period from three of six hours.

It also must be noted that any cooking utensils that have been used to cook non- kosher foods are therefore non- kosher. A true kosher household should have at least two sets of all cookware— one for meats and the other for dairy. Should a dish become impure, it must either be buried or purified by a rabbi.

The Rationale Behind The Laws:

The reasons behind the draining of blood at the time of slaughter are mandated in the Torah. The Torah explicitly prohibits the consumption of blood because of the belief that the life of the animal is contained in the blood.

«Moreover you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwellings. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.»

«If any man of the house of Israel or of the strangers that sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood. Any man also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust. For the life of every creature is the blood of it; therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.»

The Laws prohibiting the consumption of meats and dairy together originates in a phrase quoted three times in the Torah; «Do not seethe a kid in it’s mother’s milk» (Ex. 23:19; Ex. 34:26; Deut. 14:21). The web site Kosher Living also suggests that this law is indicative of Judaism’s uniquely intense desire to separate life from death.

The laws prohibiting consuming grape products made by non- Jews derive from the laws against idolatry. Wine was routinely used in rituals of ancient religions and sanctified for pagan purposes. This law not only affects wine and grape juice, but also baking powder as it is made with cream of tartar which is a by- product of wine making.

In a site written for Jews who do not observe Kashrut, the author offers several reasons why this practice is rewarding:

1. Identification and solidarity with worldwide Judaism
2. The ethical discipline of avoiding certain foods or limiting one’s
appetite because of the growing scarcity of food in parts of the
3. The avoidance of certain foods traditionally obnoxious to Jews,
providing a sense of identification with past generations and
their struggle to remain Jews.
4. The authority of ancient biblical and rabbinic injunctions.
5. The desire to have a home in which any Jew can eat.

from: Fallacy: Reform Jews Ignore the Laws of Kashrut

Helpful Information:

How do you know if something you buy in the grocery store is kosher? Here are some of the most widely used and recognized kosher certification symbols. Seeing any of these on the package of the product you are purchasing usually ensures that it is safe for kosher consumption. As it is not possible to put a patent on a letter of the alphabet, many companies can get away with simply imprinting the letter K on their products and claiming them to be Kosher when they are not— Jell-O is widely cited as doing this.

The influence of gender and power on these dietary laws is fairly clear. Meats are only made kosher, and thus edible, through the guidance of a rabbi— inherently a male. The Shochet, the actual person who commits the
ritual slaughter, is almost always a male as well. It is easy to see the gender imbalance here as such foods are always made kosher (acceptable) by a male. The influence of gender and power on these dietary laws is fairly clear. Yet the difficult and inconvenient restrictions regarding cooking and cookware become the responsibility of the primary homemaker— almost always a woman. So while men hold the capacity to make such food kosher, the
cook or primary homemaker—again, generally a woman— holds only the ability to make the food inedible, unclean and unacceptable. So it is the men who hold the power to create foods that are kosher and yet it is the woman’s. Yet the difficult and inconvenient restrictions regarding cooking and cookware become the responsibility of the primary homemaker— almost always a woman. So it is the men who hold the power to create foods that are kosher and yet it is the woman’s responsibility to painstakingly prepare these foods and ensure that she uses the appropriate cookware for its corresponding product, coordinate Kosher meals, and also to be a diligent shopper in order to avoid purchasing an incorrect product and polluting her meal and home. While homes today may not be so gendered as to have the woman being sole charge of meal preparation and such, it is still the societal norm that these aspects of family life are the woman’s responsibility.

Some Links for More Information on Kashrut:

  • Kosher living offers more information about Shechitah
  • Fallacy: Reform Jews ignore the laws of Kashrut — where I found the reasons a Jew might want to follow these dietary rules.

How Rabbits Can Save the World (It Ain’t Pretty)

With no religious taboos against consuming bunny meat, the animal may be a key ingredient in the fight against hunger. It also can be raised grain-free.

By Hilary Hylton Dec. 14, 2012

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David McNew / Getty Images

A desert cottontail rabbit forages near a desert marsh in Morongo Valley, Calif., April 11, 2007.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that rabbits reproduce at a rapid rate. But did you know that rabbit meat is kosher, halal and acceptable for Hindus who decline beef for religious reasons? All of that is good news for the world-wide war on hunger—if bad news for bunnies.

Dr. Steven Lukefahr has been an avid advocate of rabbit-raising ever since his parents showed him how to raise them for the family dinner table as a young boy. He has spent his career touting rabbit as a solution for protein-energy malnutrition in the developing world. Rabbits, Lukefahr points out, are easy to raise, procreate, er, like rabbits , are relatively disease-free, more easily digestible than some other proteins, are low-fat and have a pleasant taste. While wild rabbits are a little gamier, domestic rabbits taste—okay–a lot like chicken and can be adapted to a wide variety of international culinary tastes.

“There are no known taboos against eating rabbit,” Lukefahr says. Eating it during Lent was even condoned by Pope Gregory I who proclaimed in the year 600 that rabbit meat was not meat at all. According to Harvard‘s Broad Institute, the papal proclamation led to a boom in cuniculture (rabbit-raising) in France‘s monasteries. No wonder the rabbit still has a role on the kitchen tables of France, Italy and Spain, the southwestern region of Europe that is the birthplace of the modern, domestic rabbit.

But perhaps the most important element in popularizing rabbit production is that the animals can be raised on a grain-free diet. In a world of rising prices and increasing demand for grain, the ability to raise a good protein on garden forage is a plus in poor countries. Lukefahr’s first two-year rabbit project was in Cameroon in 1983 under the auspices of Heifer International and rabbit is now on the family menu in that Central African country.

An agriscientist at Texas A&M University-Kingsville in South Texas, a stone’s throw from one of the icons of the protein world, the legendary King Ranch cattle empire, Lukefahr recently spoke about his latest work at a meeting of the World Rabbit Science Association at the 10th World Rabbit Congress. It was held in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, a country that is high on the rabbit production list. Both small farmers and large production facilities feed the Egyptian demand for rabbit meat which is less expensive there than chicken sold in community markets.

Lukefahr reported to the association on the success of the Haiti project, underwritten by the U.S.-funded Farmer to Farmer Program. Following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, many Haitians moved out of their devastated capital and back into the countryside, relying on small holdings to grow vegetables. Using a local crossbreed rabbit suited to the Haitian climate, the project has helped increase cuniculture. “Ten females and one male can produce around 200 offspring per year,” Lukefahr says. “That’s enough to provide high protein meat for the family and have some left over to sell at the local market.”

Over 1,700 Haitian rabbit producers now maintain some 1,250 rabbit facilities, Lukefahr says, which are home to 32,650 breeding rabbits. The program has grown by 142% in the last two years and has helped increase family income by an average of $19.95 a month per family with some producers seeing as much as $200 a month in income from meat sales, a significant boost in a country where the average annual family income is $1,700.

Back at the Texas rabbit ranch, Lukefahr has been working on another symbiotic solution for rabbit production in the developing world — the harvesting of sweet potato leaves and vines to serve as rabbit food in warm climes where the tubers flourish. Over the last 10 years, Lukefahr also has visited Southeast Asia where there is a rising interest in rabbit production as Asian bird flu—incubating among commercial and family farming–has caused alarm in some communities. “China is the world’s biggest rabbit producer,” Lukefahr says, emerging as a major player in the last 20 years along with Indonesia and Vietnam.

In the U.S., rabbit meat has not been a feature on most family dining tables since World War II when the animals munched on Victory Garden scraps and later landed on the table while other meat products were diverted to the troops. “But on the cooking channels and with chefs rabbit meat has taken off,” Lukefahr notes, adding that he believes the economy likely will prompt more and more families to consider raising rabbits.

In Oregon, Camas Davis, a food writer and founder of the Portland Meat Collective is seeing that trend unfold. The collective offers classes in rabbit slaughter and butchering techniques, focusing on utilizing the whole animal. About half the participants come in for economic reasons or because they want a sustainable protein — rabbits feed on grass, their manure is a great addition to the vegetable garden and their meat is a healthy protein. Plus, as Davis points out, unlike chickens, ducks or goats, they have escaped the bureaucracy. In Portland, backyard farmers are limited to two chickens and/or one goat, while rabbits “have slipped through the cracks.” The same goes for federal regulation, Lukefahr notes, and the Department of Agriculture does not list rabbits as livestock — hence the lack of firm numbers on rabbit production in the U.S. and the lack of red tape governing production, a status favored by some rabbit farmers.

The other half of the students at the collective are foodies, Davis says. “A lot are coming in to explore what they deem to be an exotic protein.” For her part, Davis, who trained in the culinary arts in France, domestic rabbit meat is rather bland and she adds flavor by cooking rabbit in duck fat. “It’s a mild meat and in line with how Americans eat their meat,” she says. To that end, rabbit meat would seem perfect for the American diet, low-fat and without gamy flavors, but the biggest barrier to its popularity, is the image of the furry bunny (a word Lukefahr shuns). Davis says the collective gets the most negative comments online about upcoming classes when rabbit is on the menu. The collective’s rabbit supplier was even targeted by animal activists who stole his rabbits last February. And so, if the rabbit doesn’t become the solution to the world’s protein needs, it can thank Disney, Beatrix Potter and the Easter Bunny.

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