Categories: Opinion

Kosher food: what it is, how it works and the main rules of Jewish eating

Kosher food: what it is, how it works and the main rules of Jewish eating

Starting at sunset yesterday, Friday (15), Jews around the world celebrated the arrival of the year 5784. Rosh Hashanah , the Jewish New Year, is celebrated with lots of parties, prayers and, above all, lavish tables, with food very typical of the occasion. What many people don’t know is that in Judaism there is a set of dietary laws which is followed by many practitioners of the religion.

They, which are based on the Torah, the holy book, are known as Kashrut and define what can be eaten, the food mixtures that can or cannot be made, in addition to the ways of consumption. These many rules gave rise more than 4 thousand years ago to the so-called Kosher or Kosher food.

The term, which comes from Hebrew, means “appropriate” and its definition includes guidelines, with a list of foods and appropriate ways to consume them.

“The details of the laws are passed down through generations. Mystical teaching teaches us that What we eat enters our blood and forms part of our characteristics . We believe that human beings need to eat to have strength and vitality for their service in the world, but what you eat needs to be spiritually elevated “, explains the rabbi Pessah Kauffman .

“We need to take care of each other, so as a rabbi I will always be concerned about passing on the teachings so that everyone can also comply with the instructions naturally. The rabbi’s role, however, is not to judge and exclude those who do not follow this type of diet. . It’s about teaching the importance of it with love and care,” he adds.

For the rabbi Ruben Sternschein from the Congregação Israelita Paulista and rector of the Jewish Academy, the set of rules deals mainly with care and sensitivity not only with animals, but also with everything that has life, such as humans and plants.

“This care has to do mainly with production that seeks to avoid suffering and also reduce animal consumption as much as possible . We try to publicize the practices so that people understand the reason for each thing so that they do not just remain within the ritual, traditional or religious scope, but have a sustainable awareness and know what they are doing”, explains Ruben, who is also representative for inter-religious dialogue at the Brazilian Israelite Confederation of Brazil.

Main rules of Kosher eating

Some foods in Judaism are prohibited, while others go through a certification process that ensures they comply with these laws.

Meat, for example, must come from animals that are slaughtered as a result of schechitah, a specific form of slaughter that seeks to make the animal die quickly and without suffering. Furthermore, not everyone is allowed. In the case of mammals, they are only kosher if they have cloven hooves and are ruminants. Therefore, Any type of consumption of pigs, rabbits, bears, dogs, cats, camels and horses is prohibited.

It is worth mentioning that nowadays there is much more talk about sustainability, about something called Eco-Kashrut, the concept that even if an animal is raised and killed in a field, but the people are poorly paid or live in conditions that are not respect human rights, what is produced there is not Kosher.


“In the same way that if animals suffer from the conditions in which they live, are poorly fed, forced to eat fat and hatch eggs when they don’t want to, they are also not kosher. Today, understanding these concepts, we see that they are not, even if the basic restrictions of Jewish law did not say so in the beginning. “, he adds.

The Torah also lists 24 species of birds that are not Kosher, generally predatory and scavenging birds. Ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens and pigeons, in turn, are allowed, but must also follow strict methods of slaughter and preparation.

Reptiles, amphibians, worms and insects, with the exception of four types of grasshoppers, are not permitted to be consumed. In the case of fish and seafood, only those that have fins and scales are considered Kosher. , such as salmon, carp, tuna and halibut. Lobster, crabs, catfish and all aquatic mammals are excluded from this list.

When talking about vegetables, grains and fruits, careful consumption is necessary, ensuring that none of these foods contain any type of animal. Eggs are also allowed, but there must be no trace of blood on their shell.

In the case of milk, to be 100% Kosher, its production must be supervised from milking – which can only be done on permitted animals – to the market shelves. He must have the certificate that guarantees that he followed all the rules within Jewish laws, as well as wine and processed foods that wish to have this recognition.

Meat and milk cannot be consumed together

In addition to the certification process, another basic rule of this type of food is that you should not mix meat with milk and its derivatives in the same meal. They, however, can be consumed in separate ways. The most rigorous religious people follow a minimum interval between their intakes – around six hours, which would be the time of digestion in the body.

Jews who also strictly follow all laws and consume both foods at home use separate utensils to prepare each one, such as crockery, microwaves, stoves and ovens – the refrigerator, as it is cold, can be the same , but the recommendation is that food be kept in separate, closed containers.

If an accident happens or a mistake is made in which they get mixed up in some way, that object goes through a kosherization process, which consists of a specific and deep cleaning carried out by authorized people with the knowledge to do so.

Kosher food supervision

With so many rules, the question that remains is: how is all this supervised? It is important to highlight that there are rabbis and experts who study Kosher laws in depth and are responsible for this control. In the case of factories, for example, a rabbi needs to make a technical visit to ensure that the entire production process for that particular food is within the standards.

“Here in Brazil there are two companies that carry out this type of certification, in addition to international certifiers that also operate in the country. Foods are also separated into so-called green lists [BDK] and yellow [LKB]. The green list is a more extreme one, which does not accept any leniency, so it is considered 100% kosher. The yellow list, in turn, is less strict and has some leniencies that are allowed”, explains the rabbi Moshe Eisencraft.

“As an example we have milk itself. To be 100% kosher and green listed, the milking process must be supervised by a rabbi. Other milk considered kosher is only supervised by those responsible when it is already in the factories. In this case, then, it enters the yellow list. This is permitted and it is ready to be taken”, he adds.

Today there are specialized markets and big brands that have adapted to demand. Technology has also become a great ally for those who follow this type of diet and through a simple consultation on a website called Buskasher It is possible to check whether a product is Kosher or not. On this platform, people can also search for good options available with guaranteed stamps on the shelves.


There is no way to talk about Kosher food without mentioning the figure of Mashguiach , name given to the supervisor responsible for ensuring that the food served in commercial places such as restaurants, events and factories is Kosher. It functions as the eyes of the rabbis.

In the case of restaurants, their presence in the kitchen is mandatory. They are the ones who open and close the enclosures, analyze the food, and are also responsible for lighting the fires that start the activities. This also applies to buffets at Jewish parties and weddings.

The city of São Paulo has good Kosher restaurant options. One of the most famous and emblematic is the Papaya Sushi, in Vila Boim, in the Higienópolis neighborhood. In addition to the traditional unit, the brand has a kitchen that follows all standards and caters to all Jews who love Japanese cuisine. Today, the halls are unified into one table property, separated by just one floor.

São Paulo’s haute cuisine is also attentive to the needs of different groups. O Le Jardin hotel restaurant Rosewood led by the chef Felipe Rodrigues is one of them.

Opened in 2022, it has a fully equipped kitchen prepared for the production of a Kosher menu, which is available to any diner – just inform us at the time of booking. It is open from 8am to 11pm and also includes room services.

The crockery and towels have specifications, in addition to a team trained to meet this demand. The executive sous-chef Rachel Codreanschi who is in charge of this operation, explains that the restaurant’s idea is to demystify Kosher food and guarantee an equal experience for all guests and customers.

“Today we have two women as Mashguiachs who are responsible for supervising our kitchen 100% of the time. They check all herbs, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. We produce everything within our space and rely on reliable suppliers when it comes to meat. Nowadays demand has increased, people are more critical and seeking to better understand what they are eating. Access to information in general encourages this search even more”, points out the chef.

“The beginning was a big surprise. We have a large movement of the Jewish community, but also of curious people. We gradually gained trust and are very transparent, opening our kitchen to anyone who wants to know, in addition to the supervisors always being available to answer any type of doubt”, he adds.

Company seeks to adapt Jewish experiences in restaurants and hotels

Although São Paulo has great options, the fact is that there is still a lot of land and opportunities to be explored. Feeling the lack of more services aimed at this public, the rabbi Moshe Eisencraft created the company Wedo Kosher in 2017.

Among the services available, he and his team help transform traditional restaurants into Kosher for a day. To do this, they act as an intermediary between the restaurant, the certifiers and rabbis so that everyone follows the necessary steps. Brasserie Victoria, the Rodeio steakhouse, Rubayat, Pobre Juan, Forneria San Paolo, Sal Gastronomia, Ráscal, and Badauê are some of the establishments that have already had this experience.

“I leave everything ready for that occasion. I organize the kosherization of the environment, I liaise between the establishments with the necessary professionals and we can transform any experience into a Kosher one. My main objective is to adapt the flagship of each location for this type of food. The secret sauce at L’Entrecôte de Paris, for example, has a new version – and those who have tried both options guarantee that they don’t taste the difference,” she says.

To kosherize a kitchen, for example, Moshe explains that it is necessary to close it for 24 hours. Among the many processes is deep cleaning inside and outside each stove, as well as utensils. This is usually done by studied and trained Mashguiachs.

“I also provide consultancy to many hotels, such as Rosewood, Palácio Tangará and Fasano, as well as clients who come to me with a specific demand for events or travel. We were able to create these experiences with training for hotel employees themselves. It is an investment that has given returns to those who seek it. The hotel wins, the customer much more. Many still don’t accept it, but those who do end up thanking them for the service”, he emphasizes.

Source: CNN Brasil