Teaching Kashrut to Potential Converts to Judaism

For a class I had to “Describe an exercise that could be used as an “Attention activity” in a classroom situation. Describe the topic and target audience in the subject line for example “Teaching Boolean Logic for elementary students”; and in the body of the message describe the attention activity.”

Anya gave me an idea and I wrote it up:

Title: Teaching Kashrut to potential converts to Judaism

Target audience: potential converts to Judaism, who should be aware of the dietary restrictions they may take upon themselves upon converting.

The exercise: I present them with a bag of Hershey kisses (the milk chocolate type), a bag of beef jerky and a basket of hard-boiled eggs. There should be enough for everybody to have one piece of each of these items. (For simplicity’s sake I ensure them that they all are kosher.) The students have to specify in what order it is kosher to eat the items and why. If they need more information I remind them about the prohibition of mixing different food types. They should discuss their reasoning in groups of 3-4. The group that is ready to share the consensus of the order should do so. If they are correct they can go ahead and eat the goodies. If not they have to wait till the end or break of the class.

The lesson: Kashrut refers to Jewish dietary laws and customs. One of its core tenets is the prohibition of mixing dairy foods with meat. One of the main consequences of this principle is the separation of every kind of food into three categories. They are known by their Yiddish name: milkich (dairy), fleishich (meat-y), and parve, that is neither. (The fourth category is treif, or forbidden food.) Mixing is prohibited even in the human body. However dairy food is digested much faster than meat. Therefore it is OK to eat meat soon after dairy. However one has to wait 6 hours after eating meat, before eating dairy. This is how long the rabbis postulated it takes to digest meat. Parve food, such as vegetables, grains or eggs can be eaten with (or before or after) either fleishich or milkich food. Thus the egg can be eaten any time, but the jerky has to come after the chocolate. To summarize, the three possible correct order combinations are:

  • Chocolate, egg, jerky
  • Egg, chocolate, jerky
  • Chocolate, jerky, egg

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