Kashrut & Reform Judaism

Reform Jews have good reason to choose to observe some or all of the traditional dietary restrictions.

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In the Torah, the Jewish people is commanded to observe the dietary laws as a means of making it kadosh, holy. Holiness has the dual sense of inner hallowing and outward separateness. The idea of sanctifying and imposing discipline on the most basic and unavoidable act of human behavior, eating, is one of the reasons that may lead a person to adopt some form of kashrut. Among the other reasons that one may find compelling are (1) identification and solidarity with the worldwide Jewish community, (2) the ethical discipline of avoiding certain foods or limiting one's appetite because of the growing scarcity of food in parts of the world, (3) the avoidance of certain foods that are traditionally obnoxious to Jews, e.g., pork, which may provide a sense of identification with past generations and their struggle to remain Jews, (4) the authority of ancient biblical and rabbinic injunctions, and (5) the desire to have a home in which any Jew might feel free to eat.

One or more of these reasons as well as others might influence certain Reform Jews to adopt some of the dietary regulations as a mitzvah, while others may remain satisfied with the position articulated in the Pittsburgh Platform. However, the fact that kashrut was for so many centuries an essential part of Judaism, and that so many Jews gave their lives for it, should move Reform Jews to study it and to consider whether or not it would add kedushah [holiness] to their homes and their lives.

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