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Kosher – food that is "clean" and complies with the dietary laws

(Pronounced koh-shuhr)

To remember the meaning of Kosher in Judaism, use the following mnemonic:

The co-operative shop is posher (kosher) because it's cleaner.

The co-operative shop is posher (kosher) because it's cleaner.


When applied to dietary laws, kosher refers to food that has not been forbidden by the scriptures – in particular, Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14.

However, kosher can be applied to other things, for instance, water for ritual bathing. When applied to food, kosher means the opposite to terefah (forbidden) and when applied other things, it means the opposite of pasul (unfit).

To qualify as kosher, meat must come from animals or birds that have been slaughtered by the ritual method of shehitah. This involves the making of an incision across the neck of the animal or fowl by a qualified person trained for ritual slaughter, with a special razor-sharp knife. The cut severs the main arteries, rendering the animal unconscious, and permits the blood to drain from the body.

Objections have been raised to this method of slaughter on the grounds of cruelty and some European countries have passed laws forbidding shehitah.

Infographic showing kosher and non-kosher food

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