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If you yourself are not obliged to observe Kosher, or if you simply elect not to (only a minority of Jews actually do), you must have wondered from time to time: What’s the point? You can eat meat after dairy products, but you cannot consume dairy after meat? (And mixed together—a cheeseburger, for example? Perish the thought!) Chicken yes, but rabbit no? Salmon yes, but turbot no? And no caviar, confirming the suspicion that if it is good—I am told that caviar is very good—it will not be Kosher. Even vegetarians and vegans are not exempt from some strictures of Kosher if, to give but one example, the vegetables or fruits originate in the Holy Land.

I need to make at the outset one qualification and one disclaimer. The qualification pertains to Kosher observance. By observing Kosher, I do not have in mind those (many) who, for example, simply eschew pork products. That is more a cultural habit or statement than a religious act. I refer instead to those for whom Kosher observance thoroughly governs their shopping practices, kitchen organization (for instance, two sets of cooking and eating utensils), cooking, social practices (such as choice of restaurants and the delicate maneuvers involved in accepting a dinner invitation from those, Jews or Gentiles, who do not observe Kosher), and of course, eating.

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