Thursday, August 18, 2011


Mindfulness and Judaism? Yes, of course. Why not?

Kashrut, more commonly referred to as Kosher, refers to the traditional Jewish approach to eating. I know a bit about the subject, and I will always be grateful for the knowledge and warmth of fellowship that I received at the Congregation of Temple Emanuel, at Woollahra, New South Wales, during the time that I worshipped and studied there.

Mary L Zamore (pictured left), who is the associate rabbi of the Reform Jewish congregation Temple B'nai Or in Morristown, New Jersey, has edited a new book entitled The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic.

The book features essays written by more than three dozen progressive thinkers on a wide range of topics that explore food choices, and the ethics and morality of food production.

Rabbi Zamore, who writes from a Reform (Progressive) Jewish perspective, makes the interesting point that the term ‘Kosher’ has been misunderstood for hundreds of years by those outside of the Jewish culture.

From my experience I would say that it is also the case that many Jews are not really, or at least fully, aware of the true meaning of ‘Kosher’.

Listen to what Rabbi Zamore has to say about the matter:

' Being Kosher or practicing Kashrut is really about mindfulness. It’s about being aware of what we are eating and how it’s produced, which involves not only how the workers were treated in the process but also how the animals were treated.'

In other words, Kosher is not just about health and hygiene or religious obedience.

Zamore makes it clear that Kosher is a ‘spiritual’ practice ... that is, a non-physical practice which is all about attention, awareness and, most importantly, connection as well as reconnection ... to oneself (that is, within one’s body and mind), to others and to one’s God (or, if you so choose, Life itself or some other 'power-not-oneself').

In a specifically Jewish context the practice of Kashrut is, says Zamore, all about ‘one’s connection to community, the Torah and God.’

All very interesting.

Here's a short YouTube video on the subject of Kashrut:

Kosher or otherwise, the daily moment-to-moment practice of mindfulness is ‘sacred’ in the true sense of the word ... that is, something ‘set apart’ from other things, if only by the ‘distance’ one consciously and deliberately places – in terms of choiceless awareness and so forth – between the person each one of us is and the things (both physical and non-physical) of which we are mindful.

The 'sacred'? Yes, very much so. In that regard, I treasure what the Unitarian Universalist minister, and former executive director of Amnesty International USA, Dr William F Schulz (pictured right) has had to say about the so-called ‘sacred’. Schultz, who served as president of the Unitarian Universalist Association from 1985 to 1993, has written, ‘The Sacred or Divine, the Precious and Profound, are made evident not in the miraculous or supernatural but in the simple and the everyday.’

Beautiful words!

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