Taboos

Copepods are not Kosher

Copepod
A copepod (0.2 inches or 5 mm in size)

“New York City seems a fine place for an observant Jew to keep kosher. There are specialty shops for the ultra-Orthodox and for those of less strict beliefs. And it all works out just fine, provided you don’t get thirsty. Some rabbis now say that New York City tap water – for a century a gold standard for cleanliness – is not kosher.

These rabbis have recently discovered that there are tiny creatures, called copepods, in the unfiltered water that streams into the city from upstate. These tiny organisms are harmless. But they are crustaceans. And crustaceans are not considered kosher. Over the past two weeks, concern about the copepods in the water has grown into a matter of intense debate among the city’s Orthodox Jews. Disputes over interpretations of Talmudic law, part sport, part obsession and part spiritual imperative, spill into public view periodically in New York. Last month, for example, members of the Satmar community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, took wigs made of human hair from India and burned them in the street. The wigs were deemed unacceptable because they might have been used in Hindu ceremonies considered idolatrous in Orthodox teaching.”

The New York Times, June 1, 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/01/nyregion/01water.html?scp=1&sq=…

When Moses went up the mountain, it is just possible that there were copepods in the drinking water. But then, he did not have a microscope. Boiling would kill them, but then again, that would only produce micro-lobsters. The copepod issue was resolved by the purchase of many household water filters.

There was a protest against the burning of the wigs, which could have been donated to cancer patients.

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