The Jew And The Carrot

New York Court Rules on Kosher Law

By Michael Kaminer

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“Kosher,” it turns out, is kosher – at least in New York.

That’s the ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court, which has dismissed a lawsuit implying that labeling requirements of New York’s 2004 Kosher Law Protection Act interfered with religious freedom.

The plaintiff was a Long Island deli and butcher shop called — irony alert — Commack Self-Service Kosher Meats, Inc.

This wasn’t Commack’s first time at the kosher rodeo. According to Reuters, the same Circuit Court allowed a 1996 lawsuit by the shop which claimed the law at the time wrongly stepped into religious matters by defining kosher as “according to orthodox Hebrew religious requirements.”

In light of the court’s decision, the New York State legislature passed a revised kosher law in 2004. The law doesn’t define what constitutes kosher, but requires purveyors of food sold as kosher to submit information about their products, including who certifies them, to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, according to JTA.

On Thursday, “the appeals court rejected Commack’s attempt at a second bite of the apple,” Reuters reported, ruling the revised Kosher Act doesn’t violate the U.S. Constitution.

In a bit of cross-cultural comparison, the court’s ruling drew a parallel with a St. Patrick’s Day parade, which it called a secular activity with religious roots. Reuters said the decision noted that many people buy kosher food for non-religious reasons, and must be protected from fraud. Indeed, a 2009 survey by consumer-behavior researchers Mintel survey found that 60% of kosher food buyers purchase for food quality, not religious imperatives.


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