The Shmooze

Pot Not Kosher for Passover — Even on 4/20

By Anne Cohen

It’s that time of the year again — Passover and 4/20, the unofficial marijuana celebration day. On the same day.

The celebration of all things green poses a particular problem for the chosen people. Namely, is smoking pot kosher for Passover?

Sorry to disappoint, but it seems not.

In 2007, Israel’s Green Leaf Party, which supports the legalization of marijuana, declared that cannabis is among the substances Jews are forbidden to consume during Passover.

“You shouldn’t smoke marijuana on the holiday, and if you have it in your house you should get rid of it,” Michelle Levine, a spokeswoman for the party, said at the time.

Why? Because hemp seeds are considered to be kitniyot.

While biblical law prohibits eating leavened foods, rabbis have since extended the rules to apply to foods like beans, corn and rice. Hemp seeds, found in marijuana, falls under that category. So voila, no Mary-Jane for you — if you’re Ashkenazi that is.

Sephardic Jews have traditionally been allowed to eat kitniyot during Passover, so when it comes to 4/20, they’re in the clear.

If you’re really desperate though, there have been reports in the past of kosher for Passover pot cookies. Cannabliss, an Israeli company that supplies medical marijuana to Hadassah Hospital, makes them with matzo meal or potato flour.

As the ancients said: Put that in your pipe and smoke it. But don’t. Still not kosher.

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Was Marius the Giraffe Kosher?

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

It seems the lions at the Copenhagen Zoo enjoyed a little kosher treat this weekend.

Yes folks, that’s right: Marius the giraffe was kosher.

The 18-month-old giraffe was euthanized on Sunday because of a duty to avoid inbreeding. Reuters reported that Marius was given his favourite breakfast of rye bread and then shot.

And by euthanized, we mean “Marius” was skinned and dismembered in front of children, and then fed to the zoo’s lions.

According to Kashrut.com, there are certain misconceptions about how kosher of the long-necked mammal actually is. But rest easy — you won’t be feasting on giraffe around the Shabbat table any time soon. Although the giraffe is a kosher, it is not slaughtered because it is not known where on the neck to perform the shechitah (ritual slaughter).

WARNING: the video below contains scary and graphic images not fit for children — Oh wait.

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Not a Fan of Bruno Mars? Tune in to The Kosher Super Bowl Halftime Show

By Michael Kaplan

Those not too fond of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Bruno Mars may be excited to learn that a Jewish radio network will be hosting its own alternative halftime show — a “kosher” one.

The Nachum Segal Network has announced that it will be airing an alternative show featuring Jewish stars Lenny Solomon, Shlock Rock, Avromie Weisberger, Jonathan Rimberg, Ari Boianguiu and Ethan Bill. And like the official halftime show, the network says it might have a few surprises.

The 20-minute video, which will coincide with the Super Bowl’s official halftime show, will also be available on their website, Youtube channel and Facebook page after the show, JNS reported.

“The halftime show is a key component of the big game, and the NFL consistently brings the biggest names in contemporary music to play on the main stage. The only issue is that those acts often don’t appeal to the Jewish crowd,” radio host Nachum Segal was quoted saying in JNS. “We are proud to be providing a quality, kosher alternative that will entertain Jewish audiences and maintain a family-oriented vibe even during halftime.”

Believe it or not, the Nachum Segal Network’s show won’t be the first kosher halftime alternative.

Yashiva University has produced videos for the past two years featuring professors from the educational institution speaking about the spiritual side of sports.

Last year’s event was advertised with: “Forget the commercials - Are you ready for some — Torah?!”

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Snooki Confuses ‘Kosher’ With ‘Organic’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Someone needs to give Snooki (aka Nicole Polizzi) a short lesson on the difference between kosher and organic food.

The diminutive reality television star’s culinary confusion came to light in a clip from her new “Jersey Shore” spin-off “Snooki & JWoww,” in which she stars with her BFF Jenni “JWoww” Farley.

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Is Miguel Cotto’s ‘Kosher’ Tattoo Illegal?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
Cotto hits Mayweather during their WBA super welterweight title fight on May 5. Can you spot the OU tattoo?

While Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto’s fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. this past weekend in Las Vegas was clearly fair (Cotto lost in a unanimous decision), Rabbi Jason Miller is questioning whether it was completely kosher.

Actually, the rabbi was concerned not about what went on in the ring, but rather about what Cotto was wearing in it. Cotto has been sporting an Orthodox Union kosher symbol (a circle with the letter “U” in the middle, often pronounced as O-U) tattoo for some years now. He apparently got it as a tribute to a Jewish friend.

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Did Shimon Peres Serve Non-Kosher Meat?

By Nathan Jeffay

iStockphoto

President Shimon Peres is a proud advocate of Jewish culture and respect for religion. But has he been serving his guests treyf?

The Israeli media is abuzz with the rumor that meat for Peres’s Independence Day celebration was bought from a non-kosher Arab butcher.

The news site NRG reported that the meat was bought in the Arab locale of Abu Gosh, and that a rabbinate official has said that a kashrut inspector approved the meat without being sure of its origins. According to the report, the company Pri Haaretz was called for a hearing at the supervising rabbinate but did not show so had its license revoked. An unofficial English summary of the article can be found here.

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Lisa Edelstein Gets Naked for PETA

By Renee Ghert-Zand

PETA

Actress Lisa Edelstein bared all — literally — in a campaign for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known by its acronym PETA. She posed lying nude on what appears to be a bed of super-sized leafy greens for a poster encouraging people to try vegetarianism.

The phrase “Eat Green to Go Green” is superimposed over a shot of the naked Edelstein stretched out seductively on her side. A behind-the-scenes video posted on the PETA website shows celebrity photographer Jack Guy shooting Edelstein and includes an interview with her. The actress, 44, talks about the toxic effects of the meat industry and urges people to try vegetarianism, even if it is only for one day a week. She also mentions that she adopted her dogs from rescue shelters, and that she feels strongly that acquiring a pet this way (instead of buying one from a pet store) is the ethical way to go.

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Kosher Prison Food Not Only for Jews

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStock

Eating kosher, even in prison, is a constitutional right — not only for Jews, but also for Christians.

On January 11, a three-justice panel of the California 3rd District Court of Appeals issued a ruling that overturned a lower court one that had denied Margarito Jesus Garcia kosher meals from the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The court declared that responding negatively to Garcia’s request for kosher food amounted to a violation of Garcia’s rights under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

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Kosher Liver That Tastes Like Pork

By Nathan Jeffay

iStockphoto

Talk about the best of all worlds. Soon, here in Israel, we’ll be able to observe tradition and start our Shabbat dinner with liver, while enjoying the taste of pork. Oh, and all with the blessing of the Chief Rabbi.

Confused? Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has revealed that his rabbinate is looking in to importing a special goose liver that tastes like pork. How does he know? He’s had three non-Jewish food experts check it out.

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Four-Legged Chicken: Kosher or Not?

By Nathan Burstein

Wikimedia

Turkey? Kosher. Pig? Not kosher. Four-legged chicken? We’ll get back to you.

That’s the discussion currently under way at a Jerusalem butchery, where experts in kashrut are gathering to decide the fate of a four-legged bird slated to make a nice schnitzel or roast. The chicken, raised in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim, may avoid a bloody end because of its extra appendages, with rabbis deciding its destiny based on the structure of its legs.

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Israel's Kashrut Fraud

By Nathan Jeffay

American immigrants to Israel are in shock. No, it’s not the fact that the President of their motherland is clashing with the Prime Minister of their new country, or that many in Israel would have you believe that Barack Obama is turning on the Jewish State. It’s something far more important than all of that political stuff.

Somebody has been messing with their supply of Hershey’s. They have long been paying a premium to get that sweet taste of home, but it seems now that something untoward has been happening with the imported chocolate. The Orthodox Union has just published a warning that stickers attached to Cookies ‘n Chocolate sold here are counterfeit. “This product is sold in Israel with a sticker placed by the importer that contains an unauthorized OU symbol. This product is not certified by the Orthodox Union and the sticker did not originate from the Hershey Chocolate Company,” states the warning. An Israeli website has published pictures of the offending treat.

News of this kashrut fraud comes just a few days after Israel’s state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss reported that out of 35,000 tons of fresh meat unloaded at Israel’s ports during 2007 to 2009 for sale in the Palestinian Authority, only 15,600 tons reached its stated destination. What does that mean? Well quite possibly, according to the state comptroller, the rest made it in to the Israeli market, sold by butchers claiming it has both veterinary and kashrut supervision that it doesn’t.

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And the Most Jewish City in America Is...

By Katherine Clarke

As Hanukkah celebrations got underway last week, The Daily Beast ranked the 30 most Jewish cities in America. Their results were determined by three per capita factors: Jewish population, number of synagogues and kosher restaurants.

As expected, New York claimed the top spot. With a Jewish population of 9.6%, four synagogues per capita and an almighty 504 kosher restaurants, it remains headquarters of most American and international Jewish institutions and, of course, home of the best Jewish delis.

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Inmates Rights Violated When Given Vegan Instead of Kosher Meals

By Michael Kaminer

Instead of whipping up a kosher meal, you serve your observant guests a vegan dish. Is that a crime?

It is according to federal Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, at least if your “guests” are there involuntarily. The Indiana jurist ruled this week that her state’s Department of Corrections violated federal law when it substituted vegan meals for kosher for inmates, the JTA reported this week. Magnus-Stinton’s decision came in response to a class-action suit filed last year against the department by Matson Willis, an Orthodox Jewish inmate at the Miami Correctional Facility, according to JTA.

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A Hotel for Orthodox Jews Opens in Brooklyn

By Michael Kaminer

With new properties from giants Marriott and Starwood competing with indies like Smith Street’s NU and and Park Slope’s Le Bleu, Brooklyn’s hotel market is sizzling. So how can an upstart hotel compete? For the spanking-new Condor hotel in Williamsburg, according to real-estate site Curbed.com, the edge comes from amenities like wig stands and a Yiddish-speaking concierge — but no televisions or phone operator on Friday nights and Saturdays.

Since the 35-room Condor’s target market is Orthodox Jews and their large families, guests probably won’t mind. The hotel’s “half a block from a shul, from kosher food,” developer Zalman Glauber told the New York Daily News. “A Jewish businessman who has a show in the Javits Center will much more want to stay in a place where he can daven [pray] and have something to eat kosher,” he added.

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Modern Orthodox Top Model Gets Cut

By Margaret Eby

Esther Petrack, former contestant on “America’s Next Top Model”

So much for an Orthodox “America’s Next Top Model” winner. This week, Esther Petrack, an Israeli-born Boston native, was eliminated from the competition. In the opening episodes of the show, the 18-year-old caused a ruckus by suggesting that she would break Shabbat if she needed to for modeling jobs. Bloggers criticized Petrack for her lack of commitment, and questioned her level of religious observance.

There was such a buzz that Petrack’s mother defended her daughter through a comment on a blog. Esther’s assent to working on Saturdays, Mrs. Petrack claimed, was the result of bad editing. “These words were extracted from a long conversation Esther had about the laws of Shabbat,” Mrs. Petrack wrote, “I am proud of Esther’s commitment to Jewish observance which she carried throughout the show.”

For her part, Petrack found the attention on her observance baffling and irritating. In a post-elimination interview with The LA Times, Petrack defended herself, maintaining that she had remained devout throughout the show, going so far as toveling a cooking pot in the Pacific Ocean to keep kosher.

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More Lulav Fraud!

By Nathan Jeffay

How naïve we were! Last week, we reported with some surprise, revelations that black market lulavs were being smuggled into Israel. Now, it seems that lulav fraud doesn’t stop with smuggling.

The Chief Rabbinate has put out notices in synagogues and public locations warning people to beware of lulavs whose tips have become split and which have subsequently been glued together. Rabbis differ on whether such a lulav may be used to recite the lulav blessing on Sukkot, as required by Jewish law.

The Chief Rabbinate’s notices say that if traders are selling “glued” lulavs, they can’t pass them off as normal ones as they currently do, and must make “full disclosure” to customers. Read about the warning here.

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Photos Show NYC Tap Water Isn't Kosher

By Maia Efrem

The poor Hasidim just can’t catch a break. Now even their water is not kosher.

Yesterday, a blogger on the social news website Reddit uploaded photos of crustaceans found after an examination some New York City tap water under a microscope. The tiny creatures, called copepods, became apparent after an H&E stain was added to the water.

According to the post, the un-kosher critters are added to water reservoirs to “attack, kill, and eat the younger first and second instar larvae of the mosquitoes,” making it safe to drink.

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Temple Grandin: The Emmys’ Woman of the Hour

By Nathan Burstein

“Modern Family” and “Mad Men” may have come out the big winners, but prominently thrown into the mix at this year’s “Primetime Emmy Awards” was one of the country’s best-known defenders of kosher slaughter.

Temple Grandin, the inspiration for the year’s top TV movie, earned her own enthusiastic applause during an onstage appearance at the August 29 ceremony, held in Los Angeles. Portrayed by Claire Danes in an HBO biopic bearing her name, Grandin gained fame by overcoming obstacles related to autism, eventually becoming an expert in animal husbandry and a best-selling author. Now a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, 63-year-old Grandin (who celebrated her birthday the night of the show’s airing) may be best known professionally for designing a humane system of herding animals to slaughter, a project that plays a central role in the HBO movie.

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Drew Barrymore, Justin Long Defile Kosher Home!

By Josh Tapper

Despite tepid advance reviews for the upcoming Drew Barrymore-Justin Long romantic comedy, “Going the Distance” — Variety diagnosed the movie as having “bipolar disorder” — the trailer is playing up the genre film’s atypical gross-out aspect.

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Court Rules Catholic Woman Has To Raise Stepson as Orthodox Jew

By Elissa Strauss

Divorce is never easy, and mixing in the rules of Orthodox Judaism certainly doesn’t make it easier. But that’s precisely what happened when Laura Derbigney became entangled in a custody battle between her Catholic husband and his Jewish ex-wife over the ex-couple’s 7-year-old son.

Derbigney, a Chicago resident, is being forced by a court to raise her stepson as an Orthodox Jew, the religion of his mother, the state’s local NBC affiliate is reporting. But Derbigney, a Hispanic Catholic, says that not being allowed to drive on Saturdays and being forced to avoid pork just doesn’t feel kosher.

Watch a video with Derbigney after the jump

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