No Pork!

No, sadly, not a new promise from politicians. Rather, about school lunches. And as one gentleman points out, it\’s nonsense anyway:

Jon Benjamin, the chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “This is simply not an issue. Jews of a certain level of observance would not eat in non-kosher restaurants or dining halls.

\”Children at mainstream school who are bothered would probably have packed lunches.

\”Children who are comfortable with using the same cutlery and crockery as everyone else would choose their dishes from the options available. It is live and let live – we are certainly not calling for this.”

The issue of pork or not pork simply is not important to anyone keeping kosher or halal. For both are a complete set of rules about what is allowable: kosher for example would not allow there to be either butter or milk in the mashed potatoes that go with the bangers from any kind of meat (insert joke here about the impossibility of finding meat in a British sausage).

As the man says, anyone seriously trying to follow the religious rules wouldn\’t be eating school lunches anyway.

15 comments on “No Pork!

  1. I suspect it’s more to do with the cadres desire genuflect before the trendy minority de jour. Twenty years ago it would have been banning “baa baa black sheep” 🙂

  2. Back in the 1970s, my grammar school’s chess club had a fixture against its Jewish equivalent. To the amusement of our lot (who got to scoff the lot), our catering lady supplied pork pies.

  3. Ah yes. The malignant influence of a seemingly arbitrarily defined ‘best practice’.

    By the same yardstick if they wanted to a) avoid offense, b) save money and c) not get slated for offering grim school dinners they should stop providing them. No more complaints from Jamie Oliver, puts responsibility for child nutrition back where it belongs with parents and enables a free-er market solution to what kids want to eat for their dinner.

  4. I don’t think it implausible that Haringey Council in particular is concerned about Jews. But it seems not to have done any research to find out how many schoolchildren this policy makes a difference to.

    Personally I’m in favour of such a ban: not because of any religious belief but because I think intensive pig (and chicken) farming is wrong.

  5. Observe that it’s a Jew who gives the measured, rational response. But the sucking-up wasn’t aimed at him.

  6. Tim>

    In this context it’s important to highlight that there are many different flavours of Judaism. The Board of Deputies mainly speaks for Orthodox, traditional Judaism. There are those of different er, denominations(?) like Liberal and Reform Judaism, or who describe themselves as ‘culturally Jewish’ or some such, and so whilst they don’t necessarily keep Kosher in the strict sense which the BoD refers to, some won’t eat pig or shellfish.

    The extensive rules regarding keeping Kosher are inferred and expanded from very short biblical passages/commandments, so amongst those more modern types of Judaism where freedom of conscience and making up your own mind is allowed/encouraged, there is certainly plenty of room for non-traditional interpretations.

    Anyway, I think it’s actually reasonable to say that there’s a fairly large middle-ground of not particularly religious Jews who would at least feel less comfortable being served from a counter also serving pork than if it was serving chicken or beef.

  7. Can we also get a similarly wise comment from a representative of Islam, please? The large majority are of similar wisdom to Mr Benjamin and light-years ahead of bureaucrats.
    Background: I attended a nominally non-conformist school which had a significant minority of Jews and Muslims, who all shared our pretty awful school meals. I cannot recall ever eating pork apart from sausages there so I suppose those that cared just opted out of the sausages (certainly a few did). Nobody was offered a vegetarian option. I suppose that we did not have any practising Orthodox Jews – some years later I was talking to a senior member of my profession and she told that she could not send her children there because we had lessons on Saturday morning, so this is not contradicting Mr Benjamin.

  8. I come from a little Worcestershire village which plays cricket in a league which includes teams from the Black Country, for historic reasons – part of the Black Country used to be in Worcs. Not long ago, a team came from Cradley Heath, who turned out to be all Pakistani. The ladies who make the sandwiches had made lovely succulent ham ones that day. They really didn’t have a clue that none of the team could eat them. They’d not knowingly come across Muslims before, except on the telly or in a newspaper.

  9. Steven Pinker, the eminent Harvard professor, describes himself as an atheist jew. And is also pretty thick against tribalism.
    Can anyone explain?

  10. Blokeinfrance>

    (Were you blokeinspain last week? Have you moved? Or a different bloke? Or just my bad memory for names?)

    ‘Atheist Jew’ – well, what kind of explanation would you like? To start with, in my opinion, we’re solely talking about irrational beliefs here, so there’s no point looking too hard for reasons, except insofar as psychological explanations for all thoughts exist.

    If you’re just looking for an explanation of what it is Prof Pinker believes, you’d have to ask him for an exact description. By describing himself with that label, though, he’s offering a set of ideas which he broadly subscribes to. Cynically, one might get a good idea of the concept of atheist Judaism from the old joke about the Jew who knows exactly which synagogue he does’t attend.

    Being less cynical, atheist/cultural Judaism is about wanting to avoid rejecting the thousands of years of history that tends to come with being Jewish, or the moral values of your ancestors, without believing in the religion that ostensibly was their reason for holding those moral views.

    As you may have guessed, I come from a similar background and asked myself similar questions as a result. I came to a different conclusion, though, which is that (successful) religions merely provide a framework within which one can justify whatever it is that one believes anyway, and so if my ancestors did what I consider to be good things, it was because they were good people, not because they were Jews. Either way, both Pinker and I have a way of avoiding our own moral choices conflicting with those of our ancestors.

  11. There’s no mystery about Pinker. He’s an atheist who is ethnically and culturally Jewish.

    The confusion arises because “Jewish” describes both a descendant of the tribes of Israel and an adherent of the Jewish faith.

    Personally, I am an atheist who is ethnically mostly Jewish, but culturally mostly gentile. It takes all sorts.

  12. Jewish bloke told me once that if offered pork when invited to dine at someone’s home, he’ll eat it as the rules of hospitality trump dietary restrictions.

  13. >The issue of pork or not pork simply is
    >not important to anyone keeping kosher
    >or halal.

    Jews who do not keep kosher but still do not eat pork are quite common, however.

    I know lots of Jewish people who don’t keep kosher, but follow certain parts of Jewish dietary law for what are essentially cultural reasons. In some cases, the only part they follow is not eating pork. Very few restaurants in Israel serve pork (although ones that do certainly exist – there is no law against it), even the non-kosher ones. Non-Orthodox Jews still often identify strongly as being Jewish, and this is one of the ways they do it. It is usually mostly cultural identification rather than obeying God’s dietary laws, however, so it doesn’t have to be all that strict.

    Such people generally do not mind if pork is cooked in the same kitchen as what they are eating, however. And such people people never make an issue of it. It’s still a good idea to make sure you have one dish that is not pork if you have them around, though.

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