A Blogger Responds From His POV

A blogger from a POV slightly different from mine responds to Jackie Walker’s article from yesterday about Messianic prisoners being denied Kosher meals in prison. Check it out here.

So, what do you think?

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Christian, Jackie Walker - Religion Transcends, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Blogger Responds From His POV

  1. toma4moshiach says:

    Great post- but there is a host of problems with just serving a Kosher meal in prison and I think it is a great service to give hope to those who are behind bars and have repented. I laude all those rabbis and chaplains who make a difference.

    In the recent study at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution as described by the Inspector in responding to an inmate’s complaint.

    ” I cannot believe they think a true Kosher meal includes line food. I explained that veg, fruit & other items have been cooked or stored in the same pans that have held pork products.”

    Solution offered by the Ohio Dept of Corrections “to provide a true Kosher meal or appropriate Kosher equivalent meal.”

    The issue that is faced is not only Kosher ingredients but also the handling and preparation of the meal. For example, a Kosher frozen entrée is thawed, cooked and placed in a separate line. However, fruits and vegetables are not kept separate as they are served with the regular line items. There are not two kitchens in the facility, or separate utensils, or separate plates. An orthodox inmate would not mix meat with dairy. In addition, he would not sit at a table were someone would be consuming both items.

    This leaves me a quandary. I believe the inmate should have the Kosher meal. However, according to tradition the food is contaminated because it is served on a plate, which has not been immersed in a Mikvah since they served pork & beans at the last meal.

    It appears the Ohio authorities consider this as “Kosher equivalent” and I do not believe they would agree to the expense of maintaining separate kitchen.

    So even if the Messianic Jew gets the frozen entrée-is it Kosher if he goes thru the line?

  2. rebbenzi says:


    Shalom Toma,

    Although I am not familiar with the Ohio prison system of kosher meals, I am familiar with the standard in the federal system.

    1. The main item is doubled wrapped, pre-packaged usually from mealmart corp., or kosher with heksher sardines, tuna, etc.
    2. The produce is usually served whole, uncut, such as a whole carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, etc, and on a PAPER plate.
    3. The items, less the hot meal if there is one, is placed on a tray and wrapped in celophane.
    4. Only paper and plastics are used for the meal.
    5. If on a special occassion such as Pesach, the main dishes are not available. A senior othordox inmate supervises the kashersing of one of the ovens, and the requires pans, untensils, etc. If a senior orthodox inmate is unavailable, a visiting rabbi or maskiach usually handles it.

    Now that I have addressed those issues, let me say this:

    These Jews are in PRISON, and must do what is neccessary to stay alive and healthy while striving to remain faithful to their tenets of faith.

    So they do the best they can within reasonable limits.

    The big question here is not how kosher is kosher prison food, but why won’t the prison authorities in Ohio respect the choices of Messianic Jews to eat kosher meals if they choose to do so? The basic answer is that kosher meals cost more, period. So however kosher, the kosher prison food is, its better for messianic Jews in prison than pork and shellfish, etc.

    I know because I’ve been there.

    If you have any further questions, please contact me.


    Benzion HaLevi Sherry
    Rosh Kehilah
    Kehilath HaDerekh
    Manhattan, NY
    (917) 670-8989

  3. parkerfly38 says:

    I guess I wouldn’t understand of what benefit an Orthodox Jewish hechsher would be to Messianic folks.

    It was the same question I asked when Messianic Chaplain Perez of the Army arguably inadvertently intercepted a Seder kit intended for an Orthodox Jewish Soldier in Iraq. Torah-minded MJs would seem to have no pressing need to adhere to any but a cursory level nod to kashrus, all things considered.

    Mind you, I long for the day y’all do t’shuvah and worry about it in the appropriate Jewish context, but that’s neither here nor there.

    So much of what constitutes kosher, especially in the case of supervision, is defined not in Torah, but in Midrash. Could not a Messianic Jew be merely satisfied with a Karaite level of kosher? I could understand with slaughtered meat, since shechita is fleshed (pun intended) out, more or less, in Torah, but as for the rest? Indeed, even the referral you make to mikveh immersion is defined by rabbinical authorities.

    How much of Messianic Judaism, as it were, are you all comfortable with drawing upon rabbinical Judaism as the source for your customs and practices?

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