Holding Back: How Kashrut Teaches Social and Moral Self-Discipline


Does what we eat actually matter?  What do the laws of Kashrut have to do with holiness, purity or ethics?  In this lesson, learners will study three texts that contain possible sociological, psychological, and ethical explanations for Kashrut.  In depth questions based on these texts prompt students to delve into a variety of complex issues, such as whether it’s a good thing that kashrut laws keep the Jewish people separate, and considering if or how kashrut helps us to be more ethical. An article on the EU’s upholding of a Belgian ban on shechita , provides material for a class debate on the ethics of Jewish ritual slaughter, is also featured in this resource.

The learner will:

  1. Understand how kashrut enriches the way I experience my life and the world

  2. know sociological, psychological, and ethical reasons behind the the laws of kashrut

  3. be able to, based on the sources learned in the lesson, hold their own court proceedings on shechita and the rules of kashrut in general

When you click on the Jewish Education by Design resource link featured above, you will find the following educational building blocks for the creation of a lesson plan:

  1. Essential questions that get to the “heart” of the learning

  2. A hook/s to open the lesson in an engaging fashion and spark the learners’ curiosity

  3. In depth discussion questions that are designed to elicit conceptual thinking and personal reflections about the featured source/s

  4. Suggested activities that enable the students to both process and apply what was learned in a thought provoking and creative fashion

A further study option/s to related materials on the JEBD site or to external links

Student handout, computer, projector

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