The Introduction to Kashrut is intended as a entry point guide for individuals and organisations interested in Kashrut.  This is to be used as a general guide only. 

What does "Kosher" mean?

The Hebrew word "Kosher" applies to food and means fit or proper for consumption.  The word "kosher" refers to the food that Jewish people regard as fit for them to eat.  The generic term that covers kosher foods and their production is "kashrut".  This summary presents an overview of the main features of kashrut.

Categories of Kosher Foods: Meat, Milk & Parve

Beef, veal, lamb and venison are permitted. Meat also includes poultry, ie domestic birds such as chicken, turkey, duck and geese.  Although these meats are permitted, for the meat to be kosher and acceptable for consumption, the animal/bird must have been inspected by a qualified slaughterer (Shochet), slaughtered in an accepted way and then treated so as to remove the blood from the carcass.

Animals such as pigs and kangaroos that neither have a cloven hoof now chew their cud are not kosher.  Birds of prey and scavenger birds are not kosher.

Milk refers to any food that contains milk or dairy/milk derivatives.  


Parve refers to a kosher food that contains neither meat nor milk.  It is considered "neutral".  All things that grow from the earth are, in their natural state, considered kosher and parve.  

Any fish having fins and scales is also kosher and parve.  Sharks, shellfish and eel are not kosher.  

Processed Foods

Food that is inherently kosher is made non-kosher if it comes in contact with any non-kosher implement, utensil or wrapping.  It is for this reason that the processing of food that is to be certified as kosher is typically done under strict supervision.

Practical considerations related to the handling of Kosher Foods

Meat and dairy must be kept strictly separate.  Utensils and storage devices that have been used for meat cannot subsequently be used with dairy, and vice versa.  Food that is not kosher is called "treif" (pronounced to rhyme with "waif").  Some foods such as pork and lobster are inherently treif.  Other foods are made treif by the ingredients, materials and/or utensils used in the processing.  Materials/utensils that have been in contact with treif food will make treif any other food that touches them.


Ach'shevei - someone who has accorded in the status of food

Achilah - eating,consuming

Achilah gassa - gluttony

Aino ben-yomo - not used within 24 hours

Assur b'achilah - prohibited to be eaten

Assur b'hana'ah - prohibited to derive benefit from

Avodah zarah - idolatry

B'rachah achrona - an after blessing

B'racha l'vatalah - b'racha said in vain

B'racha rishona - b'racha said before eating

Basar b'chalav - forbidden mixture of meat and milk

Batel - nullification,negation

Batel b'rov - negated by the majority

Batel b'shishim - negated in a ratio of 60 to 1

Ben yomo - used within 24 hours

Bidieved - ex post facto

Bircat HaMazon - the blessings after a bread meal

Bishul - cooking

Blech - metal sheet for cooking on stove top on Shabbat

Challah - Shabbat loaves or Kohen's portion of dough

Chametz - leavened bread forbidden on Pesach

Chazal - acronym for "our sages of blessed memory

Cheilev - non-kosher fats

Chok - Torah statute

Chumra - stringent application

Dam - blood

Dayan - Halachic Judge

Dinim - Laws

Gid Hanasheh - Sciatic nerve

Hagala - koshering by scalding

Halacha - Jewish law

Heter - something permitted

Iruy - pouring

Issur b'hana'ah - prohibited matter

Kasher - to make proper, kosher

Kavush - soaking

Kehillah - community

Kli Rishon - first vessel, the original vessel the food was cooked in

Kli Sheni - second vessel, poured into from kli rishon

kli Shlishi - Third vessel,poured from kli sheni

Klipah - thin removable surface

Kohen - Priest, A direct male descendent of Aaron

Lechatchilah - initially,in the first place

Libun - Kashering by heating in a fire until red hot

Libun Kal - Kashering by heating in a fire until object can char straw

Machmir - being stringent

Maikil - being lenient

Neveilah - Carrion

Orlah - the fruit of the tree in its first three years

Pagum - Stale taste

Parve - Food that is neither milk or meat

Poskim - Authoritative Rabbinic Halachic Judges

Reicha - Aroma

Riviyit - A liquid mesurementof approximately 1.5 eggs

Se'udah - A meal

Shulcan Aruch - code of Jewish law by Rabbi Y. Karo

Treif - non-kosher