The Chief Rabbi has backed a decision by the London Board of Shechita to ban the sale of liver that has not been pre-koshered because very few Jews now know how to kosher a liver properly.
A spokeswoman for Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis made the comments in response to complaints from British Jews about new rules requiring livers to be sold pre-koshered.
“The Chief Rabbi is inclined to support this ruling because unlike previous generations, we are fortunate to have all our meat koshered for us prior to purchase,” said the spokeswoman. “As a result, the vast majority of today’s kosher-eating public is not familiar at all with koshering procedures.”
She added that “many who purchase non-koshered liver today are not aware that it hasn’t been koshered and, if they were aware, would not know what to do”. This was akin to placing “a stumbling block before the blind,” she said, quoting Vayikra 19:14.
“By ensuring that all liver sold in our butchers is already koshered, there is no possibility for anything to go wrong in anyone’s kitchen… Many years of experience show that putting appropriate labelling on non-koshered meat will not help the situation. Neither will any explanations on how to kosher meat.”
Acknowledging that some will be disappointed by the rule, she said: “It does not in any way call into question your own ability to kosher meat appropriately. Rather, the rule now stands in order to help all customers maintain a kosher home.”
It follows comments from Mark Goldwater, head of the London Board of Shechita, who said “people will adapt” to the new rule from the Board’s Rabbinical Authority, which consists of the UK’s three most senior Dayanim.
Koshering is a process involving washing, draining, salting and drying, which is much quicker for liver than for meat and fowl. Until this year, consumers have been koshering the liver themselves at home, but now kosher butchers are having to explain to customers about the change.
Toni Honickberg, a Jewish consumer who lives near Edgware, said he did not know why it was necessary. “Most of the cooks and chefs I have come across like to kosher liver themselves, for convenience and freshness,” he said. “Selling it already koshered ruins the whole flavour, texture and cooking process as it dries out too quickly. Who on earth decided that was best for the customer?”
Reader Pat Stanton said the Chief Rabbi’s response was “very disappointing,” adding: “It in no way assures that homes will be any more kosher in the future than they are now.”
Another reader, who preferred to remain anonymous, pointed out that Jews could still buy non-koshered liver in France, Israel and the United States. “It is not their business to ensure that people maintain a kosher home; that is up to the individual and to take away their freedom of choice is an infringement of their human rights,” she said.
“I do not believe that it is ‘placing a stumbling block before the blind’ either. Our community is being polarised. The youth of today are either becoming disaffected and do not bother keeping kosher or have gone in the other direction completely, have become very orthodox, and would be happy to kosher their own livers.”