OU Applauds Florida Federal Court Ruling Requiring Kosher Food in Prisons

05 May 2015

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Jewish umbrella organization, applauded the decision of a Florida federal district court mandating that kosher food be served in Florida state prisons.

The Orthodox Union (OU), together with other leading Orthodox Jewish organizations, had previously filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case in May 2014. This brief, authored by noted attorney Nathan Lewin, contested Florida’s argument that denying kosher food to inmates was acceptable due to the “population explosion” seen in the program. The legal brief also contested Florida’s assertion that there was any justification for refusing to operate a kosher food program, noting that Florida stood in violation of the federal Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act―a religious freedom statute the OU helped craft and pass into law in 2000.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy of the Orthodox Union. “We are pleased that the court’s ruling rejected Florida’s argument that high interest in a kosher food program should prevent Jews from observing their basic religious beliefs. This was a victory for both the Jewish community and the cause of religious freedom in the United States.

To read the full text of the court’s ruling on the case, click here.