OU Releases ‘The Kosher Fish Primer’ DVD to Clarify Issues of What Makes These Creatures Kosher

03 Jun 2008

What makes a fish kosher, you say? Fins and scales. Everyone knows that. But very few people know that some scaled fish are as non-kosher as lobster! (See below to find out why.)

OU Kosher, as part of its ever-widening program of kashrut education, announced today the release of a new 30-minute DVD: “The Kosher Fish Primer – The Secrets Revealed,” featuring Rabbi Chaim Goldberg, an OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinator who travels the world certifying fish as kosher. In his engaging manner, Rabbi Goldberg will delight audiences from young elementary school children to adults, as he explores the various issues the kosher consumer must consider when buying fish. Rabbi Goldberg doesn’t perform alone – fish are featured in the DVD as well. The recording is excellent for classroom and synagogue presentations.

Rabbi Goldberg, who received rabbinical ordination at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, NY, has directed the Kosher Fish Desk at the OU for six years. Rabbi Goldberg’s “fish-finding missions” for the OU have taken him to Alaska, Chile, British Columbia, Peru, Colombia, Trinidad and Iceland. When he closes his tackle box, Rabbi Goldberg returns to Brooklyn, where he resides with his wife and three children (but as he states, “no fish tank, yet”).

The DVD covers:

• The textbook definition of kosher fish;
• Pre-empting some potential misunderstandings about kosher fish (why one cannot rely on fish lists or other identifications of fish by common name);
• The potential Torah and rabbinic prohibitions relating to fish;
• An explanation of how to identify a kosher fish;
• A hands-on demonstration of how to identify a kosher fish yourself; and
• A quick tutorial on how to buy kosher fish from any fish store – even if it is not kosher certified.

“The presentation is titled ‘The Kosher Fish Primer’ to indicate that we are in no way claiming to have covered every topic worth teaching about kosher fish, but rather as a thorough introduction to more advanced study, depending on the level of the students,” Rabbi Goldberg explained. “We hope that after viewing this DVD, the viewer will be a properly informed fish consumer, who will be able to buy fish wherever in the world one travels.”

The new DVD is the latest in a series of initiatives of OU Kosher’s educational outreach. This outreach includes programs such as “OU Kosher Coming,” which sends OU experts to schools, synagogues and campuses to share their knowledge of Jewish law and food technology; it features as well as the “Kosher Tidbits” web series, consisting of more than 100 short seminars on innumerable aspects of kashrut, and available on www.ouradio.org. The “Kosher Kidz” video has been sent to yeshivot and day schools throughout North America to provide a basic understanding of what makes food kosher, with the production of kosher ice cream as the example.

Now, about that non-kosher fish with scales. Some fish have scales which cannot be removed from the fish without ripping the skin (like some sharks and eels). These fish are not kosher, as Rabbi Goldberg explains.

The video can be obtained from OU Kosher by contacting Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, OU Kosher Senior Rabbinic Coordinator and Vice President of Communications and Marketing, at safrane@ou.org.