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Is Turkey Kosher?

By: Rabbi Ari Z. Zivotofsky,** Ph.D.

** Rabbi Zivotofsky is an IRTA fellow at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. The author wishes to acknowledge a large debt of gratitude to Stanley Searles, Curator of Birds at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Dr. Doni Zivotofsky, DVM, Prof. Marc Shapiro, Ph.D. and an "anonymous consultant". In addition, thanks are due to: Rabbi Moshe Bleich, Rabbi Michael Broyde, Rabbi Reuven Halpern, Dr. Ari Y. Greenspan, Prof. Karla Goldman, Rabbi Yehuda Kelemer, Avi Pollak, and my father, Dr. Bernard Zivotofsky, Ph.D.

INTRODUCTION:

With Columbus' serendipitous discovery of the "New World", came not only the blessing of a new land in which Jews would find a safe haven, but also unknown species of flora and fauna with which the halachic system would have to deal. Turkey, a New World bird, is a good example of this. According to the National Turkey Federation, Israel leads the world in turkey consumption. At a whopping 26.9 pounds per capita in 1996, Israelis consumed about 45% more than Americas, who are the world's number two consumers. How is it that the turkey, the quintessential New World species which Benjamin Franklin proposed as the national bird of the United States, has become so universally accepted as a kosher species that Israel leads the world in its consumption? To appreciate the question one must understand how fowl are classified as permissible or forbidden, and to recognize why a "new" species of fowl presents a significant halachic challenge.

KASHRUT OF BIRDS - THE BIBLICAL STORY:

KASHRUT OF BIRDS - THE RABBINIC STORY:

KASHRUT OF BIRDS - THE NEED FOR A MESORAH:

MESORAHS: TRANSMITTING, MAKING, APPLYING, AND AMENDING:

KASHRUT OF THE TURKEY

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