New York City Tap Water Isn't Kosher?

June 2, 2004
Little crustaceans have Orthodox Jews worried whether water is kosher.

Restaurants and bakeries operated under Orthodox Jewish law were advised to filter New York City tap water to ensure purity. Federal regulations don't require New York City water to be filtered as it has some of the purest municipal water in the world. However, an inspection of city water came back with some unsettling results for Orthodox Jews – tiny creatures called copepods.

The little organisms are crustaceans and therefore not considered kosher. Although copepods, according to the city Department of Environmental Protection are harmless, the eating of crustaceans is prohibited under kosher low.

As a result of this news, the Central Rabbinical Council stated, "We have given out a ruling that they should filter their water," said the council's Rabbi Yitzchok Glick. "We are still in the middle of deliberations about exactly the issues and the Jewish law."

"We hope the city will do something to purify and filter the water to accommodate a few hundred thousand Orthodox, observant Jews," said Rabbi Abraham Zimmerman of the Orthodox Satmar sect. He added that although the discovery of the copepods was a small hardship, the city should do something about it.

The Department of Environmental Protection, however, said that the copepods are impossible to do away with and that they deliver health benefits to the reservoirs.

"When it comes to delivery, if there is a spike and you are not comfortable with what you see in your water, all we can recommend is a commercial filter, which will effectively filter them out," DEP spokesman Charles Sturcken said.

A Brooklyn rabbi, of the Lubavitcher group, said many religious leaders were advising their Orthodox followers to buy water filters if they can, according to Associated Press.

For those who can't afford filters, the water can be run through a double cloth to remove the copepods, Zimmerman said.

Source: Associated Press

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