Stand and do (kosher) liver...

I AM an Orthodox Jew who, like many of us, has set my own parameters of compliance with Jewish law.

I attend shul three days a year for the high holidays, as well as for yahrzeit, weddings and barmitzvahs.

I can read Hebrew fluently. I keep Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and, as a family, have two seders at Pesach.

We keep separate milk and meat plates and cutlery, but have one sink and one dishwasher.

All of this is a consequence of my upbringing, circumstances and my personal choices.

Throughout my 57 years, no rabbis, clergy, nor members of the Beth Din have sought to restrict how I live my life, as far as Judaism is concerned.

Indeed the outlook of the rabbis at Street Lane Gardens has relaxed over the years in order to make Jewish practice more accessible in todayís world.

By way of example Rabbi Jason Kleinman in his sermons has welcomed the congregation to attend shul on Shabbat and festivals, regardless of their mode of transport from home.

So why am I telling you this?

On a visit to Israel in the early-1970s I discovered fried chicken livers, which is a dish I have enjoyed ever since, cooked by mother when I lived at home, by myself as a single man and by my wife through our 25 years of marriage.

A 40-year tradition I have enjoyed without interference or involvement from anyone outside my family.

As of about a month ago, we were advised by the staff at the Gourmet delicatessen that fresh liver would no longer be available for purchase, due to a ruling by the Beth Din.

This new ruling is a departure from the faith entrusted in Jewish families for centuries to kasher liver in their own home.

The Beth Din do not make me have two sinks or two dishwashers.

The Beth Din do not stop those members of the community who choose to buy non-kosher meat from doing so or indeed those members of the community who just canít afford it.

They do not stop those members who adopt only some of the Jewish laws from attending shul, so what is the rationale behind changing the tradition of allowing kashering of liver at home?

Perhaps it is because the cost of chicken livers has now increased by 50 per cent to take account of the kashering cost; mistakenly making the Beth Din believe that it will increase their ever-decreasing revenues.

More importantly, however, are the consequences for the Jewish family.

Food and cooking are at the very heart of Jewish tradition. I have given the new policy a chance and have tried the pre-cooked livers. I consider them unpalatable.

It appears the bulk of the community agree as sales of liver at Gourmet have been decimated as a consequence of the change in policy.

Many of us have chopped liver and chicken soup on Friday night. What is the community doing now?

Either missing out on the chopped liver, eating the unacceptable results from the pre-cooking and freezing of the chicken livers or maybe, worse still, buying liver from non-kosher supermarkets

My personal choices in respect of my liver dilemma are as follows:

l To eat the unpalatable results from trying to re-cook the already cooked liver, an option which I and many others have rejected.

l Not to eat liver and allow this food to lose its traditional place at our dinner table, not only on ordinary week nights, but also on high holidays, when we have large family gatherings.

I am going to struggle to provide a reasoned argument to my children and grandchildren why they can no longer enjoy their motherís and grandmotherís fabulous chopped liver.

l Buy my liver from a supermarket and keep it in a separate fridge, eating it on a third set of plates and with a third set of cutlery to convince myself this is just as acceptable as having only one dishwasher and one sink.

To this effect, if I am to buy non-kosher liver, and bring treife into my home, it seems futile to continue purchasing chicken, beef and lamb from Gourmet.

Rather, it would be more rational to abandon my purchase of kosher food altogether, which would have the following inevitable consequences:

a) The Kosherie would lose a significant amount of revenue spent by my family on a weekly basis.

b) I would be financially better off and still enjoying liver as part of my weekly food consumption.

c) Several members of my family, including my own mother and grandchildren, would no longer eat in my house.

d) I would send a terrible message to my children and grandchildren in terms of embracing as many of the Jewish laws and traditions as is possible in 2018.

e) If others follow my actions, then the demise of Gourmet is on the horizon. Followed by the demise of the Leeds community.

It is regrettable that I canít have my fried chicken liver and chopped liver, but what is far worse is the leaders of the community are acting in a way which could lead to the destruction of the Leeds Jewish community.

We sadly saw recently the reduction in kosher shops in Leeds from two to one, with the demise of Moortown Deli.

The loss of liver revenue for Gourmet will only serve to affect its profitability and, if it cannot operate at least to break even, the inevitable consequence is the loss of all kosher food outlets in Leeds.

Separately from the above, I have been involved in trying to help find a solution to the over-supply of synagogues in Leeds due to the reduction in attendees and the reduction in the size of our community.

A more than challenging exercise due to the self-preservation of interests by stakeholders in the individual shuls as opposed to actions that would benefit our wider Leeds community.

The attitude of those at the head of our community must be adapted if the Leeds Jewry is to survive and our children and grandchildren are to enjoy a community as I have done for 57 years.

I call upon those running the community in terms of imposing Jewish laws and traditions to:

* Stop meddling with rules and regulations and to return to the long established traditions and allow the sale of fresh chicken livers at Gourmet.

* Spend their time educating housewives how to kasher chicken livers in their home.

I call upon the community as a whole to rally round and take steps to ensure in all respects the strengthening and maintenance of Leeds Jewry for the benefit of our children, grandchildren and future generations at the expense of personal crusades and interests.

Simon Nabarro,

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