The Lebanese Jews have combined their cultural heritage with their religious obligations and thus eat Lebanese Kosher food. According to the rabbi of the congregation, there is nothing called Lebanese Kosher. Kosher is Kosher, and the laws of the Kashrut (the Jewish dietary guidelines) can apply to any cuisine.
Although Kosher associated to any cuisine may seem normal for any Jew, it was a surprise to me. Lebanese Kosher was to me as foreign as the concept of Lebanese Jews itself . But it is fascinating enough that i want to investigate it in further detail. There will be a special section about the food in particular, to follow.
Some general guidelines though:
Meat has to follow a specific slaughtering procedure supervised by a rabbi.
Pork products are not allowed.
Mixing dairy and meat products in food is also not allowed.
This means that certain traditional Lebanese dishes that have meat in them and that are typically served with yogurt on the side , are altered in order to fit Kosher standards.
For example: kibbe a torpedo-shaped burghul shell stuffed with chopped meat is typically served with yogurt. Lebanese Jews eat it without yogurt.
Here ‘s what a typical Lebanese table set for a family meal looks like. I have to admit this one is from my personal collection taken back home. We had family over, uncles with their families. The meal lasts at least 3 or 4 hours, with several small dishes, appetizer-like or Mezze. For what it’s worth, as long as there was no yogurt and dairy containing dishes and if the meat was kosher, this definitely could be what a Lebanese Kosher table would look like as well. In fact, my informants told me about their long meals where the entire family gathers for hours around food.
One of my informants mentioned that in Lebanon, the rabbi of the community used to supervise the slaughtering of the meat for Jews and had a special stamp to identify it. But the rest of the ingredients were mostly sourced locally, the same places that other Lebanese would buy their food. In fact, he explained that at that time, there was little food processing in Lebanon. As long as as the meat is Kosher, the meals are pork free and no mixing of meat and dairy , then this was enough. But in the US, many of the products found at the supermarkets are processed with ingredients of unknown sources. So, the Jews who are keeping Kosher are worried that it might be a product that contains pork. This is why the Kosher industry is a large industry now, any product can be made Kosher: Kosher salt, Kosher water etc…
For their events and celebrations –and they do have many many of them–Lebanese Jews have their foods ordered from certified Kosher caterers who prepare their traditional dishes, Kosher Lebanese dishes.