Who knew kosher food could be such a contentious issue?
Well, in the land of cell blocks and orange jumpsuits, it is. Florida is now under a court order to begin serving kosher foods to eligible inmates. Just cause they committed a crime, doesn’t mean they don’t want some kosher nosh, right? Even the gentiles are requesting kosher food, which has state officials in a tizzy.
According to the New York Times, the cost of religious meals is four times as much as the standards fare.
Florida is the one state with the third-largest prison system that stopped serving kosher options to inmates in 2007 due to the cost–but also because other inmates were getting too jealous. Can’t you just picture one big-bellied inmate saying to another on the food line, sincerely concerned, “is this pareve?”
Last year, the US Department of Justice sued Florida for violating a 2000 law intended to protect inmates’ religious freedom. The judge issued a temporary injunction in December which forced the state to begin serving kosher meals as a trial.
Why are Florida prisons robbing inmates of their right to kosher food?
Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said, ““It’s a holdout. I don’t know why it’s being a holdout. It is strange that Florida, of all places, is placing a special burden on Jewish inmates. It’s just stubbornness.”
Gentiles and Jews alike have “paranoia about what they are being fed,” said Gary Friedman, a chaplain who is chairman of Jewish Prisoner Services International. He continues, ““About how the food could be adulterated, how the prison uses out-of-date products, how they use things that don’t meet U.S.D.A. standards, how sex offenders may be handling their food.”
Nosh on, prisoners, nosh on.