Many societies regulate what and how people eat – even our secular culture does so. Overcrowded supermarket shelves constantly give rise to new ethical or health trends that target our eating habits: fair trade, organic, ecologically friendly, vegetarian, vegan, and slow food, to name just a few. Food rules and prohibitions are constitutive not only for modern societies, but especially for traditional ones. Food rules provide orientation and meaning. They consolidate a specific identity and protect it by delimiting it from the outside. In Judaism, kashrut is a fascinating and extremely complex system of dietary rules that can be seen as a symbol for the Jewish interpretation of the self and the world.
In the dialogical lecture series, Jewish dietary laws were considered in relation to the dietary rules of other world religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam) and interpreted using perspectives from anthropology, ethnology, and the sociology of food. In this way, the origins and functions of dietary rules were examined up to the present day. An expert on Judaism and a scholar from another discipline were invited to each session to illuminate the topic from their respective viewpoints.