Is giraffe kosher? What about peacock? Or bison? (What is bison anyway?) Find answers to these mysteries of the edible animal kingdom next week at the Orthodox Union's (OU) "Halachic Adventure" in Los Angeles, which will present the traditional perspective on all different types of species. The first day of the Aug. 5-7 conference is open to the public (the other two days are for rabbis and kashrut professionals).
Sunday, Aug. 5 will begin with an all-day session at the OU (cost $15), with speakers such as Rabbi Steven Weil discussing growing up on a cattle farm and the "two Aris" -- Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky and Dr. Ari Greenspan, who have devoted years to investigating which species are kosher. They hope to restore kosher status wherever possible to animals, fish and poultry that at one time might have been acceptable but whose status is now in doubt, or have been considered kosher only in a limited area.
"Kashrut is something that's very popular," said Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, director of community and synagogue services for the OU West Coast. "Many people are concerned with what they're putting on their table and are interested in what animals are kosher."
The public is also invited to a 15-course meal Sunday night at Prime Grill (cost $175), where plates of quail, red deer, bison, udder, partridge and yak will be served. For more information, call (310) 229-9000, ext. 200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Amy Klein, Religion Editor
Torah With a Green Lens Jews have long been involved in saving the world -- especially when it comes to the environment -- so they should be happy to know that's what the Torah commands. "Bring Torah Down To Earth," a three-hour seminar, will explore the Torah-based approach to activism and ecology.
Sponsored by the Happy Minyan, a Shlomo Carlebach-style synagogue, the outdoor workshop will be led by Israeli rabbis from Yeshiva Simchat Shlomo, the Carlebach yeshiva in Jerusalem, which recently began the Eco-Activist Beit Midrash.
"We hope to become a serious center for a deep Torah ecology, connected to our ancestral land and our modern people, cultivating a cadre of rooted, informed and inspired activists to bring lights of tikkun [fixing] into our own communities and the world," the program introduction reads. Yeshiva Simchat Shlomo (www.shlomoyeshiva.org/eco/) leads Torah ecology seminars in Israel for Birthright.
"A lot of people wouldn't put Torah and green together in a million years," said David Sacks, a member of the Happy Minyan. "Most people see it as a good thing to do, rather than as part of the Torah's vision of the world -- not just taking care of people in the world, but the world itself." The seminar will take place July 29 from noon to 3 p.m. at Roxbury Park in Beverly Hills.