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Do Messianic Jewish prisoners deserve kosher meals?

by Brad A. Greenberg

July 21, 2008 | 4:40 pm

Of course they do. If eating kosher is an important observance for them, and it is for some, they should be permitted kosher meals. It doesn’t matter that they are, in fact, Christians.

Ohio prisons, however, disagree. I wonder if the fact that non-kosher meals cost $0.95 while kosher meals cost $5 to $6 has anything to do with it.

The Mansfield News Journal has a really basic story, with some bad information (like a Christian chaplain interpreting kosher food as the Jewish version of communion) and rabbis stating Messianics aren’t Jews, via Religion Clause.

“You’re going to have different views on different things,” [a Messianic pastor] said. “There are little differences within the camps of Messianic Judaism. They all believe a little differently, but are all grounded in the Torah. I think we can all agree, we use the Torah as a basis for our beliefs on kosher. If this is a matter of conscience for them, I would say they should be allowed to eat the kosher food. If they’re sincere in their beliefs and faith, and they want to eat kosher meals, I don’t see why they shouldn’t.”

Some inmates agreed and have filed grievances within the past month, alleging discrimination by a Christian-led prison system.

“This grievance is all about discrimination of a religious sect, and the conspiracy for the deprivation of rights secured by the Constitution,” Richland inmate Ronald Lutz, 64, wrote.

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