The Water's Fine, but is it Kosher? - The Water's Fine but Is It Kosher By Joseph Berger \u25cf Nov 7 2004 When rabbis in Brooklyn spotted a tiny

The Water's Fine, but is it Kosher? - The Water's Fine but...

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The Water's Fine, but Is It Kosher? By Joseph Berger Nov. 7, 2004 When rabbis in Brooklyn spotted a tiny crustacean swimming in New York City's tap water last spring, the ensuing debate about whether it rendered the city's water unkosher seemed like an amusing, but esoteric dispute in a particularly exacting Jewish enclave. But in the months since, the discovery has changed the daily lives of tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews across the city. Plumbers in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens have been summoned to install water filters -- some costing more than $1,000 -- and dozens of restaurants have posted signs in their windows trumpeting that they filter their water. As a result, an entirely new standard is being set for what constitutes a kosher kitchen. "I don't want people in the community to be uncomfortable in my home," said Laurie Tobias Cohen, executive director of the Lower East Side Conservancy, explaining why she put a filter on the faucet of her Washington Heights apartment. The issue has created the perfect conditions for a Talmudic tempest, allowing rabbis here and in Israel to render sometimes conflicting and paradoxical rulings on whether New York City water is drinkable if it is not filtered. As with the original Talmudic debates, the distinctions rendered for various situations have been super-fine, with clashing judgments on whether unfiltered water can be used to cook, wash dishes, or brush teeth, and whether filtering water on the Sabbath violates an obscure prohibition. Sign up for the New York Today Newsletter Each morning, get the latest on New York businesses, arts, sports, dining, style and more. SIGN UP The creature, a crustacean known as a copepod that comes in several species, is found in water all over the world and is perfectly harmless. But it is a distant cousin of the dreaded shrimp and lobster, shellfish whose consumption violates the biblical prohibition against eating water-borne
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creatures that lack fins and scales. The prohibition refers only to species that can be seen with the unaided eye -- not, say, an amoeba -- and the question of whether the copepod is indeed visible is central to the dispute. Some are so small as to be invisible, while
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