U.S. Water News Online
NEW YORK -- A glassful of cold New York City tap water not
It may be true -- and just in case, restaurants and bakeries
operated under Orthodox Jewish law were advised to use filters that
can ensure water purity.
The problem: tiny harmless creatures called copepods. The little
organisms are crustaceans and therefore not considered kosher.
As stores in heavily orthodox Brooklyn reported a run on water
filters and rabbis considered whether additional measures were
necessary, the Central Rabbinical Council issued its edict for
"We have given out a ruling that they should filter their water,"
said the council's Rabbi Yitzchok Glick. "We are still in the middle
of deliberations about exactly the issues and the Jewish law."
Under Jewish law, the eating of crustaceans -- aquatic animals
with skeletons outside their bodies, including shrimp, crabs and
lobsters -- is barred.
Rabbi Abraham Zimmerman, of the Orthodox Satmar sect, said the
recent discovery of the copepods was a small hardship, but he called
on the city to help in making its water kosher.
"We hope the city will do something to purify and filter the water
to accommodate a few hundred thousand Orthodox, observant Jews,"
But the Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the
reservoirs, said the copepods are impossible to do away with and that
they deliver health benefits to the reservoir.
"When it comes to delivery, if there is a spike and you are not
comfortable with what you see in your water, all we can recommend is
a commercial filter, which will effectively filter them out," DEP
spokesman Charles Sturcken said.
Another Brooklyn rabbi, of the Lubavitcher group, said many
religious leaders were advising their Orthodox followers to buy water
filters if they can.
For those who can't afford filters, the water can be run through a
double cloth to remove the copepods, Zimmerman said.
The problem became known recently in another dispute over kosher
An Israeli company was accused by some customers of selling
vegetables contaminated with insects, a violation of kosher laws. The
company insisted the bugs were introduced when the vegetables were
washed in New York.
Several Orthodox Jews then put the city's tap water under a
microscope, turning up the millimeter-long creatures. The ensuing
flap was particularly surprising, given New York's reputation for
A recent Zagat survey found that seven out of 10 New York diners
preferred tap to bottled water.
City officials were adamant that the creatures posed no threat to
anyone's physical health, although the mental well-being of the
Orthodox community was another matter.
"Pertaining to households, if they have to filter the water, we
don't have an exact ruling at this point," said Glick.
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