Water Industry News
NYC DEP recommends home filters to Orthodox Jews
...is this Kosher?
June 1, 2004
NEW YORK -- A glassful of cold New York City tap water
It may be true -- and just in case, restaurants and bakeries operated
under Orthodox Jewish law were advised Tuesday 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 businesses.
"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
Under Jewish law, the eating of crustaceans -- aquatic animals with
skeletons outside their bodies, including shrimp, crabs and lobsters --
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 that 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
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 only two weeks ago in another dispute over
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
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 great-tasting
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.
Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press