It Came From the Deep!
June 2, 2004 11:55 PM   Subscribe

New York's Water Ain't Kosher! - You may be aware that shellfish are not kosher. It turns out that little, itty-bitty, microscopic shellfish called copepods are in New York's water. Brita to the rescue?
posted by falconred (18 comments total)
Research by Rita Colwell (UMD, former director of the NSF) suggests that copepods play an important role in spontaneous cholera outbreaks in Bangladesh [Discover]. You can remove them by filtering your water through a sari folded four times.

Also on the non-kosher tip, levels of haloacetic acid 5 (a by-product of chlorination) in the Croton system, which supplies 10% of nyc water, exceeded maximum contaminant levels by as much as 40% last year (New York City Water Quality Testing Results 2003, pfd).
posted by eddydamascene at 1:51 AM on June 3, 2004

(chlorine being the reason nyc has no cholera, btw)
posted by eddydamascene at 2:10 AM on June 3, 2004

So what? Did the NYC waterboard ever claim it *was* kosher? From what i'm told by friends with ultra-observant jewish parents, if you can't turn on the TV on a saturday, you need different plates for meat and fish and can't shake hands with a woman in case she's menstruating, buying bottled water seems hardly onerous.
posted by Pericles at 4:42 AM on June 3, 2004

Still beats Ganges bottled water by a long shot...drink Kosher wine and avoid water. ps: that non-kosher water used for making matzos etc
posted by Postroad at 4:52 AM on June 3, 2004

I knew it tasted funny!
posted by ParisParamus at 4:55 AM on June 3, 2004

Just like homosexuality, according to the Levitical laws, this is an abomination and anyone drinking this water is guilty of a terrible sin. ;-)
I recommend all good winger fundies immediately leave New York or be eternally damned.
I hear the water is great in South Carolina and thye're fixing to secede to form the United Fundie State anyways so you'd be happier there.
Just remember, no wafers and wine for you old school Catholics if we catch you drinking this water!
posted by nofundy at 5:09 AM on June 3, 2004

This is very, very funny.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:22 AM on June 3, 2004

I knew it tasted funny!

No, if it tasted funny it would have Krusty-ations in the water
posted by ElvisJesus at 5:30 AM on June 3, 2004

"Copepods?" No, dear, that's grit. The Hudson river has shellfish.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:02 AM on June 3, 2004

Even as a kid, I was always fascinated how it was possible that tap water, imported from 100 miles away, could just pour out of the faucet, pristine. Now we know better.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:14 AM on June 3, 2004

The big deal is probably not in the drinking, but in the cooking/cleaning, which could conceivably turn into a financial fiasco for a kosher restaurant.

Yet another example of how utterly irrational and incompatible with modern living strict kashrut is...
posted by mkultra at 6:40 AM on June 3, 2004

and I always thought I was a vegetarian. oh well...

one thing I don't really get is how rules which were formed at a time when information like this was completely unavailable and even inconceivable, can apply. I mean, when shellfish were outlawed, they obviously weren't talking about microscopic creatures that modern science knows are related to regular old shellfish. It takes advanced technology and biology to be able to determine this.
posted by mdn at 7:09 AM on June 3, 2004

Well, halakha is more about intentions than results (consider the phone and elevators that can be operated by the hasidim on Shabbat due to special construction, and the story about the woman who worried about some possible dairy in a meat stew and then she was told by her rabbi that if less than 1/60 of the stew was dairy and couldn't be tasted and wasn't intentional, it didn't matter), so it will probably be prevented from now on, being known.

Kashrut laws (and the rest of halakha) may be irrational, but I certainly wouldn't say they're “incompatible”. Many traditional rituals and practices are irrational, but there is no need to make the world run like an efficient machine (and I don't believe letting the devout Jews of a certain stripe continue the use of rabbinical law will throw a wrench in the workings of the modern world).

Still, it is very funny, considering that NYC is probably considered the quintessential “Jewish city” of the United States. I would hope Orthodox Jews in other communities would take a close look at their water supplies, because I'm sure this organism (or its like) isn't unique to New York.
posted by Gnatcho at 7:16 AM on June 3, 2004

one thing I don't really get is how rules which were formed at a time when information like this was completely unavailable and even inconceivable, can apply

The rules are constantly interpreted (or if you're cynical, "interpreted") as the times and technologies change.
posted by callmejay at 7:45 AM on June 3, 2004

There's no end to it, really. Electrical circuits are not supposed to be open or closed on shabbat because you're not supposed to "create" or "destroy" anything, as per god's refraining from either on the seventh day after creating the world, etc. Since the creation of light is both the most obvious example of electricity in use, and the first thing that god does, it follows in hassidic-logic that the use of electricity is inherently an act of "creation," and that turning electricity off is an act of "destruction."

Now, if the orthodox powers that be are going to start getting all technical about the microorganisms in the tap water, then maybe they should start considering the fact that, when seen at a small enough level, it is not actually possible to create or destroy matter at all. That should open up a lot of doors.
posted by bingo at 8:31 AM on June 3, 2004

Kashrut laws are affirmative: you can only eat what has fins and scales, etc., so what was "unavailable and even inconceivable," doesn't change. Alien animals that have a hoof and chew their cud? Who knows?!
posted by ParisParamus at 8:57 AM on June 3, 2004

The problem: tiny creatures called copepods, which are crustaceans.

Forget Jewish law, a bigger concern would be for people whom would have an allergic reaction from this, killing them. For some the smell of cooked crustaceans will cause minor breathing problems.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:22 PM on June 3, 2004

Biggest secular question: was this story induced by Brita or Pur?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:41 AM on June 5, 2004

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