JERUSALEM—Ending a strict, six-millennia prohibition of the consumption of cloven-hoofed beasts, the World Rabbinical Council announced Tuesday that Jews worldwide may "dig in to the delicious taste of ham."
"The Jewish people have always had the utmost reverence for the laws of God, as handed down from Abraham to his son Isaac, to his son Jacob. However, from time to time, it is necessary to make slight revisions and modernizations to these laws," said council president Rabbi Menachem Saperstein, sucking on a hambone, his white beard soaked with succulent ham drippings. "As no less a Talmudic scholar than Moses Maimonides once wrote, 'Change is the way of the Lord.'"
Added Saperstein, "Mmm... this is some tasty ham."
According to Rabbi David Feinberg, head of the American Congress of Orthodox Rabbis, the newly approved ham will be incorporated into a number of Jewish customs.
"During the Passover seder, which commemorates our people's deliverance from slavery in Egypt, we will remember the day God brought us unto the Land of Milk and Honey by drinking a tall glass of milk with a thick slice of honey-glazed ham," Feinberg said. "And joining the charoses and maror on the seder plate will be a ham roll, symbolizing the juicy, mouth-watering taste of freedom."
Feinberg also noted that an abbreviated version of Passover, to be called Hamover, will be observed on the third Saturday of every month. The new holiday, he said, will involve "the eating of tons of ham."
Saperstein will officially announce all the changes to the dietary code next Friday during a World Rabbinical Council cookout at the Wailing Wall. Though some of the details have yet to be worked out, most notably those involving the kosher status of redeye gravy and the Talmudic interpretation of "all the trimmings," Saperstein said he would stress the important role ham has played in his people's ancient roots.
"As it is written in Genesis, Noah had a much-beloved son named Ham, who was the father of all Canaan," Saperstein said. "From this day forth, we shall honor Noah's greatest son by partaking of the flesh which shares his name."
Saperstein also noted that the complex genealogies of the Pentateuch lend credence to the theory that Abraham bore a son named Bakon, and that one of David's in-laws was known as Zebulon Bar-Sausage.
Shortly following the announcement, Orthodox Jews across the country stormed grocery stores, feverishly buying up all the ham they could carry.
"Canned ham, smoked ham, sliced ham, potted ham, ham loaf—they were all flying out of here," said Chris Dinardo, manager of a butcher shop in Borough Park, a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn. "Just last week, those same customers would stare longlingly at those hams for hours before slumping off with a roast turkey."
"Last night, five or six of those fellas with the long beards and black hats came in here and ran up a $564 bill," said Jack Burkett, owner of Smoky Jack's BBQ in Rocky Mount, NC. "Every time we'd bring them a plate, they'd just choke out the words, 'More pig,' between bites."
Though the departure from traditional kosher law may seem like a radical change, Jewish elders point out precedents such as 1977's experimental Yom Lobster holiday, and stress that Judaism is not above modification.
"The original codes were set down thousands of years ago by a nomadic people with no knowledge of refrigeration, preservatives or disease control," said Rabbi Eliyahu Baruch of Yeshiva University. "While we retain many of these traditions to honor our ancestors and our God, we recognize that they are unnecessary from a practical standpoint. Have you ever smelled bacon frying? Oy, vey, how my mouth waters."
"For six millennia, the story of the Jewish people has been the story of survival," Baruch said. "But even the most indestructible race would lose their will to live after 6,000 years of brisket."