Dear OK,
Why are all or most parts of a cow kosher for consumption in Israel, whereas the Jews in America are forbidden to eat anything behind a cow’s waist? (For example, beef tenderloin, which is used for fillet mignon steaks or kabobs.)

Rabbi Krinsky responds:
There are some fats, veins, & nerves that may not be eaten & must be removed from the meat of a cow before the meat is soaked & salted. Some of these are in the front quarters, but most are in the hindquarters.

In Israel there are a few expert butchers that have been trained to remove these and still save some parts of the hindquarters for consumption. Many of the better cuts are in fact damaged during this process, but since meat is so expensive and hard to get in Israel, they take the time to get whatever they can. Additionally, there are not as many non-kosher consumers (percentage-wise) in Israel to buy the traditionally expensive cuts of the hindquarters (without proper de-veining) at a viable price.

On the other hand, here in the United States, labor is more expensive, there is enough kosher meat (from the front quarters that do not have that many issues), and most importantly there are many non-Jewish consumers to sell the hindquarters to, so it is not commercially viable to work on the hindquarters. The percentage of kosher consumers to non-kosher consumers here in the U.S. is much smaller than in Israel. The front quarters are de-veined and certain fats removed here in the U.S. The front quarter cuts remain viable even after de-veining.

One of the major Glatt Kosher suppliers here in the U.S. tried to de-vein and then soak and salt hindquarters (and actually brought in special butchers from Israel to work on the meat) but gave up after a while due to losing a lot of money. They received more money from the non-de-veined hind quarters cut up & sold as non-kosher than they received from the ones that went through the kosher process (to take out the veins and fats).

Due to the above complications, for many generations, certain communities have taken upon themselves to only eat the front quarters of the cow.