American Meat Cuts versus Israeli Meat Cuts


By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

Despite COVID, numerous Americans will spend Yom Tov in Israel. When Americans travel to Israel for Yom Tov, they often do one of two things: A] They either bring their choice cuts of meats from the United States with them (as at least two local people do every year) or B] they purchase their meats there.

In Israel, there are some confusing hechsherim too. Most shechitas in Israel check the lungs of chickens. In American they do not.


If the Americans in Israel opt for buying the meat in Israel, they will not be told a name, but they will be given a number. The conversation will usually go something like this:

“Yes, I would like a Top of the Rib, please..”

“Geveret, beretzinut.. aizeh mispar!”

“Slicha? Ani rotzah Top of the Rib or, slicha oh – Brisket. Ken Brisket eehiyeh tov.”

“Geveret, vat number do you vant?”

“Well, I don’t know..”

“Call me back ven you know the number please. Click.”

Taken aback that the butcher is refusing her business, the American will usually try to call someone with a bit more familiarity with the topic at hand. Often she will get the response that Brisket is #3.

She then sends her spouse to go purchase the #3 cut.

The American woman will cook the brisket, and half the time it will work out. A bit dryer and less marbled, but still it is brisket. But half the time it may taste more like skirt steak. Why? What is going on here, exactly?

The discerning shopper should be aware that often there is no exact equivalent to the cuts of meat that we normally would find in America. This is due to a number of factors:

1] The cow is cut up quite differently in Israel than it is here.

2] In Israel they utilize a lot more of the animal than they do here. They cut the animal up into 19 different parts. Here in America, we don’t even process the hind quarters of the cow at all. Even the fore quarters of the cow are cut and processed in a vastly different way than in Israel.

3] What would be considered two different parts of the cow in America is often considered the same part in Israel. For example, the #3 is both the brisket as well as the plate (the source of skirt steaks).

Below is the list of the 19 different cuts that are available in Israel and their rough American equivalents culled from the Israeleasy blogspot site.

#1 Entrecote, Steak Ayin, Vered Hatzela
steaks and roast beef, suitable for roasting and grilling.
U.S.-rib, rib eye, delmonico

#2 Rifaan, Tzlaot
suitable for slow-roasting, e.g. pot roast, goulash and braising.
U.S. chuck or blade

#3 Brust, Chazeh
the favorite cut for salt/corned beef
Cheap, lean and delicious after being roasted in a slow oven for a few hours
U.S brisket or front poitrine.

#4 Katef, Katef Mercazi
pot roast and braising
U.S. and U.K.-rib or back rib, some say shoulder

#5 Tzli, Tzli Katef
pot roast, cooking in sauce, slow roasting
sliced for minute steak (blade)
have the butcher “devein” it for 2 beautiful pieces for your flank steak and London Broil recipes

#6 Falshe, Fillet Medumeh
braising, pot roast, cooking in sauce, slow roasting
Chuck Calachel

#7 Polo, Shrir Hazroa, Shrir – for goulash, soup, cholent; with a bone -osso bucco Top rib

#8- Shoulder Calachel , Shrir Hazroa
for goulash, soup, cholent with a bone – osso bucco.

#9-Shpundra, Kashtit
cholent, goulash and soup; with a bone – assado and spare ribs
aka: short plate, flank, flanken (boneless)
(Short ribs that are cut across the rib bones are known as flanken)

#10 Tzavar
soup and grinding

#11 Sinta, Moten
Roast beef and steaks
suitable for roasting and grilling
from along the spine, around the waist
U.S. and U.K.-sirloin or porterhouse

#12 Fillet
Steaks and carpaccio
suitable for roasting and grilling

#13 Shaitel, Kanaf Haoketz
shnitzel, steak, skewering and oven roasting.
suitable for roasting and grilling.
U.S. -round, U.K. – rump

#14 Katchke, Ozit
Braising, goulash, pot roast and grinding.

#15 Chuck, Yarcha – Braising
#16 Kaf – Braising, steak, shnitzel and roast.

#17 Plada, Kislayim- Rolada, goulash and grinding

#18 Poli, Shrir Achori – goulash, soup and cholent

#19 Weisbraten, Rosh Yarcha Braising

Below we also include a picture:


The American cuts are also found below:

The hechsherim all over have also undergone change. But first some background:



There is a derabanan enactment that not only must the animal be shechted but the lungs of a cow, sheep, and goat must be checked to make sure that there are no abnormalities. The abnormalities are called sirchos- adhesions or scars.

The reason why the lungs must be checked as opposed to other areas for abnormalities is because abnormalities are more common in lungs – so the Rabbis made this enactment – takana. The lungs are inspected before they are removed from the chest cavity of the animal. The bodek (examiner) inserts his hand into the chest cavity, after first having opened the diaphragm. He examines the lobes of the lung to look for sirchos. This is called, “bdikas p’nim.”

The lungs are then removed from the chest cavity and examined again externally. This is called, “bdikas chutz.”

They are checked by feeling in the bdikas p’nim and also by blowing them up in the bdikas chutz to make sure that there are no holes.

There are other things that have to be checked when it is common for an abnormality to be found. For example, often chickens may have a problem of tarfus in the knee area. This is called Tzumas HaGiddim.


There is also a concept among Ashkenazic Jews, mentioned in the Ramah in the mid 1500’s, called removing the adhesions through mi’uch and mishmush – rubbing and rolling.

If there is no blood in the adhesion, and if there is no small perforation that is made in the miuch and mishmash – , Ashkenazic custom is to permit the animal – but it is not necessarily called Glatt Kosher (smooth) – it is just called, “regular kosher.”

This custom actually dates back to the time of the Gaonim, but has always been controversial among halachic authorities. Sefardic Jews consider this removal – non-kosher. Removing the adhesions is also forbidden on calves and lambs. It is only allowed on full grown animals.

The rationale for allowing the removal of adhesions is that they are not considered adhesions at all but rather are called “Ririn”- mucous adhesions that are not connected to the lung.

In the past two centuries, a new form of adhesion removal developed called “Kiluf haSirchos.” It is a debate among halachic authorities whether this is similar to miuch and mishmash or whether it is entirely new. If the Rir came off with only minimal effort, the custom among Ashkenazic Jews is to still consider it Glatt Kosher. However, the author of the Shulchan Aruch would not have conceded this point at all. The Beit Yoseph would have considered even easily removed Rir as non-kosher. If meat fits this requirement it is called Beit Yoseph Chalak or Beit Yoseph Shechita.

A new terminology has emerged in recent years. If there are no adhesions on the lungs, it is now called Beis Yoseph Glatt. If there are adhesions and they are very thin (like a thread) and are easily removed, it is considered and advertised as “regular glatt kosher.” It is not politically correct to say this, but much of what passes today as Glatt would have been considered regular kosher fifty years ago.


The author can be reached at [email protected]


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