A new book that aims to teach readers about Jewish dietary laws in just 30 days was named a finalist in the PMA 2008 Benjamin Franklin Awards competition.

Written by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Zalman Goldstein, author of a series of guides on Jewish practice ranging from the High Holiday services to the Shabbat meal, Going Kosher in 30 Days! is one of three volumes chosen in the religion category by 190 judges at the Independent Book Publishers Association. A total of 2,500 titles were submitted in the contest, whose winners will be announced in Los Angeles in a May 29 event kicking off the annual Book Expo America.

Published by the Jewish Learning Group and released in September, the book "is meant to help people go kosher almost on their own," said Goldstein, reached at his home in Florida. "Each day there's another idea about kosher, so that by the end of the month, they have enough information to call a rabbi to help them out with the rest."

Goldstein cautioned that while his book is comprehensive, readers should consult their own rabbis throughout. They have the experience to kosher their kitchens and offer guidance on bigger problems that might crop up, such as what to do if a piece of non-kosher food accidentally falls into a pot of kosher food.

With kosher awareness and observance growing around the world – a recent report by Mintel's Global New Products showed that 3,984 new kosher food products hit supermarket shelves last year – people are looking for quick and easy reading on keeping kosher, said Goldstein. So the author, whose Shabbat Table Companion and Shabbat Synagogue Companion both won the Benjamin Franklin award, set out to write an easy-to-follow guide to fulfill his readers' requests.

"It was time to sit down and condense all those books [on keeping kosher] into the essentials," said Goldstein, "Here's what you really need to know without all the footnotes."

Included in the 284-page book, described by Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, chief administrator of OK Kosher Certification, as "comprehensive, practical [and] easy-to-read," are comments from readers about what keeping kosher means to them.

"My grandparents kept kosher, but for some reason, in our home we never did," said Mark W., 42, from Cincinnati, Ohio. "I want to correct that for our children."

Anna K., 27, of Sydney, Australia, noted: "I was so excited to have [a kosher] kitchen. I felt I had a fresh start to my life."

Going Kosher presents its material in a menu format, from an "Appetizer" course that includes information on the spiritual aspects of keeping kosher to a "First Course" of planning, a "Second Course" of shopping, a "Third Course" of what to do when eating out, and a "Dessert" of inspirational reading by authors including Dr. Velvl Greene, a Chabad-Lubavitch Chasid who chairs the epidemiology and public health department at Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, Israel.

Started in 1996, Goldstein's publishing project earned another accolade this year. It's Complete Passover Seder Table Companion, which features a transliterated Haggadah, was used at the White House Staff Seder.