With his inimitable sense of humor, STAR-K Director of Supervision Rabbi Eliyahu Shuman opened his speech joking that it was hashgacha that his seudas preida was being held on Parshas Beshalach. After the laughter diminished, he explained why the decision to retire was so difficult for him.

“For 42 years, I was zoche to work with Rav Heinemann, be in the daled amos of the Rav, and be able to be misabek b’afar raglov; that’s not something you want to retire from.” explained Rabbi Shuman. “It’s also hard because we’re not an organization—we’re family. In these 42 years, we’ve become a unit and we work so beautifully together. It is like a wheel with the Rav in the center, and all of us are the spokes trying to be mekayam the requirements and the divrei haRav. When you’re family, it’s hard to leave.”

In closing, Rabbi Shuman shared, “I want to devote […]

Q: May one pet an animal on Shabbos?

A: Chazal enacted a takanah designating certain types of objects as muktzah, thereby limiting a person’s freedom to move those items on Shabbos. There are various categories of muktzah with differing degrees of limitation of movement. For example, a utensil which is generally used for an activity prohibited on Shabbos is muktzah. A naturally occurring object such a stone is also muktzah unless it has been designated before Shabbos for a specific purpose. Similarly, the Talmud states that an animal is muktzah.

In former times, it was common for children to play with young birds and listen to them sing. Tosefos suggests that a bird should not be considered to be muktzah as it can be used as a distraction for a crying child. However, Tosefos rejects this and concludes that birds are muktzah. Similarly, the Shulchan Aruch paskens that animals are muktzah and […]

In the world of food ingredients, there is no ingredient as versatile as glycerin. In the world of kosher ingredient sensitivity, there is no kosher-sensitive ingredient that compares to glycerin. Glycerin’s ingredient versatility is not limited to food grade applications. Glycerin is used extensively as a major component in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, as well.

Glycerin is known as a humectant. That means that glycerin helps retain moisture. Therefore, glycerin is a perfect ingredient for the baking industry to keep bakery goods moist and give products a longer shelf-life. Glycerin is sweet and can be used as a substitute for liquid sugar. Glycerin is an excellent solvent and is used as a mainstay for food colors. These properties make glycerin an essential ingredient in a myriad of food applications.

Furthermore, glycerin’s natural properties make it an essential element in pharmaceutical products, as well as health and beauty aids. What is that […]

Halachic issues of infestation in many of the fruits and vegetables that we consume are well known. Much has been written and said about these issues, albeit to various degrees of halachic stringency. This article will focus on the methods used to monitor this evolving industry. Doing so requires both monitoring of the various produce items, as well as keeping track of their sources on an ongoing basis. This is easier said than done! We will explore the challenges inherent in accomplishing these objectives and discuss some of the more recent items that have surfaced on the infestation radar screens.

The world of entomology is ever evolving. Chaza”l stress the importance of knowing the facts in each locale, as the variables that affect insects and infestation change constantly. It used to be that due to their short shelf-life, produce was mainly sourced locally. Knowing the infestation issues inherent in each location […]

UPDATED: As of May 10, 2018, all beer can be assumed from after Pesach.

Updated April 10, 2018 | 25 Nissan 5778

It has come to our attention that much of the beer sold in New York and surrounding counties is distributed by a Jewish owned company, creating a potential Chometz She’avar Alav haPesach issue for our communities. The following is a brief explanation of the issue.

Click here for a list of beers that are of concern.

Click here for a list of brands that may be purchased anywhere.

What exactly is Chometz?

The Torah[1] forbids eating any chometz – leavened grain products during Pesach. Simply defined, leavening is dough or batter that has increased in volume either through yeasts or chemical means. The process of how this happens is the following.

A chemical leaven such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) react with compounds naturally present in the dough to produce carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide (CO2) released […]

UPDATED: As of May 10, 2018, all beer can be assumed from after Pesach.

It has come to our attention that two large beer distribution companies, who are the exclusive distributors of many brands in Maryland, are Jewish owned. Due to numerous challenges, a proper sale of Chometz is not possible. As a result, many brands of beer sold in our area will be “Chometz She’avar Alav HaPesach”. The problematic beer in stock will not be depleted until sometime in June. Please check our website after June 1st for an update. Until that time, the beers on the list here should not be purchased. We do not have any information about beers sold outside of Maryland.

For a list of stores where brands listed may be purchased in Maryland see here.

Additionally, one may purchase beer at the following stores with the listed conditions:

Dugan’s – Only beer that has an approval sticker bearing the STAR-K symbol and Hebrew signature of Mashgiach.
[...] Read More

The following is a list of pet foods approved for Passover 2018 when produced in the U.S. Products with identical names from foreign countries may have different formulations, thus compromising their Passover status. Since formulas are subject to change, make sure to check all labels. There should be no chometz listed. A product listing both meat and dairy ingredients may not be used any time during the year. (See “Feeding Your Pet: Barking Up the Right Tree” for more information.)

 

Cats

Blue Wilderness Grain Free (dry): Adult (Duck, Indoor Chicken, Rabbit, Red Meat, Salmon, Trout, Weight Control), Kitten (Chicken)
Evanger’s: When bearing cRc Passover approval.
Friskies (canned): Paté Chicken and Tuna Dinner, Paté Classic Seafood Entrée, Paté Country Style Dinner, Paté
Mariners Catch, Paté Salmon Dinner
Kirkland (Costco) (dry): Healthy Weight Indoor Adult, Maintenance Chicken & Rice, Natures Domain Salmon
Meal & Sweet Potato
Merrick Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet (canned): Real […]

All STAR-K Establishments
All STAR-D Establishments
Stores in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area

7-11 Fords Lane, Hooks Lane, Old Court Road (at Greenwood), Reisterstown Road (near Slade Ave)

A-Z Savings 6307 Reisterstown Road

Aldi’s

BJ’s

Colonial Liquors

Costco

CVS

Dollar General

Dugan’s Liquor

*Dunkin Donuts 1508 Reisterstown Road (at Old Court Road), 7000 Reisterstown Road (near Fallstaff Road)

Fresh Market

Food Lion

KMart

Ollie’s

Petco

Petsmart

Price Right

Rite-Aid

Royal Farms

Sam’s Club

Save-A-Lot

Savings Center 4003 Seven Mile Lane

Seasons

Seven Mile Market

Shoppers Food Warehouse

Shoprite 37 Aylesbury Road, Timonium

Trader Joe’s

Walgreens

Walmart

Wegmans

Whole Foods

Wine Loft

For updated information, regarding stores where chometz may be purchased, please see www.star-k.org/passover.

* Only these two locations of Dunkin Donuts are under the certification of Rabbi Sholom Salfer.

Please note that it is permissible to purchase products at these Dunkin Donuts on Motzei Pesach,
April 7, ONLY AFTER 9:40 p.m. (this time meets the requirement of בכדי שיעשו.

Consumers in other communities should check with their local Vaad HaKashrus for regional store information.

Purchasing Chometz After Pesach from Giant, Safeway & Target in Baltimore

Due to issues regarding possible […]

Q: Under which circumstances is a person obligated to erect a fence around the roof of his house?

A: The Torah in parshas Ki-Setze states, “When you build a new house make a railing for your roof, and you shall not bring blood on your house if someone falls from there”.1 The Torah requires one to build a maakeh – a fence – around a flat roof that people walk on, so as to protect them from falling. The mitzvah applies not only to someone who builds a house but also to someone who buys, inherits or is gifted a house.2 A person who rents a house is also required to build a maakeh if the owner has not already done so.3

A maakeh has to be strong enough that a person could lean against it without falling, and it has to be ten tefachim high.4 This measurement is 40 inches according […]

KitchenAid 1996:
Dear Rabbi Rosen,
The STAR-K KitchenAid Sabbath Mode project had been evolving for 2 ½ years. This novel venture was initiated by KitchenAid to address the needs of the Sabbath observant Jewish community that would not be able to use the new age KitchenAid ranges and wall units due to the new electronic technology and advanced features.
Jewish Sabbbath observance does not permit the kindling or extinguishing of a fire or the cooking of food on Sabbath. Jewish Holiday observance does not permit the creation of a new flame, but cooking and adjusting fire as needed for cooking is permitted.
The issues that KitchenAid engineers had to address in order to create a user-friendly oven for the Sabbath observer were the following:
1. Could the 12-hour automatic shutoff be bypassed?
2. Could the oven be opened without lighting an icon on the control […]

Shockingly, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that about 40% of all food in the United States goes uneaten; it is either left to rot or tossed in the garbage. In fact, 7% of all food doesn’t even make it out of the farm, and a significant amount doesn’t even get picked because it doesn’t meet standards for color and shape! One industry estimate claims that an average of $2,300 of food products are discarded each day by individual grocery stores due to impending expiration dates. American families throw out between 14-25% of the food and the beverages that they purchase, and restaurant diners leave about 17% of their food uneaten.1

Of course, we know the Torah teaches us that we need to be careful and not wasteful. We also know that we are not just talking about wasting food. We are charged to appreciate every chair, book and bobby pin […]

INTRODUCTION

The Torah forbids the wearing of a garment made from tzemer (wool) and pishtim (linen) together. There are two pesukim in the Torah that refer to Shatnez. It states,1 “Ubeged kilayim shatnez lo ya’aleh alecha,” a garment composed of a mixture which is Shatnez should not be draped upon oneself. We find a different expression of this same mitzvah, “Lo silbash shatnez tzemer uphishtim yachdav2 – Do not wear shatnez, wool and linen together.” Chazal tell us that these two pesukim complement one another. In Devarim, the Torah forbids actual wearing of Shatnez – levisha, whereas the Vayikra prohibition of Shatnez includes he’elah – draping Shatnez over one’s body. The Gemara3 explains that draping is prohibited only if it is done in a way which is similar to wearing, i.e., where some benefit is derived from the Shatnez such as being covered or warmed. It is clear that one must […]

Catching a red-eye flight back to JFK after a business meeting in L.A.? Landing in Newark at 5:50 a.m., after a 12-1/2 hour flight from visiting the grandkids in Israel? Leaving for LaGuardia too early to eat breakfast before going on that long-awaited Saint Martin Island vacation? Have no fear, Fresko Green Label is here! Now the estimated 1.5 million kosher travelers who fly domestically and internationally from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports, annually, can avail themselves of a large variety of kosher prepared food options packaged under the Fresko and Yummy Sandwich labels, under STAR-K Kosher supervision.

No longer do you have to subsist on pretzels and candy that, thankfully, are marked with a reliable kosher symbol! The STAR-K certified Fresko/Yummy Sandwich menu selection varies, terminal to terminal, and includes a wide variety of wraps, sandwiches, and salads. All breads are Pas Yisroel; all dairy items are Cholov Yisroel. These […]

The hefty $20-$50 price per pound of handmade shmura matzah may cause you to raise your eyebrows, especially when comparing it to the price of machine-made matzah, but if you only knew what goes into manufacturing the crisp, paper-thin, artisanal specialty item you would understand why it is so pricey.

To keep up with the increasing demand for handmade shmura matzah, matzah bakeries around the world start baking as early as October! But, actually, the labor-intensive process of producing STAR-K certified shmura flour began a few months before, in July. That is when HaRav Moshe Heinemann visited the 28-acre Migrash Farm—located inside the Chesapeake Watershed, just a stone’s throw from STAR-K’s Baltimore headquarters. The farmer, R’ Yosef Hertzmark, who doubles as a STAR-K menaker, accompanied the Rav as he walked the fields to supervise the shmura wheat harvest, deeming its extra level of scrutiny– “shmurah m’shaas ketzira” (guarded from the time […]

Q: What are the halachos regarding eating or cooking meat and fish together?

A: Chazal tell us that it is unhealthy to eat meat and fish together, meat which was cooked with fish, or fish which was cooked with meat.1 The Magen Avrohom suggests the possibility that people are no longer sensitive to the combination of meat and fish, and that eating this is no longer unhealthy.2 However, common practice is to avoid eating meat and fish together and not rely on the Magen Avrohom.3 Regarding this halacha, chicken has the same status as meat.4
If a person ate fish and would like to eat meat, or if he ate meat and would like to eat fish, he is required to take certain actions. The Shulchan Aruch states that he must wash his hands, but according to the Rema it is not Ashkenzai practice to do so.5 He must cleanse his palate […]

Feathers are flying in Eretz Yisroel, as the Poskim debate the kosher status of the Braekel chicken. Rav Moshe Shaul Klein, shlit”a, a leading member of the Beis Din of Rav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l, feels that its kashrus is superior to that of other chickens. However, Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlit”a, feels that its kashrus is inferior. The rest of us are left confused. How can a chicken be “more kosher” or “less kosher”, and how could respected Poskim take such contradictory positions? In order to answer these questions, we need to familiarize ourselves with the halachos of kosher birds.
The Torah1 lists the various species of non-kosher birds. The Gemara2 states that the Torah chose to list the non-kosher species, rather than the kosher ones, because the non-kosher list is shorter. In other words, there are a greater number of kosher than non-kosher species. However, the Gemara3 also tells us […]

The STAR-K office and its Institute of Halacha receive hundreds of inquiries from STAR-K mashgichim, businessmen and tourists traveling to all corners of the globe. The most common questions relate to kashrus information. However, more common than ever are shaalos related to davening and other halachic issues impacted by changing time zones while in transit. There are excellent websites1 that project the times for sunrise, sunset, and other halachic zmanim for aircraft passengers. A basic understanding of the halachos that relate to these times and the metzios2 enhances the use of these powerful tools, which is analogous to how we can increase the usefulness of a GPS by possessing a basic knowledge of the route one must drive.

I. What Happens In-Flight?
As is well known, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. In the summer, the days are longer (earlier sunrise, later sunset), and in the […]

The hallowed cornerstone of kashrus. בחלב אמו אל תבשל, Do not eat a goat in the milk of its mother. The Torah repeats this prohibition השע אל תוצמ three times,1 instructing us that we must not eat, cook or derive benefit from a combination of milk and meat. To distance ourselves from an inadvertent mistake, safeguards have been instituted and implemented by Chazal to preserve the integrity of the essential מצות לא עשה.
To this end, every kosher kitchen has two separate sets of pots, pans, cutlery and dishes. Similarly, if two people are eating together at the same table, one eating meat and the other eating dairy, the Shulchan Aruch instructs us to make a distinguishing separation between the two friends to avoid an inadvertent nibble.2 Moreover, the Shulchan Aruch also instructs us to wait after eating meat before eating dairy or drinking milk.3 There are a number of […]

In light of the unfortunate situation in Houston–and now, possibly, Florida–STAR-K presents the following short clips, from a previously recorded webinar, which discuss various halachic ramifications of some severe weather challenges faced on Shabbos. Rabbi Mordechai Frankel, Director of STAR-K’s Institute of Halacha, is interviewed by Rabbi Zvi Goldberg.

Validity of Eruv on Shabbos During Inclement Weather:  https://vimeo.com/232050647

Flooding on Shabbos:   https://vimeo.com/232054341

Using A Generator on Shabbos:   https://vimeo.com/232052016

State of Emergency to Keep Off Streets:   https://vimeo.com/232053205

Listening to Radio on Shabbos During Inclement Weather:  https://vimeo.com/23205328 7

Power Outage/Cholent:   https://vimeo.com/232054375

For the entire webinar, visit  https://vimeo.com/119136088. To join online classes and access past and future webinars, visit: http://www.star-k.org/telekosher

This year, for the first time in Pennsylvania State University’s 162-year history, its estimated 4000 Jewish students will have kosher food options, thanks to the amazing Divine Providence that inspired one student to advocate for them.

On one weekend, last year, Philadelphia native and industrial engineering student Aaron Goldberg—who was completing an internship in Pittsburgh during his junior year–came back to his college campus located in State College, Pennsylvania. At that time, he met a student who was considering attending Penn State. She was observant and told him that, although she may have wanted to go to Penn State, she decided to go elsewhere because the kosher food options at the university were limited.

Subsequently, after Aaron attended a Pesach seder in Pittsburgh, his hosts observed and commented on the fact that he kept kosher for Pesach but not year round. Both incidents got Aaron to reflect not only on his own […]

Q. What is a total solar eclipse?
A. A total solar eclipse is when the moon totally blocks the sun. It turns dark during the middle of the day and stars become visible.  The corona (the sun’s outer atmosphere that normally cannot be seen) is also visible and appears as a pearly glow around the dark side of the moon that covers the sun.
Q. When will it occur?
A.  It will occur this Monday, Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, August 21, 2017. The exact time will depend on one’s location. The maximum amount of totality in any one location will be 2 minutes and 40 seconds.
 Q. From where can one view the total eclipse?
A. The total eclipse will be visible along a narrow band from Oregon to South Carolina. Major metropolitan areas in this path include parts of Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, and Charleston, SC.
Q. What if it’s cloudy?
[...] Read More

It didn’t take long for the boardroom at STAR-K Kosher Certification’s headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, to be converted from a lecture hall, where STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Zvi Goldberg presented a PowerPoint about mislabels and fraud, into a makeshift “operating room”. Dressed in a starched white butcher’s coat, performing the delicate “surgery” on the bright red, fleshy section of a beef forequarter laying before him on the table, was STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld. The 38-year veteran menaker explained every step of the process of the ancient mesorah of traiboring to the huddle of the agency’s 14th Annual Kashrus Training Program’s participants surrounding him. The crash course on removing the prohibited veins, arteries, chailev (prohibited fats), and portions that attach to and get nourishment from the chailev, including enabling free flow of blood during the kashering process, was just one of the many invaluable skills that they learned from […]

Q: I made some dough in order to bake bread and separated challah. When I wasn’t looking, someone inadvertently took that piece of separated challah and added it back into the rest of the dough. Now that the dough and challah are all mixed together, how should I proceed?

A: Before we discuss how to proceed, let us clarify one point. The word “challah” has two meanings. It is used as the name of a bread which is braided, baked and commonly eaten at Shabbos meals. It is also used to describe a small piece of dough that was separated from a larger batch of dough in order to fulfill the halachic obligation of hafrashas challah. We are using the word “challah” in that second sense.

Let us discuss the case where challah was mixed with dough and can no longer be recognized. If the batch of dough that the challah fell […]

Chocolate, the king of confections, continues to grow in popularity. Chocolate is surely nature’s sweetest combination of fruit and vegetable, sugar and cocoa beans. Kosher chocolate is a delicious study of technology and halachah. Let’s explore the intoxicating world of chocolate.

Over the years, chocolate manufacturing has continued to grow, both domestically and internationally. Chocolate connoisseurship has reached new heights. Believe it or not, the most expensive chocolate today costs in excess of $90 a pound. The chocoholic delights at the sight of Belgian truffles, French bonbons, Swiss chocolate and other chocolate bars that abound. Most major chocolate manufacturers in the U.S. have reliable kosher certification. Some specialty chocolate manufacturers are kosher certified, as well. Cholov Yisroel chocolate in particular has recently seen unprecedented growth. Today, a Cholov Yisroel consumer can feast on a Cholov Yisroel chocolate equivalent without having to compromise on taste or quality.

Chocolate raw ingredients make a long […]

The Fundamental Question

Should someone be stigmatized because he has a conflict of interest? Apparently, the mainstream media feels this way and ethics review boards often highlight this as a red flag. People are not the only ones who are challenged by this issue. Organizations whose trust and authority hinge on an image of integrity must deal with perceived conflicts of interest, both on the corporate level and with regard to individual employees.

Food certification agencies, whether they oversee kosher, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free or a host of other popular standards1 must all face the inevitable question: How do they ensure that compliance judgements are based on whether the client is meeting its regulatory requirements, without regard to financial considerations?

Government bodies, such as USDA, FDA and health departments largely avoid this question – on the corporate level – because they are funded independently of the businesses they certify.2 Individual inspectors are screened […]

If you are learning in Kollel and wondering if Rabbanus is for you, wonder no more—if you are a member of Kollel Avodas Levi, the Kollel of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, Maryland, that is. The STAR-K Rabbinical Training Program now offers yungeleit in the kollel the opportunity of capturing a glimpse into the multifaceted life inside the Rabbinate. The inaugural lecture series, held between Tu B’Shevat and Shavuos, was a huge success.

“The STAR-K Rabbincal Training Program was borne from the strong interest of a group of twenty-five Kollel Avodas Levi yungeleit to have a series of Rabbonim, community leaders, and other presenters discuss what it takes to be a Rav, community leader, and mechanech,” explains Rabbi Nosson ‘Nate’ Miller, the Kollel Avodas Levi yungerman who spearheaded the program as the Kollel’s liaison.

In the past, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) in conjunction with STAR-K, held a similar training […]

Cooking and baking for Shavuos can become a halachically confusing juggling act, alternating between the preparation of milchig, fleishig, pareve, and fish dishes.  Unless you have the luxury of using a separate oven for each, you might want to check out, “Oven Kashrus 101: Using the Same Oven for Meat, Dairy, Fish, & Pareve” [Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2016], written by STAR-K Kosher Certification Kashrus Administrator, Rabbi Dovid Heber.

Based upon the psak of STAR-K Rabbinic Administrator Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, Rabbi Heber enumerates the halachos involved for regular gas and electric ovens when “going back and forth”. Using various l’chatchila and b’dieved scenarios, he discusses which food gender preparation combinations are allowed and under which circumstances.

Rabbi Heber’s Kashrus Kurrents article, entitled, “Meat and Dairy-A Kosher Consumer’s Handbook”, also discusses halachos pertinent to Shavuos, including the status of bread served with a dairy or meat meal, eating meat after dairy, and waiting times after […]

Introduction
If there is a word that can be used to describe the unprecedented growth of microbreweries it is explosive’. There are more microbreweries than ever in the U.S., accounting for $22.3 billion of revenue and 21% of market share. In 2015, the brewery count stood at 4,269 breweries: 2,397 microbreweries; 1,650 brew pubs; and 178 craft breweries. In essence, this dynamic growth has in essence reshaped the playing field, both in quality and new offerings. Of course, the success of the microbrewery is changing the face of the beer industry from traditional to innovative, which obviously impacts the typical kashrus perception of a microbrewery.
It was previously assumed that microbreweries were more purist than their ‘big brother’ counterparts. This means that they would not deviate from the strict rules of the reinheitsgebot-German Beer Purity laws. Is this still true today? And if not, what is the kosher status of […]