When Mesivta Ne’imus HaTorah Menahel Rabbi Laib Schulman approached STAR-K Kosher Certification about teaching a few of his students some Kashrus basics, the non-profit agency was eager to comply. Rather than start off with something as simple as what is behind a kosher symbol or basic kitchen kashrus rules, STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld went with his gut feeling—literally and figuratively—planning a memorable once-in-a-lifetime presentation. He wowed the boys at STAR-K’s Baltimore offices, on January 4, with his three different-sized chalafim (shechting knives), two cow lungs, and a cow’s hoof!
In addition to demonstrating the chalaf sharpness test on a student’s nail and explaining which knife is used for which type of animal, Rabbi Kurcfeld discussed the five basic halachos of shechita, mentioning the types of animals that need to be schechted. He also reviewed the split hoof and fish scale kosher criteria, the difference between a neveila and a […]
The Torah forbids discarding holy objects by throwing them into the trash. Some objects always have kedusha and must be placed in shaimos. Other objects gain kedusha once they are used for a mitzvah and need to be treated with special care.
Objects which have innate holiness, kedusha, are shaimos. This means that, when discarded, they must be wrapped in plastic and buried. The following objects are included in this category:
1. A Sefer Torah.
2. Sefer Torah covers.
3. Tefillin, tefillin bags, mezuzos, and mezuzah covers.
4. Siddurim and bentchers.
5. Seforim, whether handwritten, printed, photocopied or downloaded and printed (e.g., chumashim, siddurim, machzorim, seforim, Gemara, Shulchan Aruch, etc.).
6. A quote from tanach, chazal, Rishonim or Achronim, that has been printed or written with the intention of explaining Torah, or to teach us how to conduct ourselves according to hashkafos haTorah.
7. Invitations from organizations and individuals that […]
Vinegar is one of nature’s most unique and versatile products. Folklore maintains that vinegar was discovered quite by accident, when wine was inadvertently left to sour. This resulted in the first batch of full-bodied wine vinegar. Indeed, the word ‘vinegar’ is derived from the French word vinaigre, which means sour wine. Euphemistically, the Talmud refers to a ne’er-do-well son of a righteous father as a Chometz Ben Yayin, “vinegar son of wine.”
Folklore aside, vinegar was well known in the time of Tanach. The Torah forbids a Nazir to drink wine vinegar or eat other grape and wine products. In Tehillim,1 Dovid Hamelech asked to drink vinegar when he said, “Vlitzmaie Yashkuni Chometz”. In Megilas Rus, Boaz’s workers dipped their bread in vinegar.2
The Hebrew term for vinegar, chometz (pronounced ch-oh-metz), is similar to the word chametz (pronounced ch-aw-maitz), leavened bread products. This etymological similarity underscores the correlation between the […]
The new food trends that have been embraced by society at large have led to a similar preoccupation with food within corporate America. This development has obvious ramifications for the kosher consumer at the office. The following is a guide to dealing with kashrus issues in the workplace.1 While it is impossible to address all the kashrus issues that may arise, this article provides an overview. As with all halacha, when questions arise, one should consult his rav.
1) Eating in a Cafeteria Shared with Co-Workers Who Eat Non-Kosher – Food on a plate, may’iker hadin, may be eaten even when placed on a non-kosher clean table. The Baday Hashulchan2 notes that today, the general custom is to use a napkin (or a placemat or something of a similar nature) when eating on a non-kosher table, even if it is clean.3 Although, in many cases a “heker” is required4 when individuals […]
At full service Starbucks stores that serve treif meat, one should avoid buying drinks prepared with equipment that may have been washed with treif equipment. At these stores, there are drinks listed below that are prepared without any contact with questionable equipment and are acceptable at any store. We cannot recommend any other products in these stores (see items x’ed below) unless they come packaged with a reliable certification.
However, all drinks listed below are permissible under one of the following conditions:
The store does not serve meat or cheese items; OR
It is one of the stores listed here that has implemented “kosher-friendly” equipment rinse practices to avoid issues with listed beverages; OR
When one is traveling*, According to Star-K policy, traveling creates a sha’as hadchak (i.e. no other viable option is readily available) and one need not be concerned with restrictions on the beverages listed below. Traveling means when you are away from your hometown. You don’t […]
We recommend one avoid buying drinks that are made with equipment that may have been washed with certain pieces of treif equipment at full service Starbucks stores that serve treif meat items.
There are a number of stores that have implemented “kosher-friendly” equipment rinse practices to avoid these issues. They are listed here.
Please note: Starbucks stores serve cholov stam. There are some stores that are serving cholov yisroel milk and cream, subject to availability. We do not audit or certify this program. Consumers who require cholov yisroel should use their discretion or consult their rov to determine the cholov yisroel status of the milk being served.
The following recommendations are for the USA and Canada only.
Click here for a list of stores with “Kosher-friendly” equipment rinse practices.
ACCEPTABLE ANY STARBUCKS
ACCEPTABLE WHEN TRAVELING*, AT “KOSHER-FRIENDLY” STORES LISTED HERE OR FROM STORES THAT DON’T SERVE MEAT ITEMS
The logistical challenge of feeding 400+ Cornell University students and staff members Rosh Hashanah dinner in “Trillium at Kennedy Hall” and an overflow in an outside tent–in addition to two daily meals throughout the school year– was one that STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld was up for. Cornell’s 104 West! and It’s Kosher– the campus’ satellite kosher dining station at North Star Dining Room—is presently the sixth college kitchen under this campus kashrus expert’s supervisory guidance.
Cornell upperclassman Sam Baer, president of the college’s Center for Jewish Living, first approached STAR-K Kosher Certification in March, 2015, about the possibility of certifying an on-campus kosher kitchen. After making three 12-hour roundtrip drives from Baltimore to the Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York, the STAR-K and STAR-D logos were awarded in time for the Fall Semester.
One of the factors unique to certifying a college kitchen versus a restaurant is finding just the […]
Q: Do potato chips need to be bishul Yisroel (cooked by a Jew)?
A: The Shulchan Aruch states that there is a rabbinic obligation that food be cooked through bishul Yisroel if both of the following conditions are met: (i) The food is generally not eaten raw, and (ii) The cooked food is something that would be served at a shulchan melochim – a king’s table.1 Since we are no longer ruled by royalty, we cannot observe what is served at a king’s table. The modern-day equivalent to a king’s meal is an elegant meal, such as that served at a wedding.2 This second condition is met whether the food is served at a shulchan melochim as part of the main course or as the dessert. In either case, if the food is generally not eaten raw it needs to be bishul Yisroel.3
The Aruch Hashulchan proposes that potatoes are peasant food and are not […]
Eretz Yisroel has the unique privilege of being the recipient of the Ribono Shel Olam’s brochos throughout the year. Its agricultural industry continues to grow and flourish. Some consumer products imported from Eretz Yisroel, such as Jaffa oranges and grapefruits, are very well known to the American marketplace while other products including clementines, carrots, red peppers, jams, jellies, tomatoes, olives, and pickled products are not as familiar. Finally, there are a host of industrial products like orange oil, lemon oil and parsley that provide a steady supply of raw materials.
Besides all the general consumer kashrus concerns regarding ingredients, processing and certification, there are additional kashrus requirements that apply to foods grown and produced in Eretz Yisroel. For instance, one must be sure that terumos and ma’asros have been properly separated before consumption. Furthermore, one needs to ensure that the fruits do not come from trees that violate the conditions […]
Someone gives you a choice between two items, seemingly identical. Their only difference is that one is dark and dull, the other is bright and shiny. Which one would you choose? A tarnished penny or a gleaming one? The odds favor the latter. Food stylists and advertisers know this well. Look at any magazine spread and see how the careful lighting adds to the appeal of ordinary foods. There is probably no food item that better epitomizes the concept of a ‘shiny’ food than candy. Think glossy lollipops, satiny Mike and Ikes, gleaming M&M’s . . .
Candy manufacturers value eye appeal and they do get their candy to shine. How do they do it? What do they use to achieve their goal? In the industrial world, it is called shellac and in the candy
community it is known as confectioner’s glaze. What is confectioner’s glaze? Where does it
originate? How is […]
Stored improperly, schach can become a target and breeding ground for insects. These insects could then drop onto the table and into your food.
When schach is wrapped in plastic or any similar non-breathing material, ambient temperature changes may lead to development of condensate inside the wrapper. This can create a moist environment ideal for breeding insects.
People tend to keep schach mats in their original bags and then store it in areas that are not climate-controlled (e.g., basement storage rooms, garages, sheds). These types of conditions often lead to infestation.
While we do not have statistics to show how often schach is infested, it would seem prudent to prevent schach infestation by not storing it in plastic. If you must wrap it, use paper, or leave the plastic open so it can vent. Under dry conditions – whether temperatures are cool or hot – insects won’t thrive.
Portland, Oregon and Richmond, Virginia, were just two of the locales that participants traveled from to attend STAR-K Kosher Certification’s back-to-back seminars in its Baltimore offices. The 13th Annual STAR-K Kashrus Training Program was held August 1-4, followed by the Food Service Kashrus Training Seminar, August 8-10. Both certificate programs featured a Q & A session with STAR-K Rabbinic Administrator Rav Moshe Heinemann, as well as a variety of lectures by STAR-K Kashrus Administrators, tours of STAR-K-certified establishments, hands-on vegetable checking practicums, and an optional visit (led by Food Service Kashrus Training Seminar coordinator, Rabbi Sholom Tendler) to Kreider Farms—home of Pride of the Farm milk–in Lancaster, PA. The first seminar even included a live nikkur demonstration of a calf.
Rabbi Yitzy Mandel and Rabbi Simcha Snaid, kollel yungerleit of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Queens, New York, found the Kashrus Training Program invaluable in preparation for their post-Tisha B’Av move to […]
For the STAR-K Yoshon Quick Reference Guide click here
For a Yoshon/Pas Yisroel List of Local Establishments, click here
Yoshon season has officially started. Many people get confused about what the terms Yoshon and Chodosh are. Here we present a brief explanation of each, followed by some product information.
The Torah (Vayikra 23:14) states that the new (i.e., Chodosh) crop of the five grains may not be eaten until after the second day of Passover (i.e., in Israel; in the Diaspora, not until after the third day). This means that the grain harvested this summer would not be allowed until after Passover of next year (i.e., 2017/5777). The term Yoshon (literally, old) refers to crops harvested last summer that became permitted after the following Passover. Thus, the 2015 crop of grains, harvested last summer, became permitted after this past Passover (i.e., 2016/5776). Grain planted at least two weeks (see Dagul Mervava Y.D. […]
If one had to choose a single word to describe an olive, it would be ‘versatile’. Olive oil was used daily to light the Menorah in the Bais Hamikdosh. Our first introduction to olive oil was the Shemen Hamishcha, an infused olive oil with a unique blend of spices used to anoint melachim, kohanim and klei haMikdash. Moreover, the yonah (dove) brought back an olive branch to Noach in the ark, and our baseline halachic measurement for eating something significant is a “k’zayis”, the size of an olive.1 The Gemara in Brochos tells us that if one sees an olive in a dream, it is a sign of peace; if one sees an olive branch, it is a sign of Torah scholarship.
There is an opinion in the Midrash that the fruit of the Eitz Hadaas, Tree of Knowledge, was from an olive tree. Additionally, Asher (one of Yaakov Avinu’s […]
How much must one eat to recite a brocha acharona? How much bread must one eat to fulfill one’s obligation of seudas Shabbos?
Although Chazal chose to describe measurements in terms of commonly used items or foods such as a k’zayis (olive) and a k’beitzah (egg), the size of a standard size egg 1800 years ago may have been larger than today’s egg. Similarly, there are many varieties of olives, and we are uncertain as to which one is used for the k’zayis measure. Therefore, shiurim must be defined in contemporary terms.1 The following is based on the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann shlit”a.
I. K’zayis Measurement2 – 1.27 fl. oz. (38 ml) – If one eats a k’zayis3 of bread, he must recite birchas hamazon.4 Similarly, if one eats a k’zayis of any other food a brocha acharona must be recited.5
Our testing indicates that this is the approximate […]
Olive oil – the liquid gold of the ancients – was touted for its nutritional, medicinal, and cosmetic value. As a fuel, olive oil illuminated the home; as a food ingredient, it was a feast to the palate. Olive oil production is one of the world’s oldest industries which has not changed much over the millennia.
Numerous olive oil brochures of the Mediterranean coastal region proudly claim that the olive oil industry dates back to over 5,000 years. This is demonstrated by the discovery of a 5,000 year old olive oil earthenware vessel in Turkey. Shemen zayis, as mentioned in the Torah, is one of the seven special species of Eretz Yisroel. The Torah requires the purest of pure olive oil, shemen zayis zach, to light the Menorah. Olive oil was an integral part of the service in the Bais Hamikdash. The olive branch is considered a symbol of peace […]
Myth #1: Every oven that has a Sabbath mode is certified by STAR-K.
Fact: An oven that has a Sabbath mode may or may not be certified by STAR-K. In fact, the same company may manufacture some ovens which have a STAR-K certified Sabbath mode and other ovens with a Sabbath mode which do not have any certification at all. One can verify an oven is STAR-K certified by consulting the oven’s manual, calling us (410-484-4110), or looking at the list on STAR-K’s website (www.star-k.org/appliances).
Reason: STAR-K does not own the copyright to the term “Sabbath mode” and cannot prevent a company from using those words.
Myth #2: A person who does not intend to raise or lower the oven temperature may use any oven on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and there is no reason to use an oven which has a STAR-K Sabbath mode.
Fact: When using an oven on […]
The STAR-K Certification seeks an Experienced Commissary/Kitchen Mashgiach with familiarity in Hilchos Kashrus a must. A minimum of 2 years experience preferred. The candidate must be a dedicated, hardworking, and organized person who can assist and guide staff in the proper implementation of STAR-K policies and procedures. The individual must also be detail-oriented, self-motivated, a team player with a positive attitude plus excellent communication and critical thinking skills. Excellent pay. Compensation & Benefits commensurate with experience. Individual must be willing to relocate. Excellent opportunity for a married couple to share responsibilities. Please email cover letter, resume plus references to firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone calls will be accepted only after first receiving resume.
Over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical products that have kosher certification are far and few between. That is why the announcement of the STAR-K certification of various Mylanta brand antacid and anti-gas products is monumental.
Kosher consumers can now find Mylanta Liquid Antacid & Anti-Gas (Maximum Strength Classic, Maximum Strength Vanilla Caramel, and Tonight Soothing Honey Chamomile) and Mylanta Gas Minis (Assorted Fruit, Cherry, and Mint Tablets), distributed by INFIRST HEALTHCARE under license from McNeil Consumer Pharmaceuticals Co., on shelves throughout the US at national retailers such as Walmart and Walgreens.
“Pharmaceuticals are the ‘last frontier’ of kashrus and, unfortunately, very few OTC pharmaceutical products are kosher certified, explained STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Dovid Heber. “Kosher consumers who require such products are often confronted with questions. A STAR-K certified OTC product is a guarantee for consumers that they are receiving a product that is 100% kosher. Furthermore, all certified products are manufactured only on kosher […]
We have received updated information that effective this Friday, July 1, 2016, all beers sold in Maryland that were part of our previous alert of being Chometz Sheavar Alav HaPesach, can be assumed to be from after Pesach and are permitted.
Note that all flavored beers or hard beverages require reliable Hashgocho. Check our beer listing for kosher approved beers and beverages.
It has come to our attention that two large beer distribution companies in Baltimore and the surrounding areas are Jewish owned. As such, many brands of beer sold in our area are chometz she’avar alav haPesach, and may not be purchased at this time. A complete list of the affected beers can be found here.
These companies are the exclusive distributors of these brands in the listed areas.
The distributors have informed the Star-K that the stock of beer that they owned over Pesach will not […]
If your kitchen is equipped with four ovens – for meat, dairy, pareve and fish you don’t need to read this article. However, if you do not have such a luxury, you will find various halachic details enumerated below quite relevant.
There are numerous factors involved in an oven “going back and forth” between meat and dairy or using an oven for fish or pareve.1 They include the following: a) The oven – Is it clean? Was it kashered? When was it last used? b) The food – Is it liquid? Is it covered? When was it prepared? c) Does the question arise to do the action l’chatchila (I can do this) or is it only okay b’dieved (it already happened)?
Note: The halachos addressed are based on the psak of HaRav Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, Rabbinic Administrator of STAR-K Kosher Certification.2 The article addresses […]
Before one is permitted to indulge in kosher Jewish delicacies such as chopped liver, liver steaks and onions, or sauteed chicken livers, raw liver must undergo various processes before the liver is deemed fit for kosher use. First, as with all kosher meat, the liver must come from a kosher species of animal or fowl that has been schechted, slaughtered, in the proper manner prescribed by the Torah. If it is an animal liver, all the fat must be meticulously removed. Furthermore, the Torah forbids eating the blood of an animal or bird. Therefore, it is necessary to extract the blood from the kosher slaughtered meat or liver.
How is the blood removed? With meat, this process is commonly known as kashering and is accomplished by soaking the meat in water, salting it, and then rewashing it. With liver, this method of extraction is insufficient. Since liver contains such a large concentration of […]
Q: When is the brocha of Hatov Vehameitiv recited over wine?
A: Before drinking a cup of wine, one recites the brocha of Borei Pri Hagofen. Under certain circumstances, if a different wine is subsequently drunk one recites an additional blessing – the brocha of Hatov Vehameitiv.1 The brocha gives thanks to Hashem for blessing the person with a richness of wine. The Hebrew text of the brocha is
2ברוך אתה ה’ אלקינו מלך העולם הטוב והמטיב
This brocha is recited only if a number of conditions are met:
If the second wine is of lesser quality than the first wine, Hatov Vehameitiv is not recited.3 There is one exception to this rule. If the first wine is red and the second one is white (but not the other way around), Hatov Vehameitiv is recited even if the second wine is known to be of slightly inferior quality. This is because Chazal consider […]
Glass is one of nature’s most versatile products created from some of nature’s most prevalent raw materials: sand, soda and lime. In the food industry, glass applications are extremely diverse. Glass can be made into delicate drinking glasses, as well as tough heat resistant ceramic cooktops tops withstanding temperatures over 1000°F.
How is glass made? Basically, the raw ingredients are heated and melted in a large furnace. The molten glass is shaped, blown, or pressed into its desired shape. The finished product is then annealed in an annealing oven and tempered to give the newly formed glass strength and durability.
Although glass can be made to be stronger and less porous than steel, the halachic status of glass remains enigmatic. On the one hand, Chazal recognized the fact that glass is tough, resistant and non-porous. On the other hand, glass raw materials are the same as earthenware which is very […]
We have been advised that the following STAR-K certified Samsung gas ranges have a Sabbath Mode that does not work properly:
If you own one of these models, click here to contact Samsung for a fix.
Until you get the fix you need to install an oven “ShabboSwitch”. This device is available at your local bookstore or online. Any method of keeping the plunger switch on the frame of the oven depressed will work. If using tape, make sure it can withstand the heat of the oven. (Duct tape may not work.)
Please note that you still need to put your oven into Sabbath Mode before Shabbos or YomTov, even if you have installed a “ShabboSwitch”.
The Sabbath mode in all STAR-K certified Samsung electric ranges is fully functional and meets all our halachic requirements.