Congratulations to the following 3 companies for winning the Kosherfest new product competition!

Shay’s Chocolate– Dairy Caramel Popcorn (Sweet Snacks Category)
Ceres (Stanmar International)- Fruit Juice (Beverages- Non-Alcoholic)
Froozer/Cool Frootz, LLC (Frozen Desserts)

by Rabbi Dovid Stein, Star-K Representative in Israel


The mitzvah of shmitta poses many challenges for those who live in Eretz Yisrael. The main challenge, of course, is for the farmers. However, the consumer has his challenges, as well. It is always preferable to purchase produce from stores that have reliable kosher certification to ensure that there are no halachic problems. If there is no such store available, one must be certain not to transgress the laws of shmitta in the purchase, consumption, or interaction with shmitta produce. These are the different categories of halachos that one has to take into consideration:

1. Sfichin

2. Kedushas shevi’is

3. Schora (doing business) with shevi’is produce

4. Dmei shevi’is (shevi’is money)


The laws of sfichin refer to a rabbinic prohibition of eating […]

by Rabbi Sholom Tendler, Kashrus Administrator

As many consumers are aware, there has been a shortage of Kosher-certified iceberg lettuce on the market over the last few months. Many people have been wondering why this shortage suddenly happened this year and when it will end. While it is true that iceberg lettuce is generally easier to clean and check than romaine, it still poses some of its own unique challenges. To clarify this issue, it is important to understand some background about how iceberg lettuce is grown, harvested and processed.


Iceberg lettuce initially grows open, just like romaine, during the first few weeks of its development, before cupping over and closing up. Once it cups, all of the newer leaves grow inside the closed head. If the time period when it was open was subjected to high levels of insect pressure, insects could crawl inside the open head and […]

It has been called nature’s candy and is a sweet source of nutrition whose popularity is on the rise.  Commensurate with its growing popularity is its demand.  In today’s global economy, the dried fruit trade literally spans the entire globe – apples from China, prunes from Bulgaria, figs from the Middle East, dates from Tunisia, raisins from South America, and of course apples, peaches, plums, raisins, figs, and dates from the good old U.S.A.  Naturally, this growth presents a whole new set of challenges to kashrus agencies.  How do they send a mashgiach to supervise date productions in Pakistan, raisin productions in Iran, or plum productions in Bulgaria?  Let’s learn about this popular healthy snack alternative.


The Process

Fruit is dried through a process known as dehydrating, which removes enough moisture from the fruit to retard the growth of bacteria and mold while retaining the great taste and nutrients of the fruit.  […]


Stainless steel, plastic or porcelain dishwashers which have plastic pumps, parts and rubber hoses cannot be kashered for Pesach or the rest of the year.
Please see the list below of the Star-K Certified KitchenAid Dishwashers here.

KitchenAid Drawer Dishwashers



The above models may be used in the following manner:

Since the two units/drawers are completely separate entities, one may be designated and used for meat and the other for dairy.
However, if one drawer is used for meat and the other for dairy, the two drawers should not be run at the same time.
This certification does not extend […]


Porcelain Enamel, Corian, Plastic/Formica, Silestone
CANNOT be kashered (for Pesach). Clean and cover for cold food. Cardboard or thick pad for hot food and utensils.

Granite, Marble, or Stainless Steel
Can be kashered by doing eruy roschim (purging through a hot water pour). Make sure that the material is a PURE granite, limestone, etc. Sometimes they are really “composites” which have plastic in them and therefore CANNOT be kashered.


June 6, 2008
On Friday, 3 Sivan, 5768, Rav Heinemann, Shlita discussed the recent Kol Koreh regarding raising or lowering temperatures on Yom Tov on ovens equipped with the Sabbath Mode feature.
To hear Rav Heinemann click below.

For those who wish to refrain from placing their ovens in Sabbath Mode and still use their oven on Yom Tov, please be aware of the possible serious “Michshol” on many models. Opening the oven door will immediately shut off the heating elements, an act clearly forbidden on Yom Tov. Thus, even if you don’t raise or lower the temperature, it is still important to keep the oven in Sabbath Mode.
To view the Teshuva (Responsa) regarding Sabbath Mode ovens by HaGaon HaRav Moshe Heinemann Shlita, Rabbinic Administrator of the Star-K click here.

For important information regarding Kashering Cooktops, Countertops and Dishwashers click here.


Electric – Kashering a Glass, Corning, Halogen, or Ceran electric smoothtop range for Pesach use is a bit complex. To kasher the burner area, turn on the elements until they glow. The burner area is now considered kosher for Pesach. However, the remaining area that does not get hot is not kashered. The manufacturers do not suggest covering this area as one would a porcelain top, as it may cause the glass to break. Real kosherization can be accomplished by holding a blow torch over the glass until it is hot enough to singe a piece of newspaper on contact with the glass. However, this too may cause the glass to shatter and is not recommended. As the area between the burners cannot practically be kashered, it would be wise to have a trivet on the open glass area to move pots onto. In addition, it would be wise to […]


The rapidly rising parallel global demand for both kosher and organic certifications has created a flourishing specialty food category, kosher organic, for products that meet both the strict requirements of Jewish dietary laws and the USDA National Organic Program specifications. To satisfy the growing numbers of companies worldwide that opt for both of these certifications, QAI and STAR-K Kosher Certification, based in Baltimore, Maryland, introduced a joint kosher and organic auditing program in January 2009. It provides two certifications with a single audit. This streamlined auditing process reduces overall certification costs, saves time and provides excellent service.

What is required of a plant that wants to become and stay kosher compliant? Specific regulations often depend on the nature of the plant. For example, if Plant A produces both kosher and non-kosher in the same facility and Plant B is entirely kosher, Plant A will have additional regulations regarding the use of […]

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., 2016/5776). The term Yoshon (literally, old) refers to crops harvested last summer that became permitted after the following Passover. Thus, the 2014 crop of grains, harvested last summer, became permitted after this past Passover (i.e., 2015/5775). Grain planted at least two weeks (see Dagul Mervava Y.D. 293) or more before Passover is permitted upon harvest since it took root before Passover.

Outside of Israel, there […]


September 10 – Baltimore–STAR-K Certification Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Sholom Tendler was invited by HaRav Hershel Rosenfeld, the Rosh HaKollel of Baltimore’s newest kollel, Khal Chassidim Kollel L’Horo’ah, to present a shiur on chalav Yisrael to the yungerleit, on Labor Day.

Explaining how the chalav Yisrael kashrus program for STAR-K certified “Pride of the Farm” works, Rabbi Tendler began by reviewing the basic halachos of chalav Yisrael. He then covered how the farm operates and what oversight and safeguards are in place to ensure the cows are kosher and not “treifa”—i.e., that they are not operated on or have any sicknesses that would affect the kashrus of the milk. He concluded with an explanation of how the milk is watched and tracked to ensure chalav Yisrael status and maintained l’mihadrin min ha’mihadrin.

“Rabbi Sholom Tendler, besides being a big Talmid Chuchem, is an expert in Kashrus,” noted HaRav Rosenfeld. “The way he […]


“New Horizons” (NASA’s Mission to Pluto) recently came within 7,800 miles of Pluto and brought much attention to this dwarf planet that at any given time is between 2.66 billion and 4.68 billion miles away from Earth.

As we begin Rosh Hashanah, 5776, which will mark the beginning of the final year of the 304th nineteen year cycle since Brias Haolam (the creation of the world), it is interesting to note the amazing similarity between the amount of time it takes Pluto to orbit the the sun and the Jewish Calendar cycle based on 13 – nineteen year cycles found in the Tur (Orach Chaim Siman 428).

The Tur’s chart is based on a 247-year cycle and it takes Pluto about 247 years to orbit the sun.

This is the Tur’s 247-year calendar found in Orach Chaim, Siman 428, in Hilchos Rosh Chodesh. Note the marks we have added to illustrate how the […]

November 10-11, 2015

Meadowlands Exposition Center
Secaucus, New Jersey

Visit us at Kosherfest at booth 728



Baltimore, MD – July 27, 2015 – If you place food on a crock pot that is on a timer for Shabbos, is it considered bishul Yisroel? Beyond the food, what obligations does a Kashrus agency have in a facility, e.g., the attire of the wait staff, the type of entertainment and music played, etc.? What is the criterion for Kashrus agencies to decide whether or not to certify an establishment that has just lost its certification?

The answers to these intriguing questions and more were shared by STAR-K Rabbinic Administrator HaRav Moshe Heinemann, shlita, at the 12th Annual STAR-K Kashrus Training Program, held July 13-16, and its back-to-back annual Food Service Kashrus Training Seminar, held July 20-22, in STAR-K’s Baltimore, Maryland, offices.  The former was coordinated by STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Zvi Goldberg; the latter, by STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Sholom Tendler.  In addition to lectures such as: Administrative Issues; […]

With a little forethought and planning, you can implement somehelpful year-round money saving tips in anticipation of Pesach. To assess your budget, ask yourself:

–  What do I typically spend on groceries per month?

–  What did I spend for Pesach last year?

–  What are the specifics of this year’s Pesach plans?

–  Will I be eating meals at home or eating out?

–  Will I have more expenses because I am entertaining guests?

–  What can I afford this year?

–  How can I cut back on expenses a month or two prior to Pesach?

–  What can I live without?

Decide on your menu, taking into account where chol hamoed falls out on the calendar, as well as fleishig/milchig meals.  Be sure to make a list before you go shopping. Hopefully, you can refer to your post-Pesach notes from the previous year to remind you of your ever-changing Pesach needs.  These could include:

– Number of boxes of matzahmatzah meal, cake meal, and potato starch used

– Number of bottles of wine needed

– Popular brands

– Amount of milk used

– Amount of chicken used

– Amount of produce […]

Q:   When I say  Al Hamichya and make a mistake, I don’t know what to do.  Could you give me some guidelines?

A:    There are three places in the  brocha me’ein shalosh (colloquially known as  Al Hamichya) where the text changes, depending on what was eaten:

(1)    The  brocha starts with the words “ Boruch atah Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olamal …”, followed by either “ hagefen  ve’al pri hagefen” if a person drank wine, “ ha’eitz  ve’al pri ha’eitz” if he ate fruit from the  shivas  haminim, “ hamichyeh  ve’al hakalkalah” if he ate food made from any of the five types of grain (wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt), or a combination of these phrases if he ate or drank a combination of items.1

(2)    Further on in the  brocha , one says “…  ve’nodeh  lecha al ha’aretz ve’al …”, followed by either “ pri  hagofen”, “ ha’peyros”, “ hamichya”, or a combination of these phrases.

(3)    The  brocha concludes with the words “…  Boruch atah Hashem al …”, followed once again by either “ hagefen  ve’al pri hagefen”, “ ha’eitz  ve’al pri ha’eitz”, “ hamichya  ve’al hakalkalah”, […]

A Fictional Account of a Factual Situation1

PicturesLarge industrial stove, oven, fryer, elegantly set ballroom with tables

Mendy enjoyed his job at Elegant Touch Catering (ETC). His primary responsibilities were in the office, but his sharp eye was noticed by Rabbi Ephraim Rubin, the caterer’s veteran mashgiach, who needed extra help with vegetable checking. Finding people with the skill and acumen to determine acceptability of leafy greens, especially in the pressurized environment of a commercial kitchen, was a challenge for Rabbi Rubin and he was eager to recruit Mendy as an assistant.

After two months of training, and hours squinting in the harsh glow of a light box covered by microfiber mesh cloth, Mendy became adept at detecting tiny translucent thrips and aphids hiding in the folds and crevices of romaine, kale, broccoli, dill, and parsley. Finally, the STAR-K  Kashrus Administrator overseeing foodservice establishments approved him as a vegetable checker. Eventually, Mendy finely honed his skills to […]

Hashem , in his ultimate kindness, has provided man with the keys to unlock some of nature’s most amazing secrets.  For centuries, a great secret has been revealed to man – the bubbling elixir known as beer.

Beer’s ingredients – water, barley, yeast and hops – bear no resemblance to the finished product.  These natural ingredients undergo a series of simple yet fascinating processes to convert them into one of the world’s most popular beverages.  It is not coincidental that alcoholic beverages have been given the distinctive appellation “spirits”, alluding to the fact that these beverages seem to magically emerge from these natural ingredients as if they have been assisted by spirits.  The four steps of beer making are malting, roasting, brewing and fermenting.

THE PROCESS :  The first step of beer making combined barley and water in a process known as […]

     Remember when making coffee meant putting a kettle on the stovetop and waiting until it whistles?  Today, electric heating has taken over the market in order to fill the need of having hot water on-demand.Two of the popular types of electric hot water heaters on the U.S. market are the common aluminum urn with a plastic spout, and the relatively newer ‘pump pot’, which requires that you push down on the top plunger to pump out the water.

I.        TEVILA

The Torah requires that utensils used for a meal be immersed in a mikva if they were in possession of an aino-Yehudi at any time.  The Talmud[1] states that mechamei chamin, hot water kettles, also require tevila.  Rav Moshe Feinstein[2] explains that there is a novelty in this ruling.  One can argue that a kettle requires no tevila at all.The kettle doesn’t perform any meal preparation function since […]


Q:        I would like to send my young children to a backyard camp during the summer.  The camp is offering an ‘early-bird special’ if I register my children now.  If I wait until the summer to register, they will charge more.  Is there any ribbis issue with registering now and receiving the discount?

A:         Ribbis involves lending money to another Jew and charging interest.  Doing so may violate a Torah prohibition or a rabbinic prohibition, depending upon the situation.  If it is necessary to charge interest, the two parties may sign a document known as a “heter iska”, which converts the loan into a business investment, thereby avoiding the prohibition of ribbis.1  People are often unaware that a number of common transactions may violate the prohibition of ribbis.  Here are a couple of examples:


(1)   Reuven buys an item with Shimon’s credit card, and assures Shimon that he will pay the credit card bill.  However, Reuven forgets to pay the bill on time, […]

If anyone ever visited New Orleans, one of the must-see tourist highlights in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, is a quaint Cajun wooden floor coffee shop known simply as Morning Call.  Morning Call is a café that sold one product only – a delightful, deep fried square doughnut that you smothered with heaps of confectioners’ sugar and enjoyed along with a delicious hot cup of French market coffee.  These square doughnuts are known as beignets (pronounced ben y’ays).  I don’t know if a beignet matches a fresh jelly-filled  sufgania , but beignets are a New Orleans favorite and Morning Call is still frying beignets.When I was a member of the New Orleans  Kollel  many years ago, Morning Call was certified kosher by the local congregational rabbi, and at that time there was no Kosher Cajun restaurant to […]

It is not uncommon for food manufacturers to call us with a keen interest in kosher certification without the the slightest idea what it takes to produce a kosher product.  What complicates matters is that they would like to have a kashrus tutorial capsulized into a telephone conversation.  Obviously, we can’t give a thorough kashrus course over the phone, but we can categorize practical kashrus into three main areas: ingredients, equipment, and process.Occasionally, there may be circumstances where both ingredients and equipment are 100% kosher.  Through a violation of a rabbinic ordinance, some foods or food products would be prohibited, while other food products undergoing the very same process would remain 100% […]

Insights from the Institute-Summer 2014
Shailos from the Institute of Halacha
Rabbi Mordechai Frankel, Director of the Institute of Halacha

Q: I have heard that someone who bakes loaves of bread with the intention of giving them to other people does not separate challah with a brocha. Can you explain the parameters of this halacha?

A: One is obligated to perform the mitzvah of separating challah when kneading dough which will be baked into bread. The amount of flour one must knead in order to be obligated in this mitzvah is an asiris ha’aifa, which is equivalent to the volume of 43⅕ beitzah.1 The exact volume of a beitzah is a matter of dispute. L’halacha, one should separate challah without a brocha when kneading 2.6 lbs. of flour, which on average is equivalent to 8⅔ cups of flour. According to Rav Chaim Noeh, one can separate challah with a brocha when kneading […]


One of the highlights of the week is the Shabbos seuda. The divrei Torah, zemiros, Shabbos delicacies, family and guests allow us to come closer to the Ribbono Shel Olam and recharge our ruchniyos and gashmiyos (spiritual and physical) batteries. Although a delicious bowl of chicken soup on Friday night and hot cholent during the daytime seuda enhance the Shabbos meals, one does not fulfill his obligation of “seudas Shabbos” with either of these items. What is necessary to fulfill one’s obligation for seudas Shabbos?

I. Seudas Shabbos

Men and women are obligated to eat three meals every Shabbos. Each “meal” must consist of bread.1 Chinuch-age children are also obligated. On Yom Tov, one2 is obligated to eat only two seudos as there is no obligation for a third meal.

Ideally, one should eat the volume of a “k’baytza v’yoser”3 from challos, matzos, rolls, bread or any Hamotzi product.4This volume is slightly more […]

There was a story told about a very elderly Yid who was in the hospital with medical complications. The doctor came in with the patient’s test results and said, “Mr. Goldberg, your blood pressure is high and your cholesterol is high. You must change your diet. No more chopped liver; nothing cooked in chicken schmaltz.” Mr. Goldberg peeked out from under his blanket as his children were attending him, looked the doctor straight in the eye and said, “Vos vais a doctor vos a yid darf essen!”1

Although Judaism frowns upon a ‘Live to Eat’ mantra, eating does play a central role in the life of a Torah observant Jew. How can one observe Shabbos without Kiddush and Hamotzi? Who can observe a Pesach seder without matza? A Melava Malka, a Purim seuda, dipping an apple in the honey on Rosh Hashana – our calendar and our chagim are replete with […]

For over nineteen hundred years, the Jewish people have longed to return to Eretz Yisroel, the Land of Israel.  It is only in the Land of Israel that we can realize our full potential as a nation; it is only in the Land of Israel that the Torah’s blueprint for life can be completely fulfilled.  For the millennia, the most important dimension of this longing was the yearning to once again be able to fulfill the mitzvos hatluyos ba’aretz (agricultural laws), the commandments that can be observed only in the Land of Israel.  With Hashem’s help, many of us in this past generation have realized part of this two thousand year old dream.  Yet, this realization has presented us with new challenges.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest mitzva challenges of all times is the fulfillment of the mitzva of Shmitta, the year of Sabbatical rest for the land of Israel.  The Midrash perceives this multifaceted mitzva as […]


Q:   It has become common for businesses and stores to have security video cameras which monitor the foot traffic in front of their properties. Similarly, many apartment buildings have video cameras which record anything that enters or exits the building. Is a Jew allowed to walk in front of such a video camera on Shabbos? Can a Jew operate a video camera knowing that other Jews will walk in front of it on Shabbos?

A:    In order to answer this question, we need to address four issues.

(1)  The video camera may be connected to a monitor that displays the recorded image.  May a person walk in front of a video camera on  Shabbos if it will cause his image to be displayed on a monitor? 

One of the forbidden  melachos on  Shabbos is  kesiva, writing.  Drawing a picture is also considered to be  kesiva  mideoraissa (writing which is forbidden by the  […]


  The STAR-K certifies tens of thousands of products manufactured across the globe. There are well over a million ingredients and products certified by hundreds of kashrus  agencies worldwide. The following example may provide an idea of how many products are kosher certified.One million different products that are in containers measuring 6 inches in diameter lined up side by side (with no space between them) would stretch from Manhattan to Philadelphia. Since there are considerably more than a million kosher certified products, and industrial products are often sold in wider containers (e.g., 55 gallon drums), this line of products would most likely continue all the way to Baltimore. Furthermore, every kosher certified item (i.e., every container of every kosher product certified by every reliable  kashrus  agency) would easily stretch from the earth to the […]