[By: Margie Pensak]

Security was tight at STAR-K Certification’s largest and most challenging food service supervision, to date–The Jewish Federations of North America’s 2014 General Assembly (GA), the premier annual North American Jewish communal event, held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, in National Harbor, Maryland, November 9-12. Vice President Joe Biden was one of the several scheduled speakers and I had to make sure I arrived early enough before Gaylord’s security lockdown. I never did get to see the Vice President, while I was touring the kosher kitchen with STAR-K Assistant Director of Supervision Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld, who spearheaded the kashrus team for this event. But, I did feel the thrill of the anticipation of his arrival, as I went through more than one security checkpoint and watched a sniffing K-9 attack trained German shepherd police dog check out the crowd!

The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is […]

Baltimore, MD – Aug. 4– Yosef Cohen has been attending a community kollel in Raanana, Israel, for the past five years. He decided to sign up forSTAR-K’s Food Service Kashrus Training Seminar, held July 28-30, because he is considering moving back to the US and will need a parnasa.

“I was always interested in Hashgacha and have taken a Hashgacha course in Eretz Yisroel and received a certificate from Rav Efrati and the Rabanut of Israel,” notes Mr. Cohen, a first time STAR-K seminar attendee.  “The STAR-K training seminar was a great review of the pertinent Halachos, and gave amazing hands on information and tips for the seasoned and beginner.”

What Mr. Cohen found most helpful was learning how to deal with the vendors: “We learned to always be a mensch and remember that you are the Rabbi while on the job, whether you think of yourself like that or not, and […]

The Eleventh Annual STAR-K Kashrus Training Program attracted attendees from the Catskill Mountains to Indianapolis, IN. This year, in addition to the STAR-K Kashrus Administrators who delivered presentations on everything from Foodservice Challenges to the Halachic issues of Appliances, Rabbi Aaron Metzger, director of the NY State Kosher Enforcement Bureau, addressed the participants. Rabbi Metzger, a resident of Monsey, NY, was appointed to his position by The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in January. Part of his job is to protect consumers by ensuring compliance with the certification, record keeping and signage requirements relating to kosher food, and maintaining the Department’s online kosher databases.

“Being in this position is important to the Jewish community to maintain a sense of accountability in Kosher,” notes Rabbi Metzger.” Being able to present at the STAR-K conference has enlightened various rabbis from across the globe how important transparency and accountability is in […]

Baltimore, MD – May 2014 – Earlier this month, STAR-K Kosher Certification was represented at the sold-out Torah Umesorah 58th Annual National Leadership Convention by STAR-K President Dr. Avrom Pollak, STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Baruch Beyer, and STAR-K Director of Special Projects Rabbi Zvi Holland, who introduced mechanchim to the STAR-K Kosher Classroom.

The STAR-K Kosher Classroom, which debuted at the convention, is an initiative to develop curricular materials for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. The first group of  posters and videos were prepared to present to the 1,800 attendees from throughout the U.S., Canada and elsewhere around the world, to generate interest, feedback and partnership from those who will actually be presenting the materials.

“Just as we do not charge for our extensive Kashrus education programs and community services, we are not charging for these materials, “ noted Rabbi Holland. “We wanted the teachers to tell us what materials they […]

STAR-K Kosher Certification recently held its first Winter Kashrus Training Program for a group of mashgichim from New York. The participants, who live in Boro Park, traveled to attend the seminar in Baltimore on three consecutive Sundays, January-February. The program was the brainchild of Mr. Meir Rand, a Chasidishe mashgiach who has worked in various kitchen venues in Boro Park. Realizing the lack of Chasidishe mashgiach training, he approached STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Zvi Holland with his well-accepted idea of a training program.

“I was very, very happy with the program; I learned such new chidushim and how to deal with people in Kashrus work,” says Mr. Rand. “I have no words. It was mamash amazing–meyradik!

“The Chasidishe community doesn’t yet have such a training program for their mashgichim,” continues Mr. Rand. “We have no mesuderdik system for training them and we found out that STAR-K has the best training system for […]

On Wednesday, January 8, STAR-K Kosher Certification’s Baltimore offices hosted a seminar for Jewish Experience Week (J.E.W.). The seminar, led by STAR-K Kashrus Administrators Rabbi Zvi Goldberg and Rabbi Zvi Holland, enlightened college students from around the country about the function of a kosher certification agency and various practical Kashrus issues.

Rabbi Holland’s presentation, “The Wonderful World of Kosher Certification”, covered the history of kosher certification, the globalization of food production and Kosher certification, the difference between a local agency and an International agency, non-profit public agencies certifying kashrus as opposed to individuals, the need and value of retaining public trust in kosher agencies, how halachic decisions are made at STAR-K and how they are kept separate from business, and STAR-K’s unique role as the only major non-profit Kosher agency dedicated only to Kosher. An informative Q & A session followed.

Rabbi Goldberg’s talk, “The Mystical and the Practical”, addressed the Torah basis […]

When we prepare to celebrate our freedom from Egyptian slavery on Pesach, the last thing we want to do is enslave ourselves to debt in paying for that eight-day celebration! Although the Gemorah states that when Hashem assigns a person’s livelihood on Rosh Hashanah for the coming year, He does not deduct Shabbos and Yom Tov expenses from the sum allocated, it is no mitzvah to spend money for those expenses, needlessly. With a little forethought and planning, you can implement some helpful money saving tips, year-round, in anticipation of Pesach.

Optimally, it would be wise to budget for Pesach, well in advance. Decide how much you will have to spend, and what you might need to cut from your budget to achieve that figure, by asking yourself: How much do I typically spend on groceries, monthly? How much did I spend on Pesach, last year? What are the specifics of […]

Published Winter 2009

The eighteen mashgichos who attended STAR-K’s Mashgicha Enrichment Program, November 2-3 in Baltimore, Maryland, had only one complaint: it wasn’t long enough. Although it lacked nothing in the way of organization or detailing of comprehensible and practical information, the women would have appreciated even more face time with the STAR-K experts. The experience of meeting fellow mashgichos from so many communities, being able to ask questions throughout the presentations, and the camaraderie felt by the program’s end, made it worth the trip!

In keeping with Star-K’s commitment to providing prompt, efficient service, Star-K companies will now have the option of receiving their Letter of Certification (LOC) electronically. This enhancement is especially useful for companies that send multiple LOC’s to each of their customers. For example, rather than faxing a five-page LOC to a long list of customers, Star-K companies will be only a click away from electronic LOC distribution. All their customers can receive the data they need in seconds.

Is a kosher caterer’s non-Jewish chef allowed to squeeze the juice of fresh grapes into the food he is preparing for an event? Questions such as these, and more, were answered by HaRav Moshe Heinemann, shlit’a, at STAR-K Kosher Certification’s back-to-back seminars, held in their home offices, earlier this month. Participants joined the Foodservice Kashrus Training Seminar, July 1-3, and the Tenth Annual Kashrus Training Program, July 8-11, from across the US, Mexico, and Canada.

Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, who has been the Rosh Kollel of the Philadelphia Community Kollel for 13 years, attended the Tenth Annual Kashrus Training program so he could see and hear, first hand, the behind-the-scenes in Kashrus.

“I would like to see the standards of kashrus in our community be even better than they are already,” said Rabbi Biberfeld. “The information and insight from the STAR-K seminar will be helpful in attaining this goal. It gives you a […]

Rabbinic alumni from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) visited STAR-K Kosher Certification’s offices, during their Yarchei Kallah, held in Baltimore, Maryland, April 22-24. Participants traveled from as far away as Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Oakland, California, for this annual event for American and Canadian Rabbonim, coordinated by Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and Senior Scholar at Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future.

Over the summer, STAR-K’s Baltimore offices hosted two Mashgichim Review Seminars which were attended by close to 50 mashgichim. The participants, who act in a kashrus supervisory capacity primarily for restaurants, caterers, camps, and college campus Kosher programs, came from throughout the Maryland-Pennsylvania region.

Rabbi Daniel Presman traveled 10,800 roundtrip miles, a 22-hour roundtrip flight from his hometown of Porto Alegre, Brazil, just to attend STAR-K’s ninth annual Kashrus Training Program, July 16-19, held in its Baltimore offices. Hearing about the program via an email, he was convinced that it would be well worth the trip– he was not disappointed.

The field of Kashrus is diverse and multi-faceted. These attributes are mirrored in the multi-talented, eclectic STAR-K Kosher Certification’s Kashrus Administrators, who recently took Kashrus on the road to audiences in Baltimore, Lakewood, North Miami Beach, and Oak Park, Michigan. Their topics spanned everything from Astronomy to Kosher Organic Certification.

It should have come as no surprise when the Philippine Department of Agriculture sponsored the first official Philippine Pavilion at last month’s Kosherfest 2012, which included manufacturers of Kosher-certified products derived from coconuts, bananas and processed mangoes. Consul General Mario L. de Leon Jr., of the Philippine Consulate General New York, cut the ribbon at the pavilion and spoke at the Interest Session provided by Kosherfest organizers. The way was paved for Filipino exporters of processed food to explore the lucrative niche market of Kosher-certified food products.

Bundling Audits

Bob Vosburgh, Jeff Wells and Alyssa Haak

It’s tough enough getting certified on a single attribute, much less three. But Hain-Celestial Group’s WestSoy product line was able to gain organic, kosher and non-GMO certification in record time thanks to the emergence of multiple audit programs that streamline the verification process.

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

Star-K Kosher Certification has begun providing triple inspections to certify plants and products as non-GMO, organic and kosher, which it says can save companies time and money on individually conducted inspections.

STAR-K Certification’s heartfelt condolences extend to those who have lost loved ones in the recent horrific tragedy of the capsized cruise ship, Costa Concordia. Rescue operations continue to search for those who remain unaccounted for among the 4200 passengers onboard the liner when it hit the rocks off the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy.

STAR-K Kosher Certification, Inc. made history, last month, when its Director of Development Steve Sichel, conducted the first non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) organic kosher inspection – allowing for triple certification for the ordinarily individually conducted, time-consuming inspections within a normal working day. The comprehensive audit was performed for the Hain-Celestial Group’s WestSoy product line, in Boulder, Colorado.

Published Winter 2012

On Wednesday, September 7, at 8 p.m. EST, STAR-K made history by hosting the world’s first Eruv-inar. The inaugural long distance interactive presentation allowed participants from around the globe to experience a live workshop highlighting eruv shaylos through the use of pictures of eruvim, which were submitted. STAR-K’s Rabbinic Administrator, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, has always been on the cutting edge of the juxtaposition of advanced technology and halacha; the Eruv-inar featured Rav Heinemann discussing hilchos eruv.

Twenty-five years ago, Rabbi Moshe Fuller, z”l, a young Mexican student at Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, filled a tremendous void in the world of Jewish outreach when he founded Or HaNer. Recruiting teenagers primarily from Central and South America, Rabbi Fuller provided them with the opportunity to come to the States and experience Torah-true Judaism during their summer and winter school breaks.

If you are an eruv checker or rav hamachshir in one of the dozens of cities across the United States, Israel, Europe and Australia that has an eruv, you can now review hilchos eruv and pose your eruv shaylos, gratis, with no strings attached!

Published Winter 2010

For those of you who think that all colleges are “treif”, STAR-K Certification knows that is not the case. STAR-K certifies eight kosher restaurants, take-outs, and concession stands on seven college campuses on the northeast coast.

Washington Jewish Week, July 2009

Kosher certification is “a badge of honor,” says Gifford’s Ice Cream & Candy Co. CEO Neal Lieberman. That’s one reason that he’s happy that the Silver Spring-based company received STAR-K certification earlier this year.

When Rabbi Chaim Glazer, an eleventh grade rebbi at Yeshiva Toras Chaim, in North Miami Beach, Florida, was teaching his class about Kelai Elanos (the issur of grafting two trees of different species together), his lesson plan research led him to a STAR-K Kashrus Kurrents article on hydroponics–the cultivation of plants in a nutrient solution rather than in soil. Always seeking to give his students “beyond book learning experiences”, Rabbi Glazer contacted the author of the article, STAR-K Kashrus Administrator, Rabbi Zvi Goldberg. Rabbi Goldberg suggested that he and the bochurim learn about the halachic implications of hydroponics, face-to-face–despite the fact that they were about 950 miles apart–using a video camera.

STAR-K Certification has long enjoyed a successful and harmonious relationship with Turkey for over 25 years, providing Kosher certification for scores of Turkish companies. The STAR-K symbol appears on everything from Turkish-produced beans to candy, condiments, fruits, vegetables, juices, jams, honey, oils, nuts, pasta, pickled products, rice, sauces, teas, and vinegars.