For many years, Rav Gershon Bess prepared a Guide for Pesach Medications and Cosmeticswhich was published and distributed by Kollel Los Angeles. A partnership with STAR-K and the Kollel to make this information more widely available to the general public is still going strong after more than a quarter century. The Medications and Cosmetics Guide, available in Jewish bookstores nationwide, serves as an invaluable resource for kosher consumers seeking to purchase these items for Yom Tov.
Sefer Kovetz Halachos (Hilchos Pesach 12:4) states in the name of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky, shlit”a, that lechatchila one should take a medication approved for Pesach and mentions the availability and use of reliablePesach lists and guides (see Hilchos Pesach, ibid., footnote 5).
The halachos pertaining to medication and cosmetic use on Pesach are based on the joint psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, and Rav Gershon Bess, shlit”a.
In the 1920s, the Jewish community in Germany numbered close to half a million people. They were made up mostly of professionals in finance and retail trade. German Jewry thrived within the general culture of the Weimar Republic. As an influx of approximately 70,000 East European Jews flocked to Germany to escape political oppression and violent anti-Semitism, Berlin soon became the center for Hebrew culture, reaching its peak between 1920 to 1924. It had become a safe haven for Hebrew and Yiddish speaking intellectuals, mostly Russian Hebrew writers. Although some Jews emigrated during this time, mostly to America or Palestine, many more did so after the rise of Nazism in 1933. Unfortunately, the majority of Jews remained in Germany, with catastrophic results.
In the times of Chazal, people would grind up medicine as needed. Grinding is forbidden on Shabbos; therefore, Chazal enacted a gezeira that a person should not take medicine on Shabbos for a minor ailment. Even though it is not common nowadays for a consumer to crush his own medicine, the gezeira remains in full force. In general, it is forbidden for a person with a minor ailment to do anything on Shabbos which an observer would realize is being done for refuah. I asked Rav Heinemann, shlit”a, twenty questions regarding treating minor ailments on Shabbos. Below are the questions and his answers. Following that, I have added source material for those who wish to further understand these pesakim.
Q1: How bad does a headache or an allergy such as hay fever need to be in order to take medicine on Shabbos?
A person is generally not allowed to take medicine on […]
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 […]
Ideally, one should purchase over-the-counter (OTC) products with a reliable hechsher. Star-K certified products contain only kosher approved ingredients. A product containing a trace of a nonkosher ingredient (even if it is batel bshishim) cannot be certified Star-K. Similarly, all certified products are manufactured without any keilim concerns.
Unfortunately, very few OTC products are kosher certified, and kosher consumers who require such products are often confronted with shailos (questions). The Star-K reviewed ingredients used in hundreds of OTC products manufactured by many of the major pharmaceutical companies including Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Glaxosmithkline, McNeil, Novartis, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Purdue Frederick, Schering-Plough, and Wyeth.
In compiling a list of “approved” medications for use by one who is a choleh (ill) or has a maychush (discomfort) the following halachic guidelines were used:
Equipment – If all ingredients are kosher, there is no concern that the medicinal ingredients were produced on treif equipment (see Yoreh Deah […]
To some people, the concept that there are restrictions regarding what can be fed to animals may seem amusing. They wonder: “Really now, must dogs also eat kosher?” Of course, animals don’t need to eat kosher food. However, Halacha clearly instructs people regarding what, how and when to feed them.
The Talmud Yerushalmi1 states that before acquiring an animal, one must be sure he will be able to properly provide for it. Certainly, the owner must also know the applicable halachos. The following is a discussion of some of these halachos, including the subjects of meat and milk mixtures, Pesach, buying and selling non-kosher pet food, feeding animals on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and feeding animals before you eat.
STAR-K is not necessarily recommending ownership of pets; rather, we are providing information for those owners who […]
Ezra Hasofer established ten takanos (laws) covering a wide spectrum of Jewish life.1 The purpose of these takanos was to enhance Torah study, Shabbos, the Jewish communal court system, and the sanctity of the Jewish home and marriage. One of the takanos was that salesmen should travel from town to town to supply perfume and fragrances to the women of each community.2 It is clear that these items were important in Jewish life since ancient times.
2020 will be remembered for a long time to come as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. These unusual circumstances have given rise to some unusual halachic questions. It is my fervent hope that everything will have returned to ‘normal’ by the time that you read this, and the lasting legacy will be the chiddushei Torah and piskei halachah that were generated as a result of this event. Below are some examples.
Q: If there are two adjacent houses with decks, with five men on one deck and another five men on the other deck, can they join together to form a minyan?
A: A gathering of ten men is needed in order for their davening to be considered tefilah b’tzibur. Once ten men have joined together to form a minyan, anyone else who is able to see them and participates is considered part of the minyan, and his davening is considered […]
Approximately twenty-five years ago shortly before “Pesach” 5738 Mr. A. J. Levin, a vice president of the Orthodox Jewish Council, began publishing Kashrus Kurrents. In that first issue, printed on the familiar yellow paper with the blue Kashrus Kurrents logo, it was deemed necessary to advise the Baltimore community that they cannot rely on labels or advertisements that merely states ‘Kosher for Passover’. From that same issue we learned that the fledgling Star-K organization had just inaugurated its kosher hot-line whereby one could get accurate kashrus information Monday through Thursday between the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
A most welcome and popular feature was a list of items that did not require special Passover certification. Included were specific brands of sugar and cocoa as well as a number of commonly used over the counter medications. Compiling the list required substantial research by volunteers […]
Over 30 years ago, STAR-K Kosher Certification recognized a deep community need for a hotline. Today, the STAR-K Kosher Hotline answers close to 100,000 questions, annually, from consumers calling in from around the world. It is comprised of a team of seven highly-trained receptionists who answer the questions from a written script. All answers are pre-approved by one of the STAR-K Rabbonim, who are available to elaborate on certain questions. As the phones continue to ring off the hook since Shushan Purim, the hotline has received close to 6000 questions, in addition to the many hundreds we received via email and our app. These are the top ten questions that have been asked.
If my oven is self-clean, do I just turn it on to kasher it?
It’s not enough since the door and opposing face of the oven don’t usually get hot enough to clean. First clean those areas, then turn […]
Last month, STAR-K Certification received an envelope filled with handwritten letters that asked questions like: ‘How many different lands do you go to, to give a hechsher?’ ‘How many hours a day do you spend at each company?’ and ‘How do you become a mashgiach?’ Accompanying the inquisitive, complimentary letters full of hakaras hatov, written by the obviously precocious second graders of Mevakshai Hashem– a Chasidishe cheder located in Boro Park–was a cover letter addressed to STAR-K by the boys’ rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Weinberger:
“These letters were written to you as part of our school’s General Studies “food science project”. This program consisted of writing first to ordinary food companies, and then to kashrus agencies. Each class was given another organization to write to; we chose the STAR-K.”
Eight-year-old Chananya Rosenberg was creative in illustrating every letter “K” in his letter as a “STAR-K” logo when he wrote:
19th Annual Kashrus Training Program July 25-28, 2022
9th Annual Foodservice Mashgiach Training Seminar August 1-3, 2022
Apply Online! Click below for registration forms
Please note that applicants may apply for only one seminar per year.
Both programs will be held at STAR-K’s Baltimore corporate headquarters.
Early registration is advised, as each program is limited to 25 attendees and spaces fill up early.
Application deadline for both programs: June 15, 2022
Kashrus Training Program
This widely acclaimed four-day program provides rabbonim, certifying agency administrators, kollel members, and others serving in klei kodesh, the opportunity to meet the personalities behind the internationally recognized and trusted STAR-K symbol. Attendees will be provided with a hands-on, practical application of the Shulchan Aruch, and learn how to structure a kashrus organization, along with the ins and outs of kashrus challenges at various venues.
Seminar participants will be taken behind the scenes of a first class luxury hotel’s kosher kitchen and a […]
Have you ever had a slice of p’tcha galarita – that spicy, globby stuff Bubby used to cook up? How did she manage to make it so thick?
Better yet, open a can of gefilte fish. Look at the stiff jell that comes as its broth. Why is it that when you cook your own gefilte fish, you do not get that solid jelly from your broth? Did you ever wonder why theirs is so thick and yours is not?
COLLAGEN may be the answer to this thickening question.
Collagen is a fibrous, insoluble protein that makes up a major portion of bone, skin and connective tissue. By cooking animal bones or adding fish bones to the broth of your gefilte fish, you will extract some of the collagen from the bones. This gives you the wobbly jelly in p’tcha or in the gefilte fish that comes in a can.
The most common form in which collagen is marketed is partially hydrolyzed state known commonly as gelatin. […]
Utensil to be immersed must be completely clean – free of dirt, dust, rust, stickers, labels or glue. (Practical Tip: WD-40 is very effective in removing adhesive)
One wets one’s hands in the mikvah water, holds the vessel in the wet hand and says Baruch…Asher Kidshanu B’Mitzvosav V’Tzivanu Al Tevilas Keili (Keilim for multiple utensils) and immerses the vessel(s).
If one forgot to make the brocha, the immersion is valid.
The water of the mikvah must touch the entire vessel inside and out.
The entire vessel must be under water at one time, but does not have to be submerged for any prolonged period of time.
If a basket or net is used to hold small utensils, the basket should be immersed in the water, the utensils placed in the basket, […]
Approximately thirty years ago shortly before “Pesach” 5738 Mr. A. J. Levin, a vice president of the Orthodox Jewish Council, began publishing Kashrus Kurrents. In that first issue, printed on the familiar yellow paper with the blue Kashrus Kurrents logo, it was deemed necessary to advise the Baltimore community that they cannot rely on labels or advertisements that merely states ‘Kosher for Passover’. From that same issue we learned that the fledgling Star-K organization had just inaugurated its kosher hot-line whereby one could get accurate kashrus information Monday through Thursday between the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
One of the trademarks of the Star-K is that it encourages its staff to respond to consumer kashrus inquiries. All too often, after eating a yummy treat, a consumer will notice a seemingly questionable item listed on the wrapper’s ingredient panel. They will then call the Star-K hotline in a frantic state because they fear they may have eaten something non-kosher, only to learn that they most likely mistook the ingredient for something else or that the ingredient has a kosher counterpart. The following is a list of commonly questioned ingredients that regularly appear on the labels of popular foods that we eat.
Star-K’s National Kashrus Lecture Series features various topics delivered by Star-K administrators. Topics cover: Glatt Kosher Meat Today, Kosher Travel, The High Price of Kosher Foods, Caterers and Restaurants, Meat and Poultry, Kosher Liquors, Shabbos & Yom Tov Appliances, and the Kashrus of Medicines & Vitamins. Cassettes of these lectures are available through the Star-K office. For more information, click here or call Star-K,
As the kosher consumer crosses Maryland’s spectacular Chesapeake Bay Bridge, it is hard to imagine that glucosamine, one of the most widely used arthritis remedies is derived from the seafood shells found deep in the waters below. Sea shells are not the only surprising source of muscle and joint remedies. The l’vona (frankincense) used in the Bais Hamikdash, deer antlers, and an array of animals including sharks and bees, also contain the raw materials of over-the-counter arthritis supplements.
When visiting an obstetrician/gynecologist, a patient may be given prescriptions or recommendations for an array of products by her physician. The patient may be confused about whether a particular product is kosher. The following guide was prepared to help clarify the kashrus issues regarding these products.1
Global sales of pharmaceutical products are expected to reach 500 billion dollars annually.1 It is therefore no wonder that the interest in kosher certification and approval for these products has also skyrocketed. Ideally, one should purchase these products with kosher certification. However, this is not always practical. It is for this reason that one of the most frequently asked questions on the Star-K hotline relates to the kosher status of these remedies. In an effort to clarify the numerous issues regarding these popular products, the Star-K has prepared the following halachic guidelines based on the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita, Rabbinic Administrator of Star-K Kosher Certification.2
A person visiting a hospital patient is performing the great mitzvah of bikur cholim . It is one of the mitzvos for which a person reaps benefits in this world, while the principal reward is saved for the next world. While visiting the sick, some halachic issues may arise. This article addresses these issues from the visitor’s point of view. Questions affecting the patient (such as adjusting the bed, using the call button, and asking the staff to perform tasks on Shabbos ) are important issues that should be posed to one’s rabbi.
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’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.