Hudi Neuberger

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 […]

Rabbi Mordechai Frankel

A Jewish-owned store that did not sell its chometz to a non-Jew for Pesach

The Torah forbids a Jew to own chometz on Pesach. In order to dissuade people from owning chometz on Pesach, there is a rabbinic injunction not to eat or benefit after Pesach from chometz which was owned by a Jew during Pesach. Such chometz is known as chometz sheovar olov haPesach, and it remains forbidden permanently.1

For this reason, one should not buy chometz from a Jewish-owned store immediately after Pesach, unless the owner sold all chometz that he owned before Pesach to a non-Jew for the duration of Pesach, and did not acquire any further chometz during Pesach. The laws of mechiras chometz (selling chometz to a gentile for Pesach) are complex; therefore the sale must be made by a competent rabbi or kashrus authority.

If a Jewish-owned store did not sell its chometz for Pesach, may one […]

Margie Pensak

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 […]

Admin

It was discovered last year that much of the beer sold in Baltimore and surrounding counties was distributed by Jewish owned companies, creating a significant issue for our community. It seems  the problem will repeat itself this year, since it was not possible to arrange a proper mechiras chometz with these companies. The following is a brief explanation of the issue.

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 from this reaction becomes trapped inside the dough, thereby causing the dough to expand – and rise.

Another way to cause dough to rise […]

Admin

Effective June 12, all beer in Maryland can be assumed to be from after Pesach and is permitted to be purchased anywhere.

It came to our attention last year that two large beer distribution companies, who are the exclusive distributors of their brands in Baltimore, are Jewish owned. Due to numerous challenges, a proper Mechiras Chometz was not possible for this year. As a result, many brands of beer sold in our area will be “Chometz She’avar Alav HaPesach”. The problematic beer supplies 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. All other brands are permitted.

The above information applies only to Baltimore City and Baltimore County and the other counties listed in the alert. Montgomery County is NOT affected by this alert. We do not have any information […]

Rabbi Dovid Heber

The following chart offers guidelines for products that are ( חמץ שעבר עליו הפסח (שעה”פ . “Yes” next to a product indicates the product is subject to the halachos of חמץ שעה”פ . Following Pesach, one may purchase these products only from a Jewish owned store that properly sold its chometz, or from a store owned by a gentile. “No” next to a product indicates the product is not subject to the halachos of חמץ שעה”פ . These products may be purchased at any store after Pesach.

Product

?חמץ שעבר עליו הפסח

 Barley (if pearled, raw and packaged)
No

 Beer
 Yes

 Bran (Wheat, Oat)
 Yes

 Bread /cake/cookies
 Yes

 Cereal with primary ingredient of wheat, oats or barley
 Yes

 Chometz content is more than a k’zayis.
 Yes

 Chometz content in entire package is less than a k’zayis but is greater than 1/60 of the cooked product (e.g., Corn Flakes cereal)
 Yes

 Chometz content in entire package is less than a k’zayis but is greater than 1/60 of the […]

Admin

NOTE: Products bearing STAR-K P on the label DO NOT contain Kitniyos or Kitniyos Shenishtanu (kitniyos that have been manufactured and transformed into a new product)

 Anise4
Dextrose (possibly chometz)
NutraSweet1

 Ascorbic Acid1,3 (possibly chometz)
Emulsifiers 3
Peanuts 2

 Aspartame1
Fennel 4,6
Peas 

 Beans (including Green Beans, Edamame, etc.)
Fenugreek 2,6
Rice 5

 Bean Sprouts
Flavors3 (possibly chometz)
Seeds

Caraway, Poppy, Sesame, Sunflower

 BHA (in corn oil)
 Glucose3 (possibly chometz)
Sodium Erythorbate1

 BHT (in corn oil)
Guar Gum 3
Sodium Citrate1 (possibly chometz)

 Buckwheat (Kasha)
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (possibly chometz)
Sorbitan 1

 Calcium Ascorbate1,3  (possibly chometz)
Isolated Soy Protein
Sorbitol 1

 Canola Oil (Rapeseed)
Isomerized Syrup 
Soy Beans 

 Chickpeas
Lecithin 
Stabilizers 3

 Citric Acid1,3  (possibly chometz)
Lentils
Starch (possibly chometz)

 Confectioner’s Sugar  (possibly chometz, look for KFP symbol)
Maltodextrin1 (possibly chometz)
String Beans 

 Coriander4
Millet 
Tofu 

 Corn
MSG3 (possibly chometz)
Vegetable Oil 3

 Cumin4
Mustard 
Vitamin C 1,3(possibly chometz)

1. Kitniyos Shenishtanu
2. Should be avoided on Pesach.
3. Unless bearing a reliable Passover certification.
4. Only acceptable when the certifying agency has documented that all chometz issues have been resolved.
5. Those people who eat rice on Pesach should confirm their rice is Kosher L’Pesach and free of problematic additives. For more […]

Admin

The following chart, prepared with the assistance of R’ Eli Reidler, indicates the latest times for eating and burning of chometz, and the time for lighting candles on
Erev Pesach, Monday, April 10, 2017
All times listed are local Daylight Saving Time (except Phoenix, AZ).

City

Eating

Burning

Candle Lighting

 Atlanta, GA
 10:54 am
 12:08 pm
 7:46 pm

 Baltimore, MD
 10:23 am
11:38 am
7:21 pm

 Boston, MA
 10:00 am
11:16 am
7:02 pm

 Brooklyn, NY
 10:12 am
11:27 am
7:12 pm

 Buffalo, NY
 10:32 am
11:47 am
7:34 pm

 Chicago, IL
10:07 am
11:22 am
7:08 pm

 Cincinnati, OH
 10:54 am
12:09 pm
7:52 pm

 Cleveland, OH
 10:43 am
11:58 am
7:44 pm

 Columbus, OH
 10:48 am
 12:03 pm
7:47 pm

 Dallas, TX
 10:44 am
11:57 am
7:35 pm

 Denver, CO
 10:16 am
11:31 am
7:15 pm

 Detroit, MI
 10:49 am
12:04 pm
7:51 pm

 Far Rockaway/Five Towns, NY
10:11 am
11:26 am
7:11 pm

 Hartford, CT
 10:07 am
11:22 am
7:08 pm

 Houston, TX
 10:39 am
11:52 am
7:28 pm

 Indianapolis, IN
 11:01 am
12:15 pm
8:00 pm

 Lakewood, NJ
 10:13 am
11:28 am
7:12 pm

 Las Vegas, NV
 9:57 am
11:11 am
6:52 pm

 Los Angeles, CA
 10:10 am
11:24 am
7:03 pm

 Memphis, TN
 10:16 am
11:30 am
7:10 pm

 Miami, FL
 10:38 am
11:51 am
7:23 pm

 Milwaukee, WI
 10:08 am
11:23 am
7:10 pm

 Minneapolis, MN
 10:29 am
 11:45 am
7: 34 pm

 Monsey, NY
 10:12 am
11:27 am
7:13 pm

 Monticello, NY
 10:15 […]

Rabbi Zvi Goldberg

Kashering – A hotel kitchenette requires the same method of kashering for Passover as a home kitchen. Please consult the “STAR-K Pesach Kitchen”  for more information. Kosherization must be completed before Passover.

Bedikas Chometz – One who is staying at a hotel and did not bring any chometz into the room should perform bedikas chometz without a brochah. Some hotel rooms have a “mini-bar” that is pre-stocked with drinks and snacks by the hotel. If there are food items in the mini-bar which are not kosher for Passover, one should ensure that the staff removes those items. Alternatively, the mini-bar should be sealed off and the staff informed that the guest bears no responsibility for those items. Ice from the icemaker may be used, but the ice bucket in the room should not be used. The coffeemaker also may not be used. One must ensure that a […]

Admin

The following is a checklist reviewing items commonly found in the kitchen and how to prepare them for Pesach.

Utensil

Preparation

Baby Bottle
Since it comes into contact with chometz (e.g., washed with dishes, boiled in chometz pot), new ones should be purchased.

Baby High Chair
Clean thoroughly. Preferable to cover the tray with contact paper.

Blech
Libbun gamur. Should preferably be replaced

Blender/Food Processor
New or Pesachdik receptacle required (plus any part of unit that makes direct contact with food). Thoroughly clean appliance. The blade should be treated like any knife and should be kashered through hagola.

Smoothie Machine
New or Pesachdik receptacle required (plus any part of unit that makes direct contact with food). Thoroughly clean appliance. The blade should be treated like any knife and should be kashered through hagola.

Can Opener
Difficult to clean properly. Should be put away with chometz dishes.

Candlesticks/Tray
Clean thoroughly. Should not be put under hot water in a kosher for Pesach sink.

Coffeemakers
Metal coffeemakers that have brewed […]

Rabbi Dovid Heber

Food

Brochah Rishonah

Brochah Achronah

Gefilte Fish (with or without matzah meal)
Shehakol
Borei Nefashos

Grape Juice
Hagefen
Al Hagefen
See footnotes #1 and #6

Grape Juice mixed with water or other beverages
See Footnote #2
See Footnote #2

Kneidlach (matzah balls)
Mezonos
Al Hamichya

Macaroons (from shredded coconut – still nikker3)
Haetz
Borei Nefashos

Macaroons (from ground coconut or paste)
Shehakol
Borei Nefashos

Matzah (wheat, whole wheat, oat, spelt)
Hamotzi
Birchas Hamazon

Matzah Brei
See Footnote #4
See Footnote #4

Matzah Cereal (from matzah meal)
Mezonos
Al Hamichya

Matzah, Egg5
Mezonos5
Al Hamichya5

Matzah Kugel/Stuffing
Mezonos
Al Hamichya

Matzah Lasagna7
Hamotzi
Birchas Hamazon

Matzah Meal Cake
Mezonos
Al Hamichya

Matzah Meal Rolls8
Mezonos
Al Hamichya

Matzah Pizza7
Hamotzi
Birchas Hamazon

Potato Kugel (made from shredded potatoes – still nikker3)
Hoadama
Borei Nefashos

Potato Kugel (from potatoes ground into pudding-like substance so potatoes are no longer nikker3)
Shehakol
Borei Nefashos

Potato Starch Cake
Shehakol
Borei Nefashos

Quinoa (cooked)
Hoadama
Borei Nefashos

Quinoa Flour Products (e.g. quinoa cake and cookies, quinoa pancakes)
Shehakol
Borei Nefashos

Taigelach (matzah meal cooked in sweet syrup)
Mezonos
Al Hamichya

Wine
Hagafen
Al Hagefen See footnotes #1 and #6

1. A brochah acharonah is recited when drinking at least a reviis (3.8 fl. oz.) within a 30 second span. If one drank between 1.0 […]

Rabbi Mordechai Frankel

The following contains halachic guidance concerning some of the common issues that arise when conducting a Pesach Seder.  In particular, it discusses preparation for the Seder, the four cups of wine, and the obligation to eat matzah, marror, korech and Afikoman.  This is by no means comprehensive.  For a more comprehensive guide, see HaSeder HaAruch by Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Weingarten (three volumes, 1431 pages).

Rabbi Moshe Heinemann

As the Yom Tov of Pesach nears, and the diligent balabusta begins to tackle the challenge of preparing the kitchen for Pesach, undoubtedly the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to shine. Although moving into a separate Pesach home sounds very inviting, such luxuries are often not affordable and definitely not in the Pesach spirit. Among the basic mitzvos of the chag is the mitzvah of “Tashbisu Se’or Mibateichem”, ridding one’s home and possessions of chometz. However, if we are to use kitchen equipment, utensils, or articles that can be found in our kitchen year-round, it may be insufficient to just clean them thoroughly. One is forbidden to use these items unless they have been especially prepared for Pesach. This preparation process is known as kashering.
The Torah instructs us that the proper kashering method used to rid a vessel of chometz is dependent upon the original […]

Rabbi Dovid Heber

Besides pharmaceutical companies, Rabbi Gershon Bess also contacts many cosmetic companies and bases the following chometz-free list on his research.
L’halachah, all non-food items not fit for canine consumption (nifsal mayachilas kelev i.e., something that one would not feed his dog) may be used on Pesach. This includes all cosmetics, soaps, ointments, and creams.1 Nonetheless, people have acted stringently with regard to these items.
Below are several reasons why people are strict:

Many products, including shaving lotion and perfume, contain denatured alcohol which can be restored to regular alcohol. According to most opinions, one should not use such products on Pesach. The list notes products which do not use chometz-based alcohols.
The Biur Halachah (326:10 B’shaar) writes in the name of the Gra that one should be strict and not use non-kosher soap all year (sicha kishtiya). Although we are not accustomed to this stringency, many individuals have adopted this chumra during […]

admin


Published Spring 2015

The  Torah  forbids a Jew to own  chometz  on  Pesach .  In order to dissuade people from owning  chometz  on  Pesach , there is a rabbinic injunction not to eat or benefit after  Pesach from  chometz  which was owned by a Jew during  Pesach .  Such  chometz  is known as chometz  sheovar olov haPesach , and it remains forbidden permanently.1

For this reason, one should not buy  chometz  from a Jewish-owned store immediately after Pesach , unless the owner sold all  chometz  that he owned before  Pesach  to a non-Jew for the duration of  Pesach , and did not acquire any further  chometz  during  Pesach .  The laws of mechiras   chometz  (selling  chometz  to a gentile for  Pesach ) are complex, therefore the sale must be made by a competent rabbi or  kashrus  authority.

If a Jewish-owned store did not sell its  chometz […]

Rabbi Dovid Heber

For many years, Rabbi Gershon Bess has prepared a Guide for Pesach Medications and Cosmetics. This list has been published and distributed by Kollel Los Angeles. For over a decade, STAR-K Kosher Certification in conjunction with Kollel Los Angeles has made this list more widely available to the general public. This guide, available in Jewish bookstores nationwide, has served as an important resource to kosher consumers.
Sefer Kovetz Halachos (Hilchos Pesach 12:4) states in the name of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky, shlit”a, that l’chatchila one should take a medication approved for Pesach (see ibid. footnote #5 that mentions the availability and use of reliable Pesach lists and guides).
There are four issues that must be addressed to fully understand the list:

The Halachos of Taking Medication on Pesach
The Importance of the List
How the List is Prepared
Cosmetics and Personal Care Products (see full book)

I. The Halachos of Taking Medication on Pesach

The following halachos […]

Rabbi Dovid Heber

Note: This article was written for Kashrus Kurrents 2001 and revised for the 2008 Passover Guide. The halachos apply to any year when Erev Pesach occurs on Shabbos (e.g. 2021 and 2025).

Many of us are quite familiar with the regular Erev Pesach routine: The bechorim go to a siyum, the chometz is burned, and we prepare for the seder. However, every so often,1 Erev Pesach occurs on Shabbos and we must modify this routine. Let us review the halachos of Shabbos Erev Pesach:

Rabbi Dovid Heber

Erev Pesach is one of the busiest and most unique days of the year. With every hour comes another set of halachos. Many halachic times, including the time for searching for chometz and the latest time for eating chometz, are well known. However, many halachos of Erev Pesach are often confusing and not commonly understood. The purpose of this article is to elucidate some of the lesser known laws of Erev Pesach.

Rabbi Dovid Heber

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.

Admin

Adapted from Jewish Diabetes Association article by Nechama Cohen

The challenge of diabetes seems ten-fold when it comes to Pesach. There are a whole new set of considerations — four cups of wine at each Seder; a many-hour wait until Shulchan Aruch; knowing the carb content of a single hand matzah.

Admin

Although להלכה, any chometz may be sold before Pesach, there are pious individuals who do not sell “real” chometz, but rather give it away, burn it, or eat it before Pesach. How does one define “real” chometz? A food for which there is an issur of בל יראה ובל ימצא דאורייתא (there is a Torah prohibition of ownership on Pesach) is “real” chometz. This includes all items that are רומג ץמח, real chometz (bread, cake, pretzels, pasta, etc.).

However, תערובת חמץ where the חיוב ביעור (obligation to burn) is only מדרבנן(rabbinic), or at least according to some opinions only מדרבנן, is not חמץ גמור. In addition, ספק חמץ medications and non-edible items, as well as products processed on chometz equipment, are not considered to be חמץ גמור. These products are sold before Pesach even by individuals who are stringent not to sell חמץ גמור. Many individuals who do not sell חמץ גמור will sell alcoholic beverages before Pesach. Each […]

Rabbi Dovid Heber

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 […]

Margie Pensak

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 […]

Margie Pensak

Have you ever taken a bite out of a coconut macaroon and later doubted your choice of bracha? Was it really “haeitz” or is it “shehakol”? And, what about that matza brei or matzah lasagna? Do they require washing for a “hamotzei” or are they “mezonos”? Guess no more, thanks to STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Dovid Heber’s new Pesach App: “Common Pesach Foods and Their Brochos”:

.

1.A brochah acharonah is recited when drinking at least a reviis (3.8 fl. oz.) within a 30 second span. If one drank between 1.0 fl. oz. (kzayis according to some opinions) and 3.8 fl. oz. (and cannot drink more) within a 30 second span a brochah achronah is not recited. However, if one also requires an al hamichyah or al ha’etz at this time, one can also include al hagefen. See Mishnah Brurah [M.B.] 208:82.

 2. This depends on the percentage of grape juice. If there […]

Rabbi Mordechai Frankel

Erev Pesach (after the time of Biur Chometz)

If you find chometz on Erev Pesach after the latest time for biur chometz:

If you sold your chometz earlier that morning: You should move the chometz that you found to the place that you are storing the chometz that you sold.
If you did not sell your chometz earlier that morning: You should burn it.

First day of Pesach

If you find chometz on the first day of Pesach: You should cover it with a utensil.

Second day of Pesach

If you find chometz on the second day of Pesach, or if you found chometz on the first day of Pesach and had covered it:

If you sold your chometz before Pesach, or you said ‘Kol Chamira’ before Pesach, or the chometz that you found was less than a kezayis: You should cover it with a utensil if you find it on the second day, or keep it covered […]

Admin

Cooktops

Electric smoothtops may present a problem of kashering for Pesach. Check with your rav.
Electric cooktops may pose a problem with adjusting the temperature on Yom Tov.
Electronic ignition may pose a problem with initiating a flame on Yom Tov.
Cooktops (gas or electric) may have a light or light bar that turns on when the burner is turned on. Some of these light bars also increase or decrease as the temperature setting is adjusted. Some cooktops may also have simmer lights that turn on and off as one enters or exits a very low setting.
Avoid electronic controls. After return of power from a power failure, these units will probably stay off.
Avoid induction cooktops. They work well, but are not usable on Shabbos or Yom Tov.
12-hour cutoff – should have a way to disable or override.

Ovens
12 hour Cutoff

Should have a way to disable or override.

Temperature Adjustment on Yom Tov

If you desire to change […]

Rabbi Avrohom Mushell

Yom Tov celebrations could never be complete without the traditional piping hot delicacies from past generations. However, the kosher homemaker must be well educated on how to prepare Yom Tov meals without fear of transgressing a Torah or rabbinic prohibition.
When mentioning the prohibition of work on Shabbos the Torah writes, “Do not do any melacha (work prohibited on Shabbos).”1 This prohibition applies to melacha performed for food preparation, as well as other non-food purposes. In stating the prohibition of melacha on Yom Tov the Torah writes, “You shall not do laborious work.”2 In addition, when giving the initial command about the Yom Tov of Pesach the Torah writes, “No work may be done on them (first and seventh day of Pesach), except for what must be eaten for any person, only that may be done for you.” (Shmos 22:16) The Ramban explains that the contrast of terms (work versus […]