Passover In Brief

February 2024

Passover, an eight-day springtime festival, commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage. Based on the injunction against eating or possessing leavened bread for eight days, Passover involves a unique set of kosher laws. Kosher consumers are most careful about what they eat on Passover. In fact, many people who do not observe kosher year-round may do so on Passover. According to some accounts, 40% of the kosher market revolves around the Passover holiday.

Passover’s strict prohibitions guard against eating food products containing any edible fermented grain products known as chometz. Included in this category are wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye which have been leavened due to contact with water. Jews are expected not to derive any pleasure or benefit whatsoever from chometz. Furthermore, a Jew may not own chometz or have chometz in his possession.

Ensuring that foods are kosher for Passover is even more […]

The 10 Commandments for the Prudent Passover Consumer

I. Thou Shalt Read Product Labels Carefully
     – Make sure a reliable Kosher for Passover certification appears on the package. Don’t assume the product is kosher for Passover just because it is in the Passover section of the supermarket.

Preparing/Kashering the Pesach Kitchen

Updated February 2024

Download PDF of Article Here

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 […]

Kashering for Pesach According to Sephardi Minhagim

View / Download PDF of Article Here

מקצת הלכות הגעלת והכשרת הכלים לפסח לפי מנהגי ספרדים

Utensils that are used during the year with chometz are forbidden to be used during Pesach without kashering them according to Halacha. From the time it is prohibited to eat chometz on Erev Pesach, it is forbidden to use the utensils without kashering them according to Halacha. The proper kashering method used to rid a vessel of chometz is dependent upon the original method of food preparation through which chometz was absorbed into the vessel.1We do not recite a bracha when kashering an item since it is a negative commandment not to consume the taste of non-kosher food.2Sephardic custom is that the method of kashering depends upon the most common usage of the vessel. Therefore, it is sufficient to pour boiling hot water […]

The Mitzvah of Tevilas Keilim

Reviewed February 2023

Click HERE for a convenient summary of tevilas keilim guidelines and a handy chart.

Introduction:
In His infinite wisdom, Hashem Yisborach has spiritually elevated the mundane activity of eating and has vested it with special sanctity, kedusha. The food we eat must be kosher, the table upon which we eat our meals represents the holy altar, the mizbeach. Similarly, the vessels and utensils (keilim) used for preparing food and for dining must be given special holiness. When these dishes and/or utensils have been previously owned by an aino Yehudi, we have to immerse these keilim, in a mikvah before their first use.

Keilim (vessels/utensils) can be categorized into three halachic groupings; utensils requiring tevila (immersion) with a brocha: utensils requiring tevila without a brocha; and utensils not requiring tevila at all. Utensils require tevila with a brocha when they have direct contact with food during preparation or meal time, […]

Understanding Kitniyos: What They Are, What They Aren’t

Reviewed March 2024

View / Download PDF of Article Here

View / Download STAR-K Kitniyos Chart Here

As is commonly known, the Torah prohibits chometz on Pesach, and the consequence of chometz consumption on Pesach is very severe. In order to distance us from the possibility of violating Torah precepts, Chazal with their supreme insight, instituted a minhag as a protective fence. The minhag to guard us from chometz violations is to refrain from consuming kitniyos on Pesach.

What are Kitniyos?

Kitniyos are popularly defined as legumes. But what are legumes? The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 453, defines kitniyos as those products that can be cooked and baked in a fashion similar to chometz grains, yet are not halachically considered in the same category as chometz. Some examples are rice, corn, peas, mustard seed, and all varieties of beans (i.e., kidney, lima, garbanzo, etc.). The […]

Kosher for Passover Foods According to Sephardi Minhagim

Rice and all different types of legumes are permissible to eat on Pesach according to the custom of most Sephardim, as long as they are careful to check rice three times to ensure there is no wheat or barley mixed in.1
Care needs to be taken that no dust of flour came into contact with the rice (or any kosher food for Pesach). Therefore, one may use only natural, unenriched rice for Pesach, ideally a rice with a reliable Kosher l’Pesach L’ochlei Kitniyot hechsher.2
Those who refrain from eating legumes on Pesach are permitted to keep them at home; there is no need to sell legumes to a non-Jew.3
It is the Sephardic custom to use egg matzah (מצה עשירה) during Pesach. This type of matzah cannot be used to fulfill the obligation of eating matzah on the first two nights of Pesach. The bracha recited […]

Quinoa, the Grain That’s Not: Then Why the Need for Passover Certification

February 2024

Tired of potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes on Pesach? Maybe give quinoa a try.

Quinoa is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet – cooked like rice, is gluten-free and loaded with vitamins and minerals. Even NASA has considered quinoa for its long-duration planetary space flights. Quinoa has become increasingly popular in the United States, Canada, Europe, China and Japan, where the crop is not typically grown.

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced kin-wa) is a species of seeds of the Chenopodium (or “goosefoot”) family, which includes sugar beets and beet root, and is botanically related to spinach. It was first brought to the United States from South America in the 1980s. Seeds range in color from pink and orange to blue-black, purple, and red. However, once their natural saponin coating is washed off, the seeds are pale yellow.

Quinoa has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years, growing […]

Feeding Your Pet: Barking Up the Right Tree

Reviewed February 2024

Click HERE for the Pesach 2024 Pet Food List.

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 require it. We […]

Halachos of Taking Medicine on Pesach

Reviewed January 2024

For many years, Rav Gershon Bess prepared a Guide for Pesach Medications and Cosmetics which 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 reliable Pesach 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.

THE MEDICINE LIST DOES NOT […]

The History of Passover Medicine Lists in Pre-War Germany

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.

During this inter-war period, many German Jews assimilated, thereby distinguishing themselves from their observant Eastern European brethren. However, there remained a strong element of […]

Advice for People with Celiac, Food Allergies and Gluten-Free Restrictions on Pesach

Updated February 2024

Yomim Tovim are synonymous with food—and lots of it! During Pesach, the temptation to eat and overeat, perhaps the wrong things for eight straight days, is extra challenging. The good news is that you don’t have to resolve to store away those extra pounds which you will regret just as you store away your Pesach dishes for next year. STAR-K is grateful to Sarah Klugman, RD, for sharing her Pesach nutrition advice on which this article is based. They include tips for gluten-free and celiac individuals, as well as those with various food allergies.

Sarah Klugman suggests, “Always make Kiddush in the morning. It’s the key to a successful day! Use light grape juice 1 and have a starch or fruit and milk. Regarding when to make Kiddush and how to fulfill Kiddush b’makom seuda, consult your rav. Good ideas are: starch/fruit and milk; fruit and yogurt; […]

Pesach Shiurim for Matzah & Wine – For Healthy Individuals and for Diabetics / Those with Food Allergies

Updated February 2024

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

These are real concerns for people with diabetes and related health issues who wish to fulfill the requirements of Pesach al pi halacha without compromising their health. STAR-K has turned to the Jewish Diabetes Association (JDA) for answers, and the JDA has kindly provided the following guidelines to help you prepare your matzah and wine.

NOTE: The following are guidelines for achilas matzah and arba kosos for both healthy individuals and for those challenged with diabetes or food allergies. When in doubt, consult with a rav.1a

I. Matzah

The stipulations for minimum shiurim for matzah, which follow, are based on the psak of Rav Moshe […]

Halachos of Using Cosmetics and Personal Care Items on Pesach

Reviewed January 2024

In addition to pharmaceutical companies, Rav Gershon Bess also contacts many cosmetic companies and bases the following chometz-free list on his research. L’Halacha, all non-food items not fit for canine consumption – nifsal mei’achilas 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 (see Igros Moshe O.C. 3:62). According to some opinions, one should not use such products if chometz-based. (Sefer Kovetz Halachos Pesach Chapter 12, footnote 7 has a brief discussion regarding the different opinions). The STAR-K Pesach Guide lists products which do not use chometz-based alcohols.

The Biur Halacha (326:10 B’shaar) writes in the […]

The Kashrus, Shabbos, and Pesach Guide to Cosmetics

Updated February 2024

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.

The STAR-K hotline receives numerous inquiries relating to cosmetics and halacha. One must know the answers to questions regarding these products that are commonly used. Does lipstick require kosher certification? During Pesach, may one use perfume or makeup that contains chometz? Are any cosmetics permissible for use on Shabbos and Yom Tov?

Because these halachos are complex, it is important for consumers to have a clear grasp of the numerous issues and […]

Bedikas Chometz Guidelines

View / Download PDF of Article Here

Reviewed February 2024

Before Pesach, a person is obligated to perform bedikas chometz, a search of his house and possessions, to ensure that he does not own any chometz. The bedika should be conducted at the beginning of the night of the 14th of Nissan, immediately after tzeis hakochavim.1 If he did not do so, the bedika can be done all night. Bedi’eved, if he did not perform the bedika that night he should do it on the day of the 14th of Nissan.2

If he will not be home on the night of the 14th of Nissan, he should appoint another adult to perform the bedika on his behalf.3 If he leaves his house within thirty days of Pesach, and is not planning to return and conduct a bedika […]

The Busiest Day of the Year: The Laws of Erev Pesach

Reviewed January 2024

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.

Note: These halachos apply to Erev Pesach that occurs on a weekday. If Erev Pesach occurs on Shabbos, special halachos apply to both Friday (13th of Nissan) and Shabbos (Erev Pesach). Refer to the Erev Pesach Shabbos article on our site.

CHOMETZ

Searching for Chometz – The opening line of Maseches Pesachim states that one should search for chometz on the night of the 14th of Nissan […]

Halachos of The Pesach Seder

Reviewed February 2023

View / Download PDF of Article Here

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, Maror, Koreich and Afikomen. This is by no means comprehensive. For a more comprehensive guide, see HaSeder HaAruch by Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Weingarten (three volumes, 1431 pages).

Preparations for the Seder

A person should complete all of the necessary preparations for the Seder on Erev Pesach to enable him to start the Seder without delay.1 (If Erev Pesach falls on Shabbos, he cannot prepare for the Seder on Erev Pesach since he may not prepare for Yom Tov on Shabbos.)

The following preparations should be made prior to Yom Tov:

If meat or chicken will be eaten at the Seder, […]

How to Check Matzos

Updated February 2024

A handy, printer-friendly version of this article, with useful photographs of kefula matzos, can be found here.

The production of Kosher l’Pesach (KFP) matzos involves a great deal of meticulous work. The process begins with the inspection of wheat kernels to ensure that they have not been adversely affected by moisture in the air or prematurely sprouted. Grinding of the grain must be performed according to the dictates of Halacha, which precludes any pre-grind soaking of the grain and requires special preparation of the milling equipment to ensure that no contamination exists from non-Passover flour in the grinders and filters. The KFP flour is then loaded onto trucks, either pneumatically or in bags under controlled conditions, and shipped to the bakeries.

A bakery which has been kashered for Pesach will have already prepared special water (mayim shelanu) to be used for Pesach matzos. Hand matzah bakeries do not use […]

Machine Matzos: Timing is Everything!

Reviewed March 2024


Meticulous, scrupulous and passionate are terms that describe the fervor, zeal and seriousness displayed by the kosher consumer regarding Pesach kashrus in general, and Pesach matzos in particular.  The kosher consumer has become more sophisticated and savvy with each passing year. Kosher consumers are willing to pay top dollar for a quality kosher product. Pesach matzohs are no exception. Machine matzos with fine mehadrin hechsherim are readily available on the supermarket shelf.  Are all machine matzos created equal?

Regarding matzah baking and the time parameters for chimutz, leavening, the Shulchan Aruch1states, “One should not leave the dough dormant, not for a moment.” If the dough is constantly being worked the chimutz process is impeded.However, the Shulchan Aruch continues, “If the dough is left dormant for a ‘mil’, the dough […]

The Traveler’s Halachic Guide to Hotels (Including Guidelines for Shabbos and Pesach)

Updated February 2024

Yosef chose the hotel he was staying in for its many amenities, not the least of which was the free Continental Breakfast it offered its guests. Surely, when kosher symbols on products are becoming more and more prevalent, he wouldn’t starve! The breakfast menu included cereals, pancakes, waffles, muffins, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, hardboiled eggs, as well as hot coffee and juices. Can Yosef eat anything offered on the Continental Breakfast menu, or should he prepare his own breakfast using the microwave and coffeemaker in his hotel room?

Chana’s brother’s bar mitzvah, held in a hotel during Shabbos, turned out to be a real nightmare! The closet light went on automatically when she opened the closet door; the housekeeper had turned off the light in her room, preventing her from reviewing her Parsha notes; she drank a bottle of water from her room’s ‘refreshment bar’ which unbeknown to her […]

Navigating the Ins and Outs of Renting an Airbnb (Including Guidelines for Shabbos and Pesach)

Winter 2024

Who would have imagined, just a few years ago, that you could go on vacation and rent a stranger’s private home? But that is exactly what people now do every day, with the rise of Airbnb and similar short-term rental platforms that list millions of units in over 100,000 cities.[1]

A Torah-observant individual who enters into such an arrangement will encounter numerous halachic challenges when signing up as an Airbnb “guest.” This includes properties listed as “kosher” – even ones in Israel – since an owner usually cannot vouch for every renter who has used the kitchen, nor for each renter’s kashrus standards, which can vary widely. Likewise, one who owns and is the “host” of an Airbnb property will have to address his own set of halachic concerns. Let’s analyze some of the more common ones.

Kashrus Concerns During the Year (Excluding Pesach)

The primary area of concern for […]

Using an Oven on Shabbos and Yom Tov

Reviewed March 2024

To download and print a handy summary of these halachos, click here.

Cooking in the modern kitchen is a whole new experience. Technological advances have taken the old stovetop and oven and upgraded them to be safer, more efficient, and “smart” for today’s lifestyle. They are also far more complicated. With these transformations, the observant Jew is faced with challenges that did not confront him in the past.

To understand how these changes affect the halachic use of ovens and cooktops on Shabbos and Yom Tov, it is worthwhile to review some laws and concepts as they relate to cooking on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

A. Terms and Prohibitions Pertaining to Food Preparation on Shabbos and Yom Tov

Definitions of Basic Terms

Melacha A melacha is a Torah prohibited act derived from the constructive acts performed in erecting the Mishkan . These forbidden acts are known […]

STAR-K Appliance-Related Articles & Videos

The STAR-K site offers a variety of informative articles and videos related to the general use of cooking and refrigeration appliances, various Sabbath Mode features in STAR-K certified models, the halachic implications of using them on Shabbos and Yom Tov, as well as pre-purchase advice.

See the list of articles and videos below.

ARTICLES

OVEN KASHRUS: FOR SHABBOS USE

OVEN KASHRUS: FOR YOM TOV USE

ARTICLE BY HARAV MOSHE HEINEMANN ON OVEN USE (PUBLISHED IN YESHURUN, VOL. 36)

HARAV MOSHE HEINEMANN’S TESHUVA ON OVEN USE ON YOM TOV

USING AN OVEN ON SHABBOS & YOM TOV

TEN MYTHS ABOUT STAR-K SABBATH MODE OVENS

ALL ABOUT SABBATH MODE APPLIANCES AND WARMING DRAWERS: STAR-K ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS

PRE-PURCHASE ADVICE FOR OVENS AND COOKTOPS

KEEPING YOUR COOL: ALL ABOUT REFRIGERATORS

PRE-PURCHASE ADVICE FOR REFRIGERATORS

PRE-PURCHASE ADVICE FOR DISHWASHERS

VIDEOS

STAR-K VIDEO PRESENTATION: SABBATH MODE APPLIANCES

STAR-K WEBINAR: BUYING (AND USING) A KITCHEN APPLIANCE: WHAT […]

What To Do If Chometz is Found During Pesach

Reviewed February 2024

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.

See below for further instructions for the subsequent days of Pesach.

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 […]

Guide to Buying Chometz After Pesach

Updated February 2024

From a Jewish-Owned Store That Did Not Sell Its Chometz to a Non-Jew Before 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 from chometz which was owned by a Jew during Pesach. Such chometz is known as chometz she’avar alav 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 non-Jew 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 […]

Important Appliance Pre-Purchase Advice

When shopping for a new appliance, it is worth considering the different features each one offers and whether they meet your needs regarding Shabbos and Yom Tov use. Here are some suggestions and considerations to help you make the best decision for your needs.

Advice Re: 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.
Some cooktops (gas or electric) have knobs that light up when the burner is turned on, and on some of these cooktops an illuminated ring displays on the knob itself. Some knobs are backlit with a soft glow to indicate an ‘On’ setting, and some knobs offer progressive illumination that adjusts to indicate the burner setting. These types of knobs pose a problem.
Additionally, be aware that some high-end […]

Money-Saving Tips and Strategies for Passover and Year-Round

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 […]

Shopping for Passover: But What Could be the Problem With…?

Updated April 2024

As Pesach nears, the grocery bills mount and the bank account dwindles, the Jewish housewife courageously attempts to hold the household budget intact without compromising her strict standard of Pesach kashrus. She asks: Are there products in the marketplace that live up to their claims of fresh, pure, natural, or additive-free that can be purchased worry-free without special Passover certification, or are there legitimate kashrus concerns that would require the product to carry reliable Kosher for Passover (KFP) certification? Let us take a behind-the-scenes look at some of these potential products.

Supermarket Produce

Can the Passover consumer confidently purchase fresh fruits and vegetables without worrying about the wax coatings used to maintain the freshness of the fresh fruit and vegetables? Our research of food grade waxes has shown that soy proteins may be used as a thickener in some waxes. This means that the waxes may contain kitniyos derivative. However, […]

Bracha On a Newly Flowering Tree: Birchas Ha’ilanos Guidelines

Spring 2009

Q: There is a bracha which is recited once a year upon seeing a newly flowering tree. I have a number of questions regarding Birchas Ha’ilonos:

When is the optimal time to say this bracha?  Does the bracha have to be said during the month of Nisan? 

What rules apply concerning the location of the person when saying the bracha?  How far away can you be from the tree when saying the bracha?  Can you be inside a house or other structure?  Can you be in a car?  Is it necessary to be at a site where there is more than one tree?

What limitations are there regarding the type of tree over which this bracha may be recited?  Does the tree need to be fruit bearing?  How old should the tree be?  Can the tree be orlah (less than three […]