Undercover: The Halachos of Schach

Published Fall 2009

When our Torah speaks about the Festival of Sukkos it states, “Chag HaSukkos Taaseh Lecha B’Aspecha Migornecha U’Miyikvecha.”1  “The Sukkos holiday should be observed at the time that you harvest your grain and your wine,” during the fall.  Our Chachamim, sages, have taught us that this pasuk has another esoteric meaning.  The sukkah, in which we dwell during this chag, should be made from the unused parts of the harvesting grain and wine, namely the stalks of grain and twigs of the vine.  These are the items that should be used for the schach, the covering, which is placed on top of the sukkah instead of a permanent roof.

A 25 Year Retrospective on Kashrus Kurrents

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 […]

Hot Off the Hotline

(All answers are based on the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita, Star-K Rabbinic Administrator.)

Q: What type of aged cheese requires one to wait six hours before eating meat?

A: Generally speaking, aging of cheese is an ongoing process, which occurs when the bacteria found in cheese breaks down the lactose (the milk sugar), creating lactic acid, thereby changing the physical property of the cheese, giving it a sharper flavor.

A good example of this aging process would be if someone were to leave a wedge of Muenster cheese in a nice warm environment until the cheese becomes “tangy.” The housewife would call it spoiled; a cheese maven would call it flavorful. Historically, flavorful cheese took about six months to age. The longer the cheese aged the harder it became. In Italy today, one can find some […]

Pas or Pas Nisht: Reviewing the Laws of Pas Akum

Life is made up of a long chain of experiences. Some bitter, some sweet, some mundane, and some exciting. Let me share one with you. About ten years ago I had the good fortune to have an inspiring experience in Morocco, of all places. The purpose of my trip was to inspect various Star-K companies that exported olives and olive oil to the U.S. The inspiration came as a result of spending two days with the remnant of the once thriving ancient Jewish community of Meknes. Meknes was home to many Rabbanim, Geonim, and Tzadikim. The Ohr Hachaim HaKodosh, the great luminary who wrote the famous commentary on Chumash, was born in Meknes. The Jewish cemetery dates back 1200 years. Today barely two hundred families remain. The Rav of the small kehilla is a holy Jew by the name of Rabbi Chaim Kasous, who had served […]

FOOD FIT FOR A KING: Reviewing the Laws of Bishul Akum & Bishul Yisroel

It is not uncommon for food manufacturers to call us with a keen interest in kosher certification but who don’t have 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.

The Importance of Accurate Kashrus Information

As Bnai Torah we tend to consider ourselves sophisticated and knowledgeable regarding matters that we deem important. We are not easily swayed by glitzy advertising, nor are we apt to blindly follow recommendations from others unless we are convinced that the proffered advice is sound and based on actual knowledge. When making a major purchase such as an automobile, or deciding which yeshiva or seminary is the right choice for our son or daughter, we make a decision after deliberate and careful investigation of the facts. Of course, we do accept the opinion of others, but only after we are convinced that the one dispensing advice has factual knowledge of the issue at hand.

Do Bee Don’t Bee- A Halachic Guide to Honey and Bee Derivatives

Published Fall 2010

As we look toward the beginning of the new year, we turn our thoughts to teshuva, and the hope that our tefillos will be answered for a sweet new year.  This request has been symbolized for hundreds of years on Rosh Hashana by eating challah and apples dipped in honey.1

The Secret Ingredient

Published Spring 2012

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.

National Kashrus Lecture Series

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,
(410) 484-4110.

Keeping Your Cool

Few of us can remember life in the kitchen without the help of a refrigerator. Probably the most used appliance in the home, the electric refrigerator was mass produced as a home appliance in the early 1920’s. Although many improvements and modifications have taken place over the years, the basic principles employed in the home refrigerator remain the same.