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 […]

The Grape Seeds of Worth

Published Spring 2010

Webster defines oil as any greasy substance that does not dissolve in water. There are many different categories of oil, which are obtained from numerous sources i.e. animal, vegetable and mineral. Edible oils are typically derived from animal and vegetable sources. These can be broken down into two categories: fixed and volatile. Fixed oil refers to oil that does not evaporate under normal conditions, while volatile oil or essential oil evaporates easily. Essential oils are used in flavors; fixed oils are used in cooking and baking. This article will discuss fixed oils, vegetable oils and seed oils. More specifically, we will explore grape seed oil, including how it is manufactured, its halachic ramifications, and the brilliance of Chazal.

Kosher Certification-Food Safety Quality’s Eyes and Ears

Published Summer 2010

Earlier this year, a couple of items in the secular media caught my attention.  I was particularly interested in them because they brought to mind how those who are not kosher observant view Kosher.

Opening Up A Can of Worms: The Anisakis Controversy

Published Summer 2010

Toloyim – the name strikes fear in the hearts of the G-d fearing balabusta.  It seems that toloyim abound in the supermarket produce section in romaine lettuce, broccoli florets, fresh dill, cilantro, strawberries, and raspberries; the list is seemingly endless.  From nuts to flour and from pasta to raisins, kinim in Mitzrayim seems to pale in comparison to what the kosher consumers are confronting today.  The presence of insects in leafy greens, fruits, grains, and flour is nothing new.  In fact, there is a complete section in Shulchan Aruch dedicated exclusively to the halachos of parasites found in produce and other food items a/k/a Hilchos Toloyim.1

Starting the New Year Right: A Guide to the Simanim on Rosh HaShana

Published Fall 2010

On Rosh HaShana, everything we do is imbued with extreme significance.  We stand in judgment before the Heavenly Court while each of our actions, words, and thoughts are scrutinized. To assist our efforts in currying Divine mercy, we employ various customs transmitted by our ancient mesorah. Among them is the regimen of the simanim, literally signs or omens. These are the foods that we bring to the table at the beginning of the evening meal as auspicious indications of a propitious year to come. What are the origins of this unusual custom? How can we be meticulous in its performance?  How do we harness its power to usher in a year of prosperity?

Drinking Responsibly II

Published Fall 2010

There has probably never been more oversight in the food manufacturing arena than in the areas of consumer awareness, consumer protection and consumer advocacy.  Most notably, this has been evident in nutritional labeling, HAACP, ISO, QAI Organic, allergen disclaimers, and salmonella recalls – the list goes on and on.

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

Using a CPAP Machine on Shabbos

Kashrus Kurrents Winter 2010

Q: My doctor has told me that I have sleep apnea, and advised me to use a sleep apnea machine.  Can this device be used on Shabbos?

A: Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing during sleep.  Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of the disorder, is caused by the relaxation of the walls of soft tissue in the airway of the throat during sleep.  Common symptoms include loud snoring, restless sleep, and daytime sleepiness.  Sleep-disordered breathing is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure,arrhythmias, diabetes, and sleep deprived driving accidents.1  Recent studies have shown that sleep apnea affects about 16% of men and 5% of women between 30 and 65 years of age.[...] Read More

Sticker Shock

Published Winter 2010

Years ago, when I was a young rabbi in Birmingham, Alabama, an important aspect of my out- of-town rabbanus was to serve as the regional mashgiach for national kashrus organizations.  If you were to ask my children which company was their all time favorite, the answer would be unanimous – the American Candy Company in Selma, Alabama.  The American Candy Company specialized in a variety of hard candies including lollipops, candy canes, stick candies and the eye popping twirl pops.  The candy was certified kosher by a very reputable national kashrus organization.  The company also produced a heimishe variety sold in the finest heimishe candy stores. What was the difference between the ingredients and process of the regular label and the heimishe label?  Absolutely nothing, save one.  I came to the plant on the day of the heimishe production and saw that the candy ingredients and the release […]

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Published Winter 2010

The Torah extols Eretz Yisroel as the land blessed with seven types of produce:  wheat, barley, figs, grapes, pomegranates, olives and dates (D’varim 8:8).  Most types of fruit are harvested once a year.  Since fresh fruit spoils quickly, the challenge has been to find a way to enjoy them year round.  Modern processing methods, such as canning and freezing, allow for  a form of preservation similar to that of fresh fruit.  Older methods, however, involved processing the fruit into a new product markedly different from the original, but with equally tasty and desirable traits.  Dried grapes – raisins – are a case in point. Grapes are harvested in the fall within a span of about six weeks.  Some of the crop is eaten as fresh fruit, and much is squeezed to make […]

STAR-K on Campus: For Some, a First Taste of Judaism

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.