Q: When a person stays in a hotel for Shabbos, does he need to make an eruv chatzeiros to allow him to carry items in the hallways and lobby?

A: In order to answer this question, we need to review some of the basic halachos of eruv chatzeiros.

In the times of Chazal, it was common for private houses to be situated around the perimeter of a rectangular central courtyard, known as a chatzeir. The chatzeir was used by the members of these houses for chores, such as washing clothes and grinding grain. The Torah considers a chatzeir to be a reshus hayachid (a private domain) if it is surrounded on all sides by walls of the houses and one could, therefore, carry in the chatzeir on Shabbos. However, due to the fact that a chatzeir is less private than a house, the Rabonnon forbade carrying in a chatzeir unless the following […]

Published Fall 2013

This past spring and summer, applicants from across the U.S., Mexico and Canada took advantage of an array of kashrus education opportunities hosted by STAR-K Kosher Certification in Baltimore, Maryland. In April and June, STAR-K administrators addressed the rabbinic alumni of Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (YU/RIETS) and Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, respectively, during their Yarchei Kallah. In July, STAR-K held back-to-back Foodservice Kashrus Training and Tenth Annual Kashrus Training Program seminars. Rabbi Dovid Yachnes, rav of the Orlando Torah Center, wrote a letter of appreciation that perhaps best sums up the impact made during all of these educational efforts. Commenting on these efforts, STAR-K President Avrom Pollak said, “STAR-K is always interested in supporting rabbonim and their communities around the country and the world, with accurate kashrus information and halachic resources, to further our mission of promoting kashrus and observance of halacha.”

Dear STAR-K,

Please allow me to share […]

Published Fall 2013

Kashrus has come a long way. Kashrus agencies ensure the highest standards of kashrus in factories and food establishments worldwide, by maintaining a staff of experts in halacha, and in food technology, equipment and ingredients. Consumers have been trained to know which products are acceptable and how to maintain a kosher kitchen l’mehadrin. Kashrus in shuls is usually overseen by the rav of the kehila.

However, one area of kashrus that has received little attention – even throughout the past several decades of unprecedented kashrus growth – is kashrus in our schools. These “heiligeh mekomos”, where tens of thousands of our “tinokos shel bais rabban” spend much of their time during the course of their formative years, deserve the same attention as factories, eating establishments, shuls and our homes.

It is difficult to address the needs of each school as every situation is different. The issues at a yeshiva with a full-service […]

Published Fall 2013

Everyone wants to emulate a winner. The world of food manufacturing and marketing is no exception. Whenever a new product reaches the marketplace, or a new business venture is successfully launched, rest assured that product or venture will be duplicated, cloned, or modified
immediately. One only needs to travel north of Baltimore to Pennsylvania Dutch country to see this in reality. Southern Pennsylvania is home to tens of snack food manufacturers, and is aptly dubbed “the snack food capital  of the United States.”

Snack foods have always been an integral part of the American diet and the American way of life. But, snack food modifications do not stand still. As our eating habits, tastes, and health awareness change, so have snack food styles. As production streamlines and technology becomes more innovative, snack food companies continuously modernize to keep up with the times. Of course, one dimension of the snack food industry that always remains constant is kashrus. No matter how […]

Q: Could you give me some guidelines as to when sheva brochos are recited?

A: When a chosson and kallah get married, sheva brochos are recited on three occasions: (i) under the chupah, (ii) at the end of the meal following the chupah, and (iii) at the end of subsequent meals that are made lekovod the chosson and kallah. It is this third category which is commonly known as sheva brochos. If the chosson and kallah have both been previously married, sheva brochos are recited only on the day of the wedding.1 If either the chosson or kallah has not been previously married, sheva brochos are recited on the seven days following the wedding, with the day of the wedding reckoned as the first of those seven days.2 If neither the chosson nor the kallah have previously been living an observant lifestyle (or if one of them has not been living […]

Published Spring 2013

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. […]

Published Spring 2013

It has been called the staff of life. “Lechem” (bread) makes a quick cameo appearance for posterity, when the Ribbono Shel Olam charts the course of mankind for time immemorial by punishing Adam HaRrishon with the words, “Bezaias apecha tochal lechem”,1 “You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow.” Of course, it is obvious to everyone – both young and old- that lechem means bread!

Published Spring 2013

In the course of his daily routine, a mashgiach deals with dozens-if not hundreds-of food ingredients. In the arcane world of modern food technology, terms like “enzymes”, “substrates”, “emulsifiers”, “stabilizers”, and “surfactants” lend some technical significance. But, in the real world one may ask, “What has an enzyme done for me lately?” This article will address some of the direct applications of enzymes in our diet.

Published Summer 2013
When a tourist comes to Israel from the Diaspora one of the things he has to get used to is the mitzvos hatluot b’aretz, the mitzvos that are unique to Israel. After he gets through taking trumah and maaser, tithing, and makes sure he doesn’t come during shmitta (beware next year!) he is suddenly hit with orla. And when he asks how to cope with this unfamiliar problem he is sometimes given a chart with a list of fruits and orla percentages which, if he isn’t totally confused, the charts will certainly finish off the job. “What do all these percentages mean? And why,” he asks, “can’t someone give me a yes or no answer instead of these percentages?” So what do the percentages on these fruit charts mean?

Published Summer 2013

SCENE 1: You are hungry. You desperately need something to hit the spot. Suddenly your friend offers you a delicious chocolate frosted cupcake . . . complete with sprinkles. Your mouth begins to water . . . you are just about to take that first irresistible bite when your inner voice raises the age-old query, “How do you know if it is Kosher?” Your ecstasy is short lived. Your hand pulls back and you put the cupcake down. You exercised self control. You are still hungry but you passed the test.

Published Summer 2013
Americans, generally, do not drink as much tea as the rest of world. This may have something to do with a certain party they had in Boston a while back. That being the case, you might be surprised to learn that tea is second only to water in worldwide beverage consumption. In fact, some estimates place tea consumption in the billions of cups daily. That’s a lot of tea. However, with recent health benefits being ascribed to tea, its popularity in this country is definitely on the rise. In this article we will explore the world of tea and what questions there are vis-à-vis kashrus and halacha. First, a little background is in order.

Published Spring 2013

Centuries ago, the ancient Greeks recognized that there were certain properties in leaven which caused chemical changes in flour and water converting it into bread. They called the magical ingredient “enzyme” which is the Greek term for “in leaven.” Today enzyme remains the term by which we refer to these biological catalysts. We now understand that enzymes are proteins found in every living organism be it animal, vegetable, or microbial.

STAR-K CERTIFICATION

STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Dovid Heber will present a webinar series on Hilchos Brochos, scheduled every other Monday from December 17, 2012 through February 11, 2013 at 12 noon.  Some of the topics will include:  fruits, vegetables and processed grains, ikker v’tafel, cereals, kadima, and the various foods included in the brochos of Hamotzi and Hagofen.  To sign up, visit Kosher University.

Q: I am going to Israel and will be visiting the kosel (Western Wall). I know that it is customary to tear kriah upon seeing the kosel, but what exactly is the procedure?

Published Winter 2013

A  Halachic  Guide for the Delayed Friday Afternoon Traveler

Every few months, the phone rings on Erev Shabbos with a similar shayla:  “We are not sure if we will reach our destination in time for Shabbos.  What should we do?”  If the call comes from people who are stuck in traffic, my response has been, “Are you calling to find out the halachos, or to hear the best alternate routes to reach your destination?”

Rabbi Tzvi Rosen, Star-K Kashrus Administrator; Editor, Kashrus Kurrents

The Star-K Hotline is constantly abuzz with  kashrus  inquiries.  Over 13,100 consumer calls were logged during the week before   Pesach  5772.  Questions ranged from product information to complex kitchen  shailos , from reliable kosher airline caterers to wines whose kosher certification symbols are so small you need a high powered magnifying glass to read the  rav hamachshir ’s name.