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. […]

For over nineteen hundred years the Jewish people have longed to return to Eretz Yisroel, the land of Israel. It is only in land of Israel that we can realize our full potential as a nation; it is only in the land of Israel that the Torah’s blueprint for life can be completely fulfilled. Over the millennia the most important dimension of this longing was the yearning to once again be able to fulfill the mitzvos hatluyos ba’aretz (agricultural laws), the commandments that can only be observed in the land of Israel. With Hashem’s help many of us in this past generation have realized part of this two thousand year old dream. Yet, this realization has presented us with new challenges.

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.

The use of spices in preparing food has played a role in history disproportionate to their nutritional value. A ransom paid by Alaric the Goth that included three thousand pounds of pepper delayed the attack of Rome for two years. The discovery of the New World was due, in great measure to the search for such spices; that was the main objective of the early trans-Atlantic explorers. Our Rabbis tell us1 that the Torah is compared to salt and the Mishna to pepper. Indeed, the kashrus issues related to salt and pepper give us sufficient reason to analyze these primary food ingredients.

The talmudic paradigm for a concept that is blatantly obvious is Keveiasa Bechuscha, the issue is as clear as the permissibility of mixing eggs into dairy products. However, things are not always as simple as they may seem, and just as the Ba’alei HoTosfos in Maseches Eiruvin discuss how less than “obvious” this concept may be, the production and use of eggs in modern food production pose questions whose answers are far from being considered obvious. The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the issues that confront modern kashrus supervision as they relate to egg production.

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.

Published Summer 2008

Approximately thirty 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.

Published Spring 2007 

There is a strange but true phenomenon that has resulted in our society’s technologically
motivated, highly competitive marketplace. If a manufacturer or producer desires to remain viable and competitive, he never loses sight of the fact that successful business demands innovation, creativity and growth. Status quo in the manufacturer’s lexicon often means stagnation, and no company wants to stagnate. In turn, the manufacturer on the move continues to innovate in an environment that encourages survival of the fittest. This presents additional challenges for products requiring kosher supervision from a kashrus agency. These axioms are very keenly felt in the production of kosher poultry, where halachic ingenuity and technological advances converge. The average kosher consumer rarely, if ever, has the opportunity to see a large or small slaughterhouse in action. Therefore, Kashrus Kurrents offers its readers an inside look at the policies and procedures of […]

Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld, Star-K Kashrus Administrator

Published Summer 2007


The world of hotel kashrus is exciting, stressful and always a challenge.  Effective hotel
kashrus demands a keen understanding of modern equipment and complex facility
dynamics, along with an excellent mastery of the hotel food and beverage industry.  These
criteria are essential in facilitating the role of the administrator and mashgiach as respected members and powerful presence in the hotel kitchen.  The role of the mashgiach, once typecast as that of an old man with a white beard sitting on a chair, has changed.  Not only does the mashgiach need to know that dairy and meat must be kept separate, the “new-age” mashgiach must relate to the kitchen and serving staff with diplomacy and grace.

Published Summer 2007

The joy, the planning, the anticipation, the expense — there is a lot that goes into a Yiddishe simcha. Be it a chasuna, Bar Mitzvah, or bris, every significant life cycle event is extra special and the baalei simcha want to ensure that their guests have a good time.  Central to that goal is a delicious seudas mitzvah.  Endless hours of planning are spent making sure everything is perfect, from the decor to the menu.  Is the same effort expended regarding the kashrus level of the event? If the simcha is being catered, does the caterer have reliable kosher certification?  As catering costs have risen, consumers have opted to cater their own simchas.  This article will attempt to address some key issues that one should consider when catering an event. 

With the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, Poland became the recognized haven for exiles from Western Europe and the cultural/spiritual center of the Jewish people.  Prior to the outbreak of World War II, it housed the second largest Jewish community in the world, with nearly 3.5 million Jews.  All that changed rapidly following Nazi Germany’s invasion in 1939. A scant 11 percent (369,000) of the Polish Jewish population escaped the death camps.  Many fled their native Poland in reaction to anti-Semitic violence or repression under Communism.  Those who stayed often turned their backs on Yiddishkeit.  Now, Polish Jews are feeling a new sense of tolerance and security in their post-Cold War democracy.  An increasing number are returning to their Jewish roots, which in many cases have been discovered only recently.

Rabbi Mati Kos is the first known religious person in his family in the past […]

Published Fall 2007

Dates of Kedushas Shviis, sfichim, and biur can be found in our 2008 Pesach Directory, click here.

For over nineteen hundred years, the Jewish people have longed to return to Eretz Yisroel, the land of Israel.  It is only there that we can realize our full potential as a nation, and the Torah’s blueprint for life can be completely fulfilled.  Throughout the millennia, the most important dimen­sion of this yearning was to once again be able to fulfill the mitzvos hatluyos ba’aretz (agricultural laws), the commandments that can be observed only in the land of Israel.  With Hashem’s help, many of us in this past generation have realized part of this two thousand year-old dream.  Yet, this realization has presented us with new challenges.

Published Winter 2007

How many Kashrus Kurrents readers have heard this true Jewish fish tale?  In the early 1900’s, when it was customary for Jewish housewives to make homemade gefilte fish, a very important food safety issue came to light.  Diphyllobothrium latum, a fish tapeworm, was identified in the intestines of Jewish homemakers.  It was measured at 30 feet and had a life span of up to 20 years.  This largest parasite of humans attacked the digestive system of the cooks, who would periodically taste the raw concoction of ground freshwater fish to ensure the correct mix of salt and pepper.  Although not fatal, gastrointestinal symptoms accompanied by increased weakness, shortness of breath, lethargy and fatigue were present for months, until the cause was finally discovered.  In our day, the pernicious anemia that results may more likely be obtained from eating sushi or raw contaminated beef.

Published Spring 2008

If you have ever left cookies in the oven a little too long, and they became stuck to the pan, you know what a frustrating experience it can be.  Imagine multiplying that feeling hundreds or thousands of times, and you will begin to understand one of the major problems that commercial bakeries and food producers face all the time.  To avoid this problem, food manufacturers use release agents to grease the pans.  These agents are frequently found in a spray form, like PAM, and must always be kosher certified.  Paper pan liners may also be used as release agents, particularly in bakeries.  They provide more consistent browning and baking with no added fat or calories, and require less clean-up.  Pan liners are also used by candy makers, and may be used as cupcake holders or wraps for frozen gefilte fish.  Consumers are also discovering […]

Published Spring 2008

In an energy driven world with limited fuel resources, and a public that is totally enamored with its automobiles, industry is constantly looking for inexpensive new sources of alternative fuel.  Biodiesel fuel is one answer.  Biodiesel is a chemical process that separates vegetable oil or animal fats into two parts:  methyl esters – which is another name for biodiesel, and glycerin.  The biodiesel is then blended with alcohol to make biodiesel blends that can be used as a substitute for diesel fuel or other fuel substitutes.

Published Spring 2008

One of the best known halachos of kashrus is that one may not eat meat and milk together.  One of the reasons that kosher symbols incorporate a ‘D’ onto the kosher certification is to notify the consumer that the product may not be eaten together with meat, or within six hours after eating meat.  Similarly, products containing meat as an ingredient will state “meat” next to the Star-K or other kosher symbol.

Other News From The STAR-K


Announces Monthly TeleKosher Conference Program for Local Kashrus Agencies

Published Summer 2008

It has been touted as nature’s most versatile food.  There is no grain that feeds more people worldwide, and can boast that it is free of gluten and allergens.  When the Gemara in Brachos discusses the blessings that are made before and after eating this grain, the mnemonic used to remember the Gemara’s conclusion is Amen,אמן : “נפשות ” , “מזונות ”, “אורז ” – “Orez”, “Mezonos”, “Nefashos”.  If you haven’t guessed by now, the grain we are discussing is Oryza Sativa, otherwise known in Talmudic terms as 1 “Orez“, “אורז ”. We know it simply as rice.

Published Summer 2008

It is written in our Torah, “Ubosor basodeh treifa lo socheilu” (Shmos 22:30), it is forbidden to eat treif meat.  While the expression “treif” has become the universal connotation for food that is not kosher, in truth, the word treif specifically refers to an animal whose flesh was torn or ripped.  Technically speaking, if a kosher species of animal or fowl was attacked by a predator, the meat of the victim may be deemed treif, non-kosher.  However, the meat of an animal improperly kosher slaughtered is not treifa, it is called a neveila.  Technically, meat of a non-kosher animal species is the meat of a temeiah.  Yet, the term “treif” has found its way through the portals of the slaughterhouse, as well as the aisles of the non-kosher meat section of the supermarkets.  No matter what the name, all of these categories of meat […]

Shailos From The Institute Of Halacha

Kashrus Kurrents is proud to launch a new column, “Insights from the Institute”.  In this regular feature, HaRav Frankel will share with our readership intriguing shailos from his E-mail bag.  The following is a sampling of the types of interesting questions that will be addressed in future columns.