STAR-K Kosher Certification Hosts Winter Mashgichim Review Seminar


On December 24, STAR-K Kosher Certification held its annual Winter Mashgichim Review Seminar at its Baltimore offices.  STAR-K Kashrus Administrators Rabbis Mayer Kurcfeld and Sholom Tendler conducted the day-long sessions with the goal of bringing together food service mashgichim to inform, review, and reinforce STAR-K food service policies and procedures. Attendees came from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, D.C., and the Baltimore area.

“Everybody at the STAR-K knows that the mashgichim out in the field are the eyes and ears of our organization and even though STAR-K is a large kashrus organization and gives hashgachos all over the world, food service—which is a relatively small part of STAR-K’s activities—is probably the most important thing that we do,” noted STAR-K president Avrom Pollak, in his opening welcome statement. “The most important part of the program has always been the give and take sessions between the mashgichim themselves, and the rabbonim in […]

The Family that Makes Kosher Together

At Muhlenberg College’s dining hall, Jonathan Powers turns on the ovens, makes sure the eggs contain no blood spots, and inspects the broccoli and cauliflower for forbidden pests.

They are some of his duties as the Allentown college’s mashgiach, a Jew who supervises a food establishment to make sure the dietary laws of his faith are followed.

“We’re here to make sure everything is kosher,” explains Powers, 41, “and that all the food that comes in is kosher.”

The college hired him five years ago when it opened two kosher food stations in its new dining hall in an effort to better serve Jewish students.

For Powers, the work is a family tradition; his mother, Louise, 66, is a kosher supervisor at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and his father, Mark, 66, holds the job at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster.

Nearly a third of Muhlenberg’s 2,200 students are Jewish, among the highest percentages […]

ENI gets non-GMO and Kosher Certification for Vegetable-Source Glucosamine

GreenGrown, the vegetable-source glucosamine ingredient from ENI (Ethical Naturals Inc.), has certified non-GMO by Eurofins Scientific and certified kosher by Star-K.

Congratulations to 3 of our Companies on their Kosherfest wins!

Congratulations to the following 3 companies for winning the Kosherfest new product competition!

Shay’s Chocolate– Dairy Caramel Popcorn (Sweet Snacks Category)
Ceres (Stanmar International)- Fruit Juice (Beverages- Non-Alcoholic)
Froozer/Cool Frootz, LLC (Frozen Desserts)

Combine Kosher and Organic Certifications in a Single Audit

The rapidly rising parallel global demand for both kosher and organic certifications has created a flourishing specialty food category, kosher organic, for products that meet both the strict requirements of Jewish dietary laws and the USDA National Organic Program specifications. To satisfy the growing numbers of companies worldwide that opt for both of these certifications, QAI and STAR-K Kosher Certification, based in Baltimore, Maryland, introduced a joint kosher and organic auditing program in January 2009. It provides two certifications with a single audit. This streamlined auditing process reduces overall certification costs, saves time and provides excellent service.

What is required of a plant that wants to become and stay kosher compliant? Specific regulations often depend on the nature of the plant. For example, if Plant A produces both kosher and non-kosher in the same facility and Plant B is entirely kosher, Plant A will have additional regulations regarding the use of […]

Yoshon Season Has Officially Started (Guides Included)

Yoshon season has officially started. Many people get confused about what the terms Yoshon and Chodosh are. Here we present a brief explanation of each, followed by some product information.

The Torah (Vayikra 23:14) states that the new (i.e., Chodosh) crop of the five grains may not be eaten until after the second day of Passover (i.e., in Israel; in the Diaspora, not until after the third day). This means that the grain harvested this summer would not be allowed until after Passover of next year (i.e., 2016/5776). The term Yoshon (literally, old) refers to crops harvested last summer that became permitted after the following Passover. Thus, the 2014 crop of grains, harvested last summer, became permitted after this past Passover (i.e., 2015/5775). Grain planted at least two weeks (see Dagul Mervava Y.D. 293) or more before Passover is permitted upon harvest since it took root before Passover.

Outside of Israel, there […]

STAR-K Presents Shiur on Chalav Yisrael to the Yungerleit of Baltimore’s Khal Chasidim Kollel L’Horo’ah

September 10 – Baltimore–STAR-K Certification Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Sholom Tendler was invited by HaRav Hershel Rosenfeld, the Rosh HaKollel of Baltimore’s newest kollel, Khal Chassidim Kollel L’Horo’ah, to present a shiur on chalav Yisrael to the yungerleit, on Labor Day.

Explaining how the chalav Yisrael kashrus program for STAR-K certified “Pride of the Farm” works, Rabbi Tendler began by reviewing the basic halachos of chalav Yisrael. He then covered how the farm operates and what oversight and safeguards are in place to ensure the cows are kosher and not “treifa”—i.e., that they are not operated on or have any sicknesses that would affect the kashrus of the milk. He concluded with an explanation of how the milk is watched and tracked to ensure chalav Yisrael status and maintained l’mihadrin min ha’mihadrin.

“Rabbi Sholom Tendler, besides being a big Talmid Chuchem, is an expert in Kashrus,” noted HaRav Rosenfeld. “The way he […]

Pluto and the Tur’s Jewish Calendar Cycle

“New Horizons” (NASA’s Mission to Pluto) recently came within 7,800 miles of Pluto and brought much attention to this dwarf planet that at any given time is between 2.66 billion and 4.68 billion miles away from Earth.

As we begin Rosh Hashanah, 5776, which will mark the beginning of the final year of the 304th nineteen year cycle since Brias Haolam (the creation of the world), it is interesting to note the amazing similarity between the amount of time it takes Pluto to orbit the the sun and the Jewish Calendar cycle based on 13 – nineteen year cycles found in the Tur (Orach Chaim Siman 428).

The Tur’s chart is based on a 247-year cycle and it takes Pluto about 247 years to orbit the sun.

This is the Tur’s 247-year calendar found in Orach Chaim, Siman 428, in Hilchos Rosh Chodesh. Note the marks we have added to illustrate how the […]

Two STAR-K Kashrus Training Seminars Draw Participants from Toronto to Deerfield Beach


Baltimore, MD – July 27, 2015 – If you place food on a crock pot that is on a timer for Shabbos, is it considered bishul Yisroel? Beyond the food, what obligations does a Kashrus agency have in a facility, e.g., the attire of the wait staff, the type of entertainment and music played, etc.? What is the criterion for Kashrus agencies to decide whether or not to certify an establishment that has just lost its certification?

The answers to these intriguing questions and more were shared by STAR-K Rabbinic Administrator HaRav Moshe Heinemann, shlita, at the 12th Annual STAR-K Kashrus Training Program, held July 13-16, and its back-to-back annual Food Service Kashrus Training Seminar, held July 20-22, in STAR-K’s Baltimore, Maryland, offices.  The former was coordinated by STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Zvi Goldberg; the latter, by STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Sholom Tendler.  In addition to lectures such as: Administrative Issues; […]

Kosher Certification Helps Increase Market Share

The Jewish population is growing all over the world and the demand for Kosher certified products is increasing fast, Head, India and South East Asia Operations of Star-K Kosher Certification organisation, Joel Weinberger, told a seminar on Kosher Certification for food and beverage export industries.

The seminar was organised by the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) at its auditorium in Colombo last week.

Excerpts from his speech

The Kosher market has been growing at an annual rate of 15% for the past several years and Kosher-certified products continue to outsell organic and all natural products. Food manufacturers in North America and Europe, looking for new sources of ingredients, increasingly turn to Asian countries such as India to keep up with demand.

‘Kosher’ was the most frequently used claim on new products launched in the US according to recent market research, more frequently used than ‘All Natural’ and ‘No […]

Mevakshai Hashem Cheder Students Get Their Kashrus Queries Answered by STAR-K Certification

Last month, STAR-K Certification received an envelope filled with handwritten letters that asked questions like: ‘How many different lands do you go to, to give a hechsher?’ ‘How many hours a day do you spend at each company?’ and ‘How do you become a mashgiach?’ Accompanying the inquisitive, complimentary letters full of hakaras hatov, written by the obviously precocious second graders of Mevakshai Hashem– a Chasidishe cheder located in Boro Park–was a cover letter addressed to STAR-K by the boys’ rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Weinberger:

“These letters were written to you as part of our school’s General Studies “food science project”. This program consisted of writing first to ordinary food companies, and then to kashrus agencies. Each class was given another organization to write to; we chose the STAR-K.”

Eight-year-old Chananya Rosenberg was creative in illustrating every letter “K” in his letter as a “STAR-K” logo when he wrote:

“I want to thank you […]

Jewish-Chinese Connections

Lost Jews of China

In the Middle Ages, Jewish traders following the ancient Silk Road spice route settled in China, forming a community in the city of Kaifeng. Kaifeng was then one of the “Seven Ancient Capitals of China” and one of the world’s largest metropolises, with a population of close to one million. China’s ruling Song Emperors welcomed the Jews as welcome guests, bestowing seven family names that these Kaifeng Jews could use – some of which are still carried by their descendents in the town today.

Kaifeng’s Jewish community thrived at first, building its first synagogue in 1163, and eventually swelling to several thousand members. Smaller Jewish communities sprung up in other towns in China. Unlike many Jewish communities elsewhere, it seems that China’s Jews faced little or no persecution. Ironically, the lack of discrimination they faced in China seems to have hastened their end.

A model of the Kaifeng synagogue […]

Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler Revisits the Question of Kosher Veal

Click here to visit the entire article and pictures:

Baltimore, MD  – April 23, 2015 – It is well known that when the Posek Hador, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Zatza”l, wrote his famous Teshuva inIgros Moshe Even HaEzer IV 92, in 1982, which placed severe restrictions on the production and purchase of Kosher white veal to the point that those who followed his Psak stopped eating Veal, his son-in-law,  Rabbi Dr. Moshe D. Tendler, Shlit”a, a Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchonon, Rov in Monsey and biology professor at Yeshiva University, was Rav Moshe’s “right hand” in this psak. Rabbi Dr. Tendler in addition to his vast knowledge of Halacha and Science, had significant practical experience in Shechita including having headed the Shechita department of the Orthodox Union for a time.

Since then, Rav Tendler, Shlit”a, and many of his and Rav Moshe’s Talmidim, have abstained from eating veal due to his […]

STAR-K Speakers Bureau Travels Near and Far to Bring Kashrus to a Variety of Venues

It was not Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld’s first time in South Bend, Indiana, when he traveled there on January 27. Although the STAR-K Kashrus Administrator had been there previously, solely on Kashrus business, this time, in addition, he was asked by Rabbi Meir Bulman, Rav of the Hebrew Orthodox Congregation, to make two, women-only, vegetable inspection presentations– one for the Bais Yaakov of Indiana high school students and the other for the women of the community.

“I was totally amazed and, quite frankly, pleasantly surprised at the number of frum women who attended,” admitted Rabbi Kurcfeld. “Additionally, it gave me great pleasure to see both their attention and enthusiasm, but more so, the seriousness they gave the subject matter by really trying their utmost to learn the process in the short time that we had.”

Rabbi Kurcfeld is part of STAR-K’s Speakers Bureau, comprised of administrative staff members who travel throughout the […]

STAR-K Kosher Certification Sets Precedent with Staff HACCP Training

STAR-K Kosher Certification has become the first major organization of its kind to train its entire Kosher administrative staff in Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP)––a systematic, scientifically-based approach to food safety, provides a method for identifying significant physical, chemical, and microbiological hazards in the production of food and implementing control measures to prevent, eliminate, or reduce significant hazards to an acceptable level.

The two-day in-house training at STAR-K’s Baltimore headquarters was lead by NSF International in November 2014. The Kosher organization’s staff traveled from all over the U.S. After formal training, all staff members passed the qualifying exam.

“STAR-K Kosher Administrators, who are already visiting plants to set up impeccable Kosher standards, have a distinct advantage when they are proficient in areas of food safety, as well,” explains STAR-K Kosher Certification president Dr. Avrom Pollak. “It is with that in mind that we arranged to have NSF International provide in-house HACCP […]

STAR-K Visit Highlighted by Rav Binyomin Friedman on Atlanta Scholars Kollel Trip

One of the first stops Rabbi Binyomin Friedman made in Baltimore, on Thursday, December 11, after flying up the night before from Atlanta, was STAR-K Kosher Certification. The dozen or so men, aged 30-60, who accompanied him were just some of his students at the Atlanta Scholars Kollel (ASK). The Kollel organized the trip for the purpose of providing the opportunity to learn in a Yeshiva—something that most of these men had never experienced in person.

“We spent Thursday through Sunday at Yeshivas Ner Yisroel,” says Rabbi Friedman, an alumnus of the yeshiva who is the Rav of Congregation Ariel in Dunwoody, Georgia, in addition to one of the founding rebbeim of ASK. “When we were not learning, we spent our time learning about the infrastructure of a frum community. The STAR-K was one of our first stops. Commercial Kashrus supervision is fundamental to the existence of the contemporary Jewish community. […]

Baltimore Chesed Response Organizations Showcased To Visiting Group From Detroit

By BJLife/Isaac Draiman
Baltimore, MD – Dec. 8 – This past Sunday a group visiting from Detroit had an opportunity to learn about the various response organizations that serve the Baltimore Jewish Community.

Approximately 30 visitors traveling to Baltimore with the Partners in Torah branch of Detroit came to Baltimore to see how our Orthodox Community is structured. After visiting Ner Israel and having a meeting with the Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Aharon Feldman, shlita, they came to Bnos Yisroel to see firsthand the uniqueness of our chesed organizations.

Representatives of Hatzolah, Shomrim and Chaverim were on hand, explaining their histories and services provided. Dovid Heyman, Executive Director and Paramedic with Hatzalah of Baltimoreexplained the lifesaving emergency services they provide. Nathan Willner, General Counsel  and  Michael Diamond, dispatcher, of the Baltimore Shomrim Safety Patrol , and David Bagan, President of Chaverim also took turns explaining their organizations services as well. Many of the attendees […]

What it Took for STAR-K to Certify the GA Under Secret Service Surveillance

[By: Margie Pensak]

Security was tight at STAR-K Certification’s largest and most challenging food service supervision, to date–The Jewish Federations of North America’s 2014 General Assembly (GA), the premier annual North American Jewish communal event, held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, in National Harbor, Maryland, November 9-12. Vice President Joe Biden was one of the several scheduled speakers and I had to make sure I arrived early enough before Gaylord’s security lockdown. I never did get to see the Vice President, while I was touring the kosher kitchen with STAR-K Assistant Director of Supervision Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld, who spearheaded the kashrus team for this event. But, I did feel the thrill of the anticipation of his arrival, as I went through more than one security checkpoint and watched a sniffing K-9 attack trained German shepherd police dog check out the crowd!

The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is […]

STAR-K Food Service Kashrus Training Seminar Draws Attendees from Far and Near

Baltimore, MD – Aug. 4– Yosef Cohen has been attending a community kollel in Raanana, Israel, for the past five years. He decided to sign up forSTAR-K’s Food Service Kashrus Training Seminar, held July 28-30, because he is considering moving back to the US and will need a parnasa.

“I was always interested in Hashgacha and have taken a Hashgacha course in Eretz Yisroel and received a certificate from Rav Efrati and the Rabanut of Israel,” notes Mr. Cohen, a first time STAR-K seminar attendee.  “The STAR-K training seminar was a great review of the pertinent Halachos, and gave amazing hands on information and tips for the seasoned and beginner.”

What Mr. Cohen found most helpful was learning how to deal with the vendors: “We learned to always be a mensch and remember that you are the Rabbi while on the job, whether you think of yourself like that or not, and […]

STAR-K’s 11th Annual Kashrus Training Program Features NYS Kosher Enforcement Director Rabbi Aaron Metzger

The Eleventh Annual STAR-K Kashrus Training Program attracted attendees from the Catskill Mountains to Indianapolis, IN. This year, in addition to the STAR-K Kashrus Administrators who delivered presentations on everything from Foodservice Challenges to the Halachic issues of Appliances, Rabbi Aaron Metzger, director of the NY State Kosher Enforcement Bureau, addressed the participants. Rabbi Metzger, a resident of Monsey, NY, was appointed to his position by The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in January. Part of his job is to protect consumers by ensuring compliance with the certification, record keeping and signage requirements relating to kosher food, and maintaining the Department’s online kosher databases.

“Being in this position is important to the Jewish community to maintain a sense of accountability in Kosher,” notes Rabbi Metzger.” Being able to present at the STAR-K conference has enlightened various rabbis from across the globe how important transparency and accountability is in […]

STAR-K Certification Launches STAR-K Kosher Classroom at Torah Umesorah Convention

Baltimore, MD – May 2014 – Earlier this month, STAR-K Kosher Certification was represented at the sold-out Torah Umesorah 58th Annual National Leadership Convention by STAR-K President Dr. Avrom Pollak, STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Baruch Beyer, and STAR-K Director of Special Projects Rabbi Zvi Holland, who introduced mechanchim to the STAR-K Kosher Classroom.

The STAR-K Kosher Classroom, which debuted at the convention, is an initiative to develop curricular materials for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. The first group of  posters and videos were prepared to present to the 1,800 attendees from throughout the U.S., Canada and elsewhere around the world, to generate interest, feedback and partnership from those who will actually be presenting the materials.

“Just as we do not charge for our extensive Kashrus education programs and community services, we are not charging for these materials, “ noted Rabbi Holland. “We wanted the teachers to tell us what materials they […]

Heimishe Kosher Visits STAR-K

STAR-K Kosher Certification recently held its first Winter Kashrus Training Program for a group of mashgichim from New York. The participants, who live in Boro Park, traveled to attend the seminar in Baltimore on three consecutive Sundays, January-February. The program was the brainchild of Mr. Meir Rand, a Chasidishe mashgiach who has worked in various kitchen venues in Boro Park. Realizing the lack of Chasidishe mashgiach training, he approached STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Zvi Holland with his well-accepted idea of a training program.

“I was very, very happy with the program; I learned such new chidushim and how to deal with people in Kashrus work,” says Mr. Rand. “I have no words. It was mamash amazing–meyradik!

“The Chasidishe community doesn’t yet have such a training program for their mashgichim,” continues Mr. Rand. “We have no mesuderdik system for training them and we found out that STAR-K has the best training system for […]

STAR-K Hosts J.E.W. Seminar

On Wednesday, January 8, STAR-K Kosher Certification’s Baltimore offices hosted a seminar for Jewish Experience Week (J.E.W.). The seminar, led by STAR-K Kashrus Administrators Rabbi Zvi Goldberg and Rabbi Zvi Holland, enlightened college students from around the country about the function of a kosher certification agency and various practical Kashrus issues.

Rabbi Holland’s presentation, “The Wonderful World of Kosher Certification”, covered the history of kosher certification, the globalization of food production and Kosher certification, the difference between a local agency and an International agency, non-profit public agencies certifying kashrus as opposed to individuals, the need and value of retaining public trust in kosher agencies, how halachic decisions are made at STAR-K and how they are kept separate from business, and STAR-K’s unique role as the only major non-profit Kosher agency dedicated only to Kosher. An informative Q & A session followed.

Rabbi Goldberg’s talk, “The Mystical and the Practical”, addressed the Torah basis […]

STAR-K Kosher Certification’s Year-Round Money Saving Tips and Strategies

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 […]

The Reviews are In: STAR-K’s Mashgicha Enrichment Program is a Big Hit

Published Winter 2009

The eighteen mashgichos who attended STAR-K’s Mashgicha Enrichment Program, November 2-3 in Baltimore, Maryland, had only one complaint: it wasn’t long enough. Although it lacked nothing in the way of organization or detailing of comprehensible and practical information, the women would have appreciated even more face time with the STAR-K experts. The experience of meeting fellow mashgichos from so many communities, being able to ask questions throughout the presentations, and the camaraderie felt by the program’s end, made it worth the trip!

Electronic Letters of Certification Available

In keeping with Star-K’s commitment to providing prompt, efficient service, Star-K companies will now have the option of receiving their Letter of Certification (LOC) electronically. This enhancement is especially useful for companies that send multiple LOC’s to each of their customers. For example, rather than faxing a five-page LOC to a long list of customers, Star-K companies will be only a click away from electronic LOC distribution. All their customers can receive the data they need in seconds.

STAR-K Kosher Certification Hosts Back-to-Back Training Seminars

Is a kosher caterer’s non-Jewish chef allowed to squeeze the juice of fresh grapes into the food he is preparing for an event? Questions such as these, and more, were answered by HaRav Moshe Heinemann, shlit’a, at STAR-K Kosher Certification’s back-to-back seminars, held in their home offices, earlier this month. Participants joined the Foodservice Kashrus Training Seminar, July 1-3, and the Tenth Annual Kashrus Training Program, July 8-11, from across the US, Mexico, and Canada.

Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, who has been the Rosh Kollel of the Philadelphia Community Kollel for 13 years, attended the Tenth Annual Kashrus Training program so he could see and hear, first hand, the behind-the-scenes in Kashrus.

“I would like to see the standards of kashrus in our community be even better than they are already,” said Rabbi Biberfeld. “The information and insight from the STAR-K seminar will be helpful in attaining this goal. It gives you a […]

STAR-K Kosher Certification Administrators Address YU/RIETS Yarchei Kallah Rabbinic Alumni

Rabbinic alumni from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) visited STAR-K Kosher Certification’s offices, during their Yarchei Kallah, held in Baltimore, Maryland, April 22-24. Participants traveled from as far away as Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Oakland, California, for this annual event for American and Canadian Rabbonim, coordinated by Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and Senior Scholar at Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future.