Star-K’s New Kashrus Training Program A Huge Success

How can you learn to deal with the challenges of supervising a first-class hotel’s kosher kitchen which is next to its non-kosher kitchen? Where does one find the opportunity to tour a flavor plant to better understand the kosher manufacturing process? Who will train you to find the less obvious thrips and aphids when checking a restaurant’s vegetables? What will give you the preparation to administer – or perhaps, pioneer – a communal kosher certification agency?

Star-K Kosher Certification recently provided the platform for these unique learning opportunities and more. In its new complimentary certificate program, Star-K’s Kashrus Training Program allowed Kollel yungerleit of Yeshivas Ner Yisrael to experience the field of kosher supervision first hand. Held July 12-16, at Star-K’s offices in Baltimore, Maryland, the five day intensive seminar was limited to 25 students who have studied Yorah Deah.

Ner Yisrael Kollel fellow Moshe Schuchman’s sentiments regarding the seminar only confirm the need for such a program. They reflect those of every participant in the group that spent the week training with the Star-K. He writes in his thank you letter to Dr. Pollak: “We reveled in the opportunity to view the workings of such a prestigious and significant kashrus organization through an open and accommodating window. We gained immensely by learning from the qualified rabbonim and competent staff who have led the Star-K to its position as a leader in the kashrus industry. …Even those who were previously acquainted with the kashrus field felt they greatly benefited from this exceptional program.”

The certificate program is a spin-off of the National Council of Young Israel’s Rabbinic Training Program’s seminar on kashrus, which took place last winter. There, Star-K KashrusAdministrator Rabbi Zvi Goldberg stressed the need for additional training for future rabbonimwho often find themselves at the helm of their community’s kashrus. In addition to having a basic knowledge about the practical halachos of kashrus, a certificate program would train the participants to be responsible for the supervision of everything from a neighborhood food establishment to being in charge of setting up a local Vaad Hakashrus.

This pilot program, run in cooperation with the Ner Yisrael Kollel, is the forerunner of subsequent in-depth seminars planned by the Star-K. In addition to accommodating Kollelmembers, future training seminars will be geared to pulpit rabbis, those who wish to pursue a professional career in kosher supervision, those presently in the field who wish to fine-tune their skills, and others who are involved in communal kashrus.

The seminar featured sessions led by Star-K Rabbinical Administrator, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, and his team of rabbinical coordinators. Rav Heinemann, a world renowned expert in kashrus, reviewed the laws of bishul akum with the Kollel members. Dr. Avrom Pollak, President of the Star-K, discussed the administrative issues experienced by a certifying agency. In addition, the Star-K rabbinical coordinators shared their vast experience and expertise.

Director of Supervision, Rabbi Eliyahu Shuman discussed the ever-expanding flavor industry. Assistant Director of Supervision, Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld dealt with foodservice challenges, treibering, supervision of bakeries and restaurants, and the nuts and bolts of kashering. Rabbi Dovid Heber discussed the issues related to being a local mashgiach for a national agency and the kashrus issues related to Pesach. Rabbi Avrohom Mushell spoke about the importance of understanding food chemistry, as well as supervision of overseas plants.

In a special video presentation, Rabbi Tzvi Rosen expounded upon the dairy industry. Rabbi Boruch Beyer clarified the ins and outs of the beverage industry. The Star-K Hotline receives thousands of questions from consumers around the globe. Rabbi Zvi Goldberg addressed a cross-section sampling of the halachic issues posed. In his audio-visual presentation, Star-K engineering consultant, Mr. Jonah Ottensoser, familiarized the seminar participants with Star-K’s solutions to potential Shabbos and Yom Tov problems in appliance usage.

In addition to lectures, audio-visual presentations, and a hands-on practicum, several field trips rounded out the scholastic experience. The seminar included tours of a slaughterhouse, a treibering facility, a confectionery, a restaurant, a bakery, a flavor factory, and the kosher kitchen of a large first-class hotel. An “Ask the Rabbis” session led by Star-K staff members closed the seminar.

A top priority of the Star-K is to assist local kashrus associations throughout the U.S. in developing the appropriate standards, find qualified personnel, and establish its problem resolution procedures. The Star-K invites all community kashrus workers to consult with them. This new kosher supervisory training program promises to be an integral step in fulfilling the Star-K mission.

Rabbi Zvi Goldberg, coordinator of the training program, commented: “Teaching kashrusstandards and techniques employed by Star-K kashrus professionals will assure communities of the availability of highly trained kashrus professionals. It will prepare them to handle the kashrus challenges they will face.”

“The varied and comprehensive schedule of lectures, presentations, and site visits maximized the time spent well beyond our expectations,” continued Kollel fellow Moshe Schuchman. “One participant quipped that the most disappointing moment of the week was when it was over. It was quite apparent that the Star-K does not limit meticulousness and thoroughness to its kashrus supervision but carries these ideals to all its endeavors.”

For further information about Star-K’s Kashrus Training Program,
contact Rabbi Zvi Goldberg, (410) 484-4110.