When Rabbi Chaim Glazer, an eleventh grade rebbi at Yeshiva Toras Chaim, in North Miami Beach, Florida, was teaching his class about Kelai Elanos (the issur of grafting two trees of different species together), his lesson plan research led him to a STAR-K Kashrus Kurrents article on hydroponics–the cultivation of plants in a nutrient solution rather than in soil. Always seeking to give his students “beyond book learning experiences”, Rabbi Glazer contacted the author of the article, STAR-K Kashrus Administrator, Rabbi Zvi Goldberg. Rabbi Goldberg suggested that he and the bochurim learn about the halachic implications of hydroponics, face-to-face–despite the fact that they were about 950 miles apart–using a video camera.
Rabbi Glazer’s talmidim were able to watch Rabbi Goldberg speak about: the ramifications which hydroponics has on the brocho rishona of fruits and vegetables, the prohibitions regarding harvesting them on Shabbos and Yom Tov, the implications hydroponics has for trumos, maaseros and shmitta, and the use of hydroponic romaine lettuce as marror at the Pesach seder. The bochurim asked some excellent questions: What do you do if you go to the store and cannot figure out if the fruit or vegetable is hydroponic? Do hydroponic strawberries have insects? Is the Israeli exported greenhouse grown romaine lettuce, Alei Katif, grown hydroponically?
Rabbi Glazer used Rabbi Goldber’s shiur, in conjunction with a high-tech hydroponic greenhouse tour, to reinforce his teaching lesson. “Today’s bochurim sometimes find it hard to relate to concepts they’ve never experienced,” notes Rabbi Glazer. “Rabbi Goldberg and the Star-K educational program enabled my students to experience real-life applications of what they are learning about in the classroom.”
STAR-K’s utilization of technology in educating others about kashrus is nothing new. STAR-K’s InterAgency TeleKosher Conference series uses the telephone to enable local vaadim, rabbis and mashgichim, the world over, to speak directly to kashrus experts from various agencies, in a non-political forum, posing their most pressing kashrus questions that are distinctive to their communities.
Students living closer to STAR-K’s Baltimore, Maryland offices, have the opportunity to learn about kashrus, in person, without the use of technology. STAR-K Kashrus Administrator, Rabbi Dovid Heber, recently spoke to a group of Lakewood Teachers Seminary students about the various production methods of breakfast cereals and their impact on Hilchos Brochos. Similarly, tenth graders from Reenas Bais Yaakov, in Highland Park, New Jersey, benefitted from a recent shiur which Rabbi Heber delivered exclusively for them–a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the STAR-K kosher symbol, from a halachic, technical, and tracking perspective.
Why did Reenas Bais Yaakov teacher, Mrs. Chaya Eidelman, decide to visit STAR-K, with her tenth grade students? “I wanted to show the girls something that would encapsulate Jewish Baltimore. Of course, STAR-K is known far and wide for kashrus, and things beyond kashrus, also.”
STAR-K’s educational efforts also include the hosting of an intensive week-long annual Kashrus Training Seminar, each summer, for rabbonim, kollel fellows, and others serving as klei kodesh. It features lectures by STAR-K’s rabbinic staff members, audio-visual presentations, a hands-on practicum, and several field trips.
STAR-K took a mini-version of its Kashrus Training Seminar on the road, to the yungerleit of Rabbi Avrohom Lefkowitz’s Kollel Bnei Torah, Lakewood, New Jersey, in late December. Rabbinic Administrator, HaRav Moshe Heinemann, and STAR-K Kashrus Administrators addressed various topics, including: Kashering –Restaurants/Caterers/Factories, Guide to Hashgocho of Restaurants and Caterers (includes checking for tolaim), Cholov Yisroel, and The Kashrus of Bakeries.
These educational programs are just some of the many ways that STAR-K CERTIFICATION is committed, as a non-profit agency, to representing the kosher consumer in promoting kashrus through education, research and supervision. For further information regarding STAR-K programs, contact 410-484-4110. To join STAR-K’s ongoing TeleKosher Conference Series, scheduled for the last Wednesday of each month at 12 noon EST, call: 605-475-8590 and enter conference 528-5502.