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 real understanding into today’s kashrus world–the advances that have been made, the challenges they still face, and the professionalism with which STAR-K deals with all of it. Having the ability to hear it from experienced administrators, who are also great yarei shamayim, was a wonderful opportunity. STAR-K runs a top notch, professional operation. Guided by the ish emes and ish halacha, HaRav Moshe Heinemann, shlit’a, the entire team lives and breathes kashrus, in an effort to provide the highest standard to the kosher consumer.”

Rabbi Mordechai Zvi Rotstein attended the Food Service Kashrus Training Seminar from Indianapolis, Indiana, where he is a kashrus administrator for the Indianapolis Orthodox Board of Kashrus (IOBK). “I gained chizuk in my work, as well as practical knowledge,” said Rabbi Rotstein. “My favorite part of the program was hearing Rabbi Kurcfeld, with his energy, experience and advice.”

Rabbi Sender Haber, the rabbi of the B’nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, Virginia, attended the Tenth Annual Kashrus Training Program. “Besides for a desire to acquire information, I have recently become the rabbinic advisor to the local Vaad and felt that I should be properly certified (in addition to Semicha). It is my hope that I will apply what I learned in answering shailos and providing oversight to the local Vaad and the Eruv [an optional Eruv tour was included]. The program met and exceeded my expectations. It was a real treat to hear four days’ worth of consecutive back-to-back sessions from true experts in their fields.”

Rabbi Nesanel Berkowitz, of Los Angeles, a Food Service Kashrus Training Seminar attendee, said, “I wanted to enhance my awareness of kashrus and restaurants, in particular. Seeing things, hands-on, in stores, restaurants, and bakeries is helpful because you see the knowledge applied. The stories we heard are both scary and inspiring. They taught me that you really need trained and accountable people out there, who are committed to kashrus and Torah and mitzvos. You can’t just take any guy off the street. They have to be able to report back and have open communication with the agency they work for.”

Rabbi Pinchas Shedrowitzky, a senior STAR-K mashgiach who certifies industrial products throughout California, also traveled from Los Angeles. This is an excerpt of a letter of thanks that he sent to STAR-K:

“I’m writing from the airplane to express my feelings of hakaras hatov of the last three days I spent with you at the STAR-K Training Course…. Many kashrus organization and Vaadim world over benefited from the training I received from the STAR-K going back 8 years ago. Here once again, your staff came through and gave over so much knowledge and shared their experiences and expertise in such a professional way. You have a way to make the participants feel so connected to the material, since it is given over so well, with dedication and professionalism that they mamash live. You encourage and assist others to get involved even to the extent of them starting their own local Vaadim. Your office and Rabbanim are regularly available to answer shailos they receive from mashgichim of Vaadim and the public. You are truly mizakeh es harabim. You have great zechusim for what you do for kashrus and for Klal Yisrael.”

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Yarmush of Lakewood, New Jersey, in his note of thanks to STAR-K, about the annual Kashrus Training Seminar he attended, wrote: “I learnt a lot throughout the week. It was also very nice to meet all the STAR-K staff personally. I was also extremely impressed– a whole week of speeches and no mocking or Loshen Horah of any other Kashrus agencies.”

Rabbi Dovid Yachnes serves as the Rav of the Orlando Torah Center. He attended the Kashrus Training Program in order to be able to further educate and increase the awareness of Kashrus in his Orlando, Florida, community. The letter of appreciation that STAR-K received from Rabbi Yachnes, perhaps, best sums up what STAR-K is all about:

Dear STAR-K,

Please allow me to share my experience over these last number of days at the STAR-K Kashrus Training Program 2013…two things in particular stood out for me. I observed the Achdus and respect displayed amongst the staff of STAR-K. You could feel the oneness and unity of the organization. From the secretaries to the Rabbanim to the lay staff, it was unbelievable and a real Kiddush Hashem for me to witness. And then there was the complete Hachna’a and reverence that the STAR-K staff has for HaRav Heinemann, shlit’a. Your admiration and respect for his daas Torah was palpable. To witness this was truly inspiring. May Hashem continue showering tremendous Hatzlacha to your organization and may you continue being Mezacke the Rabbim.

“As much as the participants enjoyed, the presenters truly enjoyed it more,” concluded Rabbi Zvi Goldberg, STAR-K Kashrus Administrator and coordinator of The Kashrus Training Seminar. “They have so much knowledge to give over and are strengthened by the week to continue their avodas hakodesh.”

(Margie Pensak – YWN)