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!
Veteran mashgicha Alizah Hochstead travelled the farthest to attend the STAR-K program–all the way from Efrat, Israel. “For forty years, I have been active in various aspects of kashrus, as a secretary, teacher, and mashgicha, both in Eretz Yisroel and in the States,” says Mrs. Hochstead. “The learning opportunities for women to keep up with the changes and advances in the kashrus industry are limited. Lists that kashrus organizations put out are wonderful, but a mashgicha needs more training than that … The interaction with the rabbeim, in a course such as this, where you go into the details and discuss the changes in food science and in the industry, is very important. Kashrus is not what it was in the past.”
Other STAR-K Mashgicha Kashrus Enrichment Program participants hailed from Baltimore and beyond ; California, Washington, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Rabbi Meyer Kurcfeld, with his nearly thirty years of experience in kashrus, delivered the majority of the lectures and led a tour of Star-K’s kosher kitchen at the Hyatt Regency hotel, in addition to a meat and dairy restaurant. The women also benefitted from the hands-on opportunity to check fruits and vegetables, viewing STAR-K’s Chicken Kashrus Video Tutorial, and learning about STAR-K certified Sabbath Mode appliances from administrative assistant, Mrs. Rivka Leah Goldman.
As noted by Rabbi Zvi Goldberg, director of the Mashgicha Enrichment Program, “We were impressed with the caliber of the women who came. They were extremely motivated to learn more about kashrus. We stressed to them that based on Rav Moshe’s teshuva (Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:44), they are permitted to be mashgichos since they are working under the authority of a Rav Hamachshir. They are the most important link between their Rav Hamachshir and what is happening in their facility.”
“It was absolutely worth the trip,”says Rebbetzin Doris Fine of Scranton, Pennsylvania. “I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on a practical and general level. The presentations were extremely organized and pleasant. It was inspiring to see other ladies who are taking their responsibility so seriously and with such integrity. These experienced women have the common goal of doing their jobs better. The STAR-K office and its warm, inviting manner is a true Kiddush Hashem.”