A 25 Year Retrospective on Kashrus Kurrents

Approximately twenty-five years ago shortly before “Pesach” 5738 Mr. A. J. Levin, a vice president of the Orthodox Jewish Council, began publishing Kashrus Kurrents. In that first issue, printed on the familiar yellow paper with the blue Kashrus Kurrents logo, it was deemed necessary to advise the Baltimore community that they cannot rely on labels or advertisements that merely states ‘Kosher for Passover’. From that same issue we learned that the fledgling Star-K organization had just inaugurated its kosher hot-line whereby one could get accurate kashrus information Monday through Thursday between the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

A most welcome and popular feature was a list of items that did not require special Passover certification. Included were specific brands of sugar and cocoa as well as a number of commonly used over the counter medications. Compiling the list required substantial research by volunteers […]

Star-K Requirements For Vegetable Checking

Common Leafy Vegetables that Require Inspection

Bibb Lettuce
Bok Choy
Boston Lettuce
Cabbage
Collards
Endive
Escarole
Iceberg Lettuce
Kale
Mustard Leaves
Red Leaf Lettuce
Romaine Lettuce
Spinach Greens
One of two methods may be used:A. Leaf by Leaf Inspection:
1. Separate leaves.
2. Soak in water.
3. Make a complete, leaf by leaf inspection.
4. Wash off any insects prior to using.

B. Chazaka Check for Large Volumes of Leafy Vegetables:
1. Throw out outer leaves.
2. Separate leaves of three heads of the vegetable.
3. Do NOT wash leaves.
4. Check the three heads leaf by leaf.
5. If one bug is found in the test heads, all the produce in the consignment must be checked leaf by leaf.
6. If no bugs are found, the rest of the shipment does not require checking and may be used after […]

Hot Off the Hotline

(All answers are based on the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita, Star-K Rabbinic Administrator.)

Q: What type of aged cheese requires one to wait six hours before eating meat?

A: Generally speaking, aging of cheese is an ongoing process, which occurs when the bacteria found in cheese breaks down the lactose (the milk sugar), creating lactic acid, thereby changing the physical property of the cheese, giving it a sharper flavor.

A good example of this aging process would be if someone were to leave a wedge of Muenster cheese in a nice warm environment until the cheese becomes “tangy.” The housewife would call it spoiled; a cheese maven would call it flavorful. Historically, flavorful cheese took about six months to age. The longer the cheese aged the harder it became. In Italy today, one can find some […]

Hot Off the Hotline

In the last issue of Kashrus Kurrents the following appeared in “Hot Off the Hotline:”

Q: On Shabbos does an observant Jew have to close a website that is selling products online?

A: Yes. As in the case of a regular business transaction, no electronic business transactions may be made on Shabbos or Yom Tov on a website belonging to a shomer Shabbos businessman. The web site may remain open for informational purposes, if the shopping cart on the website is shut down. The time Shabbos or Yom Tov begins is determined by the entrepreneur’s geographic location.

[...] Read More

Hot Off the Hotline: Commerce on the Web Revisited

This article is a further clarification to the Hot off the Hotline question…

Q: On Shabbos does an observant Jew have to close a website that is selling products online?

Based on information that the Star-K received from two credit card companies, Rav Heinemann had answered that since purchases are accomplished by entering a credit card number, whereby the bank immediately transfers funds from the purchaser’s account to that of the vendor, web commerce would be prohibited on Shabbos.

However, many of our Kashrus Kurrents readers informed us that this information is erroneous regarding weekend transactions. After much research to further clarify this issue, Hot off the Hotline is presenting the corrected version of how credit card business is transacted generally, and specifically how it is […]

Hot Off the Hotline

Amongst the number of recent eye opening events that have impacted the Jewish community, a discovery was made last May regarding the halachic status of New York tap water. The New York kosher consumer was shaken by the fact that New York tap water, which had the reputation of being one of the most pure, clean, and natural water available, contains unwelcome visitors called copepods that are visible to the human eye. In spite of that fact that this was a New York discovery, the Star-K hotline in Baltimore was abuzz with inquiries of “Can we drink the water?!” This is the Star-K response regarding copepods in drinking water based on discussions with Rav Moshe Heinemann Shlit”a, Star-K Rabbinical Administrator.

Q: What are copepods?

A: Copepods, also known as “insects of the sea,” are crustaceans that are found wherever water is found. […]

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 […]

Kashrus Konnections For the Kashrus Professional

Periodically, Star-K distributes “Kashrus Konnections”, a compilation of policies meant for the kashrus professional. Some items may be of interest to consumers as well. Below are some of the topics addressed in past issues. To sign up to receive the publication via e-mail, send a blank e-mail to konnections-subscribe@star-k.org.

I am going to a Star-K restaurant over Chol Hamoed Sukkos. Will I have to take the food out or will there be a sukkah on the premises?

Star-K policy is that eateries must have a sukkah available for customers on Sukkos. (It is important to note that due to the kedusha of a sukkah, a garbage can may not be put inside.)


If an electric coil on a range-top does not get red-hot, may it still be kashered?

Yes, it may be kashered as long as it gets to libun kal (550°F). Any residue […]

Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal: Making Your Simcha a Star Performance

The joy, the planning, the anticipation, the expense — there is a lot that goes into a Yiddishe simcha. Be it a chasuna, Bar Mitzvah, or bris – every significant life cycle event is extra special, and the baalei simcha want to ensure that their guests have a good time.  Central to that goal is a delicious seudas mitzvah.  Endless hours of planning are spent making sure everything is perfect, from the decor to the menu. Is the same effort expended regarding the kashrus level of the event? If the simcha is being catered, does the caterer have reliable kosher certification?  As catering costs have risen, consumers have opted to cater their own simchas.  This article will attempt to address some key issues that one should consider when self- catering an event.

The Kiddush

Pre-planning your Kiddush is the best strategy to guarantee that the simcha will encounter a minimum amount of […]

Kosher Wine Comes of Age

Throughout the ages, alcohol has always played a vital role in historical and religious observance. Dovid Hamelech’s declaration ויין ישמח לבב אנוש,1 “Wine will gladden the hearts of humanity,” certainly has borne itself out in modern history. Wine accompanies happy occasions in almost every society known to man. Chazal declare אין שמחה אלא ביין.2
When I was growing up, there weren’t many choices when it came to kosher wine. When my parents bought our childhood home, my father was thrilled to find that it came with a wine cellar. He was then faced with the formidable challenge of finding kosher wine good enough to bother storing. I remember a time when there were only two wines from Eretz Yisroel available, both from Carmel Chateau Rishon: Vin Rouge and Vin Blanc; basically, the whole range was sweet red and white! Domestic wines were even more limited; while there were a few […]

A Halachic Guide to Sheva Brachos

Chazal tell us that Moshe Rabeinu established the “shivas y’mai hamishteh”, the seven days during which the choson and kallah rejoice together following their wedding.1 During this time, family and friends come together and prepare beautiful seudos, followed by the recitation of the “Sheva Brochos” at the conclusion of Birchas Hamazon. Such seudos are quite common, and it is important to review the various applicable halachos.2

What is Necessary For Sheva Brochos

If a choson and kallah are at a meal held in their honor during the first seven days of their marriage, and there is a minyan present, including a panim chadashos, Sheva Brochos are recited. The following is an explanation of what is required:

1. Minyan – At least seven adult males over the age of Bar Mitzvah eat enough bread that requires Birchas Hamazon,3 and at least three others eat enough food (e.g., cake, fruit, etc.) or drink a beverage […]

STAR-K Kashrus Training Program Celebrates 15 Years of Preparing Kashrus Professionals Worldwide

Since July 2004, STAR-K Kosher Certification has provided a premier training ground for Kashrus professionals, administrators, and field representatives, Rabbonim, Rebbeim, Kollel fellows, and others serving in klei kodesh, from around the world. The comprehensive analysis of pertinent Kashrus and halachic issues is presented by STAR-K’s Rabbinic staff members, including Rabbinic Administrator Rabbi Moshe Heinemann and President Dr. Avrom Pollak. The lectures are supplemented by a visit to a glatt kosher slaughter house, a hands-on vegetable checking practicum and behind-the-scenes tours of various STAR-K certified establishments and manufacturing plants.

From Australia to Zürich

Just some of the illustrious alumni of the Annual STAR-K Kashrus Training Program, over the past 15 years, include:

Rabbi Dovid Asher, Rav, Keneseth Beth Israel/Rabbinic Administrator, The Va’ad HaKashrut of Richmond, Richmond, VA; Rabbi Hershel Becker, Rav, Young Israel of Kendall, Miami, FL; Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel, Philadelphia Community Kollel; Rabbi Azriel Blumberg, Corporate Kosher Liaison, KVH Kosher, […]

STAR-K Kosher Certification Director of Supervision Rabbi Eliyahu Shuman Retires After 42 Years

With his inimitable sense of humor, STAR-K Director of Supervision Rabbi Eliyahu Shuman opened his speech joking that it was hashgacha that his seudas preida was being held on Parshas Beshalach. After the laughter diminished, he explained why the decision to retire was so difficult for him.

“For 42 years, I was zoche to work with Rav Heinemann, be in the daled amos of the Rav, and be able to be misabek b’afar raglov; that’s not something you want to retire from.” explained Rabbi Shuman. “It’s also hard because we’re not an organization—we’re family. In these 42 years, we’ve become a unit and we work so beautifully together. It is like a wheel with the Rav in the center, and all of us are the spokes trying to be mekayam the requirements and the divrei haRav. When you’re family, it’s hard to leave.”

In closing, Rabbi Shuman shared, “I want to devote […]

Insights from the Institute

Q: May one pet an animal on Shabbos?

A: Chazal enacted a takanah designating certain types of objects as muktzah, thereby limiting a person’s freedom to move those items on Shabbos. There are various categories of muktzah with differing degrees of limitation of movement. For example, a utensil which is generally used for an activity prohibited on Shabbos is muktzah. A naturally occurring object such a stone is also muktzah unless it has been designated before Shabbos for a specific purpose. Similarly, the Talmud states that an animal is muktzah.

In former times, it was common for children to play with young birds and listen to them sing. Tosefos suggests that a bird should not be considered to be muktzah as it can be used as a distraction for a crying child. However, Tosefos rejects this and concludes that birds are muktzah. Similarly, the Shulchan Aruch paskens that animals are muktzah and […]

Just a Spoonful of Glycerin Makes the Medicine Go Down

In the world of food ingredients, there is no ingredient as versatile as glycerin. In the world of kosher ingredient sensitivity, there is no kosher-sensitive ingredient that compares to glycerin. Glycerin’s ingredient versatility is not limited to food grade applications. Glycerin is used extensively as a major component in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, as well.

Glycerin is known as a humectant. That means that glycerin helps retain moisture. Therefore, glycerin is a perfect ingredient for the baking industry to keep bakery goods moist and give products a longer shelf-life. Glycerin is sweet and can be used as a substitute for liquid sugar. Glycerin is an excellent solvent and is used as a mainstay for food colors. These properties make glycerin an essential ingredient in a myriad of food applications.

Furthermore, glycerin’s natural properties make it an essential element in pharmaceutical products, as well as health and beauty aids. What is that […]

Fresh from the Field: Staying Up To Date On Insect Checking/Bedikas Tolayim Part 1

Halachic issues of infestation in many of the fruits and vegetables that we consume are well known. Much has been written and said about these issues, albeit to various degrees of halachic stringency. This article will focus on the methods used to monitor this evolving industry. Doing so requires both monitoring of the various produce items, as well as keeping track of their sources on an ongoing basis. This is easier said than done! We will explore the challenges inherent in accomplishing these objectives and discuss some of the more recent items that have surfaced on the infestation radar screens.

The world of entomology is ever evolving. Chaza”l1 stress the importance of knowing the facts in each locale, as the variables that affect insects and infestation change constantly. It used to be that due to their short shelf-life, produce was mainly sourced locally. Knowing the infestation issues inherent in each location […]

“Beer” Chometz – An overview of Beer Distribution in New York and Chometz She’avar Alav haPesach

UPDATED: As of May 10, 2018, all beer can be assumed from after Pesach.

Updated April 10, 2018 | 25 Nissan 5778

It has come to our attention that much of the beer sold in New York and surrounding counties is distributed by a Jewish owned company, creating a potential Chometz She’avar Alav haPesach issue for our communities. The following is a brief explanation of the issue.

Click here for a list of beers that are of concern.

Click here for a list of brands that may be purchased anywhere.

What exactly is Chometz?

The Torah[1] forbids eating any chometz – leavened grain products during Pesach. Simply defined, leavening is dough or batter that has increased in volume either through yeasts or chemical means. The process of how this happens is the following.

A chemical leaven such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) react with compounds naturally present in the dough to produce carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide (CO2) released […]

Pet Food List 2019

The following is a list of pet foods approved for Passover 2019 when produced in the U.S. Products with identical names from foreign countries may have different formulations, thus compromising their Passover status. Since formulas are subject to change, make sure to check all labels. There should be no chometz listed. A product listing both meat and dairy ingredients may not be used any time during the year. (See “Feeding Your Pet: Barking Up the Right Tree” for more information.)

 

Cats

Blue Wilderness Grain Free (dry): Adult (Duck, Indoor Chicken, Rabbit, Red Meat, Salmon, Trout, Weight Control), Kitten (Chicken)
Evanger’s: When bearing cRc Passover approval.
Friskies (canned): Paté Chicken and Tuna Dinner, Paté Classic Seafood Entrée, Paté Turkey and Giblets, Paté Country Style Dinner, Paté Mariners Catch, Paté Salmon Dinner
Kirkland (Costco) (dry): Healthy Weight Indoor Adult, Maintenance Chicken & Rice, Natures Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato
Merrick Grain Free Limited […]

Post Pesach Chometz Information 2019

chometz may be purchased at All Star-K and star-d Establishments immediately after pesach
chometz may be purchased immediately after pesach 2019 at the following storeslocated in the baltimore metropolitan area
when noted, chometz may be purchased only at the specified addresses.
Consumers in other communities should check with their local Vaad Hakashrus for regional store information.
Stores in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area

7-11 Fords Lane,
6401 Reisterstown Rd (at Fords Lane), 1801 Reisterstown Rd (at Hooks Lane),
1 Greenwood Pl (at Old Court Rd.), 620 Reisterstown Rd (near Slade/Milford Mill)

A-Z Savings 6307 Reisterstown Road

Aldi’s

BJ’s

Coffee Bean

Colonial Liquors

Costco

CVS

Dugan’s Liquor

*Dunkin Donuts 1508 Reisterstown Road (at Old Court Road), 7000 Reisterstown Road (near Fallstaff Road)

Food Lion

Market Maven

Petco

Petsmart

Rite-Aid

Royal Farms

Sam’s Club

Save-A-Lot

Savings Center 4003 Seven Mile Lane

Seven Mile Market

Shoppers Food Warehouse

Shoprite 37 Aylesbury Road, Timonium

Trader Joe’s

Walgreens

Walmart

Wegmans

Whole Foods

Wine Loft

For updated information, regarding stores where chometz may be purchased, please see www.star-k.org/passover.

* Only these two locations of Dunkin Donuts are under the certification of […]

Insights from the Institute

Q: Under which circumstances is a person obligated to erect a fence around the roof of his house?

A: The Torah in parshas Ki-Setze states, “When you build a new house make a railing for your roof, and you shall not bring blood on your house if someone falls from there”.1 The Torah requires one to build a maakeh – a fence – around a flat roof that people walk on, so as to protect them from falling. The mitzvah applies not only to someone who builds a house but also to someone who buys, inherits or is gifted a house.2 A person who rents a house is also required to build a maakeh if the owner has not already done so.3

A maakeh has to be strong enough that a person could lean against it without falling, and it has to be ten tefachim high.4 This measurement is 40 inches according […]

Sabbath Mode FAQs

KitchenAid 1996:
Dear Rabbi Rosen,
The STAR-K KitchenAid Sabbath Mode project had been evolving for 2 ½ years. This novel venture was initiated by KitchenAid to address the needs of the Sabbath observant Jewish community that would not be able to use the new age KitchenAid ranges and wall units due to the new electronic technology and advanced features.
Jewish Sabbbath observance does not permit the kindling or extinguishing of a fire or the cooking of food on Sabbath. Jewish Holiday observance does not permit the creation of a new flame, but cooking and adjusting fire as needed for cooking is permitted.
The issues that KitchenAid engineers had to address in order to create a user-friendly oven for the Sabbath observer were the following:
1. Could the 12-hour automatic shutoff be bypassed?
2. Could the oven be opened without lighting an icon on the control […]

Bal Tashchis: Waste Management in Everyday Life

Shockingly, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that about 40% of all food in the United States goes uneaten; it is either left to rot or tossed in the garbage. In fact, 7% of all food doesn’t even make it out of the farm, and a significant amount doesn’t even get picked because it doesn’t meet standards for color and shape! One industry estimate claims that an average of $2,300 of food products are discarded each day by individual grocery stores due to impending expiration dates. American families throw out between 14-25% of the food and the beverages that they purchase, and restaurant diners leave about 17% of their food uneaten.1

Of course, we know the Torah teaches us that we need to be careful and not wasteful. We also know that we are not just talking about wasting food. We are charged to appreciate every chair, book and bobby pin […]

Getting into the Fabric of Shatnez Checking with a Man of the Cloth

INTRODUCTION

The Torah forbids the wearing of a garment made from tzemer (wool) and pishtim (linen) together. There are two pesukim in the Torah that refer to Shatnez. It states,1 “Ubeged kilayim shatnez lo ya’aleh alecha,” a garment composed of a mixture which is Shatnez should not be draped upon oneself. We find a different expression of this same mitzvah, “Lo silbash shatnez tzemer uphishtim yachdav2 – Do not wear shatnez, wool and linen together.” Chazal tell us that these two pesukim complement one another. In Devarim, the Torah forbids actual wearing of Shatnez – levisha, whereas the Vayikra prohibition of Shatnez includes he’elah – draping Shatnez over one’s body. The Gemara3 explains that draping is prohibited only if it is done in a way which is similar to wearing, i.e., where some benefit is derived from the Shatnez such as being covered or warmed. It is clear that one must […]

STAR-K Kosher Certified Food Options Take Off at JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Airports

Catching a red-eye flight back to JFK after a business meeting in L.A.? Landing in Newark at 5:50 a.m., after a 12-1/2 hour flight from visiting the grandkids in Israel? Leaving for LaGuardia too early to eat breakfast before going on that long-awaited Saint Martin Island vacation? Have no fear, Fresko Green Label is here! Now the estimated 1.5 million kosher travelers who fly domestically and internationally from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports, annually, can avail themselves of a large variety of kosher prepared food options packaged under the Fresko and Yummy Sandwich labels, under STAR-K Kosher supervision.

No longer do you have to subsist on pretzels and candy that, thankfully, are marked with a reliable kosher symbol! The STAR-K certified Fresko/Yummy Sandwich menu selection varies, terminal to terminal, and includes a wide variety of wraps, sandwiches, and salads. All breads are Pas Yisroel; all dairy items are Cholov Yisroel. These […]

From Wheatfield to Pesach Table:  STAR-K Kosher Certification Takes You Behind the Scenes at Migrash Farm

The hefty $20-$50 price per pound of handmade shmura matzah may cause you to raise your eyebrows, especially when comparing it to the price of machine-made matzah, but if you only knew what goes into manufacturing the crisp, paper-thin, artisanal specialty item you would understand why it is so pricey.

To keep up with the increasing demand for handmade shmura matzah, matzah bakeries around the world start baking as early as October! But, actually, the labor-intensive process of producing STAR-K certified shmura flour began a few months before, in July. That is when HaRav Moshe Heinemann visited the 28-acre Migrash Farm—located inside the Chesapeake Watershed, just a stone’s throw from STAR-K’s Baltimore headquarters. The farmer, R’ Yosef Hertzmark, who doubles as a STAR-K menaker, accompanied the Rav as he walked the fields to supervise the shmura wheat harvest, deeming its extra level of scrutiny– “shmurah m’shaas ketzira” (guarded from the time […]

Insights from the Institute

Q: What are the halachos regarding eating or cooking meat and fish together?

A: Chazal tell us that it is unhealthy to eat meat and fish together, meat which was cooked with fish, or fish which was cooked with meat.1 The Magen Avrohom suggests the possibility that people are no longer sensitive to the combination of meat and fish, and that eating this is no longer unhealthy.2 However, common practice is to avoid eating meat and fish together and not rely on the Magen Avrohom.3 Regarding this halacha, chicken has the same status as meat.4
If a person ate fish and would like to eat meat, or if he ate meat and would like to eat fish, he is required to take certain actions. The Shulchan Aruch states that he must wash his hands, but according to the Rema it is not Ashkenzai practice to do so.5 He must cleanse his palate […]