Tag Archives: Kashrus Kurrents

Wanting the Best for Our Children: Meeting Kashrus Challenges in Yeshiva, Camp, and Day School Kitchens

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2023

Kashrus has come a long way over the
past fifty years. Agencies ensure the highest standards of kashrus in factories
and food establishments worldwide, with experts in halacha, food technology, equipment,
and ingredients. Consumers have been trained to know which products are acceptable
and how to maintain a kosher kitchen l’mehadrin.

However, one area of kashrus that
has received far less attention – even throughout the past several decades of unprecedented
kashrus growth – is kashrus in our schools. This is due to several inaccurate reasons,
including the following:

Myth #1: “Religious teachers are in
the building all day and they oversee kashrus and everyone is careful.”
Realistically, this is not the case.
Unless a teacher is told to “be on top” of the situation, only minimal oversight
will typically occur. Unfortunately, not everyone is familiar with the intricacies
of kashrus, and without guidelines a lot can go wrong.

Myth #2: “Unlike a for-profit eating
establishment, which obviously needs oversight […]

Rice: Nature’s Answer To Hashem’s Blessings

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2023

It has been touted as nature’s most versatile food. There is no single
grain that feeds more people around the globe and, because it is free of gluten
and allergens, can be tolerated by most everyone. It is the most widely
consumed staple for over half of the world’s human population.[1]

When the Gemara in Brachos discusses the brachos that
are made before and after eating this versatile grain, the mnemonic used to
remember the poskim’s conclusion is אמן: Orez, Mezonos, Nefashos. The grain we are discussing is
Oryza sativa, which the Gemara refers to as orez.[2] We
know it, simply, as rice.

There are over 7,000 varieties of rice grown worldwide. Rice is mostly consumed in the Asian regions from Japan in the east
to Pakistan in the west and, after sugarcane and maize, is the third most
produced agricultural crop in the world.[3] China
and India account for more than half […]

Everything You Need to Know About Storing and Checking Brown Rice

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2023

Brown rice is a whole natural grain that goes through minimal
processing. It is therefore more susceptible to infestation concerns than
grains that are more processed.

Whole unprocessed grains can have microscopic eggs attached to
them. If left in improper conditions, like warm or humid environments, they can
hatch and may pose a seemingly ‘sudden’ infestation, even in well-sealed
containers. Insects like beetles and weevils found in packages of brown rice
are known as ‘pantry pests’ and are the result of improper storage. This can
happen at any point in the supply chain, from the initial processing or packing
plant to the kitchen pantry.

To minimize the risk of infestation, STAR-K recommends brown
rice be checked prior to use using the method outlined below. Anyone who wishes
to stock up on large quantities of brown rice (or any grains) should first
check the rice, then store it for at least 96 hours at below freezing
temperatures. This will effectively […]

Charting the Course of Shemita

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2022

Eretz Yisroel is known worldwide for its high-quality produce.
During non-Shemita years, a wide selection of  Israeli produce items – among them: carrots, citrus fruits,
herbs, peppers, and radishes – are exported to North American markets. The
typical concern is to ensure that
proper terumos and maasros are taken. During Shemita, terumos
and maasros are not typically applicable[1],
but there is significant concern that the produce may be from Shemita.
If someone purchased Israeli produce from Shemita and paid cash (as
opposed to by check
or credit card), returning it to the store may also potentially violate the
prohibition of doing business with Shemita produce. If this happens by mistake, a rav
should be consulted.[2]

While it can be assumed that all vegetables currently on the
market are from the Shemita year,not all Israeli fruits yet on the market are from
the Shemita year. The Halacha is that the Shemita status of
fruits is determined by when they […]

A Consumer’s Guide to Shevi’is Produce

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2022

The
Torah commands us to refrain from working the land of Eretz Yisroel during Shemita.
The possuk states that a person may work the land of Eretz Yisroel for
six consecutive years but must allow it to lie fallow during the Shevi’is
(seventh) year.[1]
This seventh year is known as Shemita.[2] The mitzvah applies to both
men and women.[3]
Even though time-bound positive commandments generally do not apply to women,
this mitzvah is an
exception and is equally incumbent upon them.[4] 

The
Torah also commands us to sanctify every fiftieth year as Yovel.[5] However,
the Yovel year does not occur nowadays. This is due to the fact that Yovel
is sanctified only when the majority of Jews live in Eretz Yisroel.[6] By
the time of the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash, the majority of Jews
had been exiled from Eretz Yisroel and Yovel no longer occurred. Although
Jews returned to Eretz Yisroel at […]

A Profile of Courage and Inspiration: A Trip To a Yerushalmi Otzar Beis Din

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2022

Anyone
who has had the opportunity to visit Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh, as
I recently did, will tell you that a must-see experience is a trip to the Geula
neighborhood on Erev Shabbos.

Rechov
Malchai Yisroel could very well be dubbed the commercial heart of the Chareidi community.
The stores pulsate with energy and electricity, while the streets teem with
traffic tie-ups, both on and off the sidewalks. It could be termed a
businessman’s dream or nightmare, depending on one’s ability to handle the
sheer crush of consumers. The side streets, on the other hand, are a labyrinth
of quiet residential apartments. One such quiet street is Rechov Yonah.

For six
out of seven years, the Stern family’s mirpeset (balcony) on Rechov
Yonah looks like any other mirpeset, but this year is not like the
others. During this year, shnas haShemita, the Stern’s mirpeset undergoes
an amazing transformation. Welcome to the Otzar of Bnei Brak – Jerusalem
Branch!

In brief,
the Otzar […]

The Otzar Beis Din: Shemita’s Treasure Trove

Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff, Rav & Rosh Kollel in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem | Guest Contributor

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2022

An Otzar Beis Din is literally ‘a storehouse operated
by Beis Din.’ Why would Beis Din operate a warehouse? Before
explaining more fully the true purpose of an Otzar Beis Din, which is a halachically
approved method of distributing Shemita produce, we must first review
the halachos of Shemita. These rules fall under two general
categories:

(1) Laws of the Land

The Torah teaches that every seventh year is Shemita,
and we are prohibited from working the land of Eretz Yisroel. One may not plow,
plant, prune, or harvest one’s grapevines as an owner, or perform most other
agricultural work. Furthermore, one may not allow one’s land to be worked
during Shemita, even by an aino Yehudi.[1] One
may perform activities whose purpose is to prevent loss, such as watering
plants and trees so that they do not die.[2]

The landowner may not treat […]

Good to Go With Shabbatto!

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2022

People look forward to Shabbos as a day to daven in shul and enjoy
the company of other Shomer Shabbos members of the community. Unfortunately,
there are people with mobility issues who are housebound on Shabbos and, for
them, Shabbos is a lonely day. But thanks to newly developed technology by
Movinglife, an Israeli firm, the housebound now are afforded a new opportunity
to rejoin the tzibbur and to enhance their enjoyment of Shabbos. We are
very excited to announce STAR-K certification of the Shabbatto folding scooter,
a new personal mobility device with a Shabbat Mode option.

The road to certification began with Movinglife contacting STAR-K
to discuss their project. After approaching STAR-K to seek certification, the
Movinglife management team met with Rav Moshe Heinemann shlit”a, STAR-K’s
posek and Rabbinic Administrator, at his home. This initial meeting
lasted a good few hours, during which Rav Heinemann explained in detail what he
would permit and what he would forbid for […]

Machine Matzos: Timing is Everything!

Reviewed February 2023


Meticulous, scrupulous and passionate are terms that describe the fervor, zeal and seriousness displayed by the kosher consumer regarding Pesach kashrus in general, and Pesach matzohs in particular.  The kosher consumer has become more sophisticated and savvy with each passing year.  Kosher consumers are willing to pay top dollar for a quality kosher product.   Pesach matzohs are no exception.  Machine matzohs with fine mehadrin hechsherim are readily available on the supermarket shelf.  Are all machine matzohs created equal?

Regarding matzoh baking and the time parameters for chimutz, leavening, the Shulchan Aruch1states, “One should not leave the dough dormant, not for a moment.”  If the dough is constantly being worked the chimutz process is impeded.  However, the Shulchan Aruch continues, “If the dough is left dormant for a ‘mil’, the dough will rise and will […]

The Traveler’s Halachic Guide to Hotels – Including Guidelines for Pesach and Shabbos

Reviewed January 2023

Yosef chose the hotel he was staying in for its many amenities, not the least of which was the free Continental Breakfast it offered its guests. Surely, when kosher symbols on products are becoming more and more prevalent, he wouldn’t starve! The breakfast menu included cereals, pancakes, waffles, muffins, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, hardboiled eggs, as well as hot coffee and juices. Can Yosef eat anything offered on the Continental Breakfast menu, or should he prepare his own breakfast using the microwave and coffeemaker in his hotel room?

Chana’s brother’s bar mitzvah, held in a hotel during Shabbos, turned out to be a real nightmare! The closet light went on automatically when she opened the closet door; the housekeeper had turned off the light in her room, preventing her from reviewing her Parsha notes; she drank a bottle of water from her room’s ‘refreshment bar’ which unbeknown to her […]

Getting Into Hot Water: Urns & Pump Pots in Halacha – Shabbos & Yom Tov

Spring 2020

Electric urns greatly enhance our oneg Shabbos and Yom Tov by allowing us to effortlessly enjoy hot drinks. However, the technological advances that permit us to use urns on demand come along with a host of halachic considerations that must be carefully reviewed.1

A summary of the various halachic considerations in the usage of electric urns, pump pots and commercial urns are addressed in this article. An urn is a heater that lets the water out through gravity using a lever at the bottom of the urn. A pump pot uses a pump at the top to force the water out. In this article, the term urn is used generically to refer to a pump pot, as well (except as noted in the section about the water level tube).

Keep in mind that there are many different types of devices, and not every situation is applicable to all of them.

Heating, Adding […]

Undercover: The Halachos of Schach

Fall 2009

When our Torah speaks about the Festival of Sukkos it states, “Chag HaSukkos Taaseh Lecha B’Aspecha Migornecha U’Miyikvecha.”1  “The Sukkos holiday should be observed at the time that you harvest your grain and your wine,” during the fall.  Our Chachamim, sages, have taught us that this pasuk has another esoteric meaning.  The sukkah, in which we dwell during this chag, should be made from the unused parts of the harvesting grain and wine, namely the stalks of grain and twigs of the vine.  These are the items that should be used for the schach, the covering, which is placed on top of the sukkah instead of a permanent roof.

When You Can Drink and Drive: The Halachic Implications of Drinking Coffee on the Road

Spring 2019

Happy Fact: Unflavored roasted coffee beans, whole and ground, are considered kosher without a hechsher (kosher certification). Bearing this in mind, buying a cup of unflavored regular, decaf, or High-Octane coffee (my usual choice) should not present any kashrus issues, right?

Not so fast fellow caffeine heads; life is never so simple.

The Problem: Some coffee vendors sell kosher and treif (non-kosher) items, like the Bacon & Gouda Breakfast Sandwich and the Pepperoni & Tomato Savory Foldover.1 The keilim (utensils) used for coffee and treif can at times be washed together, causing blios, absorbed tastes, from the treif kli to enter the coffee equipment. In Starbucks, for example, it’s been established that the brew basket that holds the coffee grounds while the coffee is being made is sometimes washed with keilim that may have come into contact with treif. If we have a “perfect storm” situation in which the wash water […]

GramaChip Technologies

There are cholim (ailing or frail individuals) who would greatly benefit from being able to use electric devices on Shabbos. GramaChip Technologies is a company that provides halachically compliant solutions for these cholim; its products are STAR-K certified.

As its name suggests, the products rely on the halachic principle of grama. The Mishna discusses grama in the context of putting out a fire on Shabbos. One is permitted to arrange a ring of water around a fire, even though the fire will certainly be extinguished when it reaches the water.1 This is halachically allowed due to the time delay between the action of arranging the water and the subsequent melacha of extinguishing the fire on Shabbos. Similarly, any activity that includes a time delay between a person’s action and the ensuing melacha would be categorized as a grama.2 Grama of a melacha de’oraissa is permitted only in situations of financial loss.3 However, […]

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

August 2004

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 […]

HE-BREWS: A Micro View into A Microbrew

Spring 2017

Introduction
If there is a word that can be used to describe the unprecedented growth of microbreweries it is explosive’. There are more microbreweries than ever in the U.S., accounting for $22.3 billion of revenue and 21% of market share. In 2015, the brewery count stood at 4,269 breweries: 2,397 microbreweries; 1,650 brew pubs; and 178 craft breweries. In essence, this dynamic growth has in essence reshaped the playing field, both in quality and new offerings. Of course, the success of the microbrewery is changing the face of the beer industry from traditional to innovative, which obviously impacts the typical kashrus perception of a microbrewery.
It was previously assumed that microbreweries were more purist than their ‘big brother’ counterparts. This means that they would not deviate from the strict rules of the reinheitsgebot-German Beer Purity laws. Is this still true today? And if not, what is the kosher status of a […]

Getting Into Hot Water-Urns and Pump Pots in Halacha: Part One, Tevila and Workplace

Spring 2014

Remember when making coffee meant putting a kettle on the stovetop and waiting until it whistles?  Today, electric heating has taken over the market in order to fill the need of having hot water on-demand.

Two of the popular types of electric hot water heaters on the U.S. market are the common aluminum urn with a plastic spout, and the relatively newer ‘pump pot’, which requires that you push down on the top plunger to pump out the water.

I. TEVILA

The Torah requires that utensils used for a meal be immersed in a mikvah if they were in possession of an aino Yehudi at any time.  The Talmud1 states that mechamei chamin, hot water kettles, also require tevila. Rav Moshe Feinstein2 explains that there is a novelty in this ruling.  One can argue that a kettle requires no tevila at all. The kettle doesn’t perform any meal preparation function since heated water has not really changed; it is just water that is hot. The Talmud is teaching that […]

Laws of Biur Ma’aser

Published Spring 2015 | Updated Spring 2022

The Land of Israel follows a unique seven-year cycle. For the first six years, fruits and vegetables grown there are tithed.1 The seventh year is Shemita, the sabbatical year, which has its own set of special laws. These laws mainly affect those living in Israel, but also those living in the Diaspora if they are in possession of Israeli-grown produce.2

For the tithing of the first six years, the  Torah 3 sets an end date for the process called Biur Ma’aser. Biur Ma’aser  includes a number of components, which are still applicable today:

Biur Ma’aser

Any untithed produce (tevel)  in one’s possession must be tithed by  Erev  Pesach 4  of the fourth and seventh years of the  Shemita  cycle.5

Ma’aser Sheini  is the second tithe separated on produce harvested in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th […]

Pas Habah B’Kisnin: Pas or Pas Nisht

Spring 2005 | Updated August 2013

…Sora spent the whole morning shopping and was ready to stop for lunch. She was in luck. The kosher pizza shop was down the block from the mall. Since she was watching her weight she did not want to indulge, so she ordered one slice, salad and a diet soda. As she carried her order to her seat, she was faced with a dilemma: which brocha (blessing) should she make – mezonos or hamotzi?

…It was a beautiful wedding with a magnificent stand up smorgasbord. Naturally, the guests lined the carving tables to indulge in delicious corned beef. The glatt[...] Read More

Kashrus in High Spirits

Winter 2005

Jewish life-cycle events, be it a bris, a bar mitzvah, or a wedding, are special occasions that we anticipate eagerly and celebrate with joy. At any simcha, we fill our cups with wine, raise our glasses of schnapps, and with great fervor pronounce a resounding “L’chaim!” in honor of the blessed event. This custom of melding alcohol with simcha has been a Jewish practice from time immemorial. The cup that is raised today, however, bears very little resemblance to that of yesteryear.

Getting a Handle On Your Faucet

Winter 2012

Torah-observant Jews know that turning on the hot water faucet during Shabbos causes cold water to be heated, which transgresses the melacha of Bishul, cooking.  What many don’t know is that even turning on what you think is cold water can also be a problem – if it’s a one-handled faucet.

Brachos for Breakfast

For the most updated Cereal List click here.

Published Winter 2012
Updated Winter 2019

STAR-K has researched breakfast cereals for the past 30 years and has published Brachos lists and halachic guidelines for these products based on the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita, STAR-K Rabbinic Administrator. It is with great pride that STAR-K has begun certification of the following three cereals distributed by Nestle in Israel: Cheerios, Fitness, and Crunch Cereals. The hashgacha is coordinated by our newly expanded Israel office. The products bear a STAR-K symbol and are pareve, bishul Yisroel, and yoshon. The brocha rishona on all three cereals is mezonos and the brocha achrona is al hamichya.

Looking Through the Liquor Glass

Fall 2012

GO TO LIQUOR LIST

Unquestionably, the latest operative terms in the burgeoning liquor industry are ‘transparency’ and ‘innovation’. Never before has there been more consumer enlightenment, courtesy of the information highway known as the Internet.  Moreover, new venues have been introduced to tweak standard products or present new ones, so that distilleries can gain a greater share of the market.  What previously was assumed to be a glatt kosher choice in the liquor cabinet has now become not so glatt.

All About Sabbath Mode and Sabbath Compliant Appliances

Updated January 2023

Appliance manufacturers, with the aid of modern technology, have designed kitchen appliances to be safer and more efficient while incorporating various features to enhance operation. However, the integration of this technology may pose a challenge to their proper use on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

THE INTRODUCTION OF SABBATH MODE

In 1997, a historic technological project was launched between a major appliance manufacturer and a kosher certification agency. Whirlpool Corporation (manufacturer of KitchenAid) approached STAR-K to help modify their ovens for use on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Prior to that time, many of their appliances did not conform to halachic guidelines.

Following some adjustments, a successful mode was developed. Whirlpool called this “Sabbath Mode” and was awarded a patent in 1998 for this concept.

STAR-K kosher certification on appliances falls into one of two categories:

1. Sabbath Mode Appliances – these are models that have unique software/hardware specifically engineered to address the […]