When Rabbi Chaim Glazer, an 11th grade rebbi at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in North Miami Beach, Florida, was teaching his class about Kil’ei Ilanos (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 bachurim learn about the halachic implications of hydroponics face-to-face-despite the fact that they were about 950 miles apart – using a webcam through Skype.
Through this videoconference, Rabbi Glazer’s talmidim were able to watch Rabbi Goldberg speak about the ramifications that hydroponics has on the brachah rishonah of fruits and vegetables; the prohibitions regarding harvesting them on Shabbos and Yom Tov; the implications hydroponics has for Terumos, Ma’asros and Shemittah; and the use of hydroponic romaine lettuce as marror at the Pesach Seder.
Rabbi Glazer used Rabbi Goldberg’s shiur, in conjunction with a high-tech hydroponic greenhouse tour, to reinforce his teaching lesson. “Today’s bachurim 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 Skype technology is nothing new. STAR-K expert kashrus administrators have been using it, on STAR-K’s Virtual Online University, to teach kashrus basics to kosher novices around the world, at their own pace, in the comfort of their own homes.
In addition, local va’adim, rabbis and mashgichim the world over, all benefit from Skype technology when taking advantage of STAR-K’s inter-agency TeleKosher Conference series. These programs enable them to speak directly to kashrus experts from various agencies in a non-political forum, and ask questions distinctive to their communities.
Students living closer to STAR-K’s Baltimore offices have the opportunity to learn about kashrus, in person, without Skype. STAR-K kashrus administrator, Rabbi Dovid Heber, recently spoke to a group of Lakewood seminary students about the various production methods of breakfast cereals and their impact on Hilchos Berachos. Similarly, 10th graders from Reenas Bais Yaakov in Highland Park, N.J., benefited from a recent shiur that 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.
STAR-K’s educational efforts also include the hosting of an intensive weeklong 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 will be taking a mini-version of its kashrus training seminar on the road to the yungerleit of Rabbi Avrohom Lefkowitz’s Kollel Bnei Torah, in Lakewood, N.J. on Wednesday, December 31.
HaRav Moshe Heinemann and STAR-K administrators will address various topics, including: Kashering – Restaurants/Caterers/Factories, Guide to Hashgachah of Restaurants and Caterers (includes checking for tola’im), Chalav Yisrael, and The Kashrus of Bakeries.
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.