“Kashrus is all about the halacha and its interaction with the metzius, practicality, of food production,” summed up Rabbi Zvi Goldberg, STAR-K kashrus administrator and coordinator of the seminar.
What do Plano, Texas, Thornhill, Ontario, and Olney, Md. have in common? They are just some of the hometowns of STAR-K’s fifth annual Kashrus Training Seminar participants.
Held in STAR-K’s corporate office in Baltimore, July 28-31, participants included: rabbonim, kollel fellows and others serving in klei kodesh, who have studied Yorah Deah.
In the case of Rabbi Chanoch Oppenheim, the seminar served to further prepare him for the kashrus challenges he will no doubt face as the new rav of the Charlotte Torah Center, in North Carolina.
Also in attendance were Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld, rav of Ahavas Yisroel in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and a rabbinic administrator of Cleveland Kosher. “The program was excellent,” said Rabbi Hirschfeld. “It is quite clear that the entire staff is under the stewardship of Rabbi Heinemann. They are eminent rabbis in their own right and show tremendous respect for each other.”
Rabbi Hershel Becker, rav of Young Israel of Kendall, and a rabbinical board member of Kosher Miami (The Vaad Hakashrus of Miami-Dade), also attended the seminar, and found the experience invaluable.
“To see the extensive, vital operation, and how STAR-K is set up and compartmentalized, and the interaction among the staff, was so worthwhile. I personally gained a lot in halacha and in practical applications from the superb presentations. I appreciated being among so many people I never met and was able to make contacts from all over. By coming to the STAR-K, and being joined together, we feel connected working together in kashrus for klal Yisroel.”
Although Rabbi Becker had previously been to a shecht (slaughter) house when learning for semichah, he noted the experience this time around was on another level. “Being out in the field of rabbanus for many years,” says Rabbi Becker, “you see things differently, and there is more of an awareness to all the detail. With all the questions and communal matters that come up, you incorporate the halacha in daily life in a more global way.”
“We were beneficiaries of Rav Heinemann’s wellspring of knowledge,” Rabbi Becker continued. “It struck me that not only did the rav want to ensure that the shecht house experience was significant and educational, but when he hosed off the blood from all of our boots – something which I didn’t expect the rav to do – I understood that the rav’s commitment to Torah and halacha comes with devotion to the klal. And, when Dr. Pollak had mentioned that when setting up the organization it was designed with one rav to set the policies, I understood its significance. The rav’s devotion is certainly reflected in the entire STAR-K organization.”
The intensive seminar featured lectures by STAR-K’s rabbinic staff members, including its rabbinic administrator, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita, and its president, Dr. Avrom Pollak.
Rabbi Heinemann spoke about the biur of fruits and shmitas kesafim in his shiur entitled, “Shmitta 5768 and Beyond.” Dr. Pollak discussed practical guidelines for setting up a local vaad hakashrus and gave advice for decisions one faces in doing so, in his lecture, “A Certifying Agency’s Administrative Issues.”
In addition to explaining the various segments of the kashrus industry, sessions covered everything from local foodservice challenges to supervising plants overseas.
In addition, HaRav Mordechai Frankel, director of STAR-K’s recently launched Institute of Halacha, discussed the shaila, “If a Consumer Eats Non-Kosher Bearing a Hechsher Does He have to do Teshuva?”
STAR-K produced audio-visual presentations related to chicken shechita and insect recognition, a hands-on practicum for vegetable checking, field trips to a slaughterhouse, confectionery, restaurant, bakery, and the kosher kitchen of the Hyatt Regency, as well as an optional eruv tour, rounded out the seminar experience.