web analytics
December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kashrut’

Israeli Chief Rabbinate Working to Lower Kashrut Costs

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is hoping to lower the cost of kashrut by approving more foreign kashrut certification organizations. The initiative comes in context of a general move by the Finance Ministry to lower the cost of living in the Jewish State.

In addition, it was announced Tuesday that the Chief Rabbinate will create a committee to explore new ways to supervise the kashrut and quality foreign dairies. The agency said itis hoping to use enhanced technology to reduce the price of dairy imports while improving competition in the field.

Data presented at a ministerial meeting on Tuesday indicated a wide disparity between the price of imported dairy products and those produced in Israel.

Chief Rabbinate Tests Female Kashrut Supervisors

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel today (Wednesday) administered the first official certification exam for women who wish to become kashrut supervisors (mashgichot).

The test, which took place at the International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’Uma) in Jerusalem, was administered only to those who had first passed a special course approved by the Chief Rabbinate.

In the Gush Etzion city of Efrat, located barely ten minutes away from Jerusalem, female kashrut supervisors have already been employed in some establishments for some time.

The women taking the test on Wednesday have studied materials and undergone a training program that was designed to meet the standards of supervision by the Chief Rabbinate.

Israel Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Landau said at the time the course was designed that he saw no reason why women could not serve as kashrut supervisors.

Those women who pass the test on Wednesday will be awarded a certificate enabling them to seek employment as kashrut supervisors.

The Rationale For The Dietary Laws

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The Torah in this week’s parshah mandates that for animals to be kosher they must possess two characteristics – they must have cloven hooves and chew the cud (Leviticus 11:3).

In contemporary times there is much ado about the impact of food on physical health. My doctors keep telling me, for example, to keep the fat and cholesterol down. Is it possible that food could similarly impact on one’s spiritual well being? This in fact is the position of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in his explanation of kashrut.

The characteristics of kosher animals point to their being more passive in nature. In Hirsch’s words: “If we look at the signs for clean animals they appear plant-like. As they chew the cud, the food consumed passes through two stomachs, is driven up the gullet again and chewed for the second time. Thus, these animals spend a great deal of time in the absorption of food. The cloven hooves of the permitted animals also seem to have been created more for the mere purpose of standing than for being used as weapons or tools.”

The same is true concerning fish. To be kosher, fish must have fins and scales (Leviticus 11:9). Not coincidentally, fish that have these characteristics are by and large more peaceful in nature. The more aggressive fish fall into the category of the prohibited. Moreover, birds of prey are by and large enjoined. The rule holds fast. The more aggressive animals and fowl are prohibited. The more passive are permitted.

Of course, not everyone who consumes kosher food leads a life of inner peace. There are troubled people who eat kosher, just as there are fine people who do not eat kosher. Nonetheless, the ritual of kashrut may help us become more conscious of our responsibilities to live ethical lives.

The balance between outer action and inner feelings is especially discernible in the laws of forbidden and permitted animals. Note that chewing the cud is an internal characteristic as it deals with the inner digestive system. In contrast, cloven hooves are an external characteristic. One merely has to look at an animal’s foot to detect whether this criterion has been met. Perhaps this teaches that to be kosher, one’s behavior must not only be outwardly correct but inwardly pure.

Whether these rationales are satisfactory or not, the prohibited foods teach us discipline. They remind us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong. Notwithstanding, the kashrut laws carry powerful ethical lessons that can help ennoble and sanctify our lives.

Missionaries Try to Convert Jerusalem Kashrut Supervisor – Lose Certification

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Following an investigation by the anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim into ‘Cafe Porta’, located in the Clal building in Jerusalem, the organization reported to the Kashrut division of Jerusalem’s Religious Authority that the cafe appears to be a missionary center.

Missionary activity is frowned upon in Israel, and illegal in certain circumstances.

At first, the Kashrut division had no proof, nor any legal steps they could take against the cafe.

But when the Kashrut division sent its own inspectors to check on the report, they were taken by surprise when the owners gave missionary material, including a New Testament, to the Kashrut supervisor, apparently in an attempt to begin the proselytization process on the Rabbi.

Needless to say, the Kashrut certification for the cafe was immediately revoked.

My Mother and Her Judaism

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
Let’s start with the official obituary.
Spiegelman, Shirley
Shirley passed away at age 88 Saturday June 15, 2013, in Tempe, AZ. Born in Brooklyn in 1925, she moved from Great Neck, NY, to Arizona in 2010. Devoted to her family and community, Shirley had a lifelong passion for dance, theater and the arts, making the most of the cultural offerings in New York and wherever she traveled. She put her experienced eye and mind to work for many years as a docent at the Nassau County Museum of Art, on Long Island. She was pre-deceased by her parents and eight brothers and sisters.  She is survived by her adoring husband of 65 years, Sidney, her loving children, Vivian, Hal Thomas Spiegelman and Batya Medad, seven grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. All will treasure her spirited love, beauty, warmth, fairness and good cooking. A service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 18th, at Sinai Mortuary, 4538 North 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ. A graveside ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday June 19th at the New Montefiore Cemetery, 1180 Wellwood Avenue, West Babylon, NY.

It definitely mentions a host of hobbies, interests and activities, but it leaves out something that was very crucial to her life, Judaism.

Like many of her generation in the United States, my mother’s parents, who had emigrated from the Ukraine and White Russia to New York before World War One, were Torah observant, kept Shabbat, kashrut, the Jewish Holidays and more.  My grandfather had been a great lover of chazanut, the “artisitic,” operatic singing of Jewish Prayers and she would accompany him on Shabbat to the large synagogues to hear the great cantors of that generation, such as Koussevitzky.

As a teenager, she was friends with the kids in her high school who were in Hashomer Hadati, and renewed friendship with a couple whose elderly mother lived in our building in Bayit V’gan, Jerusalem.

My mother was the eighth out of nine children in a poverty-stricken “his, hers and theirs” family.  By the time she was in her teens, her elder siblings were adults and were no longer religious.  She once told me that it was expected that she would follow their lead and she did.

My father, although always a proud Jew, wasn’t from a strictly religious home and didn’t believe it was important to keep kashrut, Shabbat and Jewish Holidays.  But as a Jew, it was important to him to be a member of a synagogue.  They were founding members of the Oakland Jewish Center, Bayside, NY and then joined the Great Neck Synagogue when we moved.  My mother was always active in the synagogues’ Sisterhood and Hebrew School PTA’s.  In Great Neck, where they lived for decades, she took an extremely active role, being President of the Sisterhood for many years, helping to organize the “Kiddush,” provide food for mourners and ran the gift shop.

When I announced that I was Orthodox, she joined my father in trying to stop me, but later on, when I began college she agreed that I should have my own kosher dishes, so I could come home for visits and eat.  I remember going off with her to a local “five and dime” and buy a slew of pots, pans and dishes for my personal use.  A couple of years later, after I became engaged they got instructions on how to kasher the house.  That made it possible to socialize with the more religious members of the shul and have us over with the kids.

After my sister and I moved my parents to Arizona, they joined a Conservative shul they had liked to frequent during visits to my sister.   My sister has made an effort to take them there whenever possible.

In the New York neighborhoods of their childhood, Judaism was the dominant religion.  It was the culture and the food.

Chief Rabbi: Stop Ingesting Pesticides to Avoid Bugs

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Rav Shlomo Moshe Amar, is stepping up his campaign against ‘bug-free’ vegetables.

He previously called on the public, in an elaborated ruling, to use leafy vegetables that hadn’t been treated with pesticides and to thoroughly clean them at home “like in the good old days.” Now, the Rabbinate has made public its intention to make the criteria even tougher, and in extraordinary cases even to remove kashrut certification from stores marketing vegetables with high level of pesticides

A letter issued by the Kashrut department of the Chief Rabbinate, describes “serious incidences where some of the supervised, ‘bug-free,’ leafy vegetable growers are using higher levels of pesticides than allowed or alternatively using forms of pesticides that are forbidden by Health Ministry standards because they are harmful to human health.”

“The national Kashrut division has been asked to instruct officials providing kashrut certification to these producers to issue certificates only to companies supervised by the Israeli health ministry on a regular basis – either directly by health ministry laboratories or by laboratories approved by the ministry,” the Rabbinate’s letter continued.

The letter stated emphatically: “Let it be clear to all food services and producers whose kashrut is certified by the local rabbinate, not to purchase, under any circumstances, produce that is not supervised, since it is impossible to check it in the public sector. As of now, there is no change in the instructions that obligate you to use health ministry-supervised produce exclusively.”

A Chief Rabbinate spokesman said that “companies which will not comply with these standards will be disqualified by the issuers of Kashrut certificates, and we will even publicize it, so that it won’t be permissible to use their products in places that are supervised by the local rabbinate.”

In a long, detailed, halachic ruling issued last week, Rav Amar wrote that it is preferable to use vegetables that were not grown by the bug-free method (using the dangerous pesticides) and to clean them at home. According to Rav Amar, the processes used to prevent infestation cause many health risks.

Rav Amar is adamant on correcting the popular misconception among Orthodox Jews that it is impossible to clean vegetables from insects, and that they, therefore, must be purged using special ‘bug-free’ methods which actually cause a lot of health hazards.

Rav Amar further argues that it is inconceivable that the population that wants to be more cautious about kashrut issues should spend more money for produce that is hazardous to their health.

According to Rav Amar’s halachic ruling, “there is no justification that people who are careful regarding the prohibition of eating worms and insects pay good money for it, and that even poor people are driven to reduce their children’s food intake, thinking they are being spared from halachic prohibitions, only to be victims of bigger threats than those halachic prohibitions.”

Kashrut: Long-Term Gains In A World Of Compromises

Friday, September 14th, 2012

My grandmother is an amazing chef. She makes the best sponge cake, matzo ball soup and sticky buns. We always loved visiting her and noshing on her delicious treats, but when my family became Torah observant, we had a hard time giving up her delicacies. We were not the only ones who suffered; my grandmother was devastated. She was very frustrated that she could no longer cook treats for us or invite us over for dinner. Since my family started keeping kosher, we have had many tough situations because not only are my relatives not Orthodox, but my mother also frequently travels to Switzerland for business. This has been a challenge that has arisen multiple times and it is very hard to overcome, but listening to Hashem will always have its rewards in Olam Haba.

It has been a tradition in my family to go to my grandparents’ house every Pesach for the first Seder. We would go through the Haggadah in English using those big words that I, as a little boy, could not understand; it seemed that because of this more than four questions were asked at the table. What made our Seder special were my grandfather’s special pillows. When we reached Yachatz, my grandfather would break the middle matzo and put the Afikoman between the two pillows that were resting on the chair beside him. Throughout the Seder, all of the children would crawl under the table to sneak a piece of the Afikoman out of the pillows and then crawl quickly back to his or her seat without our grandpa noticing. (Occasionally my Aunt distracted my grandfather while I was under the table.) My grandfather knew when we would take the pieces, but always acted surprised when most of the Afikoman was gone. At the end of Shulchan Orech, we had some of my grandmother’s delectable sponge cake with strawberries and whipped cream. Our Seder finished with Echad Mi Yodeah, which we said in English. My family played a game where one person would say each verse in a single breath. It was always hard to do the last and longest verse. This was just a glimpse of our Pesach tradition. When we decided to become Torah observant, we could no longer participate. We had to have the Seder at our house. Finding the Afikoman became less fun and the sponge cake never came out as light and fluffy as before. It was deterring, but surprisingly comforting to know that we were following Halacha. It brought a smile to my lips that my cousins missed me so much. It gave me a sense of satisfaction that I was not only part of a family, but also a part of the Jewish people.

I recently went to my aunt’s house twice, once for Thanksgiving and again for the Super Bowl. On Thanksgiving, my mother brought our own turkey and side dishes, and we ate our meal while they ate theirs. We ate on paper plates and they ate on dishes. We brought the pie, but my mother’s pumpkin pie was not as good because she made it parve in order to be able to eat it. We also brought whipped cream, but that was not for us, since we had just had a fleishig meal. Afterward, we played games with the whole family and had a lot of fun with our relatives from out of town. It was a fun night with the family. On Super Bowl Sunday, we showed up at my aunt’s house with hotdogs and chili from our school fundraiser. My aunt had put everything with a hechsher, or which didn’t need a hechsher, in paper bowls, and the rest she put in real bowls. They watched the Super Bowl while I, not a fan of sports, studied Gemara in a corner. It was nice of my Aunt to think of us, and I sincerely appreciate all the trouble that she took to accommodate our stringent policies. I am so fortunate to have a family that cares for one another so much.

Another time when keeping kosher is tough, is when my mother travels to Switzerland for business. She knows a man there who owns a non-kosher restaurant, but can cook kosher food specifically for her as long as she gives him notice. In addition, Switzerland doesn’t have kosher symbols on the products. Instead, there is a list in German, which my mother does not speak. This especially makes finding kosher products hard when she is in the French section of Switzerland. In America, we are so lucky to have an organization that provides kosher certification so that Jews can conveniently discern between kosher and non-kosher products. Similarly, does my mother need to keep chalav yisroel in Switzerland because of uncertainty about which animal the milk comes from? Does she need to be uneasy about the kashrus of other Jews in Switzerland who she doesn’t know? When my mother travels to Switzerland, many questions arise that I might have never dreamed of.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/kashrut-long-term-gains-in-a-world-of-compromises/2012/09/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: