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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘OU’

Would You Eat a Kosher, Lab-Grown Cheeseburger?

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

When the world’s first lab-grown burger was introduced and taste-tested on Monday, the event seemed full of promise for environmentalists, animal lovers and vegetarians.

Others who had good reason to be excited are kosher consumers.

The burger was created by harvesting stem cells from a portion of cow shoulder muscle that were multiplied in petri dishes to form tiny strips of muscle fiber. About 20,000 of the strips were needed to create the five-ounce burger, which was financed partially by Google founder Sergey Brin and unveiled by Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) hailed the event as a “first step” toward humanely producing meat products. A University of Amsterdam study shows that lab-grown meat could significantly reduce the environmental impact of beef production.

For kosher-observant Jews, the “cultured” burgers could open the door to radical dietary changes — namely, the birth of the kosher cheeseburger. That’s because meat produced through this process could be considered parve – neither meat nor dairy — according to Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division.

Thus, under traditional Jewish law, the burger could be paired with dairy products, but several key conditions would have to be met to create kosher, parve cultured beef.

The tissue samples would have to come from an animal that had been slaughtered according to kosher rules, not from a biopsy from a live animal, Genack said. The principle underlying this theory is much like the status of gelatin in Jewish law: Though it is derived from an animal, it is not meat (the OU certifies some bovine-derived gelatin as parve). Genack noted another source for viewing cultured meat as parve: a 19th century Vilna-born scholar known as the Heshek Shlomo wrote that the meat of an animal conjured up in a magical incantation could be considered parve.

It may not be too much of a stretch, then, to apply the same logic to modern genetic wizardry. But kosher chefs aren’t heating up the parve griddles just yet.

The lab-born burger, which cost $325,000 and took two years to make, is still a long way from market viability, kosher or otherwise. If mass produced, it could still cost $30 per pound, researchers said.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Jeff Nathan, the executive chef at Abigael’s on Broadway, a kosher restaurant in Manhattan. “Until it’s in my hands and I can touch it, smell it and taste it, I don’t believe it.”

Even if cultured beef became commonplace, consumers still might not be interested, said Elie Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Empire Kosher, the nation’s largest kosher poultry producer. “Parve burgers made of tofu and vegetables have been on the market for years,” Rosenfeld said. “But customers are still looking for the real deal, a product that’s wholesome and genuine.” Nevertheless, Nathan sounded an enthusiastic note about the potential for parve meat.

“I’m all for experimentation and science,” he said. “Let’s see what it tastes like.”

Israel Hotels Attracting Tourists with OU Kosher Certification

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Israeli restaurants and hotels are more interested n seeking kosher certification from the American-based Orthodox Union (OU) in order to attract foreign tourists, according to the Kosher Today newsletter.

It said that many American Jewish tourists generally are more familiar with the OU than Israeli rabbinic certifications.

The OU operates in Israel in an office near downtown Jerusalem and has several kosher supervisors.

Not all restaurants are willing to accept OU supervision. Kosher Today noted that the La Cuisine restaurant decided to forfeit its OU certification for Passover rather than agree to its requirements for proper cleaning of the facility before the holiday.

Next Year In… Milwaukee?

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

I finally went to the Orthodox Union’s annual Jewish Communities Fair. As a long-time pro-Aliyah activist, I had been curious about this event, and so while on tour in America, I joined the hungry Modern-Orthodox masses at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion as they searched for new communities and a new life in far flung locales like Jacksonville, Florida, Louisville, Kentucky, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin – but not Israel.

I expected to see a moderately attended event. But to my surprise, the venue was packed with over 1,300 people, exploring the forty-one different communities represented. There was so much noise, I had to stand close in order to hear community leaders make their pitches.

OU Flyer

You may wonder, as I did, why would Modern-Orthodox Jews want to leave the kosher conveniences of the NY area and move to remote places like Southfield, Michigan. It turns out, that first and foremost, the answer is affordability: cheaper housing, cheaper education, and getting more for your money. A high quality of life at an affordable price. And incentives. Some communities promise incentives like a $20,000 gift for a down-payment on your home, and free tuition from kindergarten through grade 12.

Josh Elbert, who flew in to represent Southfield, shared with me how he had come to this fair a few years ago and was skeptical when the Michigan people approached him. They said to him, “Don’t judge until you see it,” and indeed, when he saw it, he was smitten. “I am a success story of this event. Because of the connections we made here, we were able to provide a terrific opportunity for our family,” he told me. Because of the drop in real estate, he mentioned, one can buy a very large home for $115,000 in Southfield. Someone who makes forty-five thousand dollars a year can live next to a millionaire.

But there are other reasons to move to the American periphery – such as the opportunity to join a tight-knit community and make an impact on a growing shul, or aging congregation seeking new blood.

OU Community Fair Chesterfield & Crowd

I spoke with Rabbi Aaron Winter who came to Chesterfield, Missouri twenty two years ago to serve as their rabbi. He explained to me that Chesterfield is part of greater St. Louis, that they have a congregation of 80 Orthodox families, and their own mikvah and Chafetz Chaim Mesivta. He told me that his shul had succeeded in bringing many non-affiliated Jews closer to Torah. As he put it, “we are on the front lines of Orthodox Jewry in St. Louis.” Now, Chesterfield is looking to grow and they are offering up to five families a grant of twenty thousand dollars each towards the purchase of a home. “When you are an out-of-town community, even one family is gold. People appreciate you being here,” Rabbi Winter told me.

So cheaper housing, affordable education, a sense of community, and the promise of a better quality of life, are luring Jews to middle-America.

Understandable, reasonable, and respectable!

But what about the Israel option? Were any of the Modern Orthodox attendees at the OU’s Community Fair considering moving east of New York, to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv? There was no way to really know because there were no tables representing emerging communities in the emerging Jewish state. Had there been a table for, let’s say, Efrat, Modiin, or Maale Adumim, then one could gauge how much action that table saw as compared with Portland. But alas, that option did not exist. The message of the fair was clear enough: If the Orthodox Union is going to help you find a new future – it is going to be in America.

That should come as no surprise. If you go to the OU’s website, you will see lots of pro-Israel links. But if you hover your mouse over the flag of Israel at the top of the site, a text pops up which reads: “Our ‘home away from home’ in Jerusalem, the OU Israel Center, annually welcomes over 100,000 visitors and residents.” The obvious implication is that Israel is a home away from home, but home is America. Another proof of this thinking was laid bare in the ‘Communities Guide’ which was given out at the fair. In it were page after page of US destinations for “Home & Job Relocation” with pictures, contact numbers, and websites. Yet on the back cover the full page glossy called on all to: “Join Us in Celebrating Israel’s 65th Birthday – March with the OU at the Celebrate Israel Parade.” Again, the message is clear: you can celebrate Israel and love Israel with the OU, but if you’re looking to move, consider Cleveland.

Quinoa for Passover: Kashrut Debate or Power Struggle?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

The two most widely-known kosher certification agencies are battling it out over whether the grain quinoa, a life-save for those on a gluten-free diet, is kosher for Passover.

The Baltimore-based Star K kosher agency has said that Quinoa is not “kitniyot,” one of the grains that Ashkenazi rabbis forbid on Passover, while the venerable Orthodox Union’s OU kosher division says it is.

The prohibition on eating kitniyot, such as peas, corn, and green beans, has been challenged by an increasing number of Jews in recent years. The prohibition is based on the lifestyle of 500 years ago when open sacks of legumes stood next to wheat in stores. If a tiny bit of wheat were to fall in the sack of legumes, it could ferment and cause the entire sack to be considered chametz and forbidden by the Torah to be eaten on Passover.

Lifestyles have changed, but the minhag, or custom, remains, and the rabbis explain that one should almost never cancel a ruling of Torah sages just because conditions have changed.

However, some have expanded the ban to include foods that were not in the original ruling, sparking an argument among rabbis.

Decades ago, many rabbis ruled that peanuts were kitniyot, until it was pointed out to them that they simply did not correctly understand the meaning of a legume.

Similarly, soybeans were not around 500 years ago, and many, if not most, Ashkenazi Jews do not even use soybean oil, even though the late Chief Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook allowed its use.

A recent book In Hebrew, “Without Fear of Kitniyot” and authorized by Hevron-Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior, discusses the rulings on prohibiting on Passover the use of certain kitniyot derivatives such as soybean oil. The author writes that those who think “it is good to be strict” do not necessarily receive a blessing for their severity.

Now comes quinoa, “the mother of all grains,” which by all definitions is not a legume and certainly not a grain,

So what could be the problem?

Well, it seems that in South America, where it is grown, a wind might blow a grain of barley into cultivated rows of quinoa. Barely, like wheat, is prohibited by the Torah for use on Passover,

That is enough for the OU to rule that quinoa is not kosher for Passover, while Star K totally debunks the reasoning.

“Rav Moshe Feinstein said we weren’t to add on to the rules of kitniyot, so I don’t know why anyone would,” said Rabbi Tzvi Rosen of Star-K, referring to the esteemed posek of Jewish religious law who died in 1986. “And what’s more telling of this ridiculous debate is that quinoa is a seed, not a legume,” he told JTA.

Quinoa is known for its high nutrient quality and as an alternative for those following a gluten-free diet. But quinoa is not a grain at all. It’s a member of the goosefoot family, and closely related to spinach and beets, making a very good substitute on Passover for the Torah-prohibited grains of wheat, oats, rye, spelt and barley.

That could change, however, with the world’s major kosher certifier refusing to give quinoa its Passover seal of approval.

Perhaps adopting the line of “when in doubt, be strict,” Rabbi Genack said, “We can’t certify quinoa because it looks like a grain and people might get confused. It’s a disputed food, so we can’t hold an opinion, and we don’t certify it. Those who rely on the OU for a kashrut just won’t have quinoa on Passover.”

Rabbi Rosen said the Star-K certifies only the quinoa that has no other grains growing nearby. This year, for the first time, the company sent supervisors to South America to supervise the harvesting, sifting and packaging of the product.

“Whenever there’s a new age food, there’s always a fight between kosher factions,” Rabbi Rosen said. “But we should be worrying about other things, like all the cookies, pizzas and noodles that are Passover certified but appear to be chametz. Quinoa is the least of our problems.”

The argument, which could be over “who calls the shots” rather than a pure understanding of kosher status of foods that are not prohibited on Passover by the Torah.

Events in the West

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Events in the West: This Shabbos YICC in the Pico-Robertson area of L.A. hosts Professor Isaiah Gafni, a leading Jewish historian, as its scholar-in-residence… The West Coast OU Torah Convention in L.A. is scheduled for December 20-23.

Kosher News: Nature Valley Dark Chocolate and Nut Trail Mix Chewy Granola bars bear an unauthorized OU… Wegman’s gluten-free double chocolate brownie cake mix has an OU – but it is OU-D… The CRC in Chicago reports that packaged barley has been found to have three types of bugs. They have created a process for you to rid other brands of this. Geffen barley is the only barley that doesn’t require the process.

The Jewish Press in Stores: If you don’t see The Jewish Press where you expect to see it, ask the cashier where your favorite newspaper is. Stores sometimes move the papers in order to set up a display.

Super Storm Benny was created to assist Jewish families in communities on the East Coast facing catastrophic destruction from Hurricane Sandy. You can participate in the rebuilding by donating appliances, kitchen equipment, baby gear, furniture, computers, bed and bath supplies, siddurim, Chumashim, and toys. All products should be new and in their original packaging. The deadline is Sunday, November 18. A 40-foot truck will drive across the country with the donations. You can also donate via credit card by visiting www.TeamBenny.net, or by sending a check to Ladies Bikur Cholim, 444 N. Detroit St., Los Angeles, CA 90036. Super Storm Benny is sponsored as a zechus for a refuah sheleimah for Binyomin Chaim ben Faigie Sarah.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Moshe and Tzirel Regal, a son (Grandparents Rabbi Yossi and Sari Naiman)… Baruch and Ruchi Giberstein, a daughter (Grandparents Shlomo and Gila Giberstein)… Shai and Chana Samet, a son… Eric and Sarah Abitbol of NY, a son (Grandparents Alan and Etti Lowy; Sonia Rosenberg)… Yaakov and Rivki Tangy, a daughter (Grandparents Avraham and Tzafi Vickman)… Rabbi Jason and Lauren Weiner, a son (Grandparents Sidney and Marcia Teichman)… Jeffrey and Rina Barak of Encino, a daughter (Grandparents Dr. Mark and Michelle Barak)… Shlomie and Ruti Hauer of Monsey, NY, a son (Grandparents Shmuli and Goldie Hauer; Great-grandmother Frida Berger)… Shloimie and Aliza Zeffren of Teaneck, NJ, a son (Grandparents David and Mira Zeffren)… Rabbi Moshe and Nava Adler, a son (Grandparents Benny and Audrey Adler; Great-grandmother Lilly Adler… Yisroel and Miriam Wohlgelernter in Israel, a daughter (Grandparents Dr. Daniel and Eileeen Wohlgelernter; David and Judy Hager)… Rabbi Shmuel and Elkie Einhorn, a son.

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Jake Garfinkel, son of Marty and Candice Garfinkel… Justin Hanelin, son of Jonas and Cari Hanelin.

Mazel Tov – Bas Mitzvah: Elisheva Gofman, daughter of Yasha and Nancy Gofman.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Shoshana Gres, daughter of Jerry and Debbie Gres, to Yosef Caplan, son of Jeff and Gale Caplan of Agoura, CA… Naftali Trainer, son of Rabbi Label and Lori Trainer, to Rochel Pollak of Valley Village, CA.

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Saadua Liberow to Rebecca Kukurudz.

Congratulations: To Abbas Restaurant on its grand opening on La Brea.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Eli Zadik, son of Yossi Zadik and Anne Bakar.

VALLEY VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Chaim and Samantha Hirsch of Hollywood, FL, a son (Grandparents Yisroel and Corinne Blumenstein).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Alex Silberstein, son of Adam and Taaly Silberstein.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Rochel Pollak, daughter of Rabbi Yehuda and Devora Pollak, to Naftali Trainer of L.A… Alisha Tal, daughter of Avi and Julie Handelman, to Yochanan Zomer of Yerushalayim.

DENVER, COLORADO

Mazel Tov – Birth: Rabbi Danny and Sara Wolfe of Albany, NY, a son (Grandparents Mike and Cindy Wolfe).

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Mazel Tov – Births: Mordy and Golda Fast of Yerushalayim, a son (Grandparents Steve and Ruth Fast)… Yona and Ariella Margolese, a daughter (Grandparents Melech and Chani Genauer).

The Time For Lighting Candles

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Shabbat candles must be lit by (and preferably 18 minutes before) sunset. Once it is twilight, the time between sunset and nightfall known as bein hashmashot, it is too late to light. Bein hashmashot begins when the sun sets below the horizon and is no longer visible.

According to Rabbi Yehuda in Tractate Shabbat, bein hashmashot lasts 13 and a half minutes. In Tractate Pesachim, however, the same Rabbi Yehuda maintains that bein hashmashot lasts 72 minutes.

In explaining the discrepancy between the duration of bein hashmashot according to Rabbi Yehuda in Shabbat and Rabbi Yehuda in Pesachim, Rabbeinu Tam explains that there are two separate sunsets: Sunset I, which begins immediately after the sun has sunk below the horizon and lasts 58 and a half minutes, and Sunset II, which starts thereafter when light begins to fade into darkness and lasts an additional 13 and a half minutes until nightfall.

According to Rabbeinu Tam, the period on Friday between Sunset I and Sunset II (58 and a half minutes) is considered weekday, during which time all weekday work may be performed and one may light candles until Sunset II, i.e. 58 and a half minutes after Sunset I.

Many Rishonim, such as the Rambam and the Gaonim, disagree with Rabbeinu Tam. They maintain that for candle lighting there is only one relevant sunset, i.e. Sunset I, when the sun dips below the horizon, and candles must be lit before such time.

Though the Shulchan Aruch agrees with Rabbeinu Tam and maintains that candles can be lit as late as 58 and a half minutes after Sunset I, the Vilna Gaon, following the opinion of the majority of the Rishonim, disagrees with the Schulchan Aruch and maintains that candles must be lit by Sunset I.

There is a third opinion, that of Rabbi Eliezer of Metz, according to which bein hashmashot begins 13 and a half minutes before Sunset I. In his view, candle lighting time would be 13 and a half minutes before Sunset I.

It should be noted that the 13-and-a-half-minute period is derived from the time it takes a person to walk 3/4 of a mile. According to most opinions, it takes a person 18 minutes to walk the distance of one mile (in which case 3/4 of a mile would take 13 and a half minutes) but according to a stricter opinion, it takes a person 24 minutes to walk one mile (in which case 3/4 of a mile would take 18 minutes).

In view of the fact that we are dealing here with the possible violation of a biblical melachah, all modern poskim agree that one must adopt the strictest of all approaches, namely that of Rabbi Eliezer of Metz and that of those who say it takes 24 minutes to walk a mile. Therefore, we light candles 18 minutes before Sunset I. To know when this is, one should consult a local newspaper or a reputable Jewish calendar.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein writes that during the 18-minute period between candle lighting and Sunset I, members of the household that are not responsible for lighting the Shabbat candles may continue with weekday work until Sunset I, but that this should not be encouraged.

On the first night of Yom Tov – except for Shavuot – candles may be lit either at the same time as on Erev Shabbat or after returning from Maariv, provided one lights from an existing light. On the second night of Yom Tov, however, as well as whenever Shabbat precedes Yom Tov and on both days of Shavuot, candles should be lit from an existing light, after nightfall.

Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore.  He can be contacted at rafegrunfeld@gmail.com.

Yom Kippur

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Even Moses, who spoke with God one on One, was not allowed to see Him during his lifetime. “You cannot see my face, for no man shall see me and live.”

Ultimately, we shall all see God one on one, and face not only Him but also ourselves and the lives we led. Our desire to see Him will then be consummated and His existence will be proven beyond all doubt, but our ability to repent and prepare ourselves for that Day of Judgment will have passed.

And so one day a year God gives us the opportunity to come as close to Him as humanly possible and still repent. Yom Kippur is a dress rehearsal of sorts. We wear the shrouds in which we will ultimately face Him, and we discard the shoes we will no longer need. We don’t eat, drink or bathe as we stand alone before Him. We crowd the synagogue, just as the throngs of Israelites crowded the Temple, praying, fasting and waiting with bated breath for the High Priest to successfully complete the Yom Kippur Temple Service. For if the High Priest does not survive the day, Israel might not survive the year.

And before the silent and anxious crowd, the High Priest walks the tightrope between life and death from dawn to dusk. One procedural slip in the Temple service and it will be all over, just as it was for Aaron’s sons whose bodies had to be retrieved from the Holy of Holies. The High Priest’s task is not easy and the stakes are high. Single-handedly he has to juggle the performance of the daily Temple service and the special Yom Kippur service, darting as he does so back and forth between the Holy of Holies, the Temple Sanctuary and the Temple Courtyard.

Fifteen sacrifices, (two lambs for the daily sacrifice, one bullock, one ram and seven lambs for the Mussaf sacrifice, one bullock for the priests’ atonement, one ram for the people’s burnt offering, one he-goat for the people’s atonement and, finally, the scapegoat which is sent to die in the wilderness) have to be slaughtered and offered up by the High Priest on Yom Kippur.

The High Priest must, among other things, sprinkle the sacrificial blood on the altars, offer up the incense, burn the limbs of the animals on the altar, prepare the Sanctuary lamps for lighting, offer up the baked cakes of the High Priest, pour the drink offerings, confess his own, his family’s and the priests’ sins, cast lots for the two he-goats, tie a crimson ribbon on the head of the scapegoat, pray for the welfare of the people, confess their sins and read to them from the Torah.

Each of the five times the High Priest enters the Holy of Holies to perform the Yom Kippur service he must change out of his routine gold garments into his Yom Kippur white garments so as not to remind God of the sin of the golden calf. Each time the High Priest enters the Temple Sanctuary or Temple Courtyard to perform the daily Temple service, he must change back into his gold garments. And between each change of garments he must wash his hands and feet and then immerse himself in the cold waters of the Temple ritual bath.

The precision required and the time constraints imposed make the High Priest’s task almost humanly impossible. Indeed, according to the Midrash’s interpretation of Leviticus 16:17, when entering the Holy of Holies the High Priest was temporarily transformed into a ministering angel. We are told that when the High Priest finally emerged from the Holy of Holies, alive and well and having successfully completed his mission, he was swept up by the waiting crowds who celebrated with him deep into the night.

The Midrash relates that during Moses’s 40-day visit to the mountain of God, he overheard and memorized the angels’ secret prayer “Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto Leolam Vaed” – “blessed is the name of His Glorious Kingdom forever.” When Moses returned to the Jews he taught them the prayer but cautioned them to utter it under their breath so that the angels would not detect the infringement. On Yom Kippur, however, when we most closely resemble angels, we are asked to recite this prayer out loud.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/yom-kippur/2012/09/27/

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