Kesher Israel Community Kashrut Guidelines (updated January, 22, 2018)

Dear Kesher Israel Community Member,

One of the beauties of community is the sense of being a big family, which includes eating at each other’s tables, especially on Shabbat and holidays. In order to facilitate community, it is essential that we have a community standard of kashrut. This standard will prevent uncomfortable feelings on the part of invitees and will clarify expectations for hosts.  

This guideline is not meant to police individual’s personal Orthodox kashrut practice.  There are a diversity of accepted opinions within hilchot kashrut as there are for many areas of Jewish law.  Rather this is meant as a kashrut guideline so that fellow kesher members or visitors to our community will know without having to ask many questions what the kashrut standard for the meal they are eating is.

These guidelines assume that the user has a basic working knowledge of orthodox kashrut.  Please feel free to contact Rabbi Shafner with any questions.

Fresh Fish may be bought from a regular store (for Passover also) as long as you can identify the fish as kosher by seeing its scales.  Without scales is ok if it is salmon and has the color of salmon.

Cheese (even if made with vegetarian rennet) must have a reliable kosher supervision symbol.  Currently, for the community, the Tablet K is not an acceptable hechsher.  Nevertheless, since in the history of halacha there were minority opinions which permitted the use of  unsupervised cheese (with kosher ingredients) in countries where cheese was made from vegetarian rennet, the use of such cheese does not render a kitchen or utensils unkosher.

Ovens

One may not cook uncovered dairy and meat in the oven at the same time. It is best to wait 24 hours in between (or overnight which some hold is equivalent to 24 hours) or to run the self-cleaning cycle or kasher the oven.  If this is very difficult one may cook meat after dairy or dairy after meat as long as the oven has cooled down and there are no food pieces on the bottom of the oven.

Most processed food requires kosher supervision.  Here are 2 links to partial lists of approved hashgachot (supervision symbols), if you have questions about any that do not appear on these lists call Rabbi Shafner

http://www.kosherquest.org/symbols.php

http://www.crcweb.org/agency_list.php

Many foods do not require any supervision, here are some lists: https://scrollk.org/guide-to-kashrus-does-it-need-a-hechsher/ 

http://kosherquest.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/chanukah_2015.pdf

Hebrew National meat and other meat under the supervision of the Triangle K, such as sold in the local Trader Joe’s, do not meet Kesher community standards.  This is not meant to call into question the honesty of the rabbis involved, rather that leniencies may be relied upon within this organization's standards that are not accepted in the Kesher kashrut guidelines.

Please use mivushal (boiled) wine with guests, unless you know everyone at your table to be Jewish.

Frozen vegetables of the type that do not need to be closely inspected for insects such as carrots, celery, sliced mushrooms, peas, corn, etc. are kosher without supervision.   Due to the strong likelihood of insect infestation in the following frozen vegetables, they should be bought with kosher certification: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus, cut onions, spinach, potatoes, and artichoke hearts.  Some halachic opinions hold that one does not need to worry about bugs in frozen vegetables, due to the difficulty presented in checking them and the effect that freezing may have on insects.

Several members have recently asked about Trader Joe’s Bittersweet chocolate chips that are marked OK-D. They may be treated as Dairy equipment.  

Checking Fruits and Vegetables

The following is Rabbi Shafner’s guide to checking fresh fruits and vegetables for bugs.  Thank you to everyone who gave him feedback on our community kashrut guidelines and highlighted the need for clear and practical, vegetable checking guidance.

Some principals:

The torah forbids many kinds of creeping animals.  Thus we must be concerned about bugs or worms in vegetables or fruit that we eat.  

All vegetables are kosher and must be edible since the torah itself states, right at the beginning, that  Adam may eat of all that grows.  Thus it must be so that all fruits and vegetables can be checked and eaten in some practical way without having to resort to methods which are outside of the halachic rubric, since the halcha only demands we judge by only, “mah sheaynav raot,” what the eye can see.  

How often bugs are found in a type of vegetable is an important factor for determining how to ensure we are not eating them.  A fruit or vegetable in which bugs are generally found more than 50% of the time is considered muchzak,  assumed to be infested and must be checked according to the torah, foods that contain bugs less than 50% of the time must be checked dirabanan, and foods which contain bugs less than 10% of the time, miut sheyno matzuy, do not need to be checked.  (Any fruit or vegetables being made into a smoothie do not require any checking)

While the Shulchan Aruch and other codes of halacha certainly require one to check for bugs, but there is no detailed tradition or methodology on how to check.  Thus such methods are governed by what is practical and effective.   Thus with a quick internet search you will discover as many methods and requirements as there are kashrut agencies.

I have found the following methods to be sufficient while not being overly taxing.  This does not mean they are the only ones, you may have others, but in my estimation and experience they are effective and sufficient.   As always, I am open to input and constructive criticism.  

Lettuce and leafy vegetables:

Type 1. Baged with kashrut supervision-no checking needed

Type 2. Bagged and triple washed with not kashrut supervision-check 3 leaves on both sides by holding up in the light to be sure it is not an infested bag

Type 3. Pre-packaged Bagged hearts of romaine, or bagged heads of iceberg lettuce-wash well and check 3 leaves from each head by holding up in the light and checking both sides, if you find nothing it's all fine, if you do find something wash it all well and then check again

Type 4. Whole unbagged lettuce heads- wash well and check each leaf on both sides by holding up in the room light

Florette type vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, etc):

Seperate the large head into florets.   Fill a bowl with water and a few teaspoons of vinegar or salt.  Agitate the florrretts in the water and soak them for a few minutes.  Check three floretts  (for asparagus, the heads and the triangular leaves on the stalk) for bugs.  If you find nothing in the water or the three florets it's all fine.  If you do, rinse and repeat.  

Berries:

Wash them well under a stream of water while agitating them.  Open three and check in good light.  If clean you can eat them all.  

Artichokes:

Look at each leaf for bugs as you pull it out to eat it.  

Brussel sprouts:

As I mentioned above the torah says all vegetables are edible.   I am not sure exactly how to check these but I would say cut each in half, wash each well (agitate while washing) and inspect them all in good light to see if there are any bugs.      

Reheating foods on Shabbat Day

Only solid foods which have already been cooked may be reheated. Do not put any uncooked food on or in a hot burner, heated oven, crock pot that is on, or heated urn on Shabbat itself. This would cause the food to be cooked on Shabbat, which is prohibited.

Do not heat any liquids on Shabbat. Water or even fully cooked soup or stew needs to be put on the heat-- in an urn, crock-pot, or on the stove-- and left there prior to Shabbat.

Do not reheat even cooked solid food that has cooled down-- whether it was taken out of the refrigerator or left out on the counter to become room temperature-- by putting it directly on the stove or in the oven. However, you may reheat cold, solid, pre-cooked food by adhering to any one of the following procedures:  

  1. Put it on a warming tray-- called a "plata" in Hebrew-- which cannot be adjusted (tape the knob if there is one) and is not designed to cook, but rather just to warm.   This can be put on a shabbat timer.
  2. Put it in a warming drawer or cupboard, which is designed just to warm, not to cook.  Be sure to cover any controls with tin foil.
  3. Put it on a pot of water or food or empty overturned vessel (e.g. cookie sheet) that stands on top of a sheet of metal which covers the fire (called a ‘blech’).

You may keep food in a crock-pot, on the stove, or in the oven, but any food you serve must be at least one-half cooked before Shabbat begins. For example, when making cholent, it should be cooked to the point of minimally edible-- hard and chewy, perhaps, but edible-- before Shabbat. If cholent takes five hours to be ready to be served (even if normally it is served after 12 hours), the rabbis estimated one half of that would allow it to be minimally edible, meaning that you have to cook it for 2-1/2 hours before Shabbat starts.

Special Exemption: If you throw in some raw meat or chicken into the cholent right before Shabbat starts, then you do not have to follow the "half cooked" rule since there is no chance that the cholent will be ready until the next morning.

Do not stir food in the crock-pot or on a heated stove on Shabbat itself. Remove the inner pot from the outer metal element before scooping out the contents. If planning to return the pot to the crock-pot it is important to keep a hand on the pot while it is out of the crock-pot and to return it to the fire promptly and to cover the temperature knob with foil before shabbat.

(Some claim Rabbi Soloveitchik had a tradition to allow food which was cooking in the oven just before shabbat to be taken out and then placed back into the oven on shabbat day to reheat.  This is not the accepted practice and would be considered by most to be a violation of the rabbinic injunction of doing something that “looks like cooking.”  It would also make many observant guests uncomfortable.)

Special Shabbat procedures for tea and instant coffee (which can be disregarded on Yom Tov that is not on Shabbat):

  • You may use instant coffee or essence (concentrated coffee or tea made before Shabbat to which hot water can be added) by transferring the hot water from the urn into a cup and then adding the essence or instant coffee into that cup.
  • K'li sh'lishi  (third vessel) - A “kli shlishi” is the third receptacle for the liquid. For instance, a hot water urn would be the first receptacle, the cup or tea pot into which the water was dispensed from the urn would be the second. The water must then be transferred to another cup (the third vessel) before the tea bag containing raw tea can be introduced into the water.  
  • (There is a tradition some have of considering tea to be a spice and allowing it to be put into a kli sheni, this is not widely accepted in the modern orthodox community, so even if this is your tradition it should not be done when hosting guests lest you make them feel uncomfortable.)

Kashering Your Home (and for Passover)

Ovens: Self-Cleaning Ovens: Run one self-cleaning cycle. Anything which is in the oven during self-cleaning is also kosher without any need for other cleaning, including racks.  Non Self-Cleaning Ovens: Clean thoroughly or all food spots (discolorations which are part of the metal are ok). Be sure the oven has not been used in 24 hours. Heat the oven for two hours on its hottest baking temperature.

Stove Tops:

Electric-Clean well. Turn the burners on high for about 10 minutes.  

Gas-Clean grates and place in oven when you kasher the oven.  Another method is to cover each burner with heavy duty aluminum foil and run the burner on high for 5 minutes or until paper turns brown when touched to the metal surfaces. You can do each burner separately. For the spaces between the burners, clean them well with a cleaner.  For Passover use cover the spaces with foil or a trivit.

Glass stove tops: Turn the burners on high for 15 minutes.  The center of the stove top between the burners should be considered not kosher and when putting a pot on it put it on a trivit.  

Microwaves: Clean thoroughly. Let sit unused for 24 hours. Make sure the glass plate is clean. Then boil a glass of water in the microwave for 15 minutes.  For Passover cover the glass dish with a double layer of saran wrap.  Ashkenazim generally do not kasher glass for Pesach.  

Dishwashers: Clean thoroughly, making sure that all the racks and filters are clean, and pay special attention that the food catch is opened and cleaned. Get rid of any rust.  Let it sit unused for 24 hours. Run 3 cycles on highest setting with soap. Dishwashers can be kashered even if the racks are plastic.

Counters: Clean thoroughly. Let sit untouched by anything hot for 24 hours. Then pour boiling water over them.  Or cover them.

Refrigerator and freezer shelves, cabinets and other shelves: Clean thoroughly.

Sinks: Stainless steel or granite: Clean thoroughly including any rust on the drain. Let sit untouched by anything very hot for 24 hours. Then pour boiling water from a kashered stove and kettle all over it. Porcelain sinks: Clean thoroughly with a cleanser and use a tub or rack/mat. If you have only one sink, you may use it for cleaning dairy and meat simply by cleaning it from one to the other, and also having a separate meat and dairy dish tub and rack/mat that goes underneath the tub to raise it slightly from the surface of the sink.

Kashering pots, pans, dishes, grill tops and utensils: Frying pans used with oil which are not coated may be kashered by running them through a self cleaning cycle. Grill grates should not be kashered this way. Pots and pans, and utensils that are metal can be kashered by cleaning them thoroughly and immersing them completely in boiling water, or filling them with water, boiling it and making it overflow the lip of the pot a bit.  

Grill grates must be brought to a high temperature at which the metal turns white hot.   This can be easily achieved by placing the grate between two layers of charcoal briquettes in a grill or aluminum pan.  Light the briquettes and let them burn out.  The grill top is then kashered.  

Glass can be kashered by soaking it for 3 days and changing the water every 24 hours.  Plastic which is made to be used with hot temperatures can be kasherd with boiling water.

Instant Pot

Though certainly any pot is in theory kasherable and the insert for the instant pot is easily kasherable. The top of the pot and the heating vessel are not easily kasherable due to many places on these which are not reachable for cleaning and the difficulty of kashering the instant pot’s heating element.  Nevertheless there may be a way to kasher it with an industrial steamer.  For more information or questions about methods of kashering the instant pot  please contact Rabbi Shafner.  

Passover links:

List of Products which do not require Passover supervision includes list of tequilas

http://www.kosherphoenix.org/index.php/passover/

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EaIiHNnHkUfbf-EUPTSFppPmO2Q-T6yY/view