Does “kosher” mean a rabbi blessed the food?
No. There is no blessing a rabbi (or any person for that matter) can say to make food kosher. The term “Kosher” refers to the fact that all of the ingredients within a given product (or process of production) are Biblically and Rabbinically permitted. Kosher food is initially defined in the Torah. Permitted animals have to be slaughtered (and then soaked and salted) in a certain way to make their meat kosher. Meat products and Dairy products are kept separate…and there is much more! The role of the kosher supervisor is to ensure that all of the ingredients — and the process in which those ingredients are used — are (you guessed it!) kosher. Jewish people do, however, say a blessing before they eat and at the conclusion of the meal.
Why do Jewish people keep kosher?
Not all Jewish people observe the kosher laws. Like all denominations of a faith group, there are levels of leniency and stringency. There are also levels of observance among Jewish people based on different cultural backgrounds, geographic locations, and religious denominations. Nevertheless, those Jewish people who do keep kosher (“observe the laws of Kashrut”) likely cite different reasons as to why they keep kosher. Generally, Jewish people observe the kosher laws because these laws have the weight of biblical commandments from God. This is a system of dietary discipline that binds them through the generations. Some Jewish people may observe these laws solely because it is part of their heritage, or due to communal or familial expectations.
Do only Jewish people keep kosher?
Recent studies have shown that, increasingly, those who seek out kosher foodstuffs are from faith backgrounds other than Judaism. People purchase kosher food for health, lifestyle, and dietary reasons. Some people may only purchase kosher food because someone they live with is kosher observant, or because they want kosher observant friends and relatives to feel comfortable eating in their home. It is also a reassurance about the ingredients in a product for those with concerns about animal products, dairy, etc.
Are there different levels of kosher observance?
Yes. Like any religion, there are differing interpretations of the law. Some Jewish people adhere to a very strict form of kosher observance, limiting their food consumption to the home and only eating food products that are held to the highest levels of kosher standards. On the other side of the spectrum are Jewish people who self-identify as kosher observers, but are lenient in their adherence to the laws. In between these two extremes are many levels of kosher observance. MSP Kosher prides itself on upholding a very strict standard of Kosher observance.
How does a kitchen become kosher?
A kitchen (residential and industrial) that is not kosher can become kosher through the process of “kashering.” Ovens, stove tops, microwaves, sinks, vessels (pots and pans), silverware, and nonporous counters are all made kosher through specific techniques including cleaning, boiling water, heating (with ovens and blow torches). Consult your local rabbinic authority for guidance.
Why are there so many kosher symbols?
There are well over 1100 Kosher symbols (heksherim) in the world today. A kosher symbol on a food product (or other kitchen / household products) indicates that the product is certified as kosher by a supervision agency. The symbol indicates which agency certifies the product. To know which symbols to trust for your community, contact your local rabbinic authority. MSP Kosher only approves nationally recognized Kosher symbols.
Does MSP Kosher allow “Tablet K” products in its supervised establishments?
No. Because MSP Kosher only approves nationally recognized Kosher symbols, “Tablet K” is not one of the heksherim permitted in its supervised establishments.
Why are Jewish people not permitted to mix dairy and meat products?
Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy products based on the biblical pronouncement not to cook a baby goat in its mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, Deuteronomy 14:21). The mixing of milk and meat is not only prohibited within a dish, but within a meal, a given window of time, and separate utensils are put aside for their respective categories (meat or dairy). Kosher establishments often serve only meat or dairy, not both.
Are all breads Pareve (non-dairy)?
Though there is a position in halakhah that if a baked product is dairy it should have a signifying marker as such, many kosher agencies have made a conscious effort to ensure that all bread is pareve so as to eliminate any mistakes or confusion. MSP Kosher does, however, certify establishments whose baked goods and bread products are dairy. Therefore, if a teudah (kosher certificate) states that “all products are dairy,” one should not make the assumption that the bread products coming from that establishment (e.g., bread, bagels, etc.) are pareve. Further, all bagged breads will have an indication in or on the packaging stating that the enclosed bread is dairy.
Is it permissible to eat soy products that look like non-kosher food, such as fake pepperoni?
Is it permissible to eat cheese on a veggie burger or faux meat (soy) with cheese?
Soy is pareve (neither meat, nor dairy) and can be used to create food items that resemble non-kosher products in both sight and taste. Some kosher observers are uncomfortable eating a piece of pizza that has pepperoni-looking soy as a topping. Similarly, some find it distasteful to put cheese on a veggie (soy) burger or fake cheese on real meat. Further, some believe that this is a case of ma’arit ayin (appearance of impropriety), as the casual observer may suspect these dishes are not kosher. Others find this to be innovative and are comfortable with it. Several years ago, when margarine was introduced to the marketplace, many kosher observant Jews would only put it on the table when a meat meal was being served if it was wrapped in its packaging displaying the label, lest anyone think it was butter. Ultimately, this is a matter of taste. One should contact his/her rabbinic authority if there is concern about personal practice.
Can businesses owned by Jewish people be open on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays?
Just as “selling” one’s food items prohibited on Passover to non-Jews for the duration of the holiday is practiced today among observant Jews, so too a lease arrangement is an appropriate mechanism for an agreement between a Jewish person and a non-Jew for a Shabbat contract. The contract takes effect several hours before Shabbat or a holiday and terminates several hours after the onset of business on the next business day. For information about the permissibility of this arrangement, please review the CJLS’ responsum upon which this standard is based.
What does glatt kosher mean?
Glatt, meaning smooth, is meat from animals with smooth or defect-free lungs, but today the term glatt kosher is often used informally to imply that a product was processed under a stricter standard of kashrut.
Does MSP Kosher permit non-glatt meat into its supervised establishments?
Yes. If the meat is certified kosher by a nationally recognized supervision agency, then it is permitted for use in MSP Kosher supervised establishments. All non-glatt meat will be indicated as such in the teudah (kosher certificate).
What is Minn. Stat. 31.651 subdivision 1?
This statute of Minnesota State Law reads: “Kosher requirements. No person shall sell or expose for sale any poultry, poultry products, meat, or meat preparations and falsely represent the same to be kosher, whether such poultry, poultry products, meat, or meat preparations be raw or prepared for human consumption; nor shall the person permit any such products or the contents of any package or container to be labeled or to have inscribed thereon the word “kosher” in any language unless such products display a stamp, label, or other type of indicia from a rabbinic authority indicating that the products were prepared or processed in accordance with that rabbinic authority, with the name and institutional affiliation and denominational affiliation, if any, of the rabbinic authority identified.” Therefore, toward the conclusion of any teudah (kosher certificate) posted at any MSP Kosher supervised site (both dairy and meat), in compliance with this statute, MSP Kosher is the identified institution and any denominational affiliation corresponding to the supervising rabbi is indicated. Nevertheless, it is the mission of MSP Kosher to transcend the confusion of politics and kashrut and instead focus on the kosher status of the foodstuffs we supervise.
How can I make my business/establishment kosher?
If you produce a food item or own a restaurant, bakery, or store and wish to have your business certified kosher, contact MSP Kosher to discuss opportunities.