Kavanah/Our Intent: As a Jewish community, we should always be seeking to increase our sense of “kehilah,” sacred community. One way that we do this is through shared meals.
In an effort to create more opportunities for members of the congregation to share meals together, we are introducing these guidelines for kosher potluck meals that are dairy or pareve (i.e. neither meat nor dairy; neutral). These guidelines were developed for the purpose of potluck meals, but can also be used for a range of purposes where preparing kosher food is needed:
- making food for a shiva house,
- making a dish to bring to someone’s home who keeps kosher,
- preparing a kosher meal to serve in one’s home,
- and more.
Below you will find straightforward guidelines that will enable kosher food to be prepared in any kitchen.
What does “kosher” mean? The term “kosher” does not apply to food alone. The word means “fit” or “proper for sacred use.” The term “kosher” can also be a statement of purposefulness. Torah Scrolls, food, and choices can be “kosher” (or not). Our commitments to ethical, environmental, and ritual are supported by our kashrut standards by which we abide as a community. While individual members of the congregation have a wide variety of observances in their own homes, we have adopted the following rules as our kashrut policy for congregational events in our building, and expect everyone who purchases or prepares food for shul functions to follow this kashrut policy.
ALL processed food products need to have a recognized hechsher (kashrut certification). A hechsher is a symbol of approval stamped on the packaging of a processed product, which certifies that the facility manufacturing the product is under kosher supervision.
Kosher Symbols: CBS-CS currently accepts all kosher symbols. Click here for a list of current kosher symbols (list provided by KosherQuest.) However, if a label has only the plain letter “K”, that does not signify that a product has a recognized hechsher. However, one can contact the manufacturer to see if that product is kosher, and ask for their kosher certification.
What Needs a Hechsher: In general, processed food items (including cheeses, wine, juice, and baked goods) must have a hechsher. Unprocessed foods (including fruit, vegetables, milk, and eggs) do not require a hechsher. However, not all processed food items require a hechsher. Click here for a (substantial) list of all items that do not require kosher certification. Contact Rabbi Pepperstone with any questions.
Where These Guidelines Pertain. For potluck meals inside the synagogue building, the guidelines below are required.
For outside meals under the auspices of the congregation, the following guidelines are encouraged, but not obligatory. Our current standard is that any congregational event outside of the building is at least dairy/vegetarian.
Kashrut Standards for Food Cooked in a Member’s Home:
The CBS-CS Kitchen: For a potluck meal held in the synagogue building, where food is prepared in people’s homes, the kitchen will be closed. Food for a potluck meal should be ready to eat without any further preparation. CBS-CS will provide supplies for cleaning up and waste removal.
If you keep a kosher kitchen: You can bring dairy or pareve food cooked in your home that adheres to our kashrut standards using hechshered ingredients where required. If your home is kosher and you keep “kosher by ingredient” (i.e. you go by the list of ingredients on the packaging and do not always look for a hechsher), or vegan (no animal products) or vegetarian, use only hechshered ingredients when preparing food for community use and prepare and bring them in new recyclable/disposable or glass containers. You are responsible for determining that your kitchen is kosher. Feel free to approach Rabbi Pepperstone with any questions.
If you do not yet keep a kosher kitchen: You can still bring food cooked or baked in your kitchen by using kosher ingredients and following these guidelines:
- Workspace: Clean thoroughly a separate space in your kitchen.
- Pots and Pans: Use new pots and pans. Foil pans are inexpensive and useful for this purpose. If you have glass pots and pans, they can be used for a kosher event after being thoroughly cleaned. For baking sheets, one can double-wrap them in foil, and then use them.
- Utensils and Equipment: For kitchen utensils (cutting boards, knives, etc.) and kitchen equipment (mixers, blenders, etc.) used to prepare cold foods (fruits, vegetables, etc.), thoroughly clean those utensils before using them. For kitchen utensils for preparing hot foods, use only new utensils.
- For example, a raw carrot can be peeled with any vegetable peeler; however, a steamed, hot carrot can only be cut with a new knife.
- One might consider investing in a small set of kitchen tools for kosher cooking, such as: a sauce pan, skillet, slotted spoon, stirring spoon, spatula, and a pyrex oven-to-table pan. A set like this would cost around $40 from Smith’s Kitchen Supply.
- One can also make metal utensils kosher. Contact Rabbi Pepperstone for details.
- Using a Stovetop: You do not need to do anything to use an electric or gas or glass top stove.
- Using a Microwave: If you want to use a microwave, you can quickly make it kosher by thoroughly cleaning the inside, and then bringing a glass of water to boil in it.
- Using an Oven: To prepare your oven, run the cleaning cycle. If the oven doesn’t have a cleaning cycle, clean it thoroughly and run it at its highest temperature for 15 minutes before cooking.
- Dishwashers: To use your dishwasher for kosher utensils, run a rinse cycle before the cleaning cycle with the kosher utensils.
- Cleaning Up: Use new sponges or scrubbers. For towels, use laundered towels.
- Transporting Food: Foods should be brought to shul in glass or new recyclable/ disposable containers. Food can be brought to the synagogue on Shabbat or Holidays for such events.
- But wait there is more! Cooking a dish is only one way to be part of a potluck meal. Potluck meals also need other items, such as:
- paper goods,
- disposable utensils,
- store-bought hechshered products.
For Kashering one’s home kitchen – MAZAL TOV!! – please contact Rabbi Pepperstone.