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Greater Philadelphia

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Kashrus Updates & Alerts

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STAR-K Starbucks Alert

July 13, 2018

Our fellow AKO member, Star-K of Baltimore, sent out the following alert dated – July 13, 2018.

As many people have been making use of the Star-K list regarding Starbucks we are sharing the Star-K update.  The status of any particular Starbucks may vary.  It is recommended that you follow the guidance of your own rabbi in regard to Starbucks as well as in all other matters of halocha.

Please be advised that Starbucks has decided to end the expanded STAR-K Kosher information program


Consumers are advised that effective immediately the STAR-K can no longer vouch for the kashrus of many of the items previously listed as recommended at these stores.


Items no longer approved include Frappuccinos, Mocha, and Caramel Sauce.


All recommendations for unflavored coffee are still the same.


Our webpage has been updated to reflect these changes. We urge consumers to visit the STAR-K Starbucks list at


In addition, Starbucks has also decided to end the kosher-friendly store program which was available in select stores in NY and NJ.


DIY Teruma and Maaser in 4 Easy Steps

May 11, 2018

DIY Teruma and Maaser in 4 Easy Steps

As it is a Mitzva to eat the produce of Eretz Yisroel, and supporting the economy is a mitzvah as well, we encourage our members to follow the procedures below so that they can purchase Israeli vegetables without concern.

Research has determined that a significant percentage of Israeli fruit is “Orla” from which no benefit may be derived.   It is recommended that Israeli fruit should only be purchased with a reliable supervision.  Vegetables and herbs do not have “orla” concerns.  For more information regarding “orla” please read our article in the halocha section.

The following procedure for removing terumos and maasros (the tithes) can only be used on one type of produce at a time, its value must be over about $1.00.  Please do not follow this procedure for produce of a lesser value, the procedure for produce of a lesser value requires that you have something called a pruta chamura which is difficult to come by outside of Eretz Yisroel.


1) Place the produce in front of you, and do not move it. Remove slightly more than 1% of the produce. For example, if there are 95 tomatoes separate 1 tomato. (If you have 10 carrots break off a piece of a carrot which will be slightly larger than 1/100 of the total.)

2) A coin, which is valid currency in the country in which the redemption is performed, is designated for redemption. At the time of this writing, one nickel is sufficient. (If the price of a troy ounce of silver goes above $50 it may be necessary to use a dime.)

3) One of the two following texts is recited:

The amount in the northernmost part of the separated portion which is greater than 1% of the total amount of the produce shall be Terumah Gedolah.   The remaining part of the separated portion, plus an additional 9% on the northernmost side of the produce shall be Ma’ aser Rishon.  “The part of the separated portion that was previously designated Ma’ aser Rishon shall be Terumat Maaser.  “10% of the remaining produce in the southern side shall be either Ma’ aser Sheni or Ma’ aser Oni, in accordance with the year of the shmittah cycle during which the produce was grown.  If the 10% on the southern side is Ma’ aser Sheni, it should be redeemed by transferring its kedushah calculated at its value plus 25%, to the coin. “If the produce is neta revai, it should be redeemed by transferring its kedushah calculated at its value plus 25%, to the coin.

>> Alternatively, if one has difficulty with the full text or it is not available, this simplified text may be recited:

“All separations of terumah and ma’ aser and redemptions of Ma’ aser Sheni and neta revai shall be effected in accordance with the text of the Chazon Ish.”

4) The separated produce (the part which was more than 1%), and the designated coin are wrapped and discarded.


(For those interested in the math:  This procedure works for one type of produce worth $1.00 or more provided that silver is worth less than $28 per troy ounce.   [Today, May 11, 2017 a troy ounce of silver is worth about $16.32.]  These numbers are approximate values. You can calculate more precisely with the formula 11 times dollar value of troy ounce of silver divided by 310. Please note that the value of silver fluctuates greatly.)

Keystone-K Alerts from the OU – Pringles / Dairy Equipment / and Other OU Alerts

May 2, 2018

Pringles is in the process of reformulating some of their chips.  Those that are marked OU without a D are Parve (even though the word Parve is not printed).  Those that are marked OUD may be actual Dairy or they may be Dairy Equipment.  If Dairy ingredients are listed such as milk or whey they are Dairy.  If no Dairy ingredients are listed the Pringles are “Dairy-Equipment”.   Parve food prepared on Dairy Equipment may be consumed after a meat meal.  For those that keep Cholov Yisroel it is important to know what your minhog (custom) is regarding Dairy Equipment.  It is also important to know what your minhog (custom) is regarding whey.

The O/U does NOT certify Best Choice Refried Beans.  This product is NOT Kosher.  Some labels bear an unauthorized O/U symbol.

The O/U certifies Earnest Eats Coconut Warrior Oatmeal as an O/UD (dairy) product.  This product contains dairy as indicated in the ingredients and allergens panel.  Some labels bear the O/U symbol, without the “D” (dairy) designation.

The O/U does not certify Royal Fruits Garden Brussels Sprout Halves.  This product bears an unauthorized O/U.  The O/U does certify other Royal Farms products.

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5778 – 2018 – Stores from which Chometz may be purchased after Pesach:

March 21, 2018

Updated 4/8/2018 based on the latest information shared by the major kashrus agencies.

Where Chometz May be Purchased after Pesach


Please use our web-site to keep up to date.



We have received queries about Target.  The status of Target has been changed to problematic.


Stores from which Chometz may be purchased after Pesach:


Wine and liquor stores in Pennsylvania are owned by the state.  Therefore, “chometz” drinks which have no Kashrus or other concerns may be purchased at Pennsylvania State Stores immediately after Pesach.


Chometz may be purchased at any Keystone-K establishment.


Supermarkets and national chains are not considered Keystone-K establishments, but follow the following guidelines:


Chometz may be purchased after Pesach at KFM (Kosher Foods and More), ShopRite Roosevelt Blvd. and the following national chains :  A & L (supplier),  Aldi, BJs, CVS,  Costcos, Dollar Tree, Food Lion, Petco, Petsmart, Restaurant Depot, Rite-Aid, Royal Farms, Sam’s Club, Shopper’s Food Warehouse, Save a Lot, Trader Joes, Walgreens, Walmart, Wegman’s,  and Whole Foods.


In addition to this the following stores in the Greater Philadelphia area are OK: All Giants of the Ahold Group (this includes all Philadelphia area Giants), Wawa, The Fresh Grocer on Walnut and 40th Streets, and ShopRite Roosevelt Blvd.  This does not apply to Giants in other areas of the country which are under different ownership.



Acme Markets now have significant Jewish ownership.  The OU took care of selling the “chometz” for all Acme Markets.  Therefore, one can shop at all Acme Markets immediately after Pesach.


Quick turnover items (like bread, cake, and bagels) may be purchased at any major store two weeks after Pesach.  Slower turnover items (like hard pretzels and pasta) may be purchased four weeks after Pesach.


Food items which may contain an insignificant amount of Chometz may be purchased at any store after Pesach.


Keystone-K Kosher for Passover Establishments

March 20, 2018

Kosher for Pesach Food Available at Local Establishments


The following is a list of establishments under Keystone-K supervision that offer Kosher for Pesach items as described.  Unless clearly stated, our supervision is Kosher for Pesach for both Ashkenazim and Sefardim.


Star of David is planning to offer a Pesach menu from their new truck.  The location will be Lower Merion Shul.


Chef Daniel Israel will be offering a non-Gebrachts Pesach menu.


Mikveh Israel is planning to offer a Keystone-K Pesach menu.  All Matza and most other items will be Kosher for Pesach according to both Sefardi and Ashkenazi traditions.  All items that contain Kitniyot (legumes) will be clearly marked “Kitniyot/Sefardi”.  Unless marked Keystone-K Sefardi, all foods will be prepared on non-kitniyot utensils and will be appropriate for use according to both the Sefardi and Ashkenazi traditions.


The universities (Penn, Temple, and Drexel) will offer a Pesach menu under Keystone-K supervision.  Only properly packaged and sealed items are supervised at Drexel.  Once the seals are broken the food is no longer supervised by the Keystone-K.  This applies both during Pesach as well as the rest of the year.


Kosher Crops will produce pre-checked vegetables for Pesach.


Palace Royale will be closed for business, but they will provide Kosher for Pesach government program meals.


Giant Wynnewood & Rutledge and Shoprite Roosevelt Blvd. carry many Kosher for Passover items.


We will IY”H keep you informed if additional Keystone-K establishments join the Pesach list.


We will IY”H keep you informed if additional Keystone-K establishments join the Pesach list.

Kosher for Pesach – Tequila

March 8, 2018

The following are Kosher for Pesach without any special markings:

Tequila Blanco 100% Agave Hacienda Xalpa

Tequila Blanco 100% de Agave Los Pilones

Tequila Blanco 100% de Agave Dos Lunas

Tequila Blanco 100% Blue Agave Don César García

Tequila Blanco 100% de Agave Oro Viejo

Tequila Blanco 100% de Agave Río de Plata

Tequila Blanco 100% de Agave Tierra Viva

Tequila Blanco 100% puro de Agave Reserva del Señor

Tequila Blanco 100% puro de Agave Don Diego Santa

Tequila Blanco 100% puro de Agave Herencia de Plata

Tequila 100% Don Eduardo Añejo

Tequila 100% Don Eduardo Blanco

Tequila 100% Don Eduardo Reposado

Tequila 100% Herradura Gran Imperio Reposado

Tequila Antiguo de Herradura Añejo 100% Agave

Tequila Antiguo de Herradura Blanco 100 Agave

Tequila Antiguo de Herradura Reposado 100% Agave

Tequila El Jimador Añejo 100% Agave

Tequila El Jimador Blanco 100% Agave

Tequila El Jimador Reposado 100% Agave

Tequila Hacienda del Cristero Blanco 100% Agave

Tequila Herradura Añejo 100% Agave

Tequila Herradura Blanco 100% Agave

Tequila Herradura Gran Imperio Reposado 100% Agave

Tequila Herradura plata 100% Agave

Tequila Herradura Reposado 100% agave

Tequila Herradura Selección Suprema Extra Añejo 100% Agave

Silver Tequila 100% de Agave Gran Patrón Platinum

Tequila 100% Agave Silver Roca Patrón

Tequila 100% de Agave Blanco Patrón

Tequila 100% de Agave Silver Gran Patron Platinum

Tequila 100% de Agave Silver Patrón

Pesach Information – (Shopping with your Eyes Wide Open)

March 5, 2018

1-  Many stores carry products with kitniyos (“legumes”) or egg matzah.  Please check ingredients and follow your custom.  These items are a great convenience for the days before Pesach, as you can give them to your children to eat and you don’t have to worry about them leaving the crumbs around the house.  Even those people who do not eat kitniyos / egg matza on Pesach do not need to sell these products before Pesach.

2- It is advisable to double check that items which you find in the Passover section are actually kosher for Pesach.  Sometimes clerks or customers return similar looking items to the wrong shelf.  This is the issue that has the greatest potential for causing serious Pesach halocha concerns.

3- Check the certification even on familiar products.  Many products are certified by a different agency for Pesach than during the rest of the year.  Many product from Eretz Yisroel carry two or more supervisions.  Check that there isn’t a disclaimer (in Hebrew) stating that the supervision you rely upon is not valid for Pesach.

4- Many Products are sold in the same packaging as they are the rest of the year.  The only difference is the Passover symbol.  Check symbols carefully.

5- Some companies change ingredients just for Pesach, such as leaving out the peas from a soup mix for Pesach – without changing the ingredient listing.   I believe that this is irresponsible and causes much confusion.  If you are concerned about this I suggest that you speak to the supervising agency.

6- Many general supermarkets all over the USA sell “Passover Shank-bones” for the Seder plate.  Store owners and managers are not necessarily aware of or concerned about Kashrus issues.  Unless the shank-bone is sealed and marked by an agency you trust, or unless it is given to you directly by a Mashgiach or his representative you should assume that it is not kosher.

7- Many Passover-style products are offered for sale.  Even if a product is a traditional Pesach food (such as macaroons) check that it is certified for Passover use.

8- Please express your thanks to store owners, managers, and Mashgichim.  They have been working hard (and under much tension) to supply the community with Pesach food since Chanuka!


Orla ערלה – The first Three Years

January 1, 2018

The fruit of a tree or fruit bush may not be eaten during the first three years of its growth.  Not only is it prohibited to eat the fruit but no benefit whatsoever may be derived from the fruit.  This halocha applies both in Eretz Yisroel and in חו”ל (outside of Eretz Yisroel).  There is one major difference between Eretz Yisroel and  חו”ל (outside of Eretz Yisroel) – in Eretz Yisroel we must determine that the fruit is not “Orla” before eating it, while in  חו”ל (outside of Eretz Yisroel) we may go after the majority of fruit which grew after the first three years.  If you pick your own fruit you must ascertain that the tree has been growing for at least three years even outside of Eretz Yisroel.

If a tree is replanted without a ball of earth around the roots (bare roots) the three years must be counted over again.  This is how most commercial orchards plant trees.  A nursery plants the saplings and when they reach the desired size they are chilled so that they go into dormancy.  The young tree is shipped bare rooted as it is much less expensive to ship it without a ball of earth around the roots.  This means that in most cases the three years need to be counted from the replanting, not the original planting.

Even the non-observant farmers find it difficult to find customers for their orla produce in Eretz Yisroel.  That means that most of the orla produce (as well as other forbidden produce) is exported.  We need to be aware of this when shopping for produce.  It is a privilege and a mitzvah to purchase Israeli produce, however, only with a reliable supervision.  It is very common to find unsupervised Israeli produce in the American market which is 100% forbidden.  Grapefruit sections are one extremely common Israeli product which absolutely must carry a reliable supervision.  If one purchased or picked orla in error it must go to waste.  It is not permissible to derive any benefit from orla.

The produce of the fourth year is called “revai”.  It is sanctified and must be eaten in Yerushalyim.  It is possible to transfer the sanctity onto coins, as is done with מעשר שני (The Second Tithe).  May Moshiach come soon and may we fulfill all of the מצוות (precepts) attached to the Land of Israel, thereby meriting the Land’s Blessings in full.


Keystone-K Timely Kashrus Information

November 21, 2017

Now that cooler weather is upon us there are a number of Kashrus issues to be mindful of:


The cool weather tends to lower the amount of insect infestation of local produce, however, much of the available produce is imported.  Mexico and other warm climates tend to have an above average incidence of infestation.  For health reasons as well it is advisable to wash all imported produce with extra care – using ample amounts of either liquid soap or anti-bacterial vegi-wash.


We recommend not purchasing fruit from Eretz Yisroel unless it has a reliable hechsher.  Much of the fruit exported from Eretz Yisroel is orla (from the first three years).  The laws of “orla” from Eretz Yisroel have special impact due to the Kedusha of Eretz Yisroel.  [We have detailed Halocha explanations about this in our halocha section.]


Please check the origin of the produce you purchase.  According to USA law the origin of the produce must be on the label or posted.  We have detailed instructions regarding the removal of Terumos and Maasros from vegetables that come from Eretz Yisroel on our web-site.  We strongly encourage purchasing vegetables from Eretz Yisroel.  It is longstanding Jewish practice to express our affinity for Eretz Yisroel by purchasing and using produce and objects from Israel.


In order to share the most up-to-date Kashrus information, the major Kashrus agencies (AKO) meet yearly at the offices of the OU.  The following information may be of particular interest:


Vinegar and salt-water cleaning are no longer accepted as effective for infested fruits and vegetables.


Special attention must be given to the cleaning of organic produce.


Riced cauliflower (from a reputable company) has been commercially cleaned very well, and does not need to be cleaned or checked.


False claims of Kashrus are rampant on the Internet.  Amazon is very responsive when an unauthorized Kashrus symbol is used on their web-site, many other companies are not compliant even when alerted to the illegal use of registered trademarks.  It is advisable to check the product itself for the Kosher symbol.  Symbols printed on the product itself are usually accurate.


Much of the Kosher news on blogs is either erroneous or posted maliciously by someone with an “agenda”.  Your family’s Rav and the recognized Kashrus agencies are the best sources for accurate information.


Please check for symbols when buying items in the Kosher Section of a store.  Shelf-stockers and customers do place items in the wrong place.  If something doesn’t seem quite right, please check carefully, and feel free to ask.


The Keystone-K depends on memberships.  The cost of membership is kept low so that everyone can join the community in supporting this vital Communal organization.  Even if you are already a member, please encourage your friends and neighbors to join as well.   The web address to sign up on-line for membership is  We will be happy to sign-you up manually if you send a check (Community Kashrus) to the address below with your e-mail.


Community Kashrus of Greater Philadelphia

2014 Upland Way

Philadelphia, PA 19131


V-Coffee on Shabbos

September 14, 2017

V-Coffee on Shabbos

A new way of manufacturing instant coffee is becoming popular.  Coffee produced in this manner is touted as tasting better and being healthier.  The process for producing “V-Coffee” does not involve any pre-cooking, but rather, air-roasting and grinding.   It is roasted by a process similar to making air popped popcorn.  Due to the fact that this coffee is not pre-cooked, using it on Shabbos poses a halachic question, as there is a question if re-cooking an item that was baked or roasted is permissible in a “kli-sheni” (second vessel).  As always, everyone should follow the guidance of their own rabbi.  My recommendation is to use “irui kli-sheni”  (pouring from a second vessel).   This is the procedure: pour from the kettle into a cup, put the V-coffee into a dry cup, then pour the hot water into the second cup.

Meat, Meat Equipment, Dairy, Dairy Equipment, Parve … Do I have to wait before Dairy, etc.?

Meat, Meat Equipment, Dairy, Dairy Equipment, Parve … Do I have to wait before Dairy, etc.?

Eating “out” is very much a part of contemporary society.  What are the chef’s secrets that I need to know?

If you eat at a Dairy/Meat establishment you must assume that anything fried has been made in oil that was used for other items on the menu as well.  That would mean that French fries, onion rings, etc., must be considered to have Dairy/Meat status (unless otherwise verified).  Soups, dressings, and sauces are often enhanced with hidden Dairy/Meat ingredients.  Unless you have verified that your food is Parve you should consider it Dairy/Meat.

How about Dairy/Meat Equipment?   If the only concern is the equipment, there is no need to wait between Meat and Dairy.  Serving the food with the opposite type is more complex, for example: eating a potato that was cooked in a meat pot with Dairy butter.  This question depends on custom, and is different for Sefardim and Ashkenazim.  You should follow your family custom or seek your rabbi’s guidance in this regard.

After eating aged cheese it is necessary to wait (your customary length of time) before eating meat.  Rabbi Gordimer researched the manufacturing process of all major cheeses.  The results of his research are available in the linked file.

As with all practical halocha follow your family custom or seek your rabbi’s guidance.  As always, your family rabbi is your most important resource for personal guidance.

כתיבה וחתימה טובה

May you, your family, loved ones, and all Klal Yisroel be written and inscribed for a good year.

But What Could be Wrong with…


But What Could be Wrong with…

It is often puzzling why the reputable Kashrus agencies require supervision for products that appear to be “natural”.  The following excerpt from the Wall Street Journal of September 14, 2017 makes it quite clear.  This does not mean that every product on the market needs supervision.  For example, laundry detergent does not need supervision.  Some companies wish to supervise all of their products for marketing purposes.  Some Kashrus agencies feel that there are advantages in supervising even products that are 100% innocuous.  In reality though, as technology advances there are fewer and fewer products that are truly innocuous.

“Hart Perez, a 31-year-old video director, became curious about what was inside the product after he spent six months drinking only sparkling water, mostly LaCroix, and “wasn’t feeling as sharp as usual.”

He determined that the product contained “a natural flavor—and natural flavor can really mean anything.” Mr. Perez never figured out more.  “I’ve had two this morning already,” he said on a recent weekday.

“Essence is something mysterious,” says Robin Scott, a 56-year-old rancher in Templeton, Calif., who has been drinking LaCroix for 30 years. When traveling, her first stop after the airport is often a supermarket—to stock up on seltzer. “I know what flavors I like but I have no idea what kinds of chemicals are in there and I don’t care. I know it tastes good.”

A laboratory of EAG Inc., a scientific-services company, said more than $100,000 of testing would be required to independently determine that LaCroix contains only natural essence oils.

Essence isn’t defined in U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, an FDA spokeswoman said. Yet the FDA permits companies to use the word when describing “flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof,” according to food-labeling rules.”

I am including the following links to my Dropbox files from the CRC and Star-K that share the collective research which is the result of the collaboration of all the major agencies.


כתיבה וחתימה טובה

May you, your family, loved ones, and all Klal Yisroel be written and inscribed for a good year.



This is the link for the Slurpee list.


Technology and Scientific Developments Impact on Halocha / Lettuce, Chicken, Ovens, Refrigeration, Lab Grown Meat

Technology and Scientific Developments Impact on Halocha / Lettuce, Chicken, Ovens, Refrigeration, Lab Grown Meat Rav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky zt”l (The Steipler) in his Sefer, Chayai Olam, quotes the Zohar that the wellsprings of scientific knowledge will gush forth during the latter part of the sixth millennia.   We all see that this scientific progress may … Continued

Tevillas Keilim

What needs Tevilla? Utensils which are used for eating or for preparing food require tevilla.  Those utensils that are used in early stages of preparation of food do not require tevilla, for example equipment used to harvest food and equipment used to sift flour.   Only utensils owned by someone who is Jewish that were … Continued


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