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CTI Kashrut Policy

In an effort to continue to create a community standard of kashrut where we can all eat in each other's homes and enjoy each other's hospitality, Congregation Tiferet Israel is publishing an updated list of the approved labels which signify reliable kashrut supervision. You can tell if a product has rabbinic supervision based on a symbol somewhere on the package (see below which products do not need such supervision).

These standards are designed to unite our community — to enable us to feel comfortable in any house we go to. The detailed laws of kashrut are meant to be a celebration of the holiness inherent in our meals. If we all work together to keep to these standards, everyone will feel comfortable in our community, and no one will be judging anyone else's standards because we will all be equal in that regard. We sing, when we put the Torah away, d'racheha darchei no'am — Torah takes us in the most pleasant way. Let us together continue to create a community whose standards reflect the pleasantness we each have within us and which the Torah wants us to bring to our tables and homes.

What makes a supervision (hashgacha) unreliable?

There are many reasons why even a great and pious Torah scholar may be a poor kashrut supervisor (mashgiach). First, the supervisor might rely on certain leniencies, or assumptions, within the law, (halakha), which the Orthodox community of today has chosen (based on the halachic process) not to rely upon. Sometimes our standards of kashrut observance change over time, as we are all, we hope, growing in how we keep mitzvoth. And so the supervising authority needs to keep up with the accepted halacha of today, not just with what was deemed satisfactory many years ago. Unfortunately, some supervisions have not. Other may include a supervisor who is not careful enough on the lines that he is in charge of - not purposely giving hashgacha to a non-kosher product, but, again, not meeting the standards we have come to expect. Some supervisors have apparent attitude problems - they may be too clever for their own good - which seems to prevent them from correcting errors which by nature occur in the kashrut industry, but which demand attention and are immediately addressed by a more reliable organization. Even fancy titles such as "Chief Rabbinate of…" do not ensure reliable supervision. Rather, personal integrity and hard, careful work are what makes a supervision reliable.

What about labels which are not on the list?

There are some labels that are not on the list but are still fully reliable. If you come across one of these labels and have any questions, please feel free to give Rabbi Dan a call or e-mail. Usually they are fine. There are some labels which are not on the list, that require a case-by-case analysis: Some of the products under their supervision are reliable, others are not.

Products from Israel

Products from Israel, under rabbinical supervision, are reliable! However, you must make sure that the product does not contain gelatin (even "kosher" gelatin). The rabbinate in Israel accepts a different standard regarding gelatin than we do in America. If you live in Israel you should feel free to follow their ruling. But in Austin, we need to follow the standards that CTI has accepted here in the Diaspora. Currently that standard is to not allow any gelatin produced from animals. The only gelatin-type product which is acceptable is Kolatin, which is fish gelatin. All the labels on this list will use only kosher gelatin. At Passover time, especially, beware of marshmallows or any chewy candies from Israel, which might have gelatin in them.

The good Half Moon K's

All Half Moon K's are now acceptable!

Cheese and dairy products

Please remember that all cheeses and cheese-based products need reliable supervision, even cheese which is 100% vegetarian. Sometimes, you may be surprised to find products with cheese in them or grape juice which are under reliable supervision, and even though they are not a "Jewish" company, they are perfectly acceptable. Creams can be made with whey that is halachically considered cheese and may contain stabilizers which are not kosher. So even if they have no extra ingredients listed, fresh creams, half-and-half and even milk and Lactaid should all have supervision. However, since the possibility of non-kosher ingredients in these wholly natural cow products is remote, you can rely on any supervision (except for a plain k) for these products. Butter, cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt, however, all need reliable supervision. Creamers with additives and flavorings also need reliable supervision. If you want to be strict about the law of Chalav Yisrael (milk watched by Jews), you need to buy milk which specifically says Chalav Yisrael.

Grape products

Wine, grape juice and any product with grape juice or grape flavoring, including unspecified "fruit juices", need to be reliably certified as kosher. Fresh whole grapes are kosher. Even if a wine is certified kosher, it may not be appropriate for your dinner table - especially in our community. That is because, since our community is so open and diverse, frequently we will have around our shabbat tables beloved people who are gentile or who have not yet fully converted to Judaism or who may have converted with non-halachic conversions. In such a case, only wine that is MEVUSHAL (flash heated or pasteurized) may be served. Almost all American kosher wine is Mevushal (Kedem, Baron Herzog, Weinstock - except when noted), but many of the Israeli wines (especially Galil, Golan and Yarden ) are not. In order to make your table as inclusive and comfortable as possible for all people, please look for the word MEVUSHAL on the back label of the kosher wine you buy (sometimes it is in Hebrew).

Best's Kosher and Hebrew National

Best's Kosher and Hebrew National meats do not meet CTI community standards. Best's Kosher relies on leniencies regarding the lungs of the animals it processes, leniencies that are below the standards of the Orthodox community. Hebrew National seems to have issues with the credibility of its supervision, even though the rabbi in charge, Rabbi Tuvia Stern, is a learned man. Hebrew National is on a lower halachic level than Best's (though Best's apparently is now buying some meat from Hebrew National). It should be noted that neither one is flat-out treif, but, they are not currently up to the standard that the community should be keeping.

Fruit juices

Except for grape juice, which always needs reliable supervision, other fruit juices which are 100% pure - orange, apple, pineapple, grapefruit, etc. - with no added natural or artificial flavorings or added "fruit juice" listed in the ingredients, do not need supervision. However, if possible finding juices with supervision is recommended. There is some debate on this among the supervising authorities. However, the Star- K, a fully reliable supervision under the halachicadministration of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, has ruled that these 100% pure juices do not need supervision. Tomato juice always needs reliable supervision.

Hawaiian Punch of ALL VARIETIES is kosher even without any kashrut label, except boxes of Hawaiian Punch, powder or one-gallon bottles are NOT RELIABLY KOSHER.

Other Beverages

Please be careful to look for supervision on any juices that have added fruit flavorings in them (all tomato juices and grape juices need supervision). Most soft drinks are kosher, including Coca Cola products, Pepsi products, Crush (except for cherry flavor), Dr. Pepper, 7-Up (including cherry), and RC Cola. Feel free to call Rabbi Dan for a complete list provided by the Chicago Rabbinical Council, or contact their website directly: CRCweb.org under "kosher lists". Despite some controversy, all whiskies and unflavored spirits (vodka, gin, Scotch, bourbon, etc.) which are not grape derived are kosher. I rely on Rav Moshe Feinstein and the London Beth Din for this ruling. Unflavored beers do not require supervision. New Zealand beers may be dairy. Liqueurs require reliable supervision except for Amaretto Disaronno, and Peter Cherry Herring, which are both kosher without a kosher sign.

The plain K

Merely having the letter "K" on a product does not mean it is kosher! On the other hand, there are products that bear a "K" which really stands for a reliable supervision. The best example of this is Kellogg's cereal (and other products). “KD” means that they are dairy. Kellogg's with a "K" are under the supervision of the Va'ad Harabanim of Massachusetts. Please note that some of Kellogg's cereals are not kosher and do not bear any "K". Other notable examples of a reliable "K" are Tabasco sauce and Starbuck's Frappacino with a "K" - both under reliable supervisions. Otherwise, you simply have to be "in the know" to know which "K"s you can rely on and which you cannot.

Fresh fish

It is acceptable to buy the fish from a regular store as long as the following conditions are met:

1.   Make sure the fish is a kosher fish.
2.   Make sure you can identify this fish 100% as kosher either by seeing its scales or because it is red (Tuna) or pink (Salmon) in color.
3.   Ask that the fish be cut on a new piece of paper.
4.   If you cannot have them use a knife that you bring, try to have them wash off their knife before they cut your fish. In any case, make sure you wash the fish thoroughly when you get home. Since nothing hot touched the fish, washing them off will clean off anything treif that might have touched them.
5.  If possible, when you return home, you should gently scrape the cut part of the fish with a knife.
 

Frozen Veggies

All frozen vegetables are acceptable, EVEN WHEN THEY DO NOT BEAR ANY CERTIFICATION, with the exception of: Brussels Sprouts, Artichokes and Asparagus.

Frozen Broccoli is acceptable as long as IT IS NOT FROM MEXICO.

Canned FRUIT do not need any supervision (except on Passover) as long as the only added ingredients are salt, sugar, corn syrup or water. The one exception is canned fruit that comes from China (for example, Mandarin oranges): They need reliable supervision.

Cut-up fresh fruit in a supermarket is fine without any supervision.

All unflavored applesauce is kosher even without any supervision. Canned vegetables, along with almost all other processed foods, also need reliable kashrut supervision.

Lettuce needs to be washed.

The following is the procedure for cleaning Romaine lettuce:

1.      Separate Leaves
2.      Soak in Water
3.      Make a complete, leaf by leaf inspection
4.      Wash off any insects
 

Leafy vegetables may now be used.

Bagged lettuce of any kind, which comes with a reliable supervision, does not need to be washed.

Spices

Most spices, whole or ground, do not require kashrut supervision. Please see the Chicago Rabbinical Council's website, CRCweb.org, for a complete list.

List of acceptable Hechsherim:

Tue, August 14 2018 3 Elul 5778