PREPARING KOSHER FOOD FOR DC MINYAN COMMUNAL EVENTS
DC Minyan’s Kashrut Policy for communal events requires that all food be made using certified kosher ingredients and using kosher equipment. There are many ways for participants to prepare food, uncooked and cooked, even if their homes do not adhere to the policy. Below are some examples, including a few simple techniques for kashering equipment. Please note, however, that this list is not exhaustive and that the rules of kashrut are complex. If you have questions, you can email email@example.com.
Ways to prepare food without kashering equipment:
- Prepare a cold salad or fruit salad with utensils and serving pieces that have been washed thoroughly. Please ensure that neither the salad nor the dressing include any hot (charif) ingredients. Hot ingredients include ones that are physically hot and ones that taste “hot,” like onions and garlic. If you would like to use this type of ingredient, use a new and/or disposable knife and cutting surface.
- If using the oven, use disposable pans and double wrap the food that you are preparing in foil.
Ways to prepare food if you use products that are not certified kosher in the home, but always use kosher meat and have separate dishes and utensils for meat and dairy meals:
- Use pots, pans and utensils that have not been used for at least 24 hours (see explanation below) and ensure that all the ingredients for the DC Minyan meal are certified kosher; OR
- Kasher the pots and utensils used for preparing the food as described below.
Ways to kasher equipment:
- Oven: Clean out the oven and turn on the highest heat for one hour, or run the self-clean function.
- Stovetop: Clean the stovetop and then turn your burners on to their highest setting for several minutes.
- Microwave: Clean the microwave, fill a bowl with water, and put it in the microwave for one minute on the highest setting so that the water boils.
- Pots and pans: Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil, then drop the item you wish to kasher by putting it into the boiling water and completely immersing it for at least 15 seconds. If the pot or pan to be kashered is too big to submerge in another pot, fill it with water to the very top and boil the water. Heat a large stone or other piece of metal. Using a pair of tongs, put the stone or heated metal into the pot causing the water to overflow the top of the pot.
- Utensils: If the utensil is entirely metal, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil, then drop the utensil you wish to kasher by putting it into the boiling water and completely immersing it for at least 15 seconds.
A HALACHIC EXPLANATION OF THE 24 HOUR RULE
RABBI ETHAN TUCKER, MECHON HADAR
Jewish communities throughout the ages have always disagreed on a number of matters relating to kashrut while still wanting to be able to share community with one another through food. A number of strategies evolved for maintaining the integrity of communal standards while maximizing the possibilities for interaction.
Three rules apply to cooking utensils that are used to cook forbidden food:
1) Those utensils may never be used to cook permitted food until they have been kashered.
2) If the utensils were cleaned and had not been used for 24 hours and were then used to cook permitted food, then that food is unaffected and remains kosher. In other words, while one is procedurally forbidden from using such utensils without kashering, they lose their ability to render anything else non-kosher after 24 hours of inactivity.
3) One may not rely on rule (2) by using an agent to circumvent rule (1). For instance, one cannot instruct a Gentile — for whom forbidden pots are “permitted”—to cook food in a forbidden pot that has been unused for 24 hours and then eat the food on the theory that it was not affected by the former contents of the pot.
Now, imagine applying these rules to two people who disagree over whether something is kosher. A follows a posek who permits consuming non-hekhshered cheese, while B follows one who forbids this. If B wanted to use A’s utensils that were used for cooking non-hekhshered cheese, s/he would have to kasher that utensil. But from A’s perspective, the utensil is perfectly kosher! R. Levi ibn Habib (Greece/Eretz Yisrael, 16th c.), also known as Maharalbah, addressed this question in Responsum #121. He outlined the following approach: B can eat from food cooked with A’s utensils if a) the ingredients of any food made by A for B are kosher by B’s standards, b) the utensils were unused for 24 hours prior to being used to cook this food, and c) A made the food not only for B, but for others who follow A’s standards (which can include A him/herself). If one follows all of these conditions, then there is no violation of any of the rules above. Rule (1) is not violated, since, in A’s halakhic world, the utensils were never used to prepare forbidden food and thus no kashering is required. Rule (2) is not violated, since even B concedes that proper ingredients that were cooked with a problematic utensil after 24 hours of non-use are not affected by that utensil’s history. And rule (3) is not violated, since A is not cooking food specifically for B, but rather is including B in a group that includes those for whom the utensils in question are totally permissible.
In other words, B cannot ask A to cook food in one of A’s pots that has sat unused for 24 hours to save him the trouble of kashering it. But B can eat food cooked in such a pot as long as he and others with his/her standard are not the sole beneficiaries. This means that one can be a guest in such a person’s house or eat from their food at a potluck; in both cases the cook also intends the food to be consumed by those who have no problem with the utensils’ history.
Maharalbah’s approach is cited by Shakh Yoreh Deah 119:20 and is accepted by later authorities. It forms the basis for our policy here.