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Kashrut Policy

Kashrut is a central value for DC Minyan, and all of our communal events follow standards of kashrut intended to ensure that the largest number of members is comfortable eating. We also recognize that, as has been the case in many Jewish communities throughout history, DC Minyan community members observe a range of kashrut standards in their own homes. After considering relevant halachic guidelines and principles, we have formulated a policy that respects the range of practices in our community and maximizes our potential for hospitality meal matching. If you have any questions regarding this policy, please email info@dcminyan.org.

Communal Events

Food served at any communal DC Minyan event must be prepared using certified kosher products on utensils and appliances that are kosher. Communal events include all formal events coordinated by DC Minyan and advertised through our weekly emails. Many communal events, including kiddush and community dinners, occur at the JCC and are typically catered, while others, such as Mystery Guest Shabbat meals, neighborhood Chanukah candle lightings, or seudot shlishit, take place in private homes. Everyone contributing cooked food to a communal event in any setting must adhere to this standard in the preparation of his or her contribution.

While we require all ingredients and supplies used in preparing food for communal events to be kosher, it is possible for participants to contribute food even if their homes do not adhere to the policy. The simplest way to contribute is to bring packaged food that is certified kosher: something you can find in a local grocery store, like drinks, challah, hummus, or cookies. DC Minyan accepts all kashrut certifications other than a simple “K”. Because of leniencies in halacha around the preparation of cold foods, it is also consistent with the communal standard to prepare a cold salad or cut fruit in any home, as long as the salad does not feature any astringent or spicy (charif) ingredients such as onions, garlic, pepper, lemons, etc.

In addition, there are also ways to prepare cooked food that will meet the communal standard in a kitchen that does not adhere to this policy. See below for more information.

Hospitality Meal Matching

For informal hospitality meal matches, our hospitality coordinators will make matches based on the preferences and practices of those being matched. Coordinators will make every effort to ensure that all the parties feel comfortable and welcome.

No food may be cooked on Shabbat for either communal events or hospitality meals.

History

When DC Minyan conducted a community-wide survey in 2009 as part of the DC Minyan Dialogue process, members expressed frustration with aspects of the existing kashrut policy. In response, the Steering Committee assembled a Kashrut Taskforce made up of volunteers working in tandem with the Gabbai Committee to study Jewish source texts on kashrut, to research the policies of other communities, and to consider relevant teshuvot (halachic responsa) relating to communal kashrut standards. After conducting research and deliberations, the Kashrut Taskforce shared its findings with the Steering Committee. Members of the Kashrut Taskforce then assisted the Steering Committee in developing a policy recommendation based on the findings. In May 2011, the Leadership Council voted to adopt the revised Kashrut Policy recommended by members of the Kashrut Taskforce and the Steering Committee.

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, email info@dcminyan.org.

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.

Wed, June 26 2019 23 Sivan 5779