STAR-K Kosher Certification has provided kosher supervision for over fifty years. The STAR-K, formerly known as the Orthodox Jewish Council of Baltimore/ Vaad Hakashrus, originally served the Jewish community of Baltimore.
As the demand for “kosher” began to explode in the 1970s, the Vaad expanded both its services and staff, under Rabbi Moshe Heinemann’s leadership as Rabbinic Administrator. With the spread of Rabbi Heinemann’s reputation as an expert in the integration of the complexities of food technology with kosher requirements, the STAR-K assumed a more prominent role on the international kashruth scene. STAR-K’s kosher symbol quickly gained wider recognition. Its roster of local companies grew to include food manufacturers and distributors worldwide.
As the STAR-K earned respectability in the world of kosher certification, its Rabbinic Administrators were consulted regularly for authoritative opinions in the complex world of Kashrus. The STAR-K Kashrus Hotline was busy responding to inquiries, disseminating the latest information to consumers, and assisting manufacturers from around the globe in acquiring kosher certification. Its popular and internationally distributed newsletter, Kashrus Kurrents, became a leading voice and primary source of information.
As a leader in the international world of kosher certification, the STAR-K is most proud of its reputation for providing prompt, friendly and professional service to both the kosher consumer and members of the food industry.
With the burgeoning growth of young Sephardic bnei Torah, one of the leading Sephardic rabbanim in Baltimore, Rav Emmanuel Goldfeiz, shlita, engaged in many conversations with Dr. Avrom Pollak, President of STAR-K, concerning the kashrus needs of Sephardic communities, during his weekly visits to the STAR-K forshaatnez checking. As the presence of Sephadic communities grew, Rav Goldfeiz felt that the particular chumrot required by the Edot Hamizrach for centuries should be offered in the U.S., as well. A logical extension of the growth of Sephardic communities would be caring for their kashrut concerns. During these discussions withRav Goldfeiz, Dr. Pollak realized that additional growing communities existed within the New York/New Jersey area that could also greatly benefit from such an effort – that of the Syrian communities in Brooklyn and Deal. These communities have been developing with incredible speed and have become a juggernaut of bnei Torah, with representation in all the major yeshivot in the U.S. and Israel, including Baltimore’s Ner Yisroel. With these two strong communities sharing common kashrut needs, a solution to this issue became practical.
With HaRav Moshe Heinemann,shlita’s bracha, Dr. Pollak and Rav Goldfeiz mapped out a plan to create a hechsher called STAR-S with the support of an international network of kosher certified companies. The goal would be to address the necessities of those communities in need and provide them with much needed products at the highest standards, according to the time-honored minhagim of Sephardim as well as Bnei Edot Hamizrach. The mission of STAR-S is to provide consumers with products that meet Sephardic chumrot in four areas:
Bishul Beit Yosef
While Ashkenazim require Bishul Yisrael, according to Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 113, the Rama permits foods cooked by a non-Jew as long as the fires are lit by a Jew. Per Maran Beit Yosef, these foods are not fit for consumption unless at least the first third of the cooking was performed by a Jew.
Chalak Beit Yosef
Rama permits animals with certain blemishes on their lungs; Maran Beit Yosef does not permit this. All Glatt Kosher lamb and veal should meet the standards ofBeit Yosef, however, beef products are generally not subject to this requirement.
While many Ashkenazic communities outside of Eretz Yisrael are lenient concerning grain products that are not yoshon, Maran Beit Yosef and all Sephardic communities are machmir in this regard.
Rama rules that all bread that qualifies as Turisa D’Nahama is considered to be Hamotzi. Maran Beit Yosef rules that bread with sweetness or taste isMezonos. Therefore, many challot and rolls are considered to be Mezonos by Sephardim.
STAR-S has pioneered domestic production of Kitniyot L’Pesach on a Mehadrin standard.
Star-D is the registered trademark of the National Council of Young Israel. The Rav Hamachshir is Rav Naftali Burnstein Shlit”a of the Young Israel of Cleveland as noted on all STAR-D Letters of Certification. In its relationship with STAR-K, All Star-D establishments and products are administered by STAR-K personnel. All standards of STAR-K are employed in Star-D certifications except for the fact that Star-D products are cholov stam – not cholov yisroel. Many iconic brands carry a STAR-D including Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, Graeter’s Ice Cream, Seattle Chocolates, Cargill Chocolate, ADM Cocoa selected 7-11 snacks, selected Edible Arrangements & Rita’s Italian Ices and many more products worldwide.
The STAR-K symbol on dairy products is ALWAYS cholov yisroel, a “Super-Kosher” standard for milk production which includes the constant presence of a kosher supervisor. These products are certified by STAR-K Certification, Inc. whose Rabbinic Administrator is Rabbi Moshe Heinemann.