By Margie Pensak
A colorful, cutesy “Kosher Basics” PowerPoint was the springboard for a well-received interactive presentation made by STAR-K Kosher Certification Assistant Director of Supervision Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld for Cornell University senior dietetics students, on February 28. It preceded a tour of the
STAR-K certified kosher kitchen on the Ithaca, New York, campus for the future registered dietitians.
The presentation topics included: The Torah basis for Kashrus, ingredient sources, ritual slaughter, dairy and meat, vegetable checking for infestation, grape and wine products, Bishul Yisroel, the role of a Kosher certification agency, how to set up a kosher kitchen, and the practical application of the Kosher rules. Chef Jason Haus and mashgiach Gavriel Ress were also present to provide a comprehensive overview of the Cornell Dining team who work together to accomplish STAR-K certified dining at Cornell.
“To make it practical for them, we formulated and discussed various menus,” notes Rabbi Kurcfeld. “I emphasized the importance of sourcing kosher brands, scheduling their menus to allow for the meat to dairy six-hour waiting period, developing Sabbath-compliant menus, adjusting salt content in menus in consideration of meat koshering, and following special Kosher for Passover laws.”
Emily Wilcox Gier, Cornell University’s Senior Lecturer/Director Didactic Program in Dietetics, shares, “Rabbi Kurcfeld’s presentation provided depth and breadth on Kosher dietary laws to enhance Cornell’s students’ knowledge of what it would take to provide Kosher meals in a quantity food production unit. Dietetics students need to understand dietary needs across the lifespan and wellness spectrum and be able tailor meals to meet individual requirements and preferences. The details on Kosher dietary laws is an important aspect of their education. I would enjoy hearing him speak again and hope to have him back in the classroom in the future.”
Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences is the largest academic unit in the United States devoted to the study of human nutrition, and one of the world’s preeminent institutions for nutrition education, research, and service. Upon graduating these students will assume leading positions in community, clinical and management settings.
On behalf of her class, student Pooja Verma expresses their rave review of the “Kosher Basics” presentation:
“Rabbi Kurcfeld is an extremely engaging and effective speaker. He made the fine details of Kosher dining very clear to a class that was mostly unaware of even the major ideas of Kosher food. This lecture which very informative and interesting, and certainly opened my eyes and made me appreciate the intricacies of Kosher food to a much greater degree.”
The positive experience was mutual. “I enjoyed the interaction with the students and was very impressed by the solid, astute questions that they asked,” remarks Rabbi Kurcfeld. “When those with whom I interface in the field have a real grasp and appreciation of Kashrus, as these students now do, it makes my job so much easier. They have been sensitized to the fact that Kosher is not a diet fad, but an obligation some patients have, and in turn, one that they have to ensure that those patients abide by their religion.”
Concludes Rabbi Kurcfeld with a chuckle, “I would never have been able to make it into Cornell; I finally found a much easier way to get in!”