Star-K Experts Address NCYI Rabbinic Training Program Attendees


rav-moshe-heinemannRabbi Eli Eleff received semichah just last year and is a member of the kollel of Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim in Kew Gardens Hills, New York. He is planning to pursue one of the various fields of rabbonus, specializing in kashrus. For this reason, Rabbi Eleff was amongst the 43 advanced rabbinical students and novice practicing pulpit rabbis who attended the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) Rabbinic Training Program.

Recently, Star-K experts were invited to share their rabbinical knowledge with the Rabbinic Training Program attendees. Rav Moshe Heinemann, Rabbinic Administrator of Star-K, discussed “The Rov and His Shul Kitchen”; Rabbi Mordechai Frankel, director of Star-K’s Institute of Halacha, dealt with “Shailos of Kashrus: How to Pasken if You’re Not a Posek“; and Star-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Zvi Goldberg lectured on “The Out-of-Town Rov and the World of Kashrus – A Focus on the Local Vaad.”

“The NCYI Rabbinic Training program affords us the opportunity to explore, gain knowledge of, and experience the specific elements, both halachic and pragmatic, of a twenty-first century rov,” explains Rabbi Eleff. “Although one may leave the four walls of the bais hamedrash with vast knowledge of Torah, there are many real-life aspects that are never encountered in yeshiva, and the program attempts to address and educate young rabbonim about these issues. The bulk of the halachic material that is studied for semichah directly correlates to the laws of kashrus, and thus, participating in a seminar with representatives of a national kashrus agency is really an opportunity to see halacha as applied to real world situations.”

Some of the issues discussed were the importance of a small town rov mentoring with rabbis in major kashrus agencies, the responsibility of teaching kashrus to his community and workers in facilities, and the basic components of a reliable vaad.

Practical shul kitchen kashrus guidelines and specific guidelines for keeping simchos at a moderate cost were reviewed as well. In addition, practical pointers for paskening shailos and the answers to common kitchen kashrus questions were covered.

Presenters highlighted actual case-in-point scenarios and offered their solutions in dealing with them. The question-and-answer sessions which followed clarified issues such as, “How do you decide which standard of kashrus to use in your community?” “Is there room to be more lenient in a small-town vaad situation?” “How do you certify an establishment that is open on Shabbos?” “How do you choose which hechsheirim to allow in your facility?” and “How do you know what to charge for providing certification?”

“The representatives of the Star-K were most gracious in giving of their precious time, to travel from Baltimore to New York in order to be marbitz Torah, and I am extremely appreciative of this fact,” says Rabbi Eleff. “Their presentation was extremely informative and clear. It is apparent that these rabbonim, especially Rav Heinemann, are dedicated to their profession and work on behalf of Klal Yisroel. The matter which impressed me the most was that the Star-K employs a very distinguished talmid chochom, Rabbi Frankel, whose job is to answer halachic shailos that come to the office, even those which are completely unrelated to kashrus matters.

“It is crucial for a pulpit rabbi, and those involved in local vaadim, to have contact with a national agency in order to keep abreast of the latest developments in this complicated world of kashrus,” continues Rabbi Eleff. “The Star-K afforded many at the program the opportunity to make that contact with an agency, which not only supervises on the industrial and national levels, but is extremely involved back home in Baltimore, as it is the local kashrus supervising body as well.”

Rabbi Binyamin Hammer, NCYI’s Director of Rabbinic Services, summed it up: “It is always amazing when the Star-K comes to our Rabbinic Training Program,” he says. “They have participated with us over the last ten years to enlighten and educate our rabbonim. Although the topic is kashrus, each presenter gives a tremendous amount of depth to the understanding of a rov‘s responsibility to his shul kitchen, his community, and the greater kehillah. Each presenter is so well prepared that the young rabbinic trainees develop a sense of great respect for the knowledge and effort put in by the Star-K presenters.”

{Margie Pensak/ Newscenter}