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THE OBSERVANCE OF KASHRUT
AT SYNAGOGUE FUNCTIONS

Standards for Congregational Practice of the USCJ. Article IV, Section 1. The congregation shall require, and make every effort to ensure, that Shabbat and Kashrut are appropriately observed at all functions on the premises owned or under its control, and functions sponsored by the congregation or under its auspices on other premises. All of such functions shall be viewed as mean to further the teachings and values of Judaism.

Outside the Synagogue:

The synagogue will sometimes publicize & sponsor dairy/vegetarian potlucks that take place off-site, on Shabbat and weekdays. Please to check the ingredient list for anything non-kosher or non-identifiable, and cook & purchase your food before Shabbat. Food served on Shabbat should be served cold or on a hotplate set up before Shabbat (i.e. on a timer).

For a post-synagogue potluck, please keep all food cold during services. You can either drop off your dish at the host house ahead of time, or store it in the walk-in refrigerator during services on a special shelf.

Inside the Synagogue:

Dairy/vegetarian food may be brought in from kosher homes, or by somebody who prepares food with kosher pans and is trained/certified by the rabbi. People without kosher kitchens can also bring fresh fruits/vegetables, or kosher packaged items with a legitimate hechsher. Food must be prepared in accordance with the rabbi’s standards of kashrut.

No non-hechshered cheeses allowed, although congregants who follow Conservative kashrut in their homes do not need to re-kasher their dishes. All food will be served cold, and on recyclable or biodegradable paper/plastic plates. The actual kitchen will be locked.

All functions held under the auspices of the synagogue or any of its affiliates must be kosher, no matter where they are held. When synagogue functions are held at the homes of members who observe kashrut (minimally, buying only kosher meat and keeping separate utensils for meat and dairy), no further stipulations are necessary, even if the members in question do not observe all the kashrut standards observed in the synagogue kitchen. When synagogue functions are held in the homes of members who do not regularly observe kashrut, the following guidelines should be followed:

1. No non-kosher meat and no meat and dairy mixtures may be served. In checking the ingredients of foods to be used, one should be aware of the following common problems:

a. Some soup mixes (like Lipton's Onion Soup) have a non-kosher meat base.
b. Many baked goods are dairy.
c. Whey and sodium caseinate are dairy products.
d. Some tuna fish is dairy (because the "hydrolyzed protein" in it is derived from milk). Canned tuna fish does not typically contain tuna fish only.

2. If the food to be served is uncooked, then any dishes at hand may be used.

3. If only light refreshments (such as cake and coffee) are to be served, then one would do well to buy certified kosher baked goods. One should watch for dairy / pareve status.

4. If food is to be cooked, then it should preferably be cooked and served with disposable utensils. If that course is not feasible, then cooking pans should be lined with aluminum foil and disposable table ware should be used. If that course is not feasible, then any utensils used in connection with the cooking and serving of the food should be left unused for 24 hours before their use for the synagogue function.

5. While many people focus on the use of glass plates as a way of insuring kashrut in otherwise non-kosher situations, in fact, the dishes on which food is served are the least important links in the chain. Indeed, one may reasonably serve kosher food, not only on glass plates, but also on glazed ceramic or china plates, without impairing its kashrut. The pots, pans, and other utensils used in preparing cooked food are the real kashrut problems in such situations.

 

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