A Guide to Keeping Kosher -------------------------
Fundamental Practices of the Jewish Dietary Laws ------------------------------------------------
Why Keep Kosher ---------------
In seeking a rationale behind any commandment, one must
understand that the essence of a mitzvah is its emanation from G-d: a holy Divine decree designed to elevate the Jew in both body and spirit. Whatever reasons we discover to explain and heighten the importance of keeping kosher are merely theories, not meant to supersede the ultimate value of kashrut - the establishment of a bond between G-d and His people.
Eating is a basic function, common to all human life. We
spend a good deal of our time with food: buying it, cooking it, eating it. No fewer than 50 of the 613 Biblical commandments deal with food. A Jew must approach this universal need in a spiritual as well as a physical manner, and elevate it to a holy act. by asking,"Is it kosher?", by shaping our diet to conform to G-d's dictates, we sanctify our tables, and ourselves.
Keeping kosher, a way of life not nearly as difficult as
it at first seems, carries with it imminse rewards and satisfactions. It makes a home a Jewish home; it gives our meals a unique, traditional quality; it forges a link in the grand chain of Judaism now more than 3,000 years young. Above all, it creates a special feeling in that man, woman, boy, or girl, who is making his or her life a little bit more divine.
How Do I Know It's Kosher? --------------------------
The word "kosher" means fit for use according to Jewish
law. Although the Torah does list the signs identifying kosher animals and fish, the intricacies of food processing today require a strict supervision by a qualified Mashgiach (kashrut supervisor). For all processed foods, it is absolutely impossible to determine the kashrut of a product strictly by examining the ingredients on a package. Federal law does not require the listing of all ingredients. A product may contain kosher ingredients but be prepared in an unkosher fashion (i.e., pans greased with animal fat); an ingredient may in itself require supervision (i.e., mono and diglycerides). Therefore, an essential part of kashrut is the symbol accompanying the product which informs the consumer that every aspect of kashrut has been observed regarding this product.
There are many kashrut symbols. The most widely accepted
of these are the Circle-U (OU), Circle-K (OK), Chof-K, and the Triangle-cRc. Other symbols should be checked out with a competent orthodox Rabbi as to the level of qualified supervision. A "K" alone on a product does not assure its kashrut, since the "K" cannot be copyrighted and anyone may put a "K" on a product, kosher or not. The words "Kosher", "Parve", or "Kosher-style" do not assure kashrut, again for the above-mentioned resons. Both products and establishments (butcher shops, restaurants, etc.) need proper supervision by a competent orthodox Rabbinical authority or organization.
Setting Up a Kosher Kitchen ---------------------------
For those ready to embrace the mitzvah of Kashrut, there
are several steps invilved in setting up a kosher kitchen.
1) Consult your rabbi to determine what foods, utensils, appliances, and kitchen paraphernalia are kosher or may be made kosher. 2) Make a list of the utensils and dishes for meat and dairy meals. 3) Tour a supermarket with a kashrut-observing friend to familiarize yourself with kosher products. 4) Designate specific areas of your kitchen for meat and daury. 5) Color-coordinate your meat and dairy utensils and dishes. 6) Designate and label baking utensils as pareve, and store them in a parve area. 7) Designate one sink (or one side of the sink) as meat and the other as dairy. Each should have its own dish rack, sponge, and mat. 8) Prepare a brief description of your kitchen's kashrut setup (such as where you keep your meat and dairy dishes and silverware) for baby sitters and house guests. 9) There are several organizations which provide subsidies for those converting a home to kosher. Up to 50% of the cost of your new dishes may subsidized. Contact your rabbi for details. 10) In the event of a mix-up in your kitchen, set aside the dish or utensil and contact your rabbi.
Separate Dishes and Utensils ----------------------------
The kosher kitchen has separate sets of dishes, pots,
silverware, trays, and sugar and salt containers. It is advisable to have different colors or patterns for meat and dairy utensils, so as to avoid their accidentally being mixed together. Utensils should be differently designed or properly labeled "M" or "D", if possible, and kept in separate cabinets.
The Sink --------
Separate sinks for washing dishes and preparing foods are
preferable. If there is only one sink, dishes and silverware should not be placed directly in the sink. Separate dish pans or slightly elevated racks should be placed in the sink, and the meat or dairy dishes placed on them.
The sink accessories, such as dish towels, sponges,
scouring pads, and draining boards, should be separate for meat and dairy, The same tablecloth, unless washed in between, should not be used interchangeably for meat and dairy. Kosher detergents and soaps must be used.
The Refrigerator and Freezer ----------------------------
Meat and dairy products may be placed in the same
refrigerator or freezer; however, care should be taken to prevent spilling or leaking from one shelf to another. It is advisable to designate different shelves for meat and dairy products.
The Dishwasher --------------
It is preferable that a dishwasher be used for either meat
or dairy only, but not both.
Small Appliances ----------------
A mixmaster, blender, food processor, grinder, etc. does
not require a separate motor in order to be used for meat and dairy products. However, one must use separate attachments to the appliance (blades, dough hooks, glass bowls, etc.) which come into direct contact with food. Even when using separate attachements, the machine should be cleaned thoroughly after each use.
The Oven and Stove ------------------
It is preferable to have separate ranges and ovens for
meat and dairy products. For those who do not, meat and dairy products should not be baked or broiled in the same oven at the same time, even in separate and closed bakeware. One should also see that dairy products baked in an oven which is also used for meat do not absorb the splatterings of meat which may drip from the top or sides of the oven.
Meat and dairy products may be cooked separately on the
same stove, but care should be taken to avoid splattering or boiling over from one pot to another.
Microwave Oven --------------
Again, it is preferable to have seperate ovens for meat
and dairy products. For those who don't, both meat and dairy food may be cooked in the same microwave oven, though not at the same time. However, separate dishes for holding food should be used for meat and dairy.
The Bible identifies kosher meat as that which comes from
an animal which both chews its cud and has split hooves, and is slaughtered according to Jewish law (Lev. 11:1-43). The abundance of laws and the necessity of skill involved in shechita (kosher sloughtering) has created regional centers where slaughtering is performed by a trained, observant Shochet with the meat then shipped to local butchers. Cattle and sheep are the most frequently used sources of kosher meat.
In addition to kosher meat markets (which, like all food,
must be under proper Rabbinical supervision), most major supermarkets have a kosher frozen foods section and carry several varieties of pre-wrapped kosher meat.
Only the forequarters of a kosher animal may be eaten.
The hindquarters contain the sciatic nerve and fats forbidden by the Torah, and may not be eaten. Therefore, because of the difficulty of removing the nerve and fat, real sirloin or T-bone steaks are not available.
Fowl - Poultry --------------
Physical characteristics are not relied upon as a means of
kosher identification of fowl species. Only fowl having a tradition of being a kosher species may be used. These include: Capon, chicken, turkey, pigeon, tame duck, tame goose, tame dove. Wild birds such as wild hen, wild duck, wild goose, and birds of prey are not kosher. Fowl and poultry, like meat, must be ritually slaughtered by a qualified shochet.
Except for Yeminite Jews, who have a tradition of which
insects are kosher (as per Lev. 11:21-22), all manner of insects are forbidden. Foods, especially vegetables, should be checked to be free of insects and worms.
Kashering of Meat -----------------
The Torah explicitly forbids the eating of blood (Lev.
17:11) for "the life of the flesh is the blood". Therefore, after an animal is properly slaughtered, the blood must be removed. Though this is usually done by the butcher, or processing plant, one must inquire so as to be absolutely certain that the meat has been properly kashered. If the meat has not been kashered, there are two methods of removing the blood: salting or broiling.
A. Broiling -----------
Proper broiling of meat extracts all blood. Prior to
broilint, the meat should be rinsed in cold water and lightly sprinkled with coarse salt. The meat is then immediately placed over an open flame or electric grid on a perforated tray, and broiled until at least half-done, on each side. The drippings and the pan used to collect the drippings are not kosher, and should not come into contact with the meat. The meat is then rinsed after broiling. Separate knives and forks should be set aside for use with unkoshered meat being broiled.
B. Salting ----------
Meat must be salted within 72 hours of being slaughtered,
unless the meat has been thoroughly rinsed within that time. One needs four objects for salting: 1) coarse "Kosher" salt, 2) cold water, 3) a deep tub for soaking, and 4) an inclined perforated board.
The meat is rinsed and submerged in cold water in the tub
for one half-hour. The meat is then drained and placed on the inclined perforated board so that the blood will be able to drain away from the meat. The meat is then salted on both sides with a fine covering of coarse salt. The salt will extract the blood from the meat. The meat should then remain on the board, covered by the salt for one hour. The meat should then be thoroughly rinsed three times.
Because it contains an abundance of blood, liver can be
kashered ONLY through broiling. A special pan used exclusively for broiling liver should have a top or grid with regularly spaced holes, allowing the blood to drip into the pan while the meat broils. The liver may not be broiled in its own blood. The utensils used for broiling liver should be set aside and not be used for any other purpose. The liver, after being sprinkled lightly with coarse salt, should be broiled on both sides until edible, or at least until a crust is formed. After rinsing the liver, it may be cooked in any way desired.
ONE SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO REMOVE THE PACKAGED LIVER FROM
CHICKENS AND TURKEYS BEFORE COOKING. If one did inadvertently cook with the liver inside the fowl, an orthodox Rabbi should be consulted.
Salt-Free Diets ---------------
People on an absolutely salt-free diet, may broil their
meat on a grid to remove the blood before eating. Again, meat which is soaked for two hours after salting does become dietetically salt-free, but a doctor should be consulted.
Only eggs of kosher fowl are permissible to be eaten; eggs
of non-kosher birds or fowl are not kosher.
A blood spot found on the white or yolk of an egg renders
the entire egg not kosher. Each egg should be examined individually after cracking to determine whether there are any blood spots. In making an omelet, for example, each egg should be examined by itself before being combined with the other eggs. When boiling eggs, one should always boil a minimum of three eggs, so as to render any possible blood spotted egg in the minority.
Eggs are a basic ingredient in many food items, including
such products as noodles, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. Therefore, all products containing eggs or egg albumen require kashrut supervision.
Only fish with both fins and scales may be eaten. While
all fish which have scales have fins as well, many fish which have fins do not have scales and are therefore not kosher.
There is no prohibition regarding the eating of blood from
fish, nor is any ritual slaughter necessary.
Fish are considered pareve (neither meat or dairy) and may
be eaten together with milk or meat meals. However, fish should not be cooked or eaten together with meat, and one should use separate utensils for eating fish and meat.
A partial list of kosher fish includes: anchovies, bass,
bluefish, carp, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, herring, mackerel, pike, red snapper, salmon, sardines, shad, smelt, sole, trout, tuna, whitefish. Among the non-kosher fish are catfish, eel, porpoise, shark, sturgeon, and swordfish.
Crustaceans: All shellfish, such as clams, crabs,
lobsters, oysters, scallops, and shrimp are not kosher.
Caviar: The eggs of non-kosher fish such as lumpfish or
sturgeon are forbidden, as is caviar made from it. The roe (eggs) of salmon and other kosher fish is permissible, but would require kosher certification.
Fresh Fish: When buying fresh fish which is filleted, one
must be sure that the fish was not filleted with the same knife or on a board used for filleting non-kosher fish. It is preferable to either fillet the fish yourself, or purchase fish from a store which sells only kosher fish.
Processed Fish: Fried fish, fish sticks, or fish patties
need proper kashrut supervision, so as to be sure that the fish, oil, and other ingredients are kosher, as is the preparation of the fish.
Smoked Fish: Kashrut certification is needed for smoked
fish products, even if the fish is whole and not filleted. Many companies which produce both kosher smoked fish (sable, salmon, whitefish) also produce non-kosher varieties (eel, sturgeon) and use the same utensils and smoke house for both. Also, smoked salmon is often sliced and packed in oil which must be certified as kosher.
Herring: Herring products must be certified as kosher.
Pickled herring contains several spice blends which are often prepared with mono- and di-glycerides which need certification. Vinegar must be of kosher origin. Wine vinegar requires certification. Sour cream used in herring must also be certified. Chopped herring may contain bread crumbs, spices, and dressings, all of which need supervision. Some varieties of Matjes herring are made with wine and are not kosher. Schmaltz herring, while inherently kosher, must be sliced and prepared in a kosher manner, separate from non-kosher products.
Dairy Products --------------
Dairy products should not be assumed to be kosher merely
because they are dairy. Numerous dairy products may be non-kosher unless properly supervised.
Cheese: All varieties of cheese require Kosher
certification, including hard cheeses (American, Swiss, Cheddar, Muenster, etc.). Cheeses are often processed with rennet, which is derived from the stomach lining of animals, usually, calves. Kosher cheese requires that the rennet used be from kosher animals properly slaughtered. Some cottage cheeses and yogurts are also made with rennet and therefore need proper supervision.
Whey: Cheese by-products may be used only when the rennet
used in the cheese manufacture is kosher. Whey is derived from the watery part of milk which is separated from the curd in cheese-making. It is used widely in ice cream and baked goods and therefore they require supervision.
Ice Cream: Contrary to popular opinion, ice cream must be
supervised for kashrut. It contains a variety of emulsifiers, stabilizers, and flavorings which require supervision. Even when the ice cream itself is certified as kosher, one must be sure that the toppings - both flavorings and whipped cream, as well as the cones and cookies served with it, are kosher.
"Non-Dairy" Products --------------------
Very often products such as margarine, coffee creamer, or
imitation sour cream are labeled as "non-dairy". This may indicate only that the product is not a NATURAL dairy food product. It may, however, contain dairy ingredients (such as whey, sodium caseinate, etc.) and therefore is to be considered dairy. One should examine the kosher symbol and look for a "D" (for dairy) next to it or the word Pareve.
Sherbert: Government regulations require that any products
labeled as "sherbert" contain milk. Even water ices should not be assumed to be pareve, nor should they be assumed to be kosher unless so certified, because of the flavorings and stabilizers involved.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Canned Goods ------------------------------------
All fresh fruits and vegetables are kosher. Processed
fruits and vegetables, when in sauce, need proper supervision. Frozen vegetables without sauce are kosher. Canned fruits, because they are processed seasonally in canneries dealing only with fruits, are kosher. However, tomato juice, ketchup, canned soups, sauces, or beans (other than stringsbeans) must be kosher endorsed. They are usually processed in plants producing similar varieties of products that contain meat, cheese, and other non-kosher food.
Pure frozen or fresh juice (other than grape juice) is
permissible. Blended juice drinks and fruit punch , however, need kosher certification, as they may contain grape juice, flavorings and stabilizers of non-kosher origin.
Baby Foods ----------
All baby foods - vegetables, fruits, cereals, and puddings
- must be certified kosher, since baby foods are produced in plants which also produce baby food meats, using the same equipmint. Most baby cereals contain mono- and di-glycerides, which are kosher only if manufactured under supervision.
If your baby has a dietary need involving a product not
under supervision, a competent orthodox Rabbi should be consulted.
Wines, Liqueurs, and Grape Products -----------------------------------
Wines and wine products, such as champagne, vermouth,
brandy, and cognac must be prepared under strict Rabbinical supervision. Grape juice and wine vinegar are considered as wine and must also be certified as kosher.
Many alcoholic beverages have a grape base and require
supervision. These include fruit liqueurs, cordials, Sangrias, and coolers. All products whose ingredients include grapes or grape flavor require Rabbinical supervision.
Vitamins, or the capsules in which they are contained,
often contain stearates, gelatin, animal by-products, or coatings of non-kosher origin. Kosher-certified vitamins are widely available. In cases where a medical need is involved, a proper rabbinical authority should be consulted.
Bakeries, Baked Goods, and Breads ---------------------------------
The manufacture of bread, pastries, and other baked
products by a bakery requires proper Rabbinical supervision to resolve many questions. Is the shortening kosher? Are the pans greased with a kosher grease? Are the fillings, cremes, or chocolates being used certified as kosher? Because of these and other questions, one should buy baked products from a supervised bakery or supervised packaged goods. A wide variety of kosher pastries and breads is today available at supermarkets.
The Taking of Challah ---------------------
The Torah requires that a portion of the dough used for
baking be set aside and given to the Kohanim (priests). Since the destruction of the Temple, this mitzvah is fulfilled by removing a small piece from the dough and burning it. The word "challah", in fact, means dough and refers to the piece which has been separated.
Only breads made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt
need challah separation. If one prepares baked goods using more than 4 lbs. 15 & 1/3 ozs. of flour, the following blessing is to be recited:
BARUCH ATA ADONAI ELOHAYNU MELECH HA'OLAM ASHER KIDSHANU B'MITZVOSAV V'TZIVANU L'HAFRISH CHALLAH.
Blesses art thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and commanded us to separate challah.
Using less than the above amount, one separates challah
without a blessing.
If one has neglected to separate the portion of dough
before baking, a piece may be broken off afterwards and discarded.
Kosher bakeries separate challah as a routine practice.
Separation of Meat and Milk ---------------------------
The Torah strictly forbids the mixing of meat and dairy
products, as manifested in three categories:
1) Eating: not to eat any meat and dairy foods, or their derivatives together. 2) Cooking: not to cook, bake, roast, or fry meat and dairy products together, even for a purpose other than eating. 3) Having benefit: not to benefit from meat and dairy cooked together, such as selling them, doing business with them or gifting them.
In order to safeguard these essential laws, our Rabbis
have enacted regulations to completely separate all forms of milk and meat.
The Interval Between Meat and Dairy -----------------------------------
Although there are different customs regarding the
interval between eating meat and dairy foods, unless one has another established tradition, one should wait six hours after the eating of meat or meat products. If one tastes food, but does not chew or swallow it, no waiting period is necessary. Pareve food which is cooked in meat utensils but contains no meat product, should not be mixed or eaten with dairy food. One may eat dairy food directly after eating pareve food. Similarly, pareve food which is cooked in dairy utensils but contains no dairy product, should not be mixed or eaten with meat.
Meat may be eaten after dairy meals following a brief
interval, although som authorities require the rinsing of one's mouth, the eating of bread, the recitation of a blessing, or a half-hour wait. Ones's rabbi should be consulted as to the prevailing practice.
Pareve Food -----------
Pareve foods are those which contain neither meat nor
dairy ingredients. Foods such as eggs, fish, juice, soft drinks, cereal (some cereals may have dairy ingredients), bread, fruit, vegetables, and grains, may be served with either meat or dairy (with the exception of fish, which may not be served with meat). Pareve foods may be prepared in meat or dairy pots, but should be served on the type of dish in which it was prepared (i.e., meat on meat, dairy on dairy). However, one need not wait six hours after eating pareve food prepared in a meat pot.
It is not necessary to have a complete set of pareve
dishes. One should, however, clearly label pareve utensils as such, and be careful not to use them for meat or dairy foods. Pareve foods cut with a meat or dairy knife do not necessarily become meat or dairy; however, pareve foods cut with a sharp taste such as onion, garlic, or pickles are considered meat or dairy when cut with such a knife. As such, they should not be used with foods of the opposite type.
There are three categories that apply to Ashkenazic
(European ancestry) Jews only and not to Sefardic (Middle Eastern & Spanish ancestry) Jews. They are: (1) Drinking glasses should preferably be used only for either
meat or dairy
(2) Glass dishes must be separate for meat or dairy if ever
used with hot foods
(3) Glassware used for cooking or baking must be used only for
meat or dairy.
Airlines, Ships, Trains, and Hotels - "Kosher" Vacationing ----------------------------------------------------------
Keeping kosher while on a vacation is easier than one may
assume. Airlines, ships, trains, and many hotel chains provide frozen kosher meals if requested in advance. As long as the outside wrapper of the meal is sealed and intact, it may be heated in the local oven. It is advisable when planning a trip, to consult your rabbi who can provide you with information on kosher facilities the world over or you may consult The Jewish Traveler's Guide, available at most Jewish bookstores. One should be careful of "local" supervision of food products by individuals or organizations not generally known. These local agencies are only as reliable as their Mashgichim (supervisors) and the excellence of their Kashrut standards. Most local kashrut agencies are known to the rabbis of the community who should be consulted of any question arises.
Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and Kosher Functions --------------------------------------------
The meal accompanying a religious ceremony such as a
Bar-Mitzvah or Bas-Mitzvah, Bris, wedding, etc., is a Seudas Mitzvah, i.e., the meal itself becomes a religious occasion. As such, it is most appropriate that the meal conform to the highest standards of Kashrut observance. The availability of kosher caterers, kosher carryouts, and kosher eating establishments has greatly facilitated this need. The caterer and the entire function should be under proper Rabbinic supervision.
Most hospitals offer frozen kosher meals as a service to
their kosher-keeping patients. These meals may be heated in hospital ovens provided the outside wrapper is sealed and intact. In addition, to these meals, many hospitals will allow meals to be brought from home and kept in hospital refrigerators.
Patients on a special diet should advise their doctor or
dietician that they "keep kosher". Although most special diets are compatible with kashrut, in the event of a conflict a competent orthodox Rabbi should be consulted.
Restaurants, Ice Cream Parlors, and "Eating Out" ------------------------------------------------
Proper Rabbinic supervision is indispensible to keeping
kosher. This applies not only to food products, but also to establishments serving food. Restaurants and stores which label themselves "kosher" are acceptable only if they are under proper supervision. Pre-packaged certified Kosher foods sold in an establishment that is not supervised may be purchased only in their original packaged form. Even restaurants which do not serve meat require proper supervision.
Ice cream parlors may carry a kosher brand of ice cream,
but one should be sure that the accompanying items such as cones, toppings, cake, and whipped cream are also kosher.
In general, eating out carries with it a host of real and
potential kashrut problems. It is therefore necessary to eat out only in restaurants under orthodox Rabbinic supervision.
Ritual Immersiom of Utensils ----------------------------
Utensils made of glass or metal that are used for
preparing and eating food should be immersed in a mikvah (ritualarium). This act denotes the new status of the utensils, which will now be used in making the act of eating a spiritual experience. Earthenware, wood, rubber, or plastic items do not require this immersion, although there are some opinions that say that these items should be immersed without a blessing. Most mikvaot have special facilities for the immersion of utensils. The blessing upon immersion is:
BARUCH ATA ADONAI ELOHAYNU MELECH HAOLAM ASHER KIDSHANU B'MITZVOSAV V'TZIVANU AL T'VILAS KAYLIM.
Blessed art thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with thy commandments, and commanded us concerning the immersion of utensils.
In every kosher kitchen mistakes are invariably made.
Kashering is the process by which utensils made non-kosher may be restored to a kosher status. Most metal utensils CAN be kashered, and one should not assume that they have become non-kosher unless an orthodox Rabbi so declares them.
A Rabbi should always be consulted whenever there is a
mix-up in the kitchen involving kashrut. The need to consult a competent Rabbinic authority whenever a problem or potential problem arised cannot be emphasized strongly enough.
Passover, the Festival of Freedom, carries with it a
unique set of dietary requirements. In commemoration of the Jews' deliverance from Egypt, only non-leavened products are eaten, and the house is completely cleansed of leaven (chametz). This necessitates a thorough removal of all leavened foods, as well as the use of kosher-for-Passover dishes, silverware, pots, pans, and the like.
Brachos - Blessings -------------------
The process of keeping kosher serves to remind the
individual that eating, though basic to human survival, is regulated by Divine laws. The act of eating, when done in accordance with spiritual guidelines, becomes a religious and holy experience. The table becomes an alter, and the food a means of glorifying G-d by our blessings. Each of the blessings has the came opening words.
BARUCH ATA ADONAI ELOHAYNU MELECH HAOLAM Blessed art thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
This is followed by: 1. Bread HAMOTZI LECHEM MIN HA'ARETZ
who bringest forth bread from the earth.
2. Wine BORAY PRI HAGAFEN
who createst the fruit of the vine.
3. Cake BORAY MINAY MEZONOS
who createst various kinds of food.
4. Fruit BORAY PRI HA'AITZ
who createst the fruit of the tree.
5. Vegetables BORAY PRI HA'ADAMAH
who createst the fruit of the earth.
6. Shehakol SHEHAKOL NEEYEH BIDVARO
by whose word all things come into being.
Before eating bread, the hands are washed from a cup in a
prescribed manner, and the following blessing is recited immediately before the Hamotzi:
BARUCH ATA ADONAI ELOHAYNU MELECH HAOLAM ASHER KIDSHANU B'MITZVOSAV VTIVANU AL N'TILAS YADAYIM.
Blessed art thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe who hast sanctified us with thy commandments and commanded us concerning the washing of hands.
Laws Concerning Blessings (Brachos):
1. All foods require a bracha before eating or drinking.
Medications do not require a bracha.
2. Conversion between the recital of the blessing and the first
bite of food s prohibited.
3. Upon hearing another's blessing, one should answer "Amen".
Amen is not usually said after one's own blessing.
4. When one has washed his or her hands and recited the bracha,
Hamotzi, no other blessing need be recited at the meal other than for a fruit dessert or wine.
5. When bread is not eaten, the various foods have their own
bracha as given in the above swquence.
6. When one is in doubt as to the proper bracha over a
particular food, the bracha "Shehakol" should be recited.
7. When a dish contains more than one type of food (i.e.,
banana split) and one can separate them, a separate bracha should be recited over each.
8. For baked items (pies, cakes) the bracha Mezonos is said
regardless of the filling or topping.
9. Blessings are to be recited at the conclusion of any snack
or meal. One should consult a Siddur (prayer book) for the full text of these blessings (Bracha Achronah and Birkas Hamazon).
Kashrus Information -------------------
In conclusion, one should bear in mind that the laws of
Kashrut are the subject of much study and scholarship, and as the number of food products on the market increases, so does the need to "keep up" on the latest Kashrut information. Various Kashrut magazines and bulletins are issued, as well as local circulars describing local products.
The single greatest source of Kashrut information can be
derived from your Rabbi, who is both trained and eager to promote the important Mitzvah of keeping kosher. May your pursuance of this Divine decree be met with sucess and satisfaction.
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