Kosher Certification Letter
What Does Kosher Mean?
The Hebrew word kosher means fit or proper as it relates to Jewish dietary law. Kosher foods are permitted to be eaten, and can be used as ingredients in the production of additional food items.
The basic laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary law) are from the Jewish Bible. For thousands of years, rabbis have interpreted these laws and applied them to contemporary situations. Additionally, rabbis created additional laws to safeguard the integrity of kosher laws.
Not too long ago, most food products were made in the family kitchen or in a small factory or store in the local community. It was relatively easy to decide if the product was reliably kosher. If rabbinical supervision was required, it was attended to by the rabbi of the community, who was known to all. Today, industrialization, transcontinental shipping and mass production have created a situation where most of the foods we eat are treated, processed, cooked, canned or boxed commercially in industrial settings, which can be located hundreds or thousands of miles away from home.
What adds further complication is that it is generally not possible to judge the kosher status of an item on the basis of the information provided in the ingredient declaration for a variety of reasons.
Unless a person is an expert in food production, the average consumer cannot possibly make an evaluation of the kosher status, which is why it is important to prepare kosher food under the supervision of a rabbi or kosher supervisor. Kosher Michigan has gained a reputation for creating more options for kosher food with strict standards and compliance to the kosher laws.
Kosher Michigan Rabbi Jason Miller Direct: (248) 535-7090 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kosher Michigan Standards
Kosher Michigan maintains strict standards for the businesses that it certifies as kosher. This is to ensure that those who observe the kosher laws will feel comfortable eating in the establishment or consuming the product. All details concerning the kosher certification of each business are outlined in the kosher certification letter. These letters are available on this website. Any questions about the kosher status of a Kosher Michigan business should be directed to Rabbi Jason Miller.
Dairy and Meat
Currently, Kosher Michigan only certifies dairy and/or pareve institutions. Kosher meat restaurants and butcher shops require constant supervision and Kosher Michigan does not provide that service at this time.
Rabbi Jason Miller, or another mashgiach (kosher supervisor) appointed by Kosher Michigan, is responsible to ensure the kosher standards of the kitchen. In all cases, the level of supervision is yotze v’nichnas (unannounced spot checks). The frequency of the supervisory visits is based on the nature of the business. Much like the visit to a kitchen by a health inspector, the kosher supervisor is seeking to ensure that the agreed to code is maintained. The kosher supervisor checks that no outside food is brought into the premises. He also ensures that no new ingredients have been introduced that were not approved for usage. On the visit, the kosher supervisor also checks all vegetable products to ensure that proper washing has taken place and there are no bug infestations.
All ingredients used in food production at establishments under Kosher Michigan’s certification must be approved by Rabbi Jason Miller and bear an approved kosher symbol (hechsher). No new ingredients or products may be introduced with prior approval from Rabbi Jason Miller. In most cases, only cheeses with a reliable kosher symbol are used in the production of food. If cheeses that do not bear a reliable kosher symbol are used, they must be USDA-approved cheeses made in the U.S. and the kosher certification letter must stipulate this. These cheeses are approved as kosher by the Conservative Movement through a legal ruling by the International Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (Yoreh Deah 87:10; Rabbi Kassel Abelson 1994).
Display of Certification Letter
A prominently displayed, framed letter signed by Rabbi Jason Miller must hang in each establishment that is under Kosher Michigan’s certification. Each letter is dated and an expiration date is clearly stated at the bottom of the letter. Each year, the certification may be renewed upon a thorough review. Should ownership of the business be transferred, the kosher certification is immediately void. A window sticker is also displayed on the front door of all establishments under Kosher Michigan’s certification.
Sabbath and Jewish Holidays
In businesses owned by a Jewish individual (or individuals), it is forbidden for the business to operate on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays without a Sabbath lease agreement. This is based on Orah Hayyim 243 of the Jewish law codes. Kosher Michigan utilizes the Sabbath lease agreement produced by Judge Norman M. Krivosha (1995) and approved by Rabbi Joel Roth and the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the International Rabbinical Assembly. All Sabbath lease agreements entered into by establishments under Kosher Michigan’s certification are kept on file with Kosher Michigan.
The Koshering Process
Before an establishment may be certified kosher, Kosher Michigan will kasher the kitchen(s). This includes a thorough cleaning of the kitchen and the necessary applications as directed by Jewish law (boiling at specific temperatures, heating ovens, firing, ritual immersion of vessels, etc.). Once the kashering process has been completed, another inspection takes place before granting the kosher certification.
Before an establishment may be certified kosher, Kosher Michigan will conduct an educational meeting with the owners and all full-time and part-time employees to educate them on the kosher laws. It will be explained that no outside food may be brought into the establishment (with the exception of a designated employee lunch room if approved by Kosher Michigan). Kosher Michigan also meets with new employees to educate them as well.
Kosher Michigan encourages the establishments that it certifies as kosher to be ethical in all areas of their business. This includes, but is not limited to, proper business ethics concerning its employees and charitable giving to the community. Kosher Michigan recommends all establishments that it certifies as kosher to follow the Magen Tzedek protocols.