Adherence to kashrut, the dietary laws, is an important expression of the value of community and the centrality of halakha (Jewish law) at Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel. The majority of BEKI households observe kashrut, and kashrut training is part of the Religious School curriculum. Support is available to members who wish to newly kasher their homes. All food at our facility, whether at a public affair such as a kiddush luncheon or in a private setting such as a wedding seuda (feast), is served under strict supervision.
The Congregation follows the local standards embraced and described by KINAHARA: The Kashrut Initiative of the New Haven Area Rabbinical Assembly as well as the policies established by the Rabbinical Assembly. These standards are consistant with the general practices of contemporary observant Jewry.
The Congregation serves food prepared by local rabbinically supervised vendors as well as food prepared in-house by a synagogue arm such as the Sisterhood or Kiddush Committee. In-house preparation and all service is supervised by mashgihim under the direction of the synagogue rabbi. This is the case even when outside vendors provide their own on-site mashgiah. Food prepared in private homes is not served.
Mashgihim working for caterers are welcome, indeed encouraged, to kasher the kitchen facilities before use, in collaboration with the synagogue rabbi’s mashgiah. Guests are always welcome and encouraged to contact the rabbi or synagogue mashgihim prior to or during events to clarify any issues of concern. As a matter of outlook, we attempt to create a “transparent” environment so that anyone interested can know what standards and procedures are followed. We welcome reports of irregularities or questions about procedures.
Information for caterers and vendors is provided in a Caterer’s Checklist and in a Dear Kosher Caterer letter in the Guide to Benei Mitzva Observance. These documents also contain administrative policies of interest to caterers and vendors serving this congregation.
All cheese, wine and grape juice served must be produced under rabbinic supervision. Non-mevushal wines generally are not served, but may be served when their status is clearly displayed for the benefit of those concerned. Swordfish and other fishes of unclear status are not served.
Halav Yisrael and stam dairy products, pat Yisrael and stam bread products are served. Items produced in-house are bishul Yisrael, although no representation is made concerning “store-bought” items; caterer or vendor-provided items depend on the caterer or vendor. Those concerned are invited to check with the event’s sponsor or the mashgiah on duty.
No representation about kashrut is made concerning items served at off-site events (such as a LaG BaOmer Kumsits or an Erev Shira Song Night at a private residence), nor at community events for which the Congregation is listed as a “sponsor” or “cosponsor,” unless specifically stated.
All food served at BEKI is prepared or heated in compliance with Shabbat restrictions. For details of the implementation of this policy, see the Dear Kosher Caterer letter in the Guide to Benei Mitzva Observance.
The Congregation prohibits serving peanuts and peanut-derived food, as peanuts represent a health hazard to some of our members and visitors. Nevertheless, the Congregation does not guarantee all foods to be peanut-free. All gelatins, including “kosher” and fish-derived gelatins, are prohibited, as gelatin products are subject to confusion and offend the religious sensibility of some members.
See also, Toward a Moderate Communal Kashrut Regime for more information on kashrut.