248.535.7090

Kosher Michigan Logo
 

Posts Tagged ‘Chametz’

 

Passover and Pet Food

Posted on: March 26th, 2013 by Kosher Michigan

As a kosher supervisor (mashgiach) and the owner of a kosher certification agency, I am constantly impressed by the level of attention, respect and genuine care that non-Jewish business owners demonstrate for their kosher observant customers. I once again witnessed this first hand when I met the owner of Premier Pet Supply last week.

Premier Pet Supply - Michigan
Mike Palmer, who is half Chaldean and half Italian, owns the pet food and supply store with his uncle, the store’s founder. Located in Beverly Hills, a suburb of Detroit, the store has received a lot of positive attention of late because of Mike’s knack for publicity and his people skills (he obviously has great pet skills too!). The store is consistently named best pet supply store in the area and Mike was just named one of the Elite 40 Under 40 for Oakland County, Michigan.
Mike called me a few weeks ago and asked if I would come by his store before Passover to answer some questions about kosher for Passover pet food. Since my family doesn’t own any pets and I haven’t certified kosher dog food in over a year (the dog treat company Kosher Michigan certified went out of business in 2010), I decided to brush up on the laws concerning pet food on Passover. And it’s a good thing I did because when I got to the store I was overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge Mike possessed concerning the kosher laws and Passover. He knew more about the intricacies of the holiday than many Jewish people I know.
As we walked the aisles of his store I checked the pet food that he had labeled as being appropriate for Passover and there were no errors. He explained that he had read an article by the Star-K kosher certification agency and felt he had a good understanding of what makes pet food kosher for Passover, but he wanted to run some questions by me. We had a long conversation about kitniyot(legumes, which most Ashkenazi Jews don’t eat on Passover) as well as the custom of feeding the family dog in the garage on Passover, which many families follow. Over and again, I heard Mike express how important he believes it is to provide quality service to his Jewish customers and ensure that they can purchase the best food for their pets on Passover while adhering to the holiday’s regulations.
Premier Pet Supply - Michigan
In terms of what Jewish law says about pet food on Passover, the most important thing to remember is that chametz (leavened products) from the five grains (barley, oats, rye, spelt, or wheat) is forbidden to eat or derive benefit from. Feeding chametz to one’s pet would be deriving benefit from it. Additionally, a Jewish person is not allowed to even possess any chametz on Passover.
As I explained to Mike, while kitniyot (legumes) are not eaten by most Ashkenazi Jews, they may be fed to pets on Passover. Also, one does not need to change over the dishes for pets, meaning that the usual food bowls for pets can be used on Passover but they should be cleaned out first.

Dog Food Kosher Passover

A 2009 article in the NY Times featured a Passover Seder for dogs that took place at a Chicago pet food store to promote Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company which sells Kosher for Passover products. (Joshua Lott/Chicago Tribune)

There is a custom of “selling” one’s pet to a non-Jew on Passover. The reason for this has to do with deriving benefit from chametz. Thus, if one leaves a pet with a non-Jew during Passover the pet owner will still derive benefit from chametz when the non-Jewish friend feeds the pet. Therefore, some observant Jews will “sell” the pet to the non-Jewish friend on the condition it is sold back at the conclusion of the holiday in the same fashion as the “legal fiction” sale of chametz.

While many Jews are not familiar with the laws governing pet food on Passover, it is reassuring that there are pet supply store owners like Mike Palmer who are concerned about this. It is admirable that he has taken the time to research this subject and has gone out of his way to help his Jewish customers find the right pet food for Passover.

Keeping pets kosher for Passover challenges Jewish owners (Detroit Free Press – March 25, 2013)

Posted on: March 25th, 2013 by Kosher Michigan

By Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press Religion Editor

With four fish, three cats, two dogs and a hamster as her pets, Helene Rubin of Bloomfield Township loves animals a lot.

But as an Orthodox Jew, she also loves her faith and wants to follow its rules.

kosher-pet-food

Helene Rubin of Bloomfield Township and Ari shop at Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills. / Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press

And so when Passover — an eight-day Jewish holiday that has specific dietary rules — rolls around every year, she makes sure to follow them not only for herself, but also her animals. That’s because even feeding your pets the wrong kinds of food during Passover could violate the laws of Judaism.

“I try to keep kosher for Passover as much as possible,” said Rubin, 60.

Now, a store in Beverly Hills makes it easier for Jewish pet owners such as Rubin to find the right foods for their pets during Passover, which begins at sundown today.

This year, Premier Pet Supply became what its owner said is the first pet store in Michigan to sell kosher-certified pet food for Passover that has been approved by a rabbi.

Mike Palmer is not Jewish (he’s half Chaldean, half Italian), but almost half of his customers are Jewish. And so with the help of Rabbi Jason Miller of Farmington Hills, he put together displays and markers to signify what pet food is kosher for Passover. While some Jewish customers are familiar with the details of kosher for Passover, others are unsure and so need to rely on others.

The holiday requires that all chametz — a term that refers to leavened grains like wheat and barley — be removed from the house before the start of Passover. Jews can’t eat, own or benefit from chametz during the holiday. Some perform ritual burnings of chametz.

Since many types of pet food contain chametz, Jews with animals have to come up with ways to follow the law.

Jewish customers “really look for guidance during the Jewish holiday,” Palmer said. Having certified kosher pet food “takes the guesswork out for people, helps to give them a sense of comfort during the holiday.”

The store’s new kosher certification is the latest way that Jews in metro Detroit and across the U.S. deal with the issue of how to treat pets during Passover.

Some owners give their pets to non-Jewish friends during the eight days. Others will conduct a fictional sale of the pet under Jewish law that symbolizes the pet has been sold, said Rabbi Aaron Bergman of Adat Shalom synagogue in Farmington Hills; that allows the pet to stay with the owner, because it (temporarily) belongs to someone else.

Another option is to feed dogs or cats in the garage, which some say gets around the chametz ban since some say the garage is not part of the home. (Others frown on this practice, arguing that the garage is technically part of a home.)

For Rubin and others, the best way is to make sure the pet food doesn’t have chametz in it. In the past, Palmer relied on the advice of a rabbi’s wife to select pet food that was kosher for Passover, but he lost touch with her and so turned to Miller last year for help.

Miller runs Kosher Michigan, a certification agency that inspects food places that want to keep kosher. New York and Illinois are some of the states that already have kosher-certified pet food in stores.

Miller notes that the rules for kosher outside of Passover are different and not as stringent for pets. Throughout the year, you can feed shrimp to your fish or nonkosher beef to your dog; both products would not be kosher for humans, but are OK for pets.

The rules can be confusing at times, but the Jewish community consider them important to follow.

The chametz ban is rooted in the ancient story of Jewish people fleeing the Egyptian pharaoh in such haste that they didn’t have time for their bread to rise. The unleavened bread is seen as a symbol of freedom and of humility because it’s not puffed up like leavened bread.

Rabbi Bergman said he approves of the pet food made kosher for Passover if it makes things easier for people during the holiday. But, he quipped, “I don’t know any cats or dogs who can speak Hebrew.”

Jokes aside, Bergman said, “One of the main ideas of Passover is getting arrogance out of your life.” The unleavened matzo cracker that many eat during Passover “is a symbol … that you can live in a more humble way.”

That’s why Rubin closely follows the laws of Passover. And that’s why she will be feeding her pets food that’s kosher certified.

“I try to keep the laws of Judaism,” she said. “It’s important for me.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: 313-223-4792 or nwarikoo@freepress.com

 

CONTACT DETAIL

KM KOSHER CERTIFICATION AGENCY

5657 W. Maple Road
Suite B
West Bloomfield, MI 48322

Phone: 248.535.7090

Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm
Closed Saturday and Sunday

 
 

©2022 Kosher Michigan – Kosher Certification Agency | Designed by Access Technology