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Douglas Cale – Birmingham Chocolate Factory (Schakolad)

Posted on: May 20th, 2015 by Kosher Michigan

Douglas Cale - Birmingham Chocolate Schakolad“I work with Rabbi Jason Miller and Kosher Michigan because it is a collaboration, not the usual uni-directional service provider relationship.

In addition to the kosher certification, Rabbi Jason makes the extra effort to add value to my business by sharing connections and web social promotion.

He can always be relied upon for pragmatic certification guidance and creative business ideas. Always a pleasure to work with Kosher Michigan.”

Doug Cale, Owner
Birmingham Chocolate / Schakolad Chocolate Factory
Birmingham, Michigan (Detroit)
www.birminghamchocolate.com

Kosher Food at Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield, Michigan

Posted on: April 16th, 2015 by Kosher Michigan

Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield, Michigan Offers Kosher Meals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:   Sally Ann Brown  (248) 325-3081

April 16, 2015

West Bloomfield – Visitors to Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital can now have a certified kosher meal in Henry’s, the hospital’s café.

The new Kosher Korner is partnering with Kravings, a premier kosher restaurant in Oak Park, in an effort to provide kosher food options for patients, guests and staff.

“At Kravings and Quality Kosher Catering we take great pride in providing quality glatt kosher food, primarily on the on the east side of Oakland County. Now, with the opening of our Kosher Korner at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, we’re excited to bring the same delicious meals to the west side,” says Daniel Kohn, owner of Kravings.

All food items are prepared fresh daily at Kravings and are under the certification of the Star-K certification agency, with Kosher Michigan serving as a consultant to the hospital.

Recent offerings in the Kosher Korner include sandwiches, salads, and sushi.

“We are pleased to be able to meet the dietary needs of the Jewish community,” says Chef Rob Hindley, director of Culinary Wellness at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. “This initiative is part of our community outreach efforts to provide delicious and healthy food to a variety of cultures.”

“Kosher Michigan partnered with Daniel Kohn of Kravings and Henry Ford West Bloomfield because it is part of our mission to bring more kosher food options to the community,” explains Rabbi Jason Miller, founder and director of Kosher Michigan certification agency. “Whether you’re a hospital patient, caregiver, visitor, physician, staff member, or just in the neighborhood and hungry for a delicious certified kosher meal, this is a win-win for our community.”

The food selection in the kosher menu also meet the dietary needs of individuals following the practice of halal.

Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital is located at 6777 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield.

Kosher Michigan is a kosher certification agency in Metro Detroit, which seeks to increase the amount of affordable kosher options in North America. www.koshermichigan.com

Kosher Korner at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital
Kosher Korner at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital
Kosher Korner at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital

 

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Metro Detroit in a Kosher Restaurant Boom as Diners Seek Healthy Options (Detroit Free Press – August 11, 2014)

Posted on: August 18th, 2014 by Kosher Michigan

Keeping kosher in Metro Detroit
By Zlati Meyer, Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

The theme of 28-year-old Daniel Kohn’s newly opened Oak Park restaurant can be summed up with one menu item that blends contemporary Americana with Old World traditions — the brisket burger.

Kravings, the brainchild of the Ritz-Carlton alumnus and third-generation caterer, is certified kosher, but it focuses instead on its healthy, quality ingredients and dishes made from scratch. The menu is chock-full of items that would surprise his late grandmother, who founded Quality Kosher Catering in 1968, such as portobello mushrooms, “bacon” made from cow rather than pig and sushi that’s shtetl meets Shogun.

Metro Detroit is in the middle of a kosher boomlet. In addition to Kravings, a kosher steakhouse, Prime 10, opened about a block away and downtown Detroit saw the return of Chef Cari’s the Spot in the revolving lineup of pop-ups at Campus Martius this summer. Proprietor Cari Rosenbloom is planning a kosher vegetarian restaurant downtown by the end of the year.

“Kosher has so many strict rules that people know when they buy a product that it’ll be a good and safe product,” Kohn said, crediting the “evolution” of the community over the last two years for the increased interest in kosher food. “The community is so flooded with people, like myself, who come back from New York or someplace else. All these people are used to kosher dining options that are not selling old-school items, like chicken soup.”

The laws of kosher, based on the Hebrew Bible and further elucidated by the Talmud, are extensive; Jews, many of them Orthodox, adhere to these rules, such as not eating meat products and milk products together; shellfish and other fish without fins and scales; the meat of animals that don’t chew their cud and have split hooves, such as pigs and horses; bugs in produce, and eggs with blood spots in them. Meat and fowl must be slaughtered with a special ancient ritual.

Specially trained kosher experts, called mashgichim (mahsh-GEE-chim), supervise slaughterhouses, dairy farms, restaurants, industrial food companies, bakeries and other commercial and retail sites to make sure all processes and ingredients are OK. Certifying agencies are both national, like the Orthodox Union, which puts the OU on Coca-Cola, and local,like the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit.

“Many people consider kosher is cleaner and with an extra level of supervision. Things don’t get in,” said COR chairman Rabbi Doniel Neustadt.

Kosher is a $12.5-billion industry in the U.S., according to the most recent data by Mintel, a market research firm that tracks the field. The report says that the major reasons for purchasing kosher food is food quality (62%) or general healthfulness (51%). Thirty percent cited religious observance; 14% follow kosher rules; 10% follow some other religious rules with eating restrictions similar to kosher, and 6% follow halal rules. Others cited ethical reasons and allergies.

“It’s a segment of the food industry that continues to grow. It’s another niche part for the food industry that has cache, like organic, local,” said Sue Fishkoff, author of the book “Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority.” “The growth of the particular interest in kosher food, primarily kosher meats and poultry, came in the late 1960s, early 1970s with pesticide scares and food safety scares and Americans become more aware of the prevalence of food-borne (illnesses). The idea that another pair of eyes, religious eyes, is overseeing the manufacturing process makes them feel comfort and it’s only perception, but it’s a very strong one.”

Rabbi Jason Miller, who founded the certification agency Kosher Michigan in 2008, agreed that kosher makes good business sense.

“More people are taking on a kosher diet, both Jews and non-Jews and business owners have also found that kosher certifications have increased their sales,” he said.

Fishkoff credits the growing number of Jews embracing the kosher lifestyle after spending the first part of their lives developing sophisticated non-kosher palates for the boom, plus many of today’s kosher restaurateurs come from the wider culinary world, too.

Rosenbloom, who trained in New York City in what is today called the Natural Gourmet Institute, pointed to her abridged Campus Martius menu, including falafel, chicken shawarma and Belgian-style fries — and her mostly non-kosher-observant customers.

“Tabouleh, fresh, delicious, gluten-free salad. Who cares if it’s kosher or not? It’s absolutely delicious,” said the Ferndale resident. “People aren’t lined up because it’s under the supervision of the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit. They’re lined up because it’s delicious.”

And in metro Detroit, which is home to a huge Muslim population, kosher can pinch-hit for halal, when the latter isn’t available, according to Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The tenets of halal, which means permissible in Arabic, outline what practicing Muslims may eat; for example, no pork, carnivorous animals, bugs or alcohol.

One downside to kosher restaurants is their prices are higher; all that extra supervision, be it at the eatery or farther up the line at the commercial plant that makes the ingredients, gets passed along. Neither Neustadt nor Miller would discuss their organizations’ fees.

But Fishkoff predicts the kosher trend will continue: “It’s going to increase for the foreseeable future. It will particularly increase as part of the local, organic, high-quality foodie movement not as the heimish Old World borsht restaurant.”

Contact Zlati Meyer: 313-223-4439 or zmeyer@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @ZlatiMeyer.

Kosher Restaurants in Metro Detroit Under Kosher Michigan (Conservative Rabbi Jason Miller)

  • Earthen Jar, Ann Arbor, www.earthenjar.com
  • Inn Season Café, Royal Oak, www.theinnseasoncafe.com
  • Liquid Lunch Café, Birmingham, www.bewelllifestylecenters.com/lifestyle-services/be-well-cafe
  • Try It Raw, Birmingham

Kosher Michigan also certifies:

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Thanksgivukkah: Light Menorah, Pass Turkey (Detroit News – November 27, 2013)

Posted on: November 27th, 2013 by Kosher Michigan

For Thursday: Light menorah, pass turkey

Mark Hicks | The Detroit News

This Thanksgiving marks a first at Margo Grossman’s home: Menorah candles will burn while latkes as well as blue-and-white Star of David-shaped sugar cookies accompany heaping portions of turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and other dishes.

Thursday is the national holiday honoring the Pilgrims’ harvest with help from the Wampanoag American Indians in the 1600s. It’s also the first full day of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates emancipation from religious persecution in the second century B.C.

For many Jews across Metro Detroit, the rare convergence is a chance to combine celebrations of each holiday — shared goods, family gatherings and more to show an appreciation for blessings — into a joyful period some have christened “Thanksgivukkah.”

“It’s a cool, once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said Grossman, a transition consultant from Franklin. “I’m definitely welcoming it. Doing the holidays together is fun and different. … It’ll be interesting.”

By some calculations, this is the first time since 1888 Thanksgiving and the start of Hanukkah have fallen on the same day. And, according to a Chabad.org article, the two holidays would next coincide in 2070.

To traditionalists and grateful diners alike, the unusual occurrence this year — Hanukkah begins at sundown today — links national history with spiritual heritage.

“It really highlights the fact that the Jewish-American community is American,” said Rabbi Steven Rubenstein of Congregation Beth Ahm in West Bloomfield Township.

To some, the holidays share similarities.

Having fled Europe seeking economic viability and freedom to practice their religion, the pilgrims faced enormous challenges — including the threat of death from disease and starvation — adapting to a tough new terrain, said the Rev. John Staudenmaier, a history professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.

“That’s the context that originally framed the Thanksgiving feast and it is deeply important for the people who ate that feast,” he said. “They knew they couldn’t have done it on their own. … Thanksgiving is a celebration of survival but also of bravery by people desperate for a fresh start.”

Hanukkah — also known as the “Festival of Lights” — marks the victory of the Maccabees and their allies over Syrian forces, allowing them to recapture the desecrated Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

It also recalls the belief that a single day’s supply of lamp oil miraculously lasted eight full days during the temple’s rededication.

While non-Jews have associated Hanukkah, which often has fallen in December, with Christmas, this year the proximity to Thanksgiving and the holidays’ related themes seem more sensible.

“Thanksgiving fits a lot better with Hanukkah,” said Debra Darvick, a Jewish author from Birmingham. “It resonates more.”

With the overlapping observances in mind, some are creatively mixing traditions.

Rabbi Jason Miller of Kosher Michigan, a certification agency, and Patrick Coleman, owner of the Southern Nosh restaurant in Southfield that serves kosher vegetarian items and soul food, created a sweet potato latke.

A traditional Hanukkah item, latkes typically are cooked with potatoes and oil. But the Southern Nosh version uses a sweet potato — a popular ingredient in African-American and soul food kitchens, Coleman said.

Since adding them to the menu this month, cooks have averaged about a dozen orders a day, he said.

“Folks are really enjoying them. They think they’re very tasty. … They’re literally going out of the restaurant like hotcakes — no pun intended.”

The day after lighting the first candle in their menorah for Hanukkah, Lisa Soble Siegmann of Bloomfield Hills and her family plan to visit a relative’s home in Ohio for turkey, latkes, cranberry sauce, challah stuffing, pecan and chocolate gelt pie; games with dreidels, the four-sided spinning tops; and songs extolling both holidays.

“It’s going to be a night of fun and family and being together,” she said.

For Leah Gawel’s family in Novi, the convergence is more of a curiosity.

After a feast complete with latkes Thursday, they will light the menorah and let their children open gifts. Holiday decorations — colored lights, a banner — adorn their home.

“It just makes it interesting, makes it a little fun,” Gawel said. “It will be something the kids will remember.”

Partly to accommodate those celebrating Thanksgiving, organizers of the third annual “Menorah in the D” plan to hold the public lighting of the 24-foot-tall steel/glass menorah and the related community party in Detroit’s Campus Martius next week, said Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov of the Shul-Chabad Lubavitch in West Bloomfield Township. The ceremony usually occurs earlier during Hanukkah.

Some of the coordinators also are expected to display a dreidel-shaped mobile and distribute tin menorahs along with chocolate coins during America’s Thanksgiving Parade on Thursday, said Ben Rosenzweig, a member of the Shul.

That underscores a central theme of Hanukkah that dovetails with Thanksgiving, he said. “The idea of Hanukkah is good defeating evil and the idea that everybody has the freedom of religion to practice what connects them spiritually.”

mhicks@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-2117

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131127/METRO08/311270030#ixzz2mun1VBa1

Thanksgivukkah 2013 Sweet Potato Latke (Kosher, Gluten Free)

Posted on: October 27th, 2013 by Kosher Michigan

Southern-Nosh-Kosher-Michigan

KOSHER MICHIGAN AND SOUTHERN NOSH TEAM UP FOR THANKSGIVUKKAH SWEET POTATO LATKE

Contacts: Rabbi Jason Miller | 248-535-7090 | miller@koshermichigan.com
Patrick Coleman | 248-352-1682

West Bloomfield, MI – Rabbi Jason Miller, the founder and director of Kosher Michigan, knew that it would be big news that the first day of Hanukkah was going to fall on Thanksgiving this year. In an effort to have a special food item dedicated to what is being called Thanksgivukkah, he contacted Patrick Coleman, a local Detroit restaurateur who owns Beans & Cornbread and Southern Nosh (29540 Northwestern Highway, 248.352.1682), both in Southfield, Michigan.

 

Miller’s Kosher Michigan certification agency certifies Coleman’s Southern Nosh Vegetarian Soul as a kosher restaurant. Southern Nosh offers casual dining centered on plant based down home cooking – sort of a kosher vegetarian menu fused with a soul food menu, or what has become known as “Upscale Yiddish Soul Food.”

 

Together, Miller and Coleman came up with the idea of a Thanksgivukkah Sweet Potato Latke. The dish is gluten free and is served with a garnish and either house-made applesauce or a vegan sour cream with herb garlic and pepper seasoning. “Hot sauce is optional,” says Coleman.

 

“The potato pancake, or latke as we call it, is a traditional Hanukkah delicacy,” explains Rabbi Miller. “On Hanukkah we eat foods that are cooked in oil to remind us of the miracle of oil that allowed the menorah to burn for eight days instead of just one in the Temple that stood in Jerusalem.”

 

“The idea of using a sweet potato for the Thanksgivukkah latke is not only symbolic of Thanksgiving, but is also a popular food item for African Americans,” said Coleman. “So not only have we merged two holidays – Thanksgiving and Hanukkah – but the rabbi and I also have brought two cultures together with a staple Jewish dish for Hanukkah and a staple soul food dish.”

 

The Thanksgivukkah Sweet Potato Latke will be available at Southern Nosh throughout the month of November. It is made by Chef Keith Hayes using rice flour instead of wheat flour so that the gluten free crowd can enjoy it too. The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying

Directions:
1. Place sweet potatoes in a colander. Place a cheesecloth over the potatoes, and squeeze the potatoes to release as much liquid as possible. Let the potatoes sit to release more liquid, then squeeze again.
2. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, eggs, brown sugar, flour, cloves and cinnamon; mix well.
3. Heat oil in large heavy skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
4. Form mixture into pancake size cakes, and fry in hot oil. Flip cakes after 2 to 3 minutes (when bottom is browned) and brown other side. Drain on paper towels, and serve piping hot! Kosher Michigan certifies Southern Nosh Vegetarian Soul as a kosher restaurant.

Kosher Michigan was founded in 2008 by Rabbi Jason Miller to promote the observance of the Jewish dietary laws. KM is endorsed by the International Rabbinical Assembly and under the rabbinic advisement of Rabbi Joel Roth, a world renowned kashrut expert. Rabbi Miller seeks to increase the availability of kosher products as well as to keep the cost of kosher products at affordable prices. KM provides kosher certification to Southern Nosh and over fifty other businesses. Both Rabbi Miller and Mr. Coleman are available for interviews.

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Images:

Sweet Potato Latke for Thanksgivukkah

Sweet Potato Latke for Thanksgivukkah

Sweet Potato Latke for Thanksgivukkah

Sweet Potato Latke for Thanksgivukkah

Contact:
Rabbi Jason Miller 248-535-7090
Patrick Coleman 248-352-1682

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.

Conservative Heksher Can Expand Kosher Market (The Jewish Chronicle – July 23, 2012)

Posted on: July 23rd, 2012 by Kosher Michigan
Conservative heksher can expand kosher market, rabbis say
by Toby Tabachnick, Staff Writer

When Avi Olitzky, a Conservative rabbi, moved from New York to Minneapolis in 2008, he quickly became frustrated with the relative dearth of kosher offerings in the Twin Cities. The options he did find — a dairy café, a meat deli, a kosher market and a couple bakeries — were costly and limited. “I began to explore the scenario here,” said Olitzky, who is the junior rabbi at the 1200-family Beth El congregation in St. Louis Park, Minn. “I came to the conclusion there was no move to expand the kosher options in town. There was a split between those thinking it was unnecessary, and those thinking we don’t have a community to support it.”

What Olitzky found, though, was that both opinions were “erroneous,” he said. The proof is the success of Olitzky’s MSP Kosher, a free of charge, kosher certification organization that the rabbi founded in 2010 as an alternative to the Orthodox-run Twin Cities Community Kashruth Council. Olitzky launched MSP Kosher, “not with the goal of breaking the Orthodox monopoly [on kosher supervision],” but to lower the cost of kosher food, to increase the quantity of kosher food, and to create transparency in kosher certification in the Twin Cities, he said. While historically, local kosher certification agencies in most cities have been run by Orthodox rabbis, more and more Conservative rabbis are stepping up to the plate in order to expand kosher dining options for their communities.

Olitzky’s MSP Kosher began its work with the certification of Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream, “one of Minnesota’s real gems,” Olitzky said, noting that the ice cream maker was “invested in the cause,” and made  “a lot of serious changes” in order to gain the certification of MSP. “Their sales went up exponentially,” Olitzky said, “and they credit it with going kosher.”

Since then, MSP kosher has certified several establishments around the Twin Cities, including a kosher hot dog stand at Target Field, which Olitzky said could only afford to become kosher because of MSP’s policy not to charge for certification, and because MSP allows it to remain open on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays. “We got some flack in the press because it is non-glatt,” Olitzky noted, “but it’s kosher. It is open on Shabbat and yom tov, but we go in the next morning and blowtorch the grill. We know that with the arrangement we have, they can’t substitute in non-kosher products, but on the slight chance they do, we blowtorch.” Olitzky stressed that his goal in forming an alternative to the Orthodox-run Twin Cities Community Kashruth Council was simply to provide more kosher options in town.

Likewise, Conservative Rabbi Jason Miller founded Kosher Michigan in 2007 in order to offer more kosher options in the Jewish community of Metro Detroit, where kosher certification previously had been dominated by its Orthodox Vaad Harabbonim. Miller now certifies some 30 businesses as kosher, including bakeries, spice companies, and ice cream parlors, and oversees kosher catering for Michigan State University.

Having an alternative kashrut certification agency brings many advantages to a community, Miller said.

“It brings the cost of kosher food down significantly. When there is a monopoly, there is price gouging, and it’s not good for anyone,” he said. “The goal is to provide some competition to local certification without lowering standards, to make it easier to manufacture kosher food, and to create more dining options for those who keep kosher.”

Kosher Meals MIchigan State UniversityMiller entered the world of kosher certification as the year-round rabbi and kosher supervisor of Tamarack Camps, a large Jewish camping agency.

“Once I started doing that, businesses began calling me,” he said. “Some were not certified kosher because they couldn’t be — the owner was Jewish, but Reform, or open on Shabbat, and the Vaad wouldn’t certify them. There was a kosher butcher that was certified by the Vaad, but there were too many restrictions. They had to pay a mashgiach $15 an hour, even if they were closed. They couldn’t keep the keys to their own establishment.”

While the food these businesses were providing was indeed kosher, the business owners found it difficult to meet other requirements of Detroit’s Vaad — such as closing on Shabbat — and contacted Miller.

“There really aren’t any differences in standards [between Kosher Michigan’s supervision and that of Detroit’s Vaad],” Miller said. “The subtle difference is that I am more eager to certify Jewish-owned businesses open on the Sabbath.”

To do so, a document is created that sells the business to non-Jews during the 25 hours of the Sabbath. “This is a document used by the Orthodox as well,” Miller said, “although they are less apt to do so.”

The Rabbinical Assembly set up its own Conservative regional kosher supervision agency in the Mid-Atlantic region about 40 years ago, Rubin said, and it operated until last year.

“There was a need at the time,” Rubin said. “ And it grew. We had about 15 vendors. We were involved in kosher supervision for some time. Forty years ago or so, there was a pretty large Conservative community [in the Philadelphia area], and it was a more natural fit. Today the kashrut world has changed, and gotten more complex.”

And so kashrut supervision in that region is now, for the most part left to the Orthodox.

“We realized over time it was a bigger project than we could handle,” Rubin said.

Conservative rabbis did not really enter the world of kashrut supervision until the 1990s, said Rabbi Paul Plotkin, chair of the subcommittee on kashrut of the Rabbinical Assembly’s committee on Jewish law and standards.

“When I was at seminary as a student in the early ’70s, there wasn’t a lot of time allotted for training in kashrus supervision,” Plotkin recalled. “The attitude was, ‘don’t worry about it, the Orthodox will handle it.’ But by the time the ’90s came, I came to see there were all kinds of times Conservative rabbis were called to do supervision, but many of them didn’t have the practical training. So I argued for a number of years that we had an obligation to teach our colleagues who were called on for kosher supervision.”

In 1990, the Rabbinical Assembly ran its first kosher supervision-training program. Eighty rabbis came from all over North America to take the four-day course.

“It proved what I’d been saying,” Plotkin said. “There was a need and a demand for it.”

The purpose of the training was to teach Conservative rabbis how to supervise kashruth operations when there was not an Orthodox alternative in a given community.

“In the ’90s, Chabad didn’t have the footprint it has now,” Plotkin said, “so in a lot of towns, the Conservative rabbi was the most traditional rabbi in the area. That’s how it started. It was never the idea that this would be a big, national thing, and I don’t think it ever will be. If you want to produce a product, and sell it all over, I am not doing you a favor by having you hire me. Most people won’t accept me in the market you want to use me. If everyone will eat O-U, and 10 percent will eat Plotkin, why use Plotkin?”

Plotkin currently certifies two facilities: a Dunkin’ Donuts, and Ben’s Deli in Boca Raton, Fla. Unlike many kosher certifiers, Plotkin does not charge for his services, but instead does it to “enhance life for my community,” he said.

He was contacted by the owner of Ben’s, Ronnie Dragoon, after Dragoon saw an article Plotkin wrote for United Synagogue Review, in which he argued against the imposition of more stringent kashruth standards that work to limit kosher options.

“I wrote we should have a new certification: K-E, for ‘kosher enough,’ ” he said. “There is a segment of the population that wants to make more rules, and make keeping kosher more costly. They’ve blackballed everyone else, with the attitude that ‘if you don’t rise to my level, we won’t take you seriously.’ If we continue this, we will have less and less food, at more and more outrageous prices.”

Plotkin agreed to certify Ben’s, although Dragoon already had an Orthodox certification. Even so, it took Dragoon three years to work through all the changes Plotkin insisted upon before the Conservative rabbi would certify Ben’s as kosher.

Dragoon has maintained the Orthodox certification alongside his certification from Plotkin, in order to satisfy an Orthodox clientele that will not rely solely on a Conservative rabbi.

“I have had an increase in business with Rabbi Plotkin, because he is very well known and respected in South Florida,” Dragoon said. “But I’d be less than candid if I said I’d be comfortable with only a Conservative heksher, because I know some Orthodox people wouldn’t be comfortable with it. But Rabbi Plotkin is at least as strict as the Orthodox rabbi.”

Rabbi De-Certifies Kosher Bagel Shop (Patch – November 4, 2011)

Posted on: November 4th, 2011 by Kosher Michigan

Rabbi De-Certifies Kosher Bagel Shop

The Detroit Bagel shop in West Bloomfield is no longer certified kosher according to Rabbi Jason Miller, director of Kosher Michigan.

The shop was under Kosher Michigan’s certification for two years offering an array of bagels, fishes, cheeses and drinks under Miller’s supervision.

“Proprietor Richard Steinik has decided to begin offering non-kosher deli meats as he does at his Livonia-based Detroit Bagel location and Kosher Michigan can therefore no longer offer its certification,” Miller said.

Two other Oakland County kosher bagel establishments under Kosher Michigan’s certification maintain their certification. Bagel Factory on 12 Mile Road at Telegraph Road in Southfield and New York Bagel Bakery on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield remain kosher establishments.

Kosher Michigan is the kosher supervision and certification initiative of Rabbi Jason Miller, a Conservative rabbi, based in Metropolitan Detroit. Rabbi Miller promotes kosher observance through the supervision and certification of select institutions, vendors, and products meeting several criteria.

Rabbi Joel Roth

Posted on: December 1st, 2009 by Kosher Michigan

December 2009

To whom it may concern:

Rabbi_Joel_Roth - Kosher ExpertI write this letter to endorse the kashrut certification of Rabbi Jason Miller (Kosher Michigan).

Rabbi Miller was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, where I serve as a senior member of the faculty and oversee the kosher standards of the institution. He worked in the Seminary’s kitchen and cafeteria as a mashgiach (kosher supervisor), ensuring the highest level of kashruth.

Three years after his ordination from JTS, when Rabbi Miller was hired by Tamarack Camps to serve as the camping agency’s rabbi and kosher supervisor, he returned to study privately with me. His advanced studies in the laws of kashrut and hashgacha (kosher supervision) allow me to endorse his certification of restaurants, caterers, bakeries, and individual food products.

As a widely acknowledged expert in the field of kashrut, I have also made myself available to Rabbi Miller for consultation.

As Rabbi Miller’s teacher and as a native of the Metro Detroit Jewish community, I take great pride in the work he is doing to establish more kosher options in Michigan.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Joel Roth
Professor of Talmud
Jewish Theological Seminary

Rabbinical Assembly of Michigan

Posted on: April 7th, 2008 by Kosher Michigan

April 7, 2008
2 Nisan 5768

To whom it may concern:

Rabbi_Steven_Rubenstein_MichiganOn behalf of the Michigan Region of the Rabbinical Assembly, I am writing to voice our support for Tamarack Camps and its dedication to kashrut for its camps.

As executive director, Jonah Geller has worked energetically during his tenure to maintain the kashrut of Tamarack and to enhance the Judaic spirit of camp. We believe that the recent hiring of Rabbi Jason Miller as Rav HaMakhshir for camp is an expression for the camp’s dedication to kashrut for Camp Tamarack. Rabbi Miller’s experience and dedication to the laws and standards of kashrut will ensure that the high standards of kashrut that have been present at the camp in the past will continue. Rabbi Miller’s past experience as a mashgiah at the Jewish Theological Seminary and his planned study with Rabbi Joel Roth give Rabbi Miller the proper background for this work. We are pleased that Rabbi Miller also plans to take part in the Rav HaMakhshir program of the Rabbinical Assembly to increase his knowledge and skills in regard to serving in this position.

Tamarack has made a positive and important statement about its dedication to kashrut in its hiring of Rabbi Miller. We wish Tamarack Camps much success in its continued mission of providing Jewish camping opportunities to the children and families of greater Detroit.

The Michigan Region of the Rabbinical Assembly looks forward to working with Tamarack Camps for many years to come.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Steven Rubenstein
President, Michigan Region-Rabbinical Assembly

 

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