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Jewish Prisoners Win Right to Kosher Meals in Michigan

Posted on: February 1st, 2020 by Kosher Michigan

Kosher Meals in Michigan Prisons

From the Detroit Jewish News

A proposed settlement reached Oct. 12 grants Michigan’s Jewish prisoners the ability to have Kosher meals.
Jewish inmates in Michigan prisons will start receiving kosher meals under a proposed settlement reached Oct. 12 in a class-action lawsuit handled by the Civil Rights Clinic at Michigan State University, led by Professor Daniel Manville. “We got the entry for preliminary approval and the notices will begin going up in the 16 Michigan prisons that house Jewish inmates,” Manville said.

Manville, an ex-offender who spent four years in prison in the 1970s, is an advocate for prisoners’ rights who likes to take on cases “that make an impact,” he says. He’s been working on this case since 2013.

Kosher Food in Michigan Prisons

“It stemmed from a lawsuit by Muslim prisoners who wanted a halal diet,” he explains. “The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) agreed to provide those prisoners with a vegan diet to settle the claim. They then extended that vegan diet to Jewish prisoners who wanted kosher meals — kind of a one-size-fits-all religious meal solution.”

Former prisoner Michael Arnold filed suit after that decision because, he said, a vegan diet lacks kosher meat and dairy and, most importantly, doesn’t adhere to kosher principles of preparation, such as proscriptions against contamination with non-kosher utensils and prep areas. Arnold, who told the Detroit Free Press, “The policy of enforced vegetarianism was targeted” at Jewish prisoners, was dropped from the suit when he was released from prison.

Arnold’s original lawsuit eventually became “Gerald Ackerman and Mark Shaykin v. Heidi Washington,” the suit that was just settled, which resolves prisoners’ claims to kosher meals.

Currently, inmates have the option of purchasing kosher meals and products at the prison commissary twice a month, but, Manville says, the cost is prohibitive for most inmates. “Each meal costs around $5-$6, which is hard to afford when you’re earning $30 a month in your prison job and need to buy shampoo and other incidentals.”

Under the proposed settlement, which is subject to a fairness hearing Dec. 11 in front of U.S. District Judge Linda Parker in Detroit, Jewish inmates who keep kosher will be entitled to meals prepared in a certified kosher kitchen within the facility or certified kosher meals from a third-party vendor. Facilities that produce kosher meals onsite must submit to inspections to maintain kosher certification.

MDOC has cited the cost of creating kosher kitchens at $100,000 for each of the 16 facilities holding Jewish prisoners, or $1.6 million. “Which seems a little high,” Manville said.

According to MDOC, there are about 600 Jewish prisoners in Michigan’s 33,000 prison population. Of those 600, Manville said, between 85 and 193 are approved for kosher meals. “The discrepancy in the numbers likely stems from the 2013 settlement that forced those requesting kosher meals to eat the vegan meals,” Manville said. “Many Jewish prisoners dropped their requests for kosher and opted for the general menu.”

Prisoners not already approved for kosher meals can become eligible for kosher meals by living kosher for 60 days, which means that prisoners must use only the religious diet line for meals and may not “purchase, receive, possess or consume” any non-kosher item from the commissary, visitors or another prisoner. If at any time they are found to have consumed something non-kosher they have to restart the 60-day process.

“That provision was added to the settlement to ensure Michigan didn’t have 32,000 prisoners decide they were Jewish once they read the notice,” Manville said.

The settlement does not resolve plaintiffs’ meat and dairy consumption claims, Manville adds. The issue of whether Jewish prisoners will receive kosher meat and dairy meals 56 days a year (each Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shavuot) is still in dispute and was just litigated early this month, “although all parties have agreed to at least one cheesecake per year,” Manville said. “We expect a ruling on that early next year.”

Manville said MDOC has claimed in court that it is reluctant to provide meat and dairy meals to kosher-observant prisoners 56 times a year because of the cost, which, according to Manville, would add $10,000-$20,000 per year in expenses for MDOC.

Why is 41% of America’s Packaged Food Kosher

Posted on: March 9th, 2018 by Kosher Michigan

Less than 2% of the US population is Jewish. So why is 41% of the country’s packaged food kosher?

By Deena Shanker

Considering how few people keep kosher in the US—Jews make up less than 2% of the American population, and only a portion of them follow Jewish dietary laws—it’s fairly astounding that more than 40% of the country’s new packaged food and beverage products in 2014 are labeled as being kosher. That makes it the top label claim on food and beverages, according to market research firm Mintel, beating out the ever-present “gluten-free” label and even allergen claims.

“Kosher” food meets the broad range of requirements of Jewish dietary laws. The laws define, for example, which animals are and are not allowed to be eaten (cows and chickens are ok, pigs and shellfish are not), as well as how the animals are slaughtered, and how their meat is prepared; the laws also lay out which foods can and cannot be mixed (no meat with dairy, for example), and even, when it comes to wine, who is allowed to touch it.

To be certified as kosher, food companies must work with certification bodies like the Orthodox Union (“OU”), which says it certifies an estimated 65% to 71% of kosher foods, an endeavor that involves both paperwork, on-site supervision, and payment to the certifying bodies.

In 2009, market research firm Packaged Facts estimated the kosher industry to be worth as much as $17 billion. And the label’s relative popularity seems to be growing: While it was on only 27% of packaged foods in 2009, in 2014 it appeared on 41%. New business for OU certifications grows by about 10% each year, according to Phyllis Koegel, the group’s marketing director.

But if less than 2% of Americans are Jewish, and not all Jews even keep kosher (an estimated 80% to 85% don’t), then who is buying all of this kosher food?

“[T]here are other consumer groups that buy these foods,” Amanda Topper, a food analyst at Mintel, tells Quartz.

Muslims are one such group, she says. While there are even fewer Muslims than Jews in the US, their numbers are growing. They now account for 0.9% of the US population, according to the Pew Research Center, up from 0.4% in 2007. Muslims have their own set of dietary laws, called halal. But “if they’re not able to find halal, they rely on kosher,” says Koegel.

However, there are differences between kosher and halal, and not everyone agrees with OU and Mintel’s assessment: “We have no statistics to indicate any appreciable number of Muslims seek kosher products,” says Roger Othman, CEO of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America.

Many consumers go for kosher foods for completely non-religious reasons. Some “gravitate toward kosher products for positive health or taste perceptions, or for vegetarian reasons,” says Topper. Others buy kosher to avoid certain allergens, like shellfish. But not all of these reasons are based on a correct understanding of what “kosher” actually means.

The word “kosher,” says Koegel, has connotations of healthfulness and cleanliness. But as she points out, plenty of kosher foods, like OU-certified candy, are decidedly unhealthy. As for cleanliness, she says, the OU does provide an extra set of eyes on a facility and wouldn’t certify a company that wasn’t meeting its standards. (But whether it upholds its own standards has been questioned.)

Some of the kosher market’s expansion has come from already popular, non-kosher foods making the switch, like when Oreos removed lard and got certified in the late 1990s. And now and then the kosher aisle will have a cross-over hit, like when Lil’ Kim rapped about Moscato wine in 2005, and Bartenura, a kosher wine company, became an unexpected favorite for hip-hop musicians and their fans.

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

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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Rabbi Jason Miller Meets Demand for Kosher Products (Oakland Press – December 1, 2013)

Posted on: December 1st, 2013 by Kosher Michigan

Rabbi meets demand for Kosher products

Rabbi Jason Miller of Kosher Michigan
Rabbi helps meet demand for Kosher products. Rabbi Jason Miller launched Kosher Michigan, (KM), to help bring Kosher products to market. Miller works with restaurants, bakeries and manufacturers.His is the first kosher certification agency owned by a non-Orthodox rabbi to have a booth and exhibit at Kosherfest.

He was an exhibitor at the 2013 trade show in Secaucus, NJ, Oct. 29-30.

Kosherfest marked its 25th anniversary as an annual meeting and trade show and product resource for the kosher trade industry: supermarket, restaurant and foodservice buyers.

According to Miller, founder and director of Kosher Michigan, “My certification agency has grown over the past five plus years and becoming a part of Kosherfest for the first time is a milestone for me.”

Menachem Lubinsky, co-producer and founder of Kosherfest said, “In the last 25 years we have seen the number of kosher-certified items grow from a few thousand to almost 200,000. Major food companies have changed their ingredients and equipment in order to get kosher certification, and consumers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, seek the kosher symbol on the food products they buy more than ever before.”

Attendees to Kosherfest represent a broad spectrum of the industry, from chain and independent restaurants, caterers and specialty markets, to grocery/supermarket, big box and club chains, independent retailers, manufacturing ingredient buyers, distributors and buying agents, among many other industry professionals. Kosher Michigan was a co-exhibitor with Excalibur Seasonings, a large spice company in Pekin, Illinois that has been certified by Kosher Michigan for the past few years.

“As a non-Orthodox rabbi it has certainly been an uphill battle to gain acceptance in the kosher certification industry,” Miller explains. “However, it has been a worthwhile endeavor for me. Today Kosher Michigan certifies over fifty businesses and that number is growing each month. KM has expanded outside of Michigan and the KM hechsher (kosher symbol) is found on products sold throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

Miller started Kosher Michigan in 2008 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.

People of all faiths are purchasing kosher food for health and safety reasons. Additionally, people are purchasing kosher food for lifestyle and dietary reasons such as vegan, vegetarian, and lactose-free. There are more than 400,000 kosher certified products in the United States.

FYI

Kosher Michigan, 5657 W. Maple Road, Suite B, West Bloomfield Township 248-535-7090, koshermichigan.com.

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

Gluten Free Bar and Marshall Rader Honored with Startup Award (Michigan State University Extension – November 14, 2013)

Posted on: November 14th, 2013 by Kosher Michigan

Michigan State University and the Product Center give “Start-up to Watch” award to Marshall Rader

Michigan’s premier Specialty Food Show bestows award to The Gluten Free Bar.

Posted on November 14, 2013 by Paul James Werner, Michigan State University Extension

The Start-up To Watch Award was given to Marshall Rader during the Making it in Michigan Specialty Food Trade show on November 12, 2013, held at the Lansing Center in Downtown Lansing, Mich. An award ceremony was held during the lunch hour honoring the company for the successful introduction of gluten free protein bars. The company has distribution in 650 Midwest stores, and national presence with eight distributors. The company has experienced tremendous growth. The award ceremony inculded an introduction video and award presentation. The event was free to attend and was held at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing, Mich.

The Gluten Free Bar partner team includes Marshall Rader, President; Elliot Rader and Ben Wahl, Vice-Presidents; and Jeremy Sher, R&D Director. Partners operate with a clear division of duties from Michigan and Seattle, Wash. and manufacuture the product at their plant in Ada, Mich.

Their product line includes a protein bar in four flavors and protein bites in three flavors. All bars are certified gluten-free by GFCO, certified vegan by Vegan Action, certified kosher by Kosher Michigan, and GMO free. In late 2013, The GFB will introduce soy-free bars, further enhancing their appeal in the gluten-free and allergen-friendly marketplace. Their motto, “believe in a better bar” reflects their commitment to meeting the needs of millions of gluten-intolerant individuals with a tasty, nutritious and convenient product.

The company was launched in 2010 and today is sold in over 650 stores in the Midwest and in national distribution through eight distributors. Internet sales constitute 10 percent of total sales. They are experiencing a 300 percent compounded annual growth rate. The business employs 11 workers, up from 3 at launch. In addition to producing their own product line, they operate a separate private label and co-packing business.

The company’s web site is professionally developed and maintained. It includes extensive information about the products, reviews, store locations, a blog and online ordering. They utilize search engine optimization, ad words and are pro-active with bloggers.

The Gluten Free Bar executives operate with clear vision and measurable goals. They recently conducted a strategic planning process and business plan update as part of their initative to accommodate general growth and expansion. The company is a contributor to the local food bank and the company supports the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

The Gluten Free Bar and the officers of the company received one of four separate awards. All of the award winners were recognized as part of the Making it in Michigan, the only premier specialty food trade show in Michigan. The trade show is a compilation of a marketplace for producers to sell their products to grocery buyers, an educational component that delivers classes from marketing to regulation and a formal conference and expert speakers. This year’s keynote speaker was Tim McIntyre from Domino’s Pizza. The event was hosted by Michigan State University and the MSU Product Center, partner ofMichigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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.

#  #  #

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

‘Muzzle Tov!’ Beverly Hills store offers Passover pet food (Observer and Eccentric – March 17, 2013)

Posted on: April 11th, 2013 by Kosher Michigan

Mike Palmer of Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills isn’t Jewish, but he grew up with a lot of Jewish friends. He often heard them joke about their dogs using terms like “Bark Mitzvah” and “Muzzle Tov.”

In his family-owned pet supply store, Palmer learned that pet food for families who keep a kosher home didn’t have to be kosher (meat and dairy still can’t be mixed), but that there are some restrictions during the eight-day Passover holiday that kicks off at the end of the March.

Last year he read an article about kosher for Passover pet food on the Star-K kosher certification agency’s website, but still had some questions. He asked Rabbi Jason Miller, the director of Kosher Michigan, to visit the store and educate him. That initial introduction led to a nice friendship with the rabbi and this year Premier Pet Supply will offer certified kosher for Passover pet food approved by Kosher Michigan. It’s the first store of its kind in Michigan to offer kosher-certified products for Passover.

“We’re expecting to sell more of the kosher for Passover products this year and have stocked the shelves accordingly,” Palmer said. “We’re really grateful for Rabbi Miller’s help and our partnership with Kosher Michigan. Our goal has always been to support our customers.”

The store is located on the west side of Southfield Road, just north of 13 Mile.

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

 

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