With the presentation of “We’re For Grain, Not Against It,” OU Kosher announces the 200th and final release of Kosher Tidbits, its popular series of audio lectures and live video webcasts dealing with major aspects of kashrut and contemporary halachic living.
The audio lectures, which began in 2006, are under the supervision of OU Kosher Vice President of Communications and Marketing Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran, with the assistance of OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinator Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell. The presentations are given by the rabbinic staff of OU Kosher, all of whom are trained experts in the topics which they present. The 200th Kosher Tidbit was recorded by Rabbi Eli Gersten, OU Kosher rabbinic coordinator and recorder of policy. Additionally, the live video webcasts feature interactive question and answer sessions with the OU’s poskim (halachic authorities), Rav Yisroel Belsky and Rav Herschel Schachter.
OU Kosher Tidbits can be accessed at www.oukosher.org/index.php/learn/koshertidbits/. The live webcasts of the OU poskim can be accessed at ouradio.org/ouradio/channel/C301/ and www.ou.org/torah/index#/kosherfood.
OU Kosher Tidbits programs have a worldwide audience, with listeners in such places as the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands, Brazil, Chile and Germany.
Rabbi Menachem Genack, chief executive officer of OU Kosher, stated, “The extraordinary range of knowledge and experience of OU Kosher rabbis is available worldwide, and not only to the companies they serve, through Kosher Tidbits. I congratulate Rabbi Safran, Rabbi Ferrell, and the entire OU Kosher staff on this extraordinary series — it is a source of great pride to all of us with any connection to OU Kosher.”
According to Rabbi Safran, “Kosher Tidbits is more than just a series; it is thorough explanation of how a basic human need, eating, is raised to the level of the sacred with each bite we take. The programs recognize that although kosher law is immutable, food technology keeps changing and the ancient must be applied to the new. How this is done is at the heart of Kosher Tidbits, and is greatly responsible for its success.”
Rabbi Safran justifiably deems this repertoire a kosher encyclopedia. A touch of humor by Rabbi Ferrell in the titles of the programs accompanies the presentations combining profound Torah scholarship with wide-ranging technical knowledge. Among Rabbi Ferrell’s favorite titles over the years include: “Fermentation: A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and Th’O.U.” “Kosher Wine: What Do the Rabbis Let Us Put In Decanters?” “Kosher Yogurt: An Uplifting Cultural Experience” “Let’s Ex-salmon the Kashrut of Fish” and “Ownership: A Halachic Mine-field?” Recently added titles include “Kosher Cheese: Overcoming the Hurdles for the Milk that Curdles;” “Kosher Yogurt: An Uplifting Cultural Experience;” and “A Cogent Vignette About Kosher Vinaigrettes.”
Kosher Tidbits topics include: mezonot bread; the fish-worm controversy; how challah is separated in industrial bakeries; the fascinating challenges of certifying kosher chemicals; how to kasher equipment; beverages; the in’s and out’s of inspecting vegetables; the kashrut of medicines; dairy equipment (“DE”) certification; the parameters of bishul akum; kosher cereal certification; allergens; how to certify kosher restaurants and caterers; waiting between meat and milk; the use or non-use of panels on products; dairy bread; interacting with housekeepers who do not keep kosher; kitniyot; medicines on Pesach; shechitah; certification of bakeries and wineries; all aspects of dairy certification; and much more.
The most basic household products are explored to clarify the mysteries of kosher, such as “A ‘Latte’ to Learn About Coffee,” “The ‘Hole’ Truth: Bagels and the OU,” “As the World Churns: Aspects of Kosher Butter Production,” “Dairy Products: Solving the ‘Moo’steries;” “Tuna Fish: ‘Can’ It Be Kosher?” “Oil’s Well that Ends Well,” “Trix of the Trade: The Production of Kosher Cereals,” and “Cracking the Mysteries of the Egg.”
In one of the meatiest categories, there is a four-part series on “The Certification of Meat,” accompanied by “A Guide for the Perplexed – About Purchasing Meat,” by Rav Belsky.
The program proceeds from the kitchen to the supermarket for labeling issues and ingredient panels; goes behind the scenes of kosher certification for “The OU Mashgiach: Partner or Patrolman,” looks at practical halacha and hashkafa (law and custom), with “Mission Not Impossible: The Kosher Jew in a Non-Kosher Milieu,” and delves into science and kashrut, with “Kosher Vinegar Manufacture: Where Divine Revelation Meets Ethanol Fermentation.”
A section on Passover, which has its own enormous set of kashrut issues, explores “Kitniyot: The Next Best Thing to Chometz,” and “Bread-Buying and Pasta-Purchasing Post-Pesach: Problem or Permitted?”
Rabbi Ferrell reflected, “When Rabbi Safran became the Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the OU’s Kashrut Division, he undertook a mission. He set out to make the OU the world’s top disseminator of the sacred and secular knowledge that underlie kosher certification in the 21st Century. Accomplishing this task would bring about a tectonic shift in the world of kashrut education. Through God’s kindness and mercy, here we are, 200 Kosher Tidbits later.”