By Margie Pensak
Over the summer, STAR-K’s Baltimore offices hosted two Mashgichim Review Seminars which were attended by close to 50 mashgichim. The participants, who act in a kashrus supervisory capacity primarily for restaurants, caterers, camps, and college campus Kosher programs, came from throughout the Maryland-Pennsylvania region.
The seminar featured Greetings delivered by Dr. Avrom Pollak, President of STAR-K, and Rav Yaakov Hopfer, shlit”a, Rosh Vaad HaRabbonim of Baltimore and member of the Vaad HaRabbonim Kashrus Committee. Topics included: Food Service Hashgocho, Liquor and Drinks, and Vegetable Checking. A Q&A session with STAR-K’s Rav Hamachshir, HaRav Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, concluded the seminar.
Yanki Frager, the chef and head mashgiach at the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center, in Reisterstown, MD, was just one of the seminar attendees. His job entails cooking breakfast and lunch for all groups in-house, Sunday through Thursday, and preparing Shabbos menus. He is also responsible for ensuring that the entire building stays STAR-K compliant and that mashgiachim are always present when cooking takes place.
“In this seminar I gained a lot through clarification of STAR- K policy and a deeper understanding of the reasons of what we do,” says Yanki. “I was happy to learn that STAR- K has a “test kitchen” where they test out procedures to check vegetables for bugs. It takes into consideration every ‘rumor’ about bugs in food, and then tests to see if they are true before informing Kosher consumers. I thought this seminar was important because chazara is always necessary, and it gave us a chance to directly ask Rav Heinemann questions regarding STAR-K facilities, clarifying different policies that come into question.”
Mark and Louise Powers attended the seminar from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Mark has been the STAR-K mashgiach in Franklin & Marshall College, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Louise has been the mashgicha at Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for the past two years.
“Participating in the seminar gave me a feeling of what I am doing is important,” explained Louise. “I love my job and I really enjoyed listening to all the questions, getting reinforcement, learning about things I can improve on, and seeing what is going on elsewhere, beyond my college.”
“The Mashgichim Review Seminar is definitely something that enhances the level of Kashrus in the community by making sure that everyone is on the same page and up-to-date on the latest developments in the field,” feels STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Sholom Tendler, coordinator of the seminar. “It also gave a chance for those out in the field to ask questions and provide feedback, comments, and input. It also gave us all the opportunity to share ideas with each other and to collectively gain from each other’s knowledge and experience.”