It is no secret to anyone that Jews have many traditions strongly rooted in their culture. Probably, one of the most significantly rooted traditions is related to their dietary habits. According to Jewish law, Jews must only consume food adhered to Kosher standards. Yosef Meystel knows that this food needs to be carefully prepared since it pays special attention to every living creature while it follows some of the most important concepts related to the Jewish culture.
Consuming Kosher food should not represent a problem. Nevertheless, in order to consume Kosher, there must be Kosher producers. These producers need to have a Kosher certificate in order to have a legitimate Kosher business. But, who is supposed to certify they are actually Kosher businesses?
In Chicago, there is an organization that doesn’t aim to get a profit out of its work. However, most Jewish food business in the city depend on its certification to guarantee their clients they are, in fact, producing Kosher food. This organization is called Seal- K.
Seal-K has the mission to preserve, strengthen and spread knowledge of Jewish law, traditions and practical application. It is linked to the Rabbanut, the highest Jewish nonprofit organization in Israel, which offers classes in Jewish studies and gives certifications to students directly from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
This organization is a nonprofit itself, but it has permission from the Rabbanut to provide Kosher certification for any type of business in the city of Chicago that aims to offer food based on Jewish rabbinical law. This means that catering, cafeterias, lunchrooms, delis and a wide list of Jewish business that serve food need to go through Seal-K’s process before claiming to be Kosher.
What is Kosher?
The first question that needs to be answered is “What is Kosher?”. Kosher is a process of food production that bases its principles in the Jewish law. Kosher is linked to the historical, personal and communal commitment to the will of God. It reminds a lesson of kindness to every living creature, driving its attention to details in day-to-day matters, thinking before acting and self-control.
Kosher can be applied to any food production method since it guides how food should be picked and processed. It observes the quality and integrity of all components and worries about safety in food prep areas in order to guarantee that the food and equipment conditions are never compromised.
In Hebrew, Kosher means “proper” or “fit”. It is associated with purity, cleanness, and supervision. The production process for Kosher food involves more control than any other. It has several religion-related rules that in the end benefit consumers in a physiological way. A good example would be that Kosher food processes meat separately from dairy products. Which, in the end, helps consumers with their digestion.
Kosher foods need to go through a process that involves technique and the blessing of a Rabbi. However, not every food can be Kosher. Only those that are approved by the bible have the chance to become Kosher.
Who Can Apply to Become Kosher?
According to Seal-K, there are two types of businesses in Chicago that can apply to become Kosher:
- Food Service Businesses: this area includes restaurants and commercial kitchens. Seal-K offers to review the businesses menus and talk to their chefs to find a way to design a Kosher menu based on the business style. This is often challenging since the number of ingredients is limited.
- Manufacturing Businesses: this area includes every business that produces food in an industrial way. Seal-K works with these companies to make sure that their quality, style, taste and packaging is top notch. This way the make sure that companies in Chicago will be able to offer the best Kosher ingredients to Jewish businesses and other consumers.
How do you Certify Your Business?
Seal-K offers a simple and meticulous process any business should follow in order to get its Kosher certification:
- Application: Any company that wishes to get a Kosher certification needs to fill out an application according to the category it belongs to Food Services or Manufacturing.
- Assessment: Seal-K will visit its facilities and check the company’s equipment, operations, menus, ingredients, tools, procedures, and processes. The person in charge of this inspection in a rabbinic representative who will define the course of action for the business.
- Proposal: companies who want to get the Kosher certification will need to send a detailed proposal about the costs for the operation and a description of the kosher production process. This shall include timelines, budgets, and any relevant information.
- Approval: once Seal-K agrees on the business proposal, it will ask for the necessary documentation for the company to become Seal-K approved.
- Certification: After all the paperwork is approved and signed, the company receives its kosher certificate and is ready to place its Kosher products in the Jewish market.
* Featured Image courtesy of Reliv International at Flickr.com