March 28, 2011

Kosher-for-Passover Guides on the Rise

New York, NY…by T. Cohn…As preparations for the upcoming Passover holiday went into high gear this week, Jewish households were stocking up on more than matzoh and other traditional foods. They were gobbling up every guide to Passover that they could put their hands on, while others surfed the Internet to find sites that listed kosher foods, cosmetics, cleaning supplies and medications that could be used for Passover. One of the most popular guides is The Laws of Pesach, an annual digest authored by the late Rabbi Avrohom Blumenkrantz and continued by his sons. Many national and local kashrus organizations have recently released their kosher guides to Passover. Like the Blumenkrantz guide, they include information on much more than just food. Available online and in print, the guides offer the kosher consumer a means to navigate the complex Kosher for Passover selections, including which products need not bare a special kosher-for-Passover symbol. Kosher consumers are known to flood kashrus organizations with queries in the weeks leading up to Passover, and the publication of these extensive and detailed guides has become a major resource for all who celebrate the Passover holiday.

Many of the major Kashrus organizations, including the OU, Star-K, and cRc all produce guides, although each differs in their own way. Some guides, such as the OU guide, present many different opinions but advise each reader to consult with their rabbinic authority for a final decision, while others advise only one opinion. Further, some guides will list specific recommended products, such as brands of deli meat and cake mixes, particularly those under their kosher supervision. Since it is estimated that 40% of kosher food spending takes place around Passover, the difference between being listed or not in a guide may have significant economic impact on certain products.

Kashrus sources say that the inquiries they receive are not necessarily from Orthodox Jews who observe kashrus all year-round. As the most widely observed holiday on the Jewish calendar, Jews of all backgrounds are concerned with serving properly certified kosher products and somehow finding their way to hotlines and Websites of major kashrus organizations.