March 18, 2013

Thousands Use Hotlines to Inquire About Passover Products

NEW YORK — Kosher certification agencies are experiencing a significant increase in the number of inquiries on products for Passover. The Orthodox Union has increased its Hotline hours, including the two days immediately before Passover. “Last year, we received 150 calls on erev Pesach alone, when the OU Kosher Hotline was open for three hours,” shared Rabbi Eli Eleff, OU Kosher rabbinic coordinator and consumer relations administrator. Kashrus sources say that with the ever-growing number of products available for the holidays comes a dramatic increase in inquiries over their hotlines, as well as on radio programs, special seminars and through their growing on-line audiences.

At the Star-K in Baltimore, rabbis were fielding as many as 1300 calls a day, including a growing number of Jews from Sephardic communities that consume kitniyot (legumes) on Passover. Some of the leading Star-K questions included: Which rice can I buy for Passover? Which Oils can I buy? Do dates need KFP? Does Quinoa needs checking? Which nuts can be bought without a hechsher? Local rabbis say that the large number of new products has “created an avalanche of shailos (inquiries),” as one rabbi put it.

An estimated 500 new items were introduced for Passover 2013.