A kosher beginning
By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,
Thank you for your explanation of pork in last week’s column. My wife and I have been contemplating keeping a kosher home since our move to Dallas two years ago. One thing holding us back is that participating in Jewish communal events is very important to us and we don’t want to miss them because they’re not kosher. We also have become very confused by the plethora of kosher symbols we see in the stores, we hear some are reliable and some are not. Lastly, how do we transform a non-kosher kitchen into a kosher one? Could you help us get over these hurdles?
— Marc L.
Dear Marc,
friedforweb2Luckily you are in Dallas! Dallas is one of the unique communities in the U.S. where nearly all Jewish organizations hold their communal events under Dallas Kosher. This is the local certification organization which ensures the highest standards of kosher, enabling the kosher-observant to participate in nearly all such events.
This did not just happen! Largely it is thanks to a longtime (18 year), conscientious effort by then Executive Director Jeri Finkelstein. She worked with many community organizations to help them understand the importance of kosher and how crucial it is for the Jewish community to operate under the highest common denominator, enabling participation by all. Her efforts have been richly rewarded by educating a community which is now an example to the rest of the country. Many cities have taken notice how, despite our many differences, the Dallas Jewish community works together. This is also a credit to the warmth of the Jewish community and their willingness to accept Jeri’s suggestions. Dallas Kosher has been a key unifying force in our community, using kosher as the glue which holds us together. One of the crown jewels of this success is the Annual Kosher Chili Cookoff, which brings together nearly every Jewish organization in Dallas in a day of unity which is unrivaled probably anywhere else in the world. So you’re in the right place at the right time!
Dallas Kosher, under the directorship of Rabbi Sholey Klein (Kashrus Administrator) and Rabbi David Shawel (Director of Supervision) have propelled their organization to the top of the list of local kashrus organizations in America, and is well-known for its integrity and service. To “kosher” your kitchen, you simply need to contact them and schedule an appointment, and they will walk you through the entire process. You can reach them at rabbiklein@dallaskosher.org or rabbishawel@dallaskosher.org.
Lastly, your question came at just the right time for you to take advantage of a wonderful communitywide educational opportunity in March: Dallas Kosher Month. In addition to talks and classes, Kosher Month features exactly what you are looking for: a guided tour of local grocery stores led by Dallas Kosher to explain and clarify which products and insignia are trustworthy and fit the Gold Standard of kashrut. Another hands-on feature is a “Kosher Home Kitchen Tour” of actual kosher kitchens in local homes. There will be a gourmet challah-baking class, a class entitled “Kosher 101” and a talk on “The Kabbalah of Kosher” (given by yours truly).
You can get all the details for this exciting program, as well as sign up if you can join, by going to www.dallaskoshermonth.com. (I hope you won’t be startled by the very unexpected picture you will find there!) As you will notice, this program is being run in the spirit mentioned above, with many diverse synagogues and Jewish organizations listed as co-sponsors, showing once again the uniqueness of the Dallas Jewish community!
Best of luck and success, and let me know how it goes!
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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