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Kashrut for Potluck Meals

Kavanah/Our Intent:  As a Jewish community, we should always be seeking to increase our sense of “kehilah,” a sacred community. One way that we do this is through shared meals.

In an effort to create more opportunities for members of the congregation to share meals together, we are introducing  these  guidelines for kosher potluck meals that are dairy or pareve (i.e. neither meat nor dairy; neutral).  These guidelines were developed for the purpose of potluck meals, but can also be used for a range of purposes where preparing kosher food is needed:   making food for a shiva house, making a dish to bring to someone’s home who keeps kosher, preparing a kosher meal to serve in one’s own home.

Below, you will find straightforward guidelines that will enable kosher food to be prepared in any kitchen.

What does “kosher” mean? The term “kosher” does not apply to food alone. The word means “fit” or “proper for sacred use.” The term “kosher” can also be a statement of purposefulness. Torah Scrolls, food, and choices can be “kosher” (or not). Our commitments to ethical, environmental, and ritual are supported through our kashrut standards by which we abide as a community. While individual members of the congregation have a wide variety of observances in their own homes, we have adopted the following rules as our kashrut policy for congregational events in our building, and we expect everyone who purchases or prepares food for shul functions to follow this policy.  


All processed food products need to have a recognized hechsher (kashrut certification).  A hechsher is a symbol of approval stamped on the packaging of a processed product and it certifies that the facility manufacturing the product is under kosher supervision.

Kosher Symbols: CBS-CS currently accepts all kosher symbols. However, if a label has only the plain letter “K”, that does not signify that a product has a recognized hechsher;  if you wish to certify that such an item is kosher, please contact Rabbi Steinitz for additional information.   

What Needs a Hechsher: In general, processed food items (including cheeses, wine, juice, and baked goods) must have a hechsher. Unprocessed foods (including fruit, vegetables, milk and eggs) do not require a hechsher. Again, contact Rabbi Steinitz for questions you may have.

Where These Guidelines Pertain: For potluck meals inside the synagogue building, the guidelines below are required. For outside meals under the auspices of the congregation, the same guidelines apply. Our current standard is that any congregational event outside of the building is at least dairy/vegetarian.

Kashrut Standards for Food Cooked in a Member’s Home

The CBS-CS Kitchen: For a potluck meal held in the synagogue building, where food is prepared in people’s homes, the  synagogue kitchen cannot be used; if it becomes necessary to bring food into the kitchen, it must be covered. In short, food should be ready to eat without the need for further preparation, including heating. CBS-CS will provide supplies for cleaning up and waste removal.

If you keep a kosher kitchen: You can bring dairy or pareve food cooked in your home that adheres to our kashrut standards using hechshered ingredients where required. If your home is kosher and you keep “kosher by ingredient” (i.e. you go by the list of ingredients on the packaging and do not always look for a hechsher) or vegan (no animal products) or vegetarian, use only hechshered ingredients when preparing food for community use. You are responsible for determining that your kitchen is kosher. When in doubt, consult Rabbi Steinitz with any questions.

If you do not keep a kosher kitchen: You can still bring food cooked or baked in your kitchen by using kosher ingredients and following these guidelines:

A separate space in your kitchen must be designated and thoroughly cleaned.

Pots and Pans: Use new pots and pans – foil pans are inexpensive and useful for this purpose. If you have glass or stainless steel pots and pans, they can be used for a kosher event AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN THOROUGHLY CLEANED. For baking sheets, one can double-wrap them in foil and then use them.

Utensils and Equipment: For kitchen utensils (cutting boards, knives, spatulas, etc.) and kitchen equipment such as mixers, blenders, et. al. used to prepare COLD foods (fruits, vegetables, etc.),thoroughly clean those utensils before using them. For kitchen utensils for preparing HOT foods, use only new utensils OR utensils you have set aside for only potluck preparations. For example, a raw carrot can be peeled with any vegetable peeler, however, a steamed hot carrot can only be cut with a new or set-aside knife. You might consider investing in a small set of kitchen tools for kosher cooking.

Using a Stovetop:  You do not need to do anything to use an electric, gas, or glass top stove.


HOWEVER, if cleaning is needed, either use the cleaning cycle or clean it thoroughly by running it at its highest temperature for 15 minutes before cooking.  If the dish is covered (either with its own lid or with foil) it is NOT necessary to clean the oven.   

Using a Microwave: If you want to use a microwave, you can quickly make it kosher by thoroughly cleaning the inside and bringing a glass of water to boil in it.

Dishwashers: To use your dishwasher for kosher utensils, run a rinse cycle before the cleaning cycle with the kosher utensils.

Cleaning Up: Use new sponges or scrubbers. For towels, use freshly laundered towels.

Transporting Food: Foods should be brought to shul in glass or new recyclable/disposal containers.  Food can be brought to the synagogue on Shabbat or Holidays for such events.

Finally:  Cooking a dish is only one way to be part of a potluck meal. Potluck meals also need other items, such as:  paper goods, beverages, disposable utensils, store-bought hechshered products.

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