Hechsher

From Academic Kids

Hechsher (הכשר Hebrew: "kosher approval" , plural: hechsherim) is the formal granting of certification, usually by an authorized rabbi, that a product is certified as kosher (meaning "fit" [for consumption].) A hechsher is usually conveyed to the public by a special marking on products (generally foods) certifying that the item is certified as kosher. It is usually Orthodox rabbis who assume the jobs of mashgichim (singular: mashgiach) meaning they "supervise" the products and processes that manufacture kosher food to ensure that all ingredients are kosher (meaning: "fit" [for consumption]) and meet the required standards of the original hechsher.

In halakha ("Jewish law"), the kashrut ("dietary laws") specify food items that may be eaten and others that are prohibited as derived from the commandments of the Torah. Observant Jews generally will only eat permitted foods. To assist Jewish consumers, rabbinic authorities allow manufacturers to place their "certification stamps", known as hechsherim, on foods that they have inspected and found to contain only kosher ingredients and produced in accordance with halakha.

Some mistakenly believe that a rabbi merely "blesses" food for it to be considered kosher. This is not true.

Contents

Rabbinic organizations and authorities and their hechsherim

The "OU" .
The "OU" logo.
See Identification of kosher foods.

The best known hechsher symbo; in the world is the "OU" symbol of the Orthodox Union based in New York City in the United States. They employ hundreds of rabbis as mashgichim ("supervisers").

Further designations contained in hechsherim

Passover (P)

The observance of Passover (Hebrew: Pesach) entails additional rules of kashrut. Near the holiday, foods that are kosher for Passover (Hebrew: kosher l'Pesach) may carry a "P" near the hechsher, standing for "Passover" or "Pesach".

Dairy (D)

Observant Jews do not eat dairy products with meat. To ease identification of dairy products (like chocolate, which may or may not contain milk), a "D" or the word "Dairy" accompanies the hechsher. Products which don't contain milk but are made on machinery that was previously used with milk may have "DE" or Dairy Equipment accompanying the hechsher.

Pareve

Some foods may be eaten with meat or with milk. These foods are called pareve and may carry this term near the hechsher.


External links

See also

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