When Jews sit down to the seder on April 19 and 20, chances are that the set table will have a very traditional look. There will be the seder plates, the cups for the wine, the elegant flatware and dishes and so forth. But when the meal begins, the foods that are served may be reflecting some of the new products that have been introduced in recent years. For example, even the Kedem grape juice could be a dietetic version that has far less sugar than the traditional grape juice. The matzos may be spelt or whole wheat, the gefilte fish without sugar, and, of course, Diet Coke.
Dear Rabbi, What is involved in the OU certification of vodka?
The Orthodox Union receives many inquiries about certification of vodka. This is a typical response, as written by Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz, Senior Rabbinic Coordinator.
No question – food has always played an essential role in the celebration of Jewish holidays. But when it comes to Passover, it takes an extra dose of vigilance and knowledge to keep all the season’s meticulous kosher laws properly. Those companies involved in the production of kosher-for-Passover products have learned that, in order to keep the eight days of highly restrictive eating interesting, they’ve had to crank up their creativity. Thanks to modern-day food technology, the past decade of Passover offerings have been plentiful – and innovative.
The Hebrew language name for the holiday of Passover – Pesach — conveys conversation, with “Pe” meaning mouth and “sach” connoting speaking or conversing. The matzah referred to as lechem oni, poor man’s bread, is seen not simply as a food consumed when hastily leaving Egypt, but as a medium for discussion and elaboration on countless Passover themes. The Bible instructs that we verbally communicate to our children on Passover night and tell them about the most consequential event in the annals of Jewish history. An actual and active dialogue must be at the core of the Passover experience, with the children as the focus of that life experience. The Haggadah text was specifically created as the vehicle through which all can be told and explained. There is no genuine Passover experience without adequate and meaningful conversation, discussion, analysis and talking. On Passover night silence is not a virtue; as a matter of fact, the more prolonged the discussion and conversation is on this night, the greater the reward. In short, on Passover, we talk it up.
It’s the “largest certification organization in the world,” the “most widely accepted,” “the most respected,” and the “leader in the field.” It’s perceived to be “the standard,” and among key consumer groups, “the safest,” “the cleanest,” “most reliable” and “trustworthy.” It’s the symbol, by a wide margin, that is top-of-mind when the consumer thinks “kosher certification.”
The Orthodox Union receives many inquiries about certification of wine. This is a typical response, as written by Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz, Senior Rabbinic Coordinator.
According to http://www.popcorn.org, Americans consume in excess of 17 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually – or about 54 quarts for every man, woman and child. The world’s primary popcorn producing region is the Midwestern United States and an entire food industry has grown up around it. Why is popcorn so popular? Because it is nutritional, versatile and delicious! Popcorn is an easily prepared whole grain snack. Without butter or other additions, popcorn is about 31 – 55 calories per cup. It goes with almost anything, and can accept a wide variety of flavor enhancements. Today, you don’t have to do much work to enjoy this treat. While of course one can still purchase raw popcorn and either air or oil pop it, microwave popcorn has become ubiquitous. In fact, the first test of the microwave on food in the 1940’s was popcorn. By the 1990’s this product niche had over $240 million in sales. And while salt and butter remain the most popular flavors, today’s marketplace is full of gourmet popcorns — and not only caramel. There are cheese flavors, chocolate covered, nut balls and new flavor trends like jalapeno, too.
Americans today are looking for alternatives. This trend has manifested itself in many different areas but is perhaps the most pronounced in the health sector. How often do we hear about alternative medicine? As a result, more and more Americans are electing to have a homeopath, chiropractor, or kinesiologist be their primary care physician in place of the more conventional medical doctor. In a word, Americans are looking to lead a more ‘natural’ lifestyle. After all, what can be better than what nature itself has to offer?
Brandy is short for brandywine and is derived from the Dutch brandewijn, meaning burnt, or distilled, wine. The alcohol for brandy is produced by fermenting fruits to produce wine. Because fermentation is a result of the action of microbes in yeast, there is a natural limit to the alcohol content of the fermented material. When the alcohol concentration reaches a level of about 12 percent, fermentation stops. The reason is that the alcohol kills any remaining yeast so that no more alcohol is produced; the limit of alcohol content in wine, therefore, is around 12 percent. There is, however, a type of bacteria, called acetobacter, which thrives on alcohol, turning it into vinegar, thereby souring the wine. Thus, wine is ordinarily subject to two drawbacks in quality: The one is a limit to its strength, the other, a limit to its shelf life.
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