Yeshiva University Non-Science Majors Come to OU Kosher to Explore Chemistry and Kashrut

Expect a chemical reaction when the students in Yeshiva University’s innovative “Science of Chemistry: World of Torah” course participate in an upcoming OU Kashrut seminar as part of the OU Kosher Coming program, in which senior OU rabbis either go to, or play host, to groups for sessions on the intricacies and practical applications of kosher law.

The Yeshiva University students will be coming to the OU on Friday, October 31 for three sessions: Heating and Cooking in Jewish Law, emphasizing definitions and applications (for example, kosherizing utensils); Chemical Changes in Substances, exploring the halachic (legal) definition of “change” and potential leniencies drawn from these changes; and Extraction and Distillation in Jewish Law, including a discussion of essential oils and alcoholic beverages.

The sessions will be taught by OU Rabbinic Coordinators Eli Gersten, Gavriel Price and Nosson Neuberger, respectively. Rabbi Gersten is recorder of OU halachic decisions and policy; Rabbi Price is a member of the Ingredient Approval Registry (IAR), specializing in ingredient research; and Rabbi Neuberger is Assistant Director of the IAR and is a flavor specialist.

According to Dr. Rosalyn S. Strauss, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry in Yeshiva College, “The course ‘Science of Chemistry: World of Torah’ was developed to provide non-science majors at Yeshiva College with the opportunity to experience and explore chemistry-related scenarios found in Torah and halacha. Through collaborative laboratory exercises, readings and special projects, the course is intended to explore how the study of chemistry can supplement and/or complement Judaism. It is intended to foster appreciation for scientific inquiry and critical investigation in the context of issues relevant to Torah Jews.”

The students are coming to the perfect place to learn about practical applications of Jewish law. Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran, Vice President of Communications and Marketing of OU Kosher, himself a graduate of Yeshiva College and YU’s affiliated RIETS rabbinical seminary, declared: “It is gratifying to know that all segments of the Jewish educational community view the Orthodox Union not only as the leader in kashrut certification but also as the leader in kashrut education, being able to meet the educational needs of elementary, secondary, college and yeshiva students. We are particularly pleased to offer our expertise to Yeshiva University and to work with its students in understanding the connection between Torah law and chemistry.”

Dr. Strauss agrees. “No area of halacha is more intertwined with chemistry than kashrut. It is to this end that I approached the OU, the world’s most recognized kashrut supervisory organization, to provide my students with a window into the issues faced when trying to apply our timeless traditions to the timely complexities of contemporary food production. Through their OU Kosher Coming program, Rabbi Safran and Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell, OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinator, have provided me with extensive support in organizing a special program with some of their rabbinic experts tailor-made for our needs.” (Rabbi Ferrell also has a YU tie, with ordination from the RIETS seminary.)

In addition to the chemistry session, the OU Kosher Coming program has programs currently scheduled at Rutgers, the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University. These sessions are being held in conjunction with the OU’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus program, which is found on each of the three campuses, as well as at 11 others in the United States and Canada.

For information on bringing OU Kosher Coming to your group, contact Rabbi Safran.