the WKS Symbol is a widely known and accepted Kosher symbol throughout the United states, Canada, and Mexico. WKS is affiliated with AKOkosher.org the association of Kashrut Organizations which is a worldwide organization of Top Kashrut Organizations which uphold the strictest orthodox kosher standards. Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, Kashrut Administrator of WKS has works previously as the head of the Vaad HaKashrut of San Antonio for ten years and also worked as a Mashgiach for the CRC and the Kof-K.
I belong to a worldwide association of kosher agencies called AKO the Association of Kashrut Organizations. akokosher.org.
Back in February I attended the conference held in Oxnard California where all of the world leading organizations met to discuss the contemporary issues involving the kosher industry. Much was discussed but one thing that caught my special attention was when one of the leading kosher organizations in the world gave a small talk on the kosher certification of marijuana.
As we have seen there was an article released last year where the OU announced that they were going to give cannabis a kosher certification. here is the article. https://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-news/ou-medical-marijuana-statement/
When this leading organization was approached to give certification to cannabis, they were of course faced with the dilemma. “To be Kosher? or not to be?” So the rabbi continued that he had had conversations with people in the Jewish community who had various illnesses and that marijuana gave them tremendous relief. Upon getting such information, they decided that for medicinal reasons they were going to certify it as kosher.
The rabbi continued to explain that for health reasons how could they not? However, the issue came when the company that they wanted to certify also manufactured cannabis for recreational purposes. Here is where they felt they had to draw line and not issue a kosher certification. So, if a manufacturer was producing marijuana for medicinal purposes only, then they would certify it. If the manufacturer was producing for medicinal AND recreational they would not give a kosher certification. Certainly, if they ONLY made for recreational they would not certify it. And then the rabbi sat down for questions. and that’s when I asked
“So, are you saying that you would not give certification for edibles? edibles can be also medicinal?”
The rabbi explained of course for edibles they would give but they have not been approached for that item. They have so far only given kosher certification for oils and vapors. (I should have asked why vapors would need it since it is inhaled but I was already thinking about my next question).
“Are there any bugs in the plants that one needs to be careful about the Torah prohibition of eating bugs?”
The rabbi answered they were involved in oil only in which there were no bug concerns. Here the moderator who is also head of the top five kosher agencies interjected saying they have certified cannabis in their region and have found bugs to be in it. He continued to tell us that growers actually introduce another kind of bug that eats those bugs.
(The reason why is asked is that there are people who eat it raw. they put it in salads. some might want to put the actual bud in their brownies or tea. according to that answer it does present a problem and checking the buds for bugs seems necessary.)
The moderator continued saying “Thank G-d, Rabbi Cohen, you’re an ignoramus in this area so you don’t need to worry about it.”
I retorted “but I did come from California.” (I was chuckling inside saying to myself “little does he know i used to grow the stuff back in my high school days”).
Someone else then asked a question that was brewing in my mind
“You won’t give for recreational purposes so what’s the difference between that and alcohol which you do give kosher certification for and that is recreational? Is it because of stigma that you won’t give kosher certification for or is there another reason?
The rabbi answered and said quite simply that to give for recreational reason would make them “a joke” of sorts and might devalue the reputation of the organization.
With that, it came out that it was really a stigma and that it seems as soon as it would be globally legal for recreational reasons, then they would technically give kosher certification to recreational cannabis.
I later had conversations with other west coast kashrut agencies and they told me that they were also approached and they are refraining from doing it for the same reasons. It just makes them look like a joke.
I however, am not afraid. I lost my six-year-old son to brain cancer three years ago and my family and I are still suffering from it. We were giving him cannabis oil trying to work up to the therapeutic dose, when he the disease drove him into a coma and took his life. I see value even in recreational for some cases and in my studies and investigation its better than alchohol if its legal. If any manufacturer out there sees this article and wants to go kosher certified, I am willing to step up to the plate and help. Call me at 210 913-1836
a very prevalent question is always asked to me regarding if cannabis needs kosher certification? so the classic answer as any jewish law goes is “it depends.” if we start out at the inception of the plant we know from Torah law that any vegetation does not need kosher certification. however we do have strict laws about eating insects.
when i am in meeting with clients i always play this game with them. if someone were to sit me down in a room and put a gun to my head and say “Jew Boy!” you gonna eat one of these things or we gonna will kill you.” (according to Jewish law i am allowed to eat a non kosher item. i can break the law in a life threatening situation.) so they sit me down and place on the table in front of me a ham sandwich, a cheeseburger and a chocolate covered ant. they say “eat one or die.” so i am going to pick the least of the evils and eat it. which one would i pick? so i go around the room asking all the non jews which one do they think. many of them say the ant. usually because its so small. but the answer is its the ham sandwich. the reason being is that it is mentioned only once not to eat pork. it is mentioned three times not to eat a mixture of milk and meat and it is mentioned five times about a bug. boom! bugs are strictly forbidden. so proper measures need to be taken to insure its bug free. i have never seen a bug in a pot plant. have you? usually green leafy vegetables and fruits contain bugs and each plant had its own manner of inspection.
so in our situation with the marijuana plant there needs to be an inspection to see if there is any infestation in the plants themselves. however that is only if one is going to eat the plant like as it by either putting it his salad or what have you.
if one is going to extract from it, then it makes it a different story. the solvents used in doing the extraction must come from a kosher source. if alcohol is used or some other element to break the plant down to make oil that element must be verified that it comes from a kosher source.
the next item in question is any machinery that the cannabis material comes in contact with must be dedicated equipment. if it is used for non kosher material, then chances are that the equipment is contaminated and that would in turn render the cannabis product not kosher. for example if one uses a pot to boil up the buds to make an extract or an oil. if that pot was used at one time to cook pork in, then that pot is not kosher to make your cannabis product in.
all machinery must not have come into contact with non kosher contaminants.
once that is established, then for those who make brownies or candies should be easy. lets say they take the buds and fry them in butter or oil and the THC goes into the butter or oil then you want to make brownies or cake. all good assuming all the other ingredients are kosher. mostly all store bought butter and oil is kosher. white sugar is assumed to be kosher. eggs can be an issue if they are brown eggs. white eggs are easier to make sure they are kosher. and voila. you are kosher certified! really marijuana products should be the easiest to be kosher certified and to maintain kosher certification and should cost a lot.
if the manufacturer is not making anything else on the premises it should be a “no-brainer.” I’ve been to one place in northern California which candies were being produced and presented no problem. in conclusion to make cannabis products kosher should be easy and therefore very affordable.
contact Rabbi Yaakov Cohen if you are interested in having your cannabis edible or food product kosher certified at [email protected]
the issue with rice noodles appear to be not so much the ingredients but rather it touches the rabbinic prohibition of what is called “Bishul Akum.” thats right folks the rabbis wanted to safeguard the jewish people in this very long ugly bitter exile. so among the things they instituted was not to eat the food that was cooked by a gentile. this fence is really meant to protect us from marrying their sons and daughters. go figure!
there are mainly two important facts in navigating the guidelines of “food cooked by a gentile.” the main fact mostly considered is if the food with go up on the table of kings. the concept of “table of kings is not literal however but it means simply that it would be served in a bar mitzvah or wedding or some important occasion. not a barbecue. the first time i learned about this prohibition came up with eating hard boiled eggs at a hotel (assuming the pots were kosher). since hard boiled eggs are nt something that is going to go up on President Trumps table and will not even be served at a sunday brunch with bagels (unless you want to give someone extreme gas). so the issue of hard boiled eggs for example are not a problem. obviously the opposite such as fish and steak that are served at nice functions areas issue.
the question was raised what about rice noodles? apparently rice noodles are not prepared the same as wheat noodles which are pressed four and water and no cooking is applied. cooking is used, however for rice noodles. it seems many of the Kosher Certification companies seem to differ on this issue. three main organizations hold the view that it does go up on the table of kings and there for one cannot buy it without a kosher certification.
others argue saying that the cooking is ronin order to eventually creation item that does not go on the table of kings. (it gets dried and is sold like that) those who counter this say the the cooking is something different than the noodle making. this leads to a similar question concerning parboiled rice? anther question was raised about potato flour?
so now to get to the issue of the par boiled rice. the cooking process has to be up to a third cooked to be considered cooked by the Torah standards. so parboiled rice is not an issue.
here is the bottom line – if a product was cooked by a gentile and was subsequently rendered inedible (either by dryng for example) and needs further cooking, SO IT LOST ITS ORIGINAL PROHIBITIVE STATE OF FOOD THAT WAS COOKED BYA GENTILE. the same goes for instant rice. its inedible and needs more cooking.
now with potato or starch. they are made form non cooked potatoes. potato flakes on the other hand are made form cooked, pressed and tired potatoes and technically do not require “recooking” but rather rehydrating which could b done with cold water.
Steam cooking – Rabbi Moshe Feinstein permitted the factory type of steam cooking – not a home style cooking) and didn’t include it in the prohibition of “bishel akum.”
so if rice noodles are made from fully cooked rice, then we need to know how they are cooking in it. are they cooking with steam or boiling water? if they are cooking with steam, then we could apply Rabbi Feinsteins rule and the noodles don’t require a hechsher (assuming no funky ingredients) if the noodles are cooked in hot water and then subsequently dried we would have to ascertain if they just need to be rehydrated with cold water or we need to actually cook them again. if they need merely cold water then we would say there is an issue of “food cooked by a gentile.” if the noodles actually need re cooking, thence can say that the original cooked process was nullified since what we now have before us something that needs to be cooked again.