Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kosher Symbols

My friend Michelle called me last week from the grocery store to ask if it was OK to buy some Mott's Applesauce that featured a K inside a triangle. My answer, like so many answers to Jewish questions, was, "it depends."

Over the years, the debates swirling around various Kosher symbols (hashgacha) have focused on one or another designation's strictness, level of observance, etc. Among the most controversial is the very same Triangle-K my friend found. The same symbol appears on products like Del Monte canned vegetables and Hebrew National hotdogs and it seems that there's no good answer to the Triangle-K question.

Baruch on Chowhound writes, "So with the case of Triangle K, some things are fine for people due to the inherent nature of the product, while others are more complex. For some, the hashgacha may be able to handle the supervision of simpler products like applesauce, but meat is too complex a product and some people are not comfortable with that hashgacha handling it."

Vague enough for you?

My best advice for kosher-keeping neophytes or those who simply want to avoid any snafus at their next Shabbat dinner or Passover seder, is to check out this Website:

It offers a pretty comprehensive list of what is and what isn't a widely-accepted stamp of rabbinical approval and includes everything from the nearly ubiquitous OU and Star-K to the obscure Kosher Kiwi of New Zealand. That said, it does not include Triangle K.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Appropriate Bar Mitzvah Gifts

Here is a question I recently received from a college classmate:
"My husband's cousin is having his bar mitzvah and we can't go. What is the going rate for $ as a gift. Also, would they have bar mitzvah cards at Target? Thanks for the info. Hope you're doing well!"

And my response:
"It's traditional to give a check in a denomination of $18 because the number symbolizes life. You can give $18 or $36 or whatever you feel is appropriate. If you want to give $25 instead that's totally OK too.

As for a card - some Targets will and some won't. I'm not sure where in the Phoenix area you live, but my guess is the closer you are to Phoenix or Scottsdale (higher Jewish population centers), the more likely it is you will find Jewish cards. My Target in suburban New Jersey event had Hanukkah pet items this year so anything is possible.

Mazal tov (congratulations) and enjoy the bar mitzvah!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Welcome to Ask A Heeb

During the past several years, I've frequently found myself fielding questions on a variety of Jewish topics from hardcore members of the Tribe and church-going Christians alike. It became so commonplace that I wrote about the phenomenon on my main blog, Shtetl Fabulous.

I eventually realized that I had knowledge to share and many people who both wanted to learn more and felt comfortable asking me. So I launched Ask A Heeb as a forum for those questions. I hope to make this a safe space where people can be as anonymous as they want and can feel unafraid to ask about everything from the sacred to the profane (or a little off-color).

Generally, I rail against rules, but it seems like a good idea on a site like this. So here we go.
  • To ask a question, comment on the most recent post. I'll reprint your question with the answer on my next post.
  • Please don't ask anything with the intent to offend. Stupid questions are OK, mean questions aren't.
  • Feel free to scroll through the past posts and comments to see if your question has already been asked. You won't get made fun of for asking the same question, but you might get a less thorough answer.
  • I will do my best to answer your questions within a day or two. If it's more urgent, please indicate that in your comment.
  • Everyone's time is valuable and being the resident Heeb isn't easy. Please make a donation on my PayPal page.
Thanks and let the neo-Talmuding begin!