The Jewish Community of Japan is committed to maintain its kitchen and dining room located at the Jewish Community Center facility at 3-8-4 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0012, Japan at a high level of kashruth, intended to meet the needs of local Jewish residents as well as the Jewish travelers from around the world who pass through Tokyo. The kitchen is fleishig (meat). These guidelines have been approved by the JCJ’s Board of Trustees. Day-to-day supervision is performed by the mashgiach, who is the JCJ rabbi, in accordance with these guidelines and with Jewish halakhic tradition.
Jewish Community of Japan Kosher Kitchen Guidelines
Updated as of August 2009
The JCJ kitchen is a fleishig (meat) kitchen, and NO DAIRY (milchik) products or foods containing dairy products may be brought into the kitchen at any time. Because the kitchen is an exclusively meat kitchen, there is no worry of mixing dairy and meat utensils. Every non-meat food product brought into the kitchen is scrupulously examined to make sure it is pareve (neutral – neither meat nor dairy).
Kosher fish is purchased by the chef or administration in local fish markets. Fish is often served as the main course or provided for vegetarians. When meat and fish might be available at the same meal, they are served as separate courses or they are separated on the serving table at all times. For a buffet meal, signs will be posted identifying each food item. It is important to identify meat and fish because Rabbinic tradition prohibits the eating of any mixtures of meat and fish. Because fish is pareve, it may be eaten before and after any food. It is appropriate to eat fish and meat at a given meal with different silverware. Utensils used to cook meat and utensils used to cook fish, once thoroughly washed and cleaned, may be used interchangeably. Caviar requires kosher certification (a hekhsher) as do canned processed fish such as tuna and salmon. Care must be taken that the canned tuna does not have any dairy ingredient added.
Packaged Food Products
All prepared and packaged food products and purchased meat or poultry products must carry a hekhsher from the OU, OK, or Chief Rabbinate of Israel or Chief Rabbinate of an Israeli locality, or BaD’aTZ of Israel. Products carrying a hekhsher other than the above can be used if investigated by the mashgiach and found that the hekhsher is accepted by the great majority of Jewish communities. Products with a hekhsher but marked as “dairy” or containing dairy ingredients may not be used. Domestic products may be used if the factory has been visited and inspected by the mashgiach. Over the years, several local products have been certified acceptable for use. They are: natural flour, sugar, table salt, rice (plain with no flavor of seasoning added), baking powder, corn starch, pure honey, pure molasses, coffee (plain, without flavoring or additives, instant coffee should have a hekhsher), Lipton tea (plain, with no added ingredients or flavorings), Gaban spices, and Kikkoman soy sauce. Plastic wrap and plastic bags may be used, though wax paper requires kosher certification and so should aluminum foil.
Purchase of Meat
At the time meat or poultry is purchased, a copy of the purchase order shall be provided to the mashgiach. At the time of delivery, the administration staff shall call the mashgiach to inspect the incoming delivery before it is unpacked to the stocking freezer. Delivery documents shall be available for the mashgiach’s inspection.
Vegetables and Fruit
All fresh vegetables and fruits are Kosher, and pareve. However, the kitchen staff is instructed to wash all vegetables and fruits carefully to be sure there are no insects. It is preferable to soak the vegetables in salt or in vinegar water and then rinse them with clean running water. Pure dried fruit (with no oil or other ingredients listed except for the usual preservatives, such as potassium sorbate, sulfur dioxide, and sodium bisulfate) and raw nuts may be used.
Eggs are kosher, and pareve. Because Jews are not permitted to consume blood, each individual egg must be broken into a glass cup to be sure there is no blood spot. Should there be a blood spot, the egg must be discarded and the cup must be thoroughly washed before being used again.
All packaged baked goods require certification of kashruth as per above (see Packaged food products), and must contain no dairy ingredients. Because it is difficult to purchase fresh and kosher baked goods, the JCJ has developed a wonderful reputation for its bagels, pita, breads and challah. When bread is prepared, the special procedure listed below is to be followed:
The mashgiach or any Jewish member turns on the oven.
After the dough rises, the mashgiach or any Jewish member performs hafrashat challah.
All wines must be kosher as per above – packaged food products. Wine bottles used in the JCJ Dining Room must be opened by the Rabbi or his appointed surrogate. Non-pasteurized wines (yayin lo mevushal) must be opened only by a Jew, however to avoid situations of doubt, the JCJ’s custom is that all wine be opened by the rabbi or his surrogate. The following are grape or wine-based, and must also be Kosher: grape soda, grape juice, vermouth, sangria, champagne, sherry, Amaretto, brandy and cognac. Sake may occasionally have a grape base、and requires a certification or mashgiach’s inspection. Pure rice sake may be served without a hekhsher. Beer may be served without a hekhsher.
A hekhsher is required for candies brought into the JCJ facility (including candy thrown in shul as part of a celebration), and care must be taken that the candy contains no dairy ingredients.
Only kitchen equipment provided by the JCJ may be used in the kitchen. No employee may bring his own utensil, and temporary staff shall be so cautioned when they start work.
Immersion of Vessels
New metal and glass utensils that come in direct contact with food and are used for preparation, serving, and eating must be immersed in the mikveh before use. Each item should be clean and have all labels removed. The items are then individually immersed in the mikveh. Before immersion, the following blessing should be recited: “Baruch Atah … Asher Kiddishanu B
Mitzvotov Vtzivanu Al T`vilat Kaylim”. If only one vessel is immersed the word Kli is used instead of Kaylim.
When a holiday falls on a Friday (or on a Thursday and Friday), a ceremony called Eruv Tavshillin will be performed by the mashgiach before the holiday begins. This ritual will permit food to be prepared during the holiday that will be served on the Sabbath.
Kitchen staff or JCJ tenants may NOT bring their own food into the kitchen or dining room. Only food prepared in the kitchen may be eaten in the kitchen or the dining room. Members or others visiting the JCJ may not bring in any food. In case a member is carrying food, he/she should store it in a closed bag in the cloak room. Specific exceptions must be approved by the Religious Committee. At present, an approved exception is that JCJ staff may bring and eat their lunch inside the JCJ office (only) with the door closed.
Training of Part-time Employees
From time to time, the JCJ hires additional kitchen staff and waiters and waitresses to attend to large functions. The mashgiach shall be informed of all such staffing plans, and shall be available to train temporary staff in all matters of kashruth at the beginning of their work day. No worker will be permitted to bring his/her own utensils. Staff must be instructed in the proper separation of fish and meat, and in the special status of wine. Temporary staff must be informed that they may not bring their own food into the kitchen or dining room. A written summary of these points shall also be provided, in English and Japanese.
The JCJ Manager and kitchen manager, shall set regular working hours for the kitchen, and duly inform the mashgiach. Should preparation of food be needed beyond regular working hours, the mashgiach shall be informed in advance. In any case, all cooking, baking and preparing for Shabbat meals will cease at latest one hour before the start of Shabbat. Saturday night events at the JCJ shall begin at earliest 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Sabbath. Hot food cannot be prepared during the Sabbath for use after the Sabbath. Most foods should be prepared before the Sabbath begins. With the conclusion of the Sabbath, the mashgiach or any other Jewish member of the community turns on the oven, and work may begin.
Cleaning up the kitchen is an integral part of preparing and serving food. The kitchen staff will clean up kitchen surfaces, dishes, and utensils immediately after any event held at the JCJ. If cleaning cannot be completed the day of an event (e.g. an event lasts beyond midnight), then the kitchen staff will complete the cleaning process as early as possible on the following day. Trash shall be removed from the kitchen within 48 hours.
The mashgiach (kashruth supervisor) is responsible for the kashruth of the kitchen. The mashgiach shall make frequent unannounced visits to the kitchen, to confirm that all is in order. The kitchen staff should understand that this process is necessary to maintain trust in the kashruth of the kitchen. The visits are not to be interpreted as a challenge to the honesty or integrity of the kitchen staff. In fact, the members of the Jewish community deeply appreciate the sincere care demonstrated by the JCJ kitchen staff in maintaining high standards of kashruth observance. The mashgiach must be contacted whenever a question is raised. The mashgiach shall inspect each delivery of meat (see “Purchase of Meat”), and any new packaged food products (see “Packaged Food Products”), as well as frequently spot-checking all products in the kitchen’s stock, and the process of food preparation. Should any doubt arise of the kashruth of a kitchen utensil, the utensil should be put aside until the matter is discussed with the mashgiach. In the event of a serious kashruth problem, the mashgiach is empowered to close down the kitchen.
In event that the mashgiach is absent for three days or less, a Jewish member shall be appointed to turn on the ovens. In event that the mashgiach is absent for more than three days (or, even for one day if there is an event), the mashgiach shall appoint a substitute who is knowledgeable in halacha and capable of paying visits to the kitchen daily, at unannounced times.