Pre Rosh Hashana Ruminations

When we were kids (it was a long time ago), September meant the end of summer.  It also meant the start of a new school year.  The start of a new school year meant new clothes.  New clothes meant that on the first day of school, you immediately fell into one of two different groups- the cool kids or the rest of us.  The cool kids had cool clothes. The rest of us had practical clothes, often times deliberately too big so that we might “grow into them.” Worse, horror of horrors, we had hand-me-downs from older siblings.  If you wore hand-me-downs, you hung your head in shame, and hoped that no one could see you.

Sneakers, called gym shoes, were not allowed in school- only in gym.  Most of us either wore P F Flyers or Keds.  Really cool kids wore Chuck Taylor, Converse All Star High Tops.  We called them limousines for the feet.

We had school clothes, play clothes, and synagogue/holiday clothes.  I guess Gentiles had Church/holiday clothes. Same idea, different name.  After school, we changed into our play clothes, because we would have been a crime statistic had we gone outside to play in our school clothes.

We also had school shoes (eminently practical, and, again, often slightly too large).  We had play shoes, with scuff proof toes.  We had synagogue shoes.  Those were the nice ones.  Those were the ones you actually did not mind wearing.

The best part of the new school year, was going shopping for new holiday clothes. With Rosh Hashana on the horizon, it was time to go to Robert Hall (as I write, their theme song plays in my head) or Sears to buy a cheap suit, a nice tie, and a white shirt or two for the holy days.

Buying school supplies was a blast. We needed a three ring binder and lined binder paper.  You needed reinforcements to put around the binder holes so the paper did not tear out of the binder. You needed pens, pencils, erasers, protractors, glue, crayons, maybe a pencil case or a zipper bag for same that attached to the rings in your binder.  A few of those famous black, marble notebooks were always in order, too.

If you were going to Hebrew School, you also had to buy a machberet- a Hebrew notebook.  A picture of Maimonides always graced the cover. Why Maimonides?  That one is simple.  Maimonides was both a doctor and a rabbi.  That would be every Jewish mother’s dream come true.

Supermarkets packed your groceries in large, brown bags.  Once you had your school books, those bags got transformed into book covers.  Rich kids had real book covers. The rest of us had supermarket bag covers.


There was a life lesson in all of that.  You just do not walk into school on the first day of the school year without some serious preparation. Similarly, you don’t just show up in synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, sit back, and say, “Ok rabbi/cantor, inspire me.”

Pencils come with erasers. Even so, we also always bought a large eraser to boot.  We knew we would make mistakes in the year ahead, so we prepared.

Prepare for Rosh Hashanah.  OK, Robert Hall no longer exists, but the rest still obtains.  Review your life of this past year.  Make amends with those whom you have hurt or offended.  What did you do right?  What did you do wrong?  Resolve to do better.

Get ready for Rosh Hashanah by getting your life in order.  One of the prayers we shall repeat on Rosh Hashanah tells us that on Rosh Hashanah God writes a fate for us, and that fate is sealed in our Book of Life on Yom Kippur. The prayer tells us that God knows who will live, and who will die. Who will be hungry and who will be sated. Who will grow rich, and who will grow poor. Who will be ill and who will enjoy health.  The prayer goes on and on.  It is the end, however, that is most instructive.  After all of the possibilities, we read that “prayer, repentance, and deeds of righteousness” can avert the severe decree.

Prepare for the new year, and may you be written and inscribed in the Book of Life for health, happiness, fulfillment, love, some measure of riches, family, and time to enjoy it all.

Posted on September 20, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Holidays

Herr’s Old Bay Potato Chips (OU)

Herr’s Old Bay Hot Potato Chips

Herr’s latest offering combines Old Bay Hot seasoning with its classic potato chips. According to Herr’s, it is the only company that provides authentic Old Bay seasoning on potato chips. Herr’s also offers Old Bay Cheese Balls and Old Bay Kettle Chips. Herr’s Old Bay Hot Potato Chips have notes of cayenne and black pepper. The product retails for $4.29 for a 9-ounce bag.

Posted on September 19, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher New Products, Kosher News

Sefardic Jeweled Rice for Rosh Hashana



1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp black pepper

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided, plus 1 teaspoon

2 medium size onions, diced small

10 dried apricots, quartered

6 dried figs (we used Smyrna), quartered

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cups pistachios or pumpkin seeds

1 cup long grain rice (we used Jasmine, but you can use Basmati or whatever you prefer)

1 cup water

1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon or orange zest

1 cup pomegranate seeds



Combine salt, sweet paprika, turmeric, cumin and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep, non stick skillet with a lid. Add rice and spices and stir well.

Cook over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly and making sure the rice gets well coated with the oil and the spices.

Add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, remove from heat and let it sit for 15 minutes covered.

In the meantime, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non stick skillet.

Add onions and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes stirring frequently, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary, to prevent from burning.

Transfer onions to a plate and in the same skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add dried fruit and pistachios or pumpkin seeds and cook over medium low for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Once the rice is ready, fluff it with a fork, add onions, dried fruit, pistachios and lemon or orange zest and toss well.

Right before serving sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the rice.

Posted on September 18, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Holidays, In the Home, Kosher Kitchen, Kosher Recipes

Kind Fruit Bites (OU)



In a move consistent with its 13-year history of reinventing categories, KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND) entered the fruit snacks category with the release of KIND Fruit Bites. The product line, which contains only fruit and no added sugar, is poised to disrupt a category that, despite its name, has traditionally over-indexed on snacks filled with added sugar rather than fruit.

The entrance comes as added sugar consumption among US children remains alarmingly high, with kids on average eating 80 grams, or 19 teaspoons, of added sugar per day – more than three times the recommended limit of 25 grams (according to the American Heart Association). These numbers indicate that, in one year, the average 9-year-old is eating his or her body weight in added sugar. Fruit snacks are an often undetected contributor to this over consumption, with 9 out of the 10 leading fruit snacks containing added sugar as the first ingredient.

“Since day one, KIND has been committed to balancing health and taste, and our KIND Promise has centered on crafting snacks with a nutritionally-dense first ingredient,” says Daniel Lubetzky, Founder & CEO of KIND. “KIND Fruit Bites honors this promise, and is consistent with how we’ve always entered categories – with an eye toward disruption and a goal of elevating people’s overall experience.”

For years, the fruit snacks category has enjoyed a perceived health halo, but a recent study conducted by Morning Consult reveals that that perception is unfounded. Results show that, when shown the ingredient list of the leading fruit snack, nearly two-thirds (61%) of parents believed the ingredient list to be associated with sweetened cereal, soda, candy or a toaster pastry.

“While the general public’s understanding of nutrition has become increasingly sophisticated, an opportunity still exists to educate on added sugars. This is especially true in categories like fruit snacks, where people understandably assume that their snack is made predominantly of wholesome ingredients, such as fruit,” says Stephanie Perruzza, Registered Dietitian and Health & Wellness Specialist at KIND.

In an effort to kick-start that educational journey, KIND unveils an installation depicting 45,485 pounds of sugar. Located in Times Square for one day only, the installation serves as a visual representation of the amount of added sugar children in the US are eating every five minutes.

“We saw our entrance into the children’s snack space as an appropriate time to use our voice for good – to help people understand how much added sugar kids are eating every day, and how that can be detrimental to their overall health,” continues Perruzza. “Hopefully the installation will help put a spotlight on these important issues, which have managed to remain largely overlooked – until now.”

In addition to no added sugar, KIND Fruit Bites do not contain any juices, purees, concentrates, preservatives or genetically engineered ingredients. Each snack has only three ingredients or less, and is made with only real fruit, like cherries, apples and mangos, and each pouch provides one full-serving of fruit.

Posted on September 15, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Health, In the Home, Kosher Desserts, Kosher Kitchen, Kosher New Products, Kosher News

Pamela’s Gluten Free Dry Pasta (OU)


Pamela’s Gluten-Free Dry Pastas

They come in 4 varieties

Offering “exceptional taste and texture,” as well as 8 grams of pea protein per serving, Ukiah, Calif.-based Pamela’s Products has entered the pasta category with its gluten-free expertise. The pasta is made from white rice and sprouted brown rice flour, and is non-GMO and USDA Certified Organic. Available in four varieties – Penne, Rotini, Elbows and Spaghetti – each has an SRP of $4.29 per 8-ounce box.

Posted on September 14, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Health, In the Home, Kosher Kitchen, Kosher New Products, Kosher News

Star Trek Beer


Shmaltz Brewing Star Trek Symbiosis

Hoppy wheat ale is a Collector’s Edition release.

Shmaltz Brewing Co. headed to Comic-Con International with a unique Collector’s Edition release. The new brew, Star Trek Symbiosis, commemorates the 30th Anniversary of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It is a hoppy wheat ale that’s available in four-packs to retail outlets in 35 states across the country. CBS Studios has teamed up with Shmaltz Brewing for the only officially licensed Star Trek beers in the United States. Under the license, the brewer has additionally released Star Trek Klingon Imperial Porter (7.3 percent ABV).


We don’t know about the beer, but you gotta love the name of the brewery!


Posted on September 13, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher New Products

New Twix Varieties For Your Candy Delictation


New Twix Varieties

Twix Dark and Twix White among brand’s new permanent offerings.

Mars Chocolate North America’s Twix brand is giving consumers more ways to enjoy the classic sweet treat, including Twix Dark, Twix White, and Twix Peanut Butter. They will all be joining original caramel Twix on store shelves by the end of 2017. Twix Dark features the classic crunchy Twix shortbread cookie covered in golden caramel, enrobed in rich dark chocolate. Twix White, which was previously an exclusive seasonal offering, features two crunchy cookie bars covered with smooth caramel and enrobed in creamy white chocolate. Twix Peanut Butter, a returning fan favorite, is a combination of the crisp, crunchy Twix cookie and a layer of creamy peanut butter topped with milk chocolate.   OU D

Posted on September 12, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, In the Home, Kosher Desserts, Kosher New Products, Kosher News

Kevita Master Brew Kombucha (OK kosher)


KeVita Expands Master Brew Kombucha Line

New varieties include Blueberry Basil and Roots Beer


KeVita, a manufacturer of fermented probiotic and kombucha beverages, announced the addition of two new flavors to its Master Brew Kombucha line: Blueberry Basil and Roots Beer. The new flavors join KeVita’s portfolio of effervescent drinks.

Taking cues from today’s food trends and interest in innovative pairings, Blueberry Basil and Roots Beer bring two unique flavor profiles to the kombucha market while providing all the benefits of a traditional kombucha brew. Blueberry Basil combines two flavors to create a spin on classic kombucha, with the slightly floral blueberry offset by a peppery basil kick. The refreshingly brisk Roots Beer boasts a blend of earthy roots, along with cinnamon and vanilla for a modern alternative to root beer soda.

KeVita Master Brew Kombucha is energizing to the core, with a bold and invigorating flavor profile.  Each bottle contains live probiotics, active cultures, organic acids, organic caffeine and just 35 calories per 8-ounce serving. It is also the only verified non-alcoholic kombucha on the market. The two new flavors join the KeVita Master Brew Kombucha family of 11 delicious flavors, including Ginger, Pineapple Peach, Tart Cherry, Dragonfruit Lemongrass, Citrus and Raspberry Lemon.

Posted on September 11, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Health, Kosher New Products, Kosher News

Kosher Today Says Meal Mart Makes The Best Hot Dogs (We totally disagree)


The Kosher Hot Dog War Takes Center Stage this Summer

Brooklyn – So who manufactures the best glatt kosher hot dog? If you’ve been watching the full page ads in some of the Jewish publications, it would be Meal Mart, hands down. The summer of 2017 will be remembered as the summer of the hot dog war as supermarket shelves were stocked with as many as 6-8 brands, including A&H, Meal Mart, KJ Poultry, Jack’s Gourmet, International Glatt, Solomon’s and Aaron’s Best. It has been four years since Abeles & Heymann won the best hotdog designation by the Forward, a secular Jewish newspaper that offers extensive coverage on kosher. One industry source told Kosher Today “you would be shocked to learn that many of the hot dog brands are produced in the same place.” Meal Mart’s ads boldly read: “9 out of 10 People Prefer Our Hot Dogs (The Other Guy was Milchig [dairy])” Why the sudden blitz by Meal Mart? Industry sources say that when the market was flooded with so many glatt kosher hot dog brands, it cut into what once was a Meal Mart monopoly. Meal Mart felt compelled not only to protect its turf but to win back some market share it lost to the other brands. Some of the brands fought back not only with touting the quality of their hot dogs but also by focusing on the virtues of their knockwurst and sausages, for example, as if to say that “we’re more than just about hot dogs.” They also hoped to appeal to younger customers looking to broaden their summer BBQ experience. Retailers reached by Kosher Today confirmed that while some consumers preferred certain brands, there did not seem to be strong brand loyalty. One retailer said bluntly: “I think that most customers feel that a hot dog is a hot dog and really don’t discern a difference.” He said that often customers will prefer chicken, turkey or family packs instead of focusing on brand. With its campaign, Meal Mart is hoping to recapture its dominance and rise above the other brands.


Really? Meal Mart hot dogs?  Did the tasters have taste buds?  We realize that taste is a personal issue, but we take issue with saying that Meal Mart makes the best hot dog.  Abeles and Hyman makes a much better dog, and Jack’s Gourmet is in a class all by itself. Back in the day, we loved Shofar, seven to the pound, packs of hot dogs.  Yes, they were not glatt, but they were reliably certified, and they were taam gan eden.

Posted on September 8, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher News

Kosher Companies Look for Other Private Label Manufacturers


Kosher Companies Scramble for Manufacturers after Manischewitz Closures

Newark, NJ – It was perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the kosher food industry. The Manischewitz Co. was producing products from a significant number of competing brands, ranging from Matzoh to Tam Tam crackers. In fact, said one kosher company that produced an extensive line of items at Manischewitz, “the consumer would be shocked at the degree of cooperation between kosher companies, including Manischewitz.” This is all set to change on September 14th with the closure of the Manischewiz plant sending kosher manufacturers scrambling for alternatives. Industry sources say that while it is assumed that Manischewitz will produce its Matzoh in Israel, they are still searching for alternatives for their extensive line of products. Despite the large number of kosher private label products manufactured at Manischewitz, it was far from satisfying the capacity of the plant, say industry sources. The kosher company that spoke to Kosher Today was also concerned that whoever produces their products going forward should have the same quality as Manischewitz, which he noted was “superb.” Other kosher companies reached by Kosher Today seemed to be matter-of-fact in that many kosher companies that produce kosher also produced for their competitors. One said: “It may be surprising to a kosher customer that two competing brands taste alike, but that is because they are produced at the same plant.”

The Manischewitz closure has sent many companies scurrying for suppliers. One said that he recently called more than a dozen kosher certified plants “but not everyone wants to produce private label.” While Israel remains an option for some, the Israelis don’t always match the quality.” Ever taste the difference of jarred gefilte fish?” asked one kosher broker. He is heading to the Private Label Show in Chicago in the fall to locate some potential manufacturers. “This is a new challenge for us,” he notes,” but we will hopefully find solutions.”


Posted on September 7, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher Alert, Kosher News