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How is cheese made kosher?

by Rabbi Avraham Gordimer

www.OUKosher.org

  

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As with any food, all of the ingredients in the cheese as well as the equipment used during the manufacturing process must be Kosher. However, a special prohibition makes kosher certification of cheese a bit more challenging: the ban on gevinat Akum (“non-Jewish cheese” ), which means that cheese made by non-Jewish companies and/or individuals is not kosher

The Talmud states1 that the sages of the Mishnaic period forbade eating cheese manufactured by non-Jews. Although the Talmud offers various reasons for this prohibition, most Halachic authorities maintain that the ban was made because of the use of rennet in cheese making. Since rennet was traditionally derived from the lining of a calf ’s stomach, Chazal forbade non-Jewish cheeses because of the likelihood that they contained rennet from calves that had not been slaughtered in accordance with Halachah.

Those who consume chalav stam are fully bound to adhere to the prohibition against eating gevinat Akum
It is important to note that the prohibition against gevinat Akum is not at all related to the kosher regulations regarding milk (chalav stam and chalav Yisrael—unsupervised milk and milk under Jewish supervision). Those who consume chalav stam are fully bound to adhere to the prohibition against eating gevinat Akum. Gevinat Akum is deemed non-kosher under all conditions, rendering the utensils and cookware used in making and serving it non-kosher as well.

See How does one make "Jewish cheese"?

Republished with permission from www.oukosher.org

Footnotes

  • 1. Avodah Zarah 29b, 35a-35b.

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Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Halachah
Jewish Law. All halachah which is applicable today is found in the Code of Jewish Law.
Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.