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Have you recently made Aliyah?
It's "so easy" to keep kosher in this country, isn't it? Or is it?
For the most part - YES! It IS so much easier!
However, there are a few things I've discovered new olim don't always realize about the kashrut scene in Israel, especially coming from America (possibly coming from other places as well). So this post is going to address the ones I've noticed. It's entirely possible I've left something out, so please let me know if you have stumbled across another issue!
I'm not attempting to pasken for anyone in this post, just trying to point out issues that some olim may not be so familiar with. If you have questions, please speak to your halachik advisor!
Most of the kosher-keeping communities in Israel SIFT their flour before using it. This is not a baker's tip - it's a kashrut thing. Sifting allows us to check flour for bugs. You can buy flour that doesn't need sifting, but generally it's the most expensive kind. So, buy yourself a sifter, and save money on your baking while making sure your flour is bug-free!
Rice in Israel needs to be checked for bugs! In America we didn't have to do this, unless there was a known infestation issue, but here we do. I know plenty of olim who have been surprised to find this out! (Also check other grains and legumes for bugs too.) There are several acceptable ways to check rice, please discuss with your local halachik advisor.
3. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Fruits and vegetables are NOT automatically "kosher" - here in Israel we need to make sure that they are not "orlah" fruits (harvested during a tree's first 3 yrs) and that trumot and ma'asrot have been taken. If you shop at a market that doesn't have an ishur kashrut on their produce, you'll need to investigate these issues further. It's definitely possible to take trumot and maasrot on your own (I do it often). Some of the fruits on the market are ok to purchase even from a non-certified establishment, because of the extremely low percentage of orlah fruits being sold, but those lists change frequently, so you'll constantly need to stay up-to-date. There's a phone number to call for the new orlah list every month - 02-648-8888, ext. 3.
**Updated List HERE**
4. DRY GOODS
Bug infestation is common in dry goods - you'll need to check your dry goods frequently to be sure you're not accidentally eating bugs. Bugs, usually relatively small ones, can easily infest nuts, dried fruits, spices, grains, flour, pasta, cereal, and more, and you'll get used to checking everything before eating it. Keep your dry goods bug free (or more likely to be bug free) with good storage containers!
Meat issues - There are so many different certifications that I can't get into it all. But be aware that there may be issues when you buy meat, like whether it is kosher meat that has not yet been kashered! Sometimes supermarkets sell meat that was shechted properly but has not yet been soaked and salted. These pieces of meat will be labeled "לא מוכשר". (Watch out for that!) If you do buy a piece of meat with a לא מוכשר label, you will need to do the soaking and salting when you bring it home (in my opinion, too much work, so I wouldn't buy it). Also, be aware that not all Kosher meat here is Glatt, whereas in America (and perhaps other places), the kosher-eating community generally eats Glatt meat, if that matters to you.
Some people want to be careful about chalav yisrael, and therefore, you'll need to check the labels of your dairy products carefully. Some products contain milk powder, which is almost always imported and is not considered to be a chalav yisrael product. These are labeled as containing milk powder (אבקת חלב נוכרי).
7. KASHRUT CERTIFICATIONS
Always check the teudah of the establishment you're buying from/eating at. Make sure to check that the teudah exists, that it's not a photocopy, and that it's in date! If you have a question about the teudah, there should be a phone number to call to verify it on the teudah itself.
I am not going to get in to Shmittah issues in this post - that is a very, very complicated topic. Hopefully before next shmittah year (several years away!), I'll be able to address it.
Do you have "new oleh" questions about kashrut in Israel? Ask me in a comment, and I'll do my best to help!