Kashrut and Food Policy of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue (IADS)

The Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue (IADS) Kashrut and Food Policy (Policy) was carefully crafted, vetted, and approved by the leadership of the IADS over the span of nearly one year. Food is not just essential to sustaining our physical selves; it also has a critical spiritual and ritual component for Jews. As a synagogue and beacon for Jewish life in the City of Detroit, the food choices that we make must correspond to our communal values. We recognize that our members and guests have a spectrum of individual food choices that reflect their own values toward kashrut and food systems, generally. As an institution, we must balance these oftentimes overlapping but occasionally contentious choices with one statement about what is permitted. It is imperative that synagogue members, guests, and the community at large be aware of these values, guidelines, and red lines as we continue to build a thriving Jewish community in Detroit. Transparency about food choices is critical because it reflects who we are.

As an organization that is not only committed to traditional, egalitarian ritual observance but also important ideals toward environmental stewardship, local sourcing, and fiscal responsibility, the IADS must balance these usually complementary but occasionally conflicting values. As such, when making food decisions, IADS must strive to source food products that reflect these ideals. Sourcing values that are non-explicitly halakic (described below) include but are not limited to establishing priority for urban and local agriculture, seasonal products, Detroit- or Michigan-made foodstuffs, organic and/or healthful items, small environmental footprints, packaging sustainability, and lower costs. When IADS purchases food items, it ought to keep these critical values in mind.    


The Policy applies to all individuals and groups associated with the Synagogue covering both communal meals served at the Synagogue as well as individual food consumed at the Synagogue. The Policy applies to food prepared in the Synagogue’s kitchen and to food purchased commercially from stores and markets. It applies everywhere on the Synagogue’s physical premises, including the sukkah and for outside groups/individuals renting space at IADS. And unless otherwise specified, it also applies to programs sponsored by the Synagogue at locations other than 1457 Griswold.


When formal rabbinical leadership is unavailable, the role of mara d’atra (an individual with halakic authority to render decisions) will be vested in a Kashrut subcommittee, a body reporting to the Ritual Committee of the Synagogue. The Kashrut subcommittee shall consist of individuals possessed of sufficient knowledge of kashrut to render informed decisions. When/if necessary, it will be empowered to consult rabbinical leaders relative to matters meriting further investigation.


The IADS shall maintain a meat-free kitchen. This means that all foods prepared in the Synagogue’s kitchen will be dairy (milchig) or pareve, and will be prepared on equipment that is exclusively dairy. The following two exceptions will apply.

Passover: Prior to Passover, the kitchen shall be fully cleaned in accordance with halakah. During Passover, food may be prepared in the kitchen using meat-only (felishig) dishes, utensils, and cookware that are used only on Passover. Upon the completion of Passover, the kitchen shall be fully cleaned and returned to its normal “meat free” status.

Catering: The IADS will permit outside caterers to prepare food—dairy or meat—that will be served in the Synagogue. All such caterers, however, must be approved in advance by the Kashrut subcommittee. (A list of approved caterers will be maintained in the Synagogue office.) Sponsors who wish to cater meat meals must also cover the cost of separate serving utensils and flatware as well as table linens.


The IADS will not permit foods prepared in any home, member or otherwise, to be served communally on the Synagogue’s premises.  


All food items or products, prepared by or purchased at commercial establishments to be used in the kitchen for cooking/baking and/or served for communal consumption, must possess a recognizable—and not otherwise disallowed—hechsher (or kosher seal of approval from the Orthodox Union, Star-K, COR, Detroit Vaad, etc.). (For bread and bagels, see below.)

In general, raw and single-ingredient foods—whether purchased in bulk or pre-packaged—do not require a hechsher: e.g. fresh fruits and vegetables, including those that are pre-cut; frozen fruits and vegetables; dried fruits and vegetables; dry grains, legumes, spices, and single-ingredient baking products; honey, olives, oils, milk, coffee and tea. All greens, however, should be fully washed and carefully checked.

NOTE: The list is not exhaustive. When uncertain, check with the Kashrut subcommittee.


Eggs: All eggs must be individually checked for blood spots. Kitchen volunteers will be provided appropriate training for this task.

Fish: Fresh and smoked fish—only those with fins and scales, but no shell fish—may be purchased at any market. A list of kosher fish is available at www.kashrut.com/articles/fish/.

Cheese: In accordance with Conservative halakah, all domestic cheese that is industrially-produced is kosher and may be consumed/used at the Synagogue. (The USDA may be relied upon to certify that all milk contained in industrially-produced cheese comes from kosher-only animals and that coagulants used on an industrial scale are kosher as well.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Artisanal cheese that is locally produced may also be consumed at the Synagogue if the cheese maker certifies that the cheese contains no non-kosher dairy products and only non-microbial rennet has been used in

Wine: Only wine with a recognizable hechsher shall be consumed at the Synagogue.

Beer and Other Spirits: All alcoholic products, except those made from grapes, may be consumed at the Synagogue. Alcoholic beverages derived from grapes (e.g. brandy) are prohibited unless they contain a hechsher.

Bread and Bagels: Ideally, all bread products and bagels served at the Synagogue should come from an establishment with rabbinic supervision. However, Conservative halakah does permit certain bread products produced in otherwise pareve settings to be served communally. This means that bread produced in non-rabbinically-supervised bakeries may be served. The Synagogue office shall maintain a list of such establishments that meet these requirements. When this happens, the Synagogue shall indicate the provenance of the item and/or whether it was produced in a facility that also bakes dairy products.


The IADS permits members and visitors to bring in pescatarian food for personal consumption at the Synagogue, but only if it is not overtly treyf: e.g. pork products. Discretion is advised, and limiting such foodstuffs to dairy or pareve items is strongly encouraged.


General: Food may not be cooked on Shabbat or Yom Tov, except for certain Yomim Tovim that fall on a day other than Shabbat. Such food, however, must be served that day. Food cooked prior to Shabbat may continue to be warmed during Shabbat. Non-cooked items (e.g. salads) may be prepared on Shabbat.

Passover: On Passover, only foods with recognizable hechshers for Passover may be purchased by and consumed at the Synagogue. During Passover, no foods—including those for personal consumption—lacking a recognizable hechsher for Passover may be brought into the Synagogue.

Purchasing food for use at the Synagogue on a Shabbat or Yom Tov is discouraged.


General: Since the Synagogue will maintain a meat-free kitchen, any soap or detergent that carries a hechsher may be used to wash dishes.

Passover: Since meat products will be prepared and consumed at the Synagogue during Passover, special care must be taken to assure that meat and dairy cookware, utensils, and dishes are kept separated and washed separately: i.e. new and separate soaps, detergents, and washing and drying materials. 





AMENDMENT: 8/20/2014: Kashrut Policy Amendment

After discussion among and between Ritual Committee members on Sunday, August 3, 2014, the following motion was approved.

The Ritual Committee shall recommend to the Board, following concurrence from the Kitchen/Foods Committee, a variance of the current IADS Foods Policy section regarding foods prepared in member homes to be effective immediately and until the kitchen is back online.

Meals on Shabbat at the synagogue are not about the food, per se. Rather, they are really an expression of the community that creates them. The community is enhanced by the in-house preparation, cooking, and cleaning of these communal meals. Without a working kitchen, the sourcing, preparation, clean up, and bounty of these meals is rather limited and very difficult.

In order to maximize volunteer participation (and culinary excellence) during this time of construction, we will temporarily allow food to be prepared in the homes of members to be served at communal meals provided:

(1) The home be kosher already OR strictly vegetarian (meaning no meat, shellfish, etc. prepared in that vegetarian home)

(2) The food items be labeled with the cook’s name, whether the home is kosher and/or vegetarian, and labeling specific ingredients that are of health concern (e.g. peanut free, dairy free, gluten free).

(3) All food items brought into the IADS shall be served on/with disposable tableware.

In all other respects, the Food Policy approved by the Board in April 2014 shall be in effect.