What is Shtiebel Eco-Kosher?

Inspired by the idea of Eco-Kashrut formulated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the Shtiebel Eco-Kosher Certification (SEK-Cert) re-imagines traditional kosher laws refracting them through a modern progressive Jewish lens.

Eco-Kashrut encourages greater awareness of the ethical, social, environmental and spiritual impact of our food choices, and of the greater impact that the commercial and institutional foodservice industry has in today’s world. SEK is an egalitarian approach to kashrut, bound by a contemporary interpretation of kosher law, and can be embraced by both Jews and non-Jews alike.

SEK’s core values emphasize compassion, respect for one’s body and that of the earth, while honoring and protecting those who labor to grow and produce the food we eat. As such, SEK-Cert standards go beyond established kosher standards, with certification criteria that are relevant and applicable to the realities and challenges of today’s rapidly changing world.

SEK’s mission is to serve as a trusted and recognized seal of approval; one that will attract the attention of consumers seeking to eat in accordance with their beliefs, principles and values. SEK-Cert standards are designed to honor and uphold these values by holding restaurants and food producers accountable for how they run their businesses, while rewarding their efforts towards a more equitable, healthy and sustainable food system.

Shtiebel Eco-Kashrut embraces a holistic approach to kosher certification, acknowledging and celebrating the interconnectedness of all things, and views food as a medium to enhance our connection to each other and the natural world. This expanded awareness will encourage personal food choices that benefit the individual, the community and ultimately, the planet.

SEK-Cert offers a roadmap for owners and operators, to help them move towards greater adherence to the eco-kosher ideal. The SEK-Cert Foodservice Operation Grading System measures each establishment’s accomplishments, while providing a pathway for the next steps each establishment can take towards ever-greater compliance.

SEK certified businesses serve as a living laboratory for the continued evolution of the eco-kosher ideals and standards. SEK views each owner/ operator as a partner in a mutual effort to refine and improve methods and accountability, transparency and compliance, thereby ensuring the establishment is able to attain increasingly greater levels of certification. Success is incremental, and we work with each partner individually, based on the unique challenges of their own operation.


Shtiebel Eco-Kosher Certification

6 Guiding Principles:

1) Bal Tashchit

Environmental Stewardship.

Restaurants and food production facilities will be graded on their efforts to reduce the impact that their operations have on their local ecosystem. Specific areas of focus include the following:

- Water Efficiency

- Energy Efficiency

- Landfill Contribution, Recycling and Composting

- Sustainable Building Materials and Furnishings

- Local and Sustainable Food Procurement

- Use of Disposables

- Use of Chemicals Detergents

SEK will work with operators to help them adapt their food production and service facilities in cost-effective ways that will reduce their negative impact to the environment while helping to lower municipal utility and waste management costs.

2)  Tza'ar Baalei Chayim

Animal Welfare.

Animal food products and animal-derived food products should be traceable to suppliers who practice elevated standards of animal husbandry and welfare.  Procurement from farms and fisheries that meet or exceed criteria set forth by established agencies will be prioritized. Menus and food products based on primarily plant-based ingredients will be given higher grades.

-                Certified Humane

-                Animal Welfare Approved

-                Grass-Fed, Pastured

-                Global Animal Partnership 4, 5 and 5+

-                Sustainable Seafood as per Monterey Bay Aquarium standards, ASC, OceanWise, SeaChoice and the Marine Stewardship Council

-                AVA and VAN Certification for Plant-Based Restaurants

SEK will assist operators to improve their procurement practices so as to help reduce the exploitation of non-human species.  SEK can also assist in the development of plant-based menus, recipes and retail food products that can enhance brand image and profitability by demonstrating a concern for animal welfare and the mitigation of environmental degradation that will attract the attention and patronage of educated consumers.

3) V'Nishmartem L'Nafshoteichem

Health & Wellness

SEK encourages operators to offer health-supportive food and beverage products, to encourage and help improve the wellbeing of their clientele.  Human health and wellness is a logical and necessary facet of a healthy food system and a key principle of the eco-kosher ideal. Nutritive value and wholesomeness of menu items is based on the following criteria:

-                Percentage of Plant-Based Offerings

-                Quality of Raw Ingredients

-                Use of Local, Seasonal Produce

-                Menu Variety and Macronutrient Balance

-                Proper Cooking Techniques and Food Holding Practices

SEK can assist with supply chain and procurement enhancements, and work with chefs, restaurateurs and food manufacturers to craft menus and recipes that offer appealing, on-trend menu items that utilize healthful, plant-based ingredients.

4) Lo Ta'ashok Sachir Oni

Ethical Labor Practices.

- In house labor practices (how many hours, breaks, days off, paid vs. unpaid, family leave)

- Liveable wage and room to grow in the company.

- Labor practicing of sourced materials

5) Shomer Masoret:

Being mindful and respectful of Jewish ancestral traditions.

- Products have a traditional heksher

- General guidelines of kosher practices observed, such as milk and meat, shellfish, pork, insects.

- Hours of operation—is there a Sabbath for the restaurant

Being mindful and respectful of Jewish ancestral traditions regarding kashrut as long as these doesn't conflict with the other principles listed here. For this reason, all ingredients used in food production should be certified kosher with a traditional heksher, or otherwise approved by SKC.

6) Hitchadshut ve-chinuch:

Continued growth and education.

- Are you educating your consumers and employees?

- Continual work towards enhanced resonance with the other prinicples

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