PJCC Kosher Policy

What does “Kosher” mean?

The traditional Jewish framework for eating is called kashrut, or “keeping kosher.” The guidelines and rules for keeping kosher stem from the Torah (Jewish Bible) and rabbinic teachings. The main categories of kashrut include:

  • Avoiding certain animal products such as pork, shellfish, insects and birds of prey
  • Avoiding the mixture of dairy products and meat products
  • Consuming only permitted meats
  • Minimizing pain to the animal during slaughter and draining as much blood as possible before eating
  • Consuming grape products like wine that have been Jewishly supervised during processing

Today, in our 21st Century landscape, Jews might view kashrut in one or more of the following ways:

  • A daily reminder and demonstration of Jewish identity
  • A divine command and chain of tradition not to be broken
  • An outdated, ritualistic construct that has been replaced with a focus on ethical behavior
  • A system of spiritual awareness that permeates one’s relationship with food consumption
  • A uniquely Jewish lens on environmental issues such as meat consumption and waste
  • A folkway that facilitates Jewish communal cohesiveness across differences
  • A way to honor those who were persecuted and even killed for upholding their religious beliefs

Our Framework: A Distinction between R’shut haRabim (Public) and R’shut haYachid (Private) Eating

Jewish tradition understands that each person or household makes personal eating choices in their own private domain. Equally valued is the commitment to a public domain that creates a feeling of spiritual, emotional, and logistical ease for Jews of all persuasions to feel welcome and honored on the PJCC campus and in PJCC programs, as echoed in PJCC’s Guiding Principles of Celebrating Jewish Tradition and Welcoming All. Although our public domain kashrut policy has no bearing on anyone’s private domain eating outside of the PJCC context, inclusivity of our wider Jewish community is prioritized in our public square.

Public Eating Kashrut Policy:

This applies to all activities, programs, meetings, gatherings and events that are organized or supervised by PJCC

  • No pork or shellfish is allowed on campus or in offsite activities.
  • At a vegetarian, pescatarian or “dairy” meal: Kosher certification is not required.
  • In the circumstance that a “meat” (poultry or red meat) meal is served: Only kosher meat may be prepared or served. No dairy products or ingredients should be present or served. Vegetarian options should be made available. Kosher meat meals should be either prepared by a kosher caterer, cooked under rabbinic supervision, or purchased fully cooked in kosher packaging.
  • Kosher wine should be provided as an option whenever alcohol is served.
  • A minimum of waste, both in food and in packaging, should be an active goal.
  • Individuals requesting a strictly kosher meal that exceeds the kashrut of the PJCC outlined in this policy shall be treated with respect and all efforts should be made to provide an individually wrapped kosher meal.
  • The indoor café seating shall be considered public eating domain, and as such reserved for vegetarian/ pescatarian/ dairy consumption.
  • For any days that the PJCC is open during Passover, bread and other leavened products such as crackers, cakes, and cereals may not be brought or consumed onsite. Following the Sephardic and now Conservative and Reform movements’ traditions, we do permit the eating of “kitniyot” (rice and legumes) onsite.

Private Eating for Individual Consumption

No pork or shellfish is allowed, and no leavened products are allowed during Passover. The remainder of the public kosher policy does not apply.

  • This applies specifically to individual meals and snacks that are bought or brought by individuals for personal consumption (including staff, members, and participants in youth programs).
  • This applies also to small groups of individuals dining together off-site at a restaurant, who are ordering personal portions (non-shared items).
  • This applies also to private facility rentals.

All questions or requests for clarification may be directed to the PJCC Chief Jewish Experience Officer.


Resources for Kosher Eating in the Bay Area

Many local stores carry many kosher products and some meat, including:

  • Trader Joe’s
  • Mollie Stone’s (especially Palo Alto)
  • Costco
  • Lucky’s (Los Altos)

List of Kosher Food in Bay Area, compiled by Chabad

Bay Area kosher meat vendors:

Bay Area kosher restaurants and caterers:

Sample Kosher Menus

  • Salad bar with tuna, salmon, egg, and cheese options
  • Sushi with tuna, salmon, veggies, or egg (no crab)
  • Pad Thai with egg and tofu; green curry with sea bass; vegetarian egg rolls
  • Baked goods that are not cooked with lard or sprinkled with meat (i.e., avoid bacon-chocolate cookies)
  • BBQ with kosher hot dogs, plant-based burgers, potato chips (not cheese flavored), and non-dairy popsicles or icees
  • Shabbat dinner with kosher chicken, roasted veggies in olive oil, salad with no dairy ingredients, rice with margarine or oil, non-dairy desserts (could be labeled vegan or parve)
  • Falafel with pita, salads, Mideastern olives. Turn this into a “meat” meal by adding kosher meat, or turn this into a dairy meal by adding feta cheese and tzatziki yogurt sauce
  • Mexican-style beans and rice, vegetable fajitas, fish tacos, quesadillas, DIY burritos with these ingredients
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