The Complete Pesach Shopping Guide

It's that time of year again- Pesach shopping season! With so much to do in so little time, we all want clear guidelines on what can be used on Pesach and what can't. This past Wednesday, Rabbi Eli Markowitz of CRC Kosher took an overflow crowd of women through the grocery aisles. 

Topics covered included:

  • Which food items do not need Kosher for Pesach certification?
  • Cosmetics
  • Toiletries
  • Medicine
  • And more…

Missed the shiur, or want to hear it again? Listen to or download the audio below.


The Women's Guide to Purim

The Halachos of Purim as they apply to women

Rabbi Eli Markowitz took a closer look at the laws and customs of Purim, focusing on the unique circumstances that women can encounter. He provided clarity in the relevant laws, helping women avoid the stress of not knowing where to prioritize!

Topics included:

  • If one can’t make it to shul for Parshas Zachor
  • Coming late to Megillah reading
  • Cleaning, laundry on Purim
  • Menu requirements for the Purim Seuda (besides the wine!)
  • And much more…

Didn't make it, or want to hear it again? Listen to the audio below.

The Business Breakfast: Deal or Steal?

The Business Breakfast continues to grow! 

A capacity crowd filled the Kollel Library this past Sunday, eager to learn about a crucial and fascinating topic. Rabbi Yerachmiel Pickholtz of the Chicago Choshen Mishpat Institute delivered a clear and incisive shiur about theft, mistakes, and hashavas aveida (returning lost objects). 

This lead right into a discussion of the permissibility of taking advantage of various online deals and mistakes, as well as when it is necessary to rectify a merchant's mistakes after the fact. In any of these instances, there are many factors to weigh, and one must consult a halachic authority as to how to proceed.

Missed the shiur, or want to hear it again? Audio is below.

The Upside to Feeling Down


“I've been in a spiritual coma these past three days! I feel horrible!”

Rabbi Eliezer Geldzahler, the beloved Chassidic Rabbi, knew the voice well. Ari (not his real name) was seeking solace from his teacher for his recent lack of devotion.

“Wonderful! Why don’t you come over to my house and we’ll have a l’chaim (chassidic toast)!”

“Rebbe,” said Ari, “Are you sure you heard me correctly? I said I feel horrible, I haven’t done a thing these past three days.”

“Precisely!” exclaimed R’ Geldzahler, “How many people in the world would feel horrible if they have three bad days?!”

“This is certainly cause for a L’Chaim!”

Spiritual, Business, Personal: How many people, go through down periods of their lives and don’t even stop to feel it!

The first step to any resolution is to be distressed.

Rest assured, a wise word of encouragement and a small celebration were just what Ari needed to shake off his doldrums and get back into his learning with gusto!

So, next time you're not feeling your best, remember the upside to being down!

Yarchei Kallah: Keep It Kosher

The record low in St. Louis Park for December 25th is -39 °F, back in 1872. I sincerely hope that record never gets challenged again. However, there is no record yet for a low temperature that has kept our community from coming to learn Torah. Participants in today's Yarchei Kallah shrugged off the sub-zero temperatures outside to warm the Bais Medrash with the fire of Torah.

The topic was the laws of Nat bar Nat, when parve food comes into contact with meat or milk utensils, which is essential knowledge for maintaining a kosher kitchen. Rabbi Chaim Leib Rupp condensed and clearly explained this complex topic. Rabbi Rupp elcuidated the underlying concepts from their sources in the Gemara, and traced them through to practical examples we encounter in our own kitchens.

If you missed the shiur, or you would like to hear it again, listen to the audio below. 

Be Complimentary!


The best compliments are the ones that come with absolutely no agendas. 

Yesterday, I received a call from a nice young lady, Audrey, who was doing a school report on religions and wanted to ask me some questions. When I asked her how she got my number, she said, “I went online and searched Jewish websites, and yours looked the most inviting.”

Always nice to hear. 

It got me thinking how much we can lift others up by just giving a quick unsolicited compliment. 

Good luck on your report Audrey, and thanks for the compliment!

Three Ways Tax-Reform Might Affect Charitable Giving + 1 Other Timely Tax Tip


Take Advantage- Changes Are Likely Coming in 2018

As most of us know, the House and Senate have passed versions of a new tax reform to create a new Tax Code that will go into effect January 1st 2018, should it get passed. There are various discrepancies between the 2 versions of the bill and they are now in a committee to see if the House and Senate can agree on one bill for it to be passed into law. There are many matters that can have massive implications on people’s personal tax situation . 

Here are a few points that a colleague of mine alerted me to that can possibly be pre-planned for, in the short time left until January 1st (Thanks R' Kronglas!):

1.    Deductions for charitable donations will not be removed, HOWEVER, the standard deduction will be raised from ≈$12k to ≈$24k. Additionally, many of the deductions that are currently an “itemized deduction” are being removed. This will result in many moderate income earners ("upper middle class") to no longer itemize their deductions and take the “standard deduction” instead, as that will be more beneficial to them. For them, it is beneficial (from a tax perspective) to give a lot of charity in the next 2 weeks and getting the charity deduction rather than giving in 2018 and receiving no tax benefit from the charity deductions.
2.    The tax brackets/rates are changing for personal income taxes. Under the House’s proposal, a married filing joint person will be paying only 12% on income under $90,000. That is significantly lower than the current tax of 15-25% of monies between ≈19k-90k. Based on this, it may be beneficial for many people to give charity this year, in 2017, as they can capitalize on the higher tax rates and therefore higher tax savings, as opposed to giving next year when the rates and savings will be lower.  
3.    The business tax rates are also being decreased. This has/is prompting businesses to give more charity in 2017 to maximize their tax benefit.
4. Unrelated to tax reform, as the stock market has done very well this year, donating stock is a great way to receive a maximum tax-deduction as well as avoid paying Capital gains taxes.

BOTTOM LINE: It is wise talk to your tax adviser to see if any or all of these factors would benefit you. You may be very surprised. Of course, there are many worthy organizations to give to, and we hope the Kollel is one of them!
Here's a link for secure, tax deductible donations: DONATE

Women's Partners in Torah LIVE @ Pinot's Palette

It was all about art, and friendship, and inspiration in advance of Chanukah. Over 40 women gathered at a neat boutique art studio, Pinot's Palette, in St. Louis Park. The food was great (donuts, fruit, and hot drinks), the atmosphere warm (a diverse, friendly group of women), and the masterpieces, well, masterful! A professional artist guided the attendees step-by step to producing their own "Poppy Prisms". The perfect recipe for a fun night out with that special WPIT flavor! 

Thank you to our WPIT coordinators, Mrs. Crystal and my wife! Thanks to Mila Krol of Pinot's Palette and Mila Kvasnik for making this happen! Thanks to Becca Kushner for the awesome pics! Thanks to all of you for coming!

Enjoy the pics! email for more.

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The Business Breakfast: Season's Challenges

This past Sunday was one to remember. In the biggest Business Breakfast we've ever had, Rabbi Zev Cohen of Chicago talked about the serious issues that arise in business relationships, in his informative, eclectic, and entertaining way.

Here are some issues that were discussed:

  • Buying Thanksgiving turkeys for employees - doing business with non-Kosher food?
  • The Chasam Sofer and the "Fish from Italy to Egypt" case
  • Ordering a bottle of scotch for a non-Jew on Pesach

and many more!

To relive the event in pictures and through the audio recording, scroll down.