Come on in, says a voice behind two large computer screens. The rabbi, whose velvety yarmulke and raised eyebrows are barely visible beneath ancient and contemporary books stacked as high as the Pyramid of Giza, is now in the middle of busy season – answering consumer questions for the upcoming Passover holiday. With 160 chat messages and four callers hanging online with their questions, it is no less a miracle that he has a free moment to catch his breath.
Rabbi Zvi Nussbaum is the main voice behind OU Kosher’s Consumer Hotline and Live Chat, one of the numerous ways OU Kosher provides in answering questions related to kashrut. Other OU Kosher services include the Webbe Rebbe, kashrut email expert at firstname.lastname@example.org; the OU Kosher Smartphone app; and radio programs with OU Kosher’s leading experts, including Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of OU Kosher.
The hotline’s regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Fridays. The hotline will be available for additional extended hours with additional operators as well:
Sunday, April 17:
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Monday, April 18 – Thursday, April 21:
9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Two operators will be available.
Friday, April 22 (Erev Yom Tov):
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Monday, April 25 – Thursday, April 28 (Chol HaMoed)
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Explained Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, “In previous years, we received many calls during the three hours on erev Pesach. Callers thanked us profusely for being open to help with their questions; and many last-minute calls came from rabbis, and individuals who had been told by their rabbis, to contact the OU. We are proud to offer these extended hours once again.”
Rabbi Nussbaum elaborated, “The volume of callers pouring into our hotline in itself highlights that our consumer hotline is crucial to those preparing Passover in their homes. Many times families from the full spectrum of Klal Yisroel, from all ages and backgrounds, look to the OU for guidance in their Pesach shopping.
Some of the most popular questions include:
Q: Can nuts certified without the OUP still be consumed during Pesach?
A: Yes, as long as they are raw or shelled walnuts, almonds, cashews without preservatives. Canned nuts should not be consumed without an OUP certification.
Q: What about Silk’s soy yogurts?
A: They contain kitniyot. Therefore, for Ashkenazim, only small children and the infirm may consume them.
Q: Does dishwasher soap need an OUP certification?
A: All OU-certified soaps are fit to use year-round, including Passover.
Q: What kind of instant coffees can be consumed during the holiday?
A: Folgers – regular and decaf unflavored
Taster’s Choice – regular unflavored
Q: What kind of OU-certified K-cups may be used during Pesach?
A: Any unflavored regular coffee, not decaffeinated.
The kosher hotline number is 212-613-8241. Additionally, one may send questions via chat message at www.oukosher.org.