Cut and pastryCut and pastry

Rabbinate regulates bourekas shapes

Dairy and nondairy pastries to have different looks — for kashrut’s sake — and those who don’t comply could lose their certification

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Burekas and pastries of all shapes (photo credit: Aaron Kalman/Times of Israel)
Burekas and pastries of all shapes (photo credit: Aaron Kalman/Times of Israel)

If you’ve ever bought bourekas in Israel, you’ve probably experienced that moment where you’re facing a selection of the variously shaped pastries and wondered what each one was filled with. Now, thanks to Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, all kosher manufacturers will be obligated to bake the pastries in predetermined shapes, based on the filling.

But the rules are by no means easy to decipher.

According to a letter recently sent by the Rabbinate to factories and bakeries across the country, all puff pastry dairy bourekas must be baked in the shape of a triangle, while nondairy, or parve, puff pastries must conform to square or rectangular proportions. The letter also stipulates separate rules for bourekas made of filo dough — there, triangular means parve — and “snake-shaped” bourekas. Croissants and rugelach pastries that are dairy will have to be made into a crescent shape, while parve ones must be kept straight. Complicated, we know.

The convoluted regulations are meant to prevent customers from confusing dairy and nondairy products — needed for those who observe the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut, where meat and dairy are separated — but could ultimately just cause more perplexity.

Bakeries that fail to comply with the new regulations could lose their kashrut certification, the Rabbinate said.

The new rules complement a decades-old designation: sqaure for parve and triangle for dairy. Ziv Maor, the Rabbinate’s spokesman, told Walla that the directive was needed because of the abundance of new fillings and the “creativeness” of bakeries, which lead to grave risks of kashrut violation.

“I can’t tell if [the bourekas] is dairy or parve just by looking at it,” Maor lamented. Unlike other products, when it comes to puff pastry, “only by taking a bite or opening it can you find out if it’s dairy,” he added.

“It was important for us to write these regulations in a way that was connected to reality and would not cause problems with the bakeries,” Maor said, adding that the agreement had taken into consideration the technological constraints with which the bakeries needed to work.

“We invited the heads of the large bakeries to a meeting, to hear their comments and reservations,” Maor said. The agreement “was accepted by most of the big manufacturers.”

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