Cold Stone Creamery, an ice cream shop at the corner of Forbes and Murray avenues in Squirrel Hill, has been certified kosher by the Vaad Harabanim of Pittsburgh.
Members of the Vaad’s kashrut committee fleshed out all of Cold Stone’s ingredients and procedures to insure that they meet kosher standards, according to Rabbi Daniel Wasserman, one of the members of the Vaad’s kashrut committee.
All products used at Cold Stone were sourced by Rabbi Yosef Itkin of the Vaad, the project’s field supervisor, Wasserman said.
Cold Stone, a national franchise, is known for its freshly made ice cream and its large variety of mix-ins. The store also sells made-to-order ice cream cakes, shakes, smoothies, frozen yogurt, and sorbet.
The local Cold Stone has gone kosher to better serve the community, according to Numaan Shah, a managing member of an ownership group based in Maryland, which has been involved with the Cold Stone brand for four years.
“People have been asking for years why Cold Stone isn’t kosher, but it wasn’t a priority for the previous management group,” Shah said. “ When I took over management of the store in September, I wanted to create a real connection with the surrounding community, so our customers and neighbors feel like this is their store, and becoming kosher certified was vital in that regard. Now, with support from Vaad Harabanim, we are privileged to provide kosher ice cream, shakes, ice cream cakes, cupcakes and pareve sorbets to this wonderful community.”
The store will be permitted to be open on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, Wasserman said, because it is not “a Jewish company.”
The ice cream and other dairy products will be certified cholov stam, meaning that Jews who limit their dairy to cholov yisroel (milk products produced under constant rabbinical supervision from milking through packaging) will not be able to eat the ice cream, Wasserman said.
But there are a limited number of pareve sorbets that will be permissible for anyone to eat, when the customer requests the Coldstone Allergy Procedure. That procedure involves the product being served from the back area of the store using separate utensils that have been cleaned and sanitized.
The pareve certification will benefit not only the kosher community, but also those who are lactose intolerant, Wasserman said.
“In the lactose intolerant community, they know to look for the Jewish word ‘pareve.’ That’s the only way to be sure there’s some oversight,” he said.
Cold Stone’s products will not be certified kosher for Passover.
Wasserman sees the kosher certification of Cold Stone as a win-win for the ice cream vendor, as well as the Jewish community, he said.
“Kudos to Cold Stone for wanting to serve a greater population,” Wasserman said. “And it’s a good business opportunity for them, which I am saying quite positively.
“I have to assume their customer base will significantly increase, because this will deliver an entire segment of the Squirrel Hill community,” he speculated, adding that the location is in the path of many Jewish children walking to and from school.
There are several other Cold Stone store locations around the country that are certified kosher, according to its website.
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)