Interview With Rabbi Shmiel Gruber, Rosh Bais Din Of New Square Kashrus

While Pine Valley has long maintained a sterling reputation as the leading provider of rehab and nursing services in Rockland County, it has also earned a reputation for its commitment to the religious and dietary needs of residents.

That is why the facility enlists the services of the premier kashrus authority in the region. Kashrus of New Square is a well-respected leader in the world of kosher certification, with decades of experience in the industry. Below are questions and answers from our interview with Rabbi Shmiel Gruber, the Rosh Bais Din of New Square Kashrus about Pine Valley’s kashrus program.

Q: What does it mean to the community to have access to a kosher facility, like Pine Valley?
A: It is a tremendous benefit to the frum community in Rockland County. We have a world-class nursing and rehab facility in our very own backyard with all the amenities and comforts of home that a heimishe patient (and their family) requires while they recuperate. Patients need to come to Pine Valley for their top rehab program, but we also want them to have freshly prepared, delicious, glatt kosher food, rather than have to settle for frozen meals served at hospitals.

Q: What amenities are available to guests and residents on Shabbos and Yom Tov?
A: Naturally, we prepare a full Shabbos seudah for residents and their guests to enjoy. The kitchen staff and chefs go all out to ensure that Shabbos is as enjoyable as possible. In addition, a beautiful kosher “Shabbos” room is set up each week where food is always available for our guests.

Q: How challenging is it to convert an existing facility into a completely kosher facility?
A: It is a tremendous job. Years ago, we set up a temporary kitchen in the Pine Valley facility, while State approval was pending. That process lasted around a year. Once we received a green light from the State, we replaced all the kitchen equipment. We also held training sessions with special video presentations to educate the staff to ease the transition. Fortunately, they were very eager to learn and receptive to making adjustments to better serve the needs of their patients, so it was a smooth process.

Q: Who do residents speak with if they have a question about kashrus?
A: We have two exceptional and diligent mashgichim – Rabbi Avrohom Yehuda Unger and Rabbi Yosef Weissmandel – who work
in the facility. One of them is always on-site during the week. We also have a mashgiach with us at Pine Valley for the entire Shabbos
and all Yomim Tovim.

Q: What is the biggest challenge facing your mashgichim?
A: Without a doubt, Pesach requires the greatest amount of effort. We bring in extra staff to go through the entire facility, kashering experts to clean the kitchen equipment and new Pesach utensils for cooking and eating.