As the first day of Passover nears, a company called Señor Solomon Cigar Co. has announced a kosher-certified cigar is now for sale.
Produced by veteran cigarmaker Kiki Berger in Nicaragua under strict watch by a Rabbi, the Señor Solomon natural and maduro cigars carry Kosher Supervision of America (KSA) certification, perhaps the most recognized Orthodox kosher certification in the world.
According to brand owner Gregory Aizenman, whose company is based in Miami, the idea for a kosher cigar began about nine years ago. It was then that he read in a Passover guide written by a prominent authority on kosher guidelines that a cigar, because of some manufacturers' use of bethune to treat tobacco, can not be recommended for consumption on the holiday.
While most understand kosher law as a series of dietary restrictions, Jessica Lang, the director of the Jewish Studies Center at Baruch College, says that during Passover some Orthodox Jews choose to adhere to a stricter version of kosher that forbids the consumption of fermented or leavened grain. A bethune containing alcohol, such as rum, would violate kosher rules. In addition, says Aizenman, some of the glue used to paste a cap on the head of a cigar can come from flour, which is made from cereal grain.
To gain kosher certification, Señor Solomon cigars have been made with tobacco that was only treated using water and rolled using a tree sap-based glue. Also, the rollers constructing the cigars were prohibited from having any food or drink on their worktables. Aizenman said the entire production was supervised by a Rabbi who works for the KSA.
The Señor Solomon Natural and Maduro cigars come in four formats: Robusto (5 inches by 54), Torpedo (6 by 56), Churchill (7 by 54) and Corona Gorda (6 1/2 by 64). The Corona Gorda, which sells for $15, comes in boxes of 10 while the other three sizes, which each retail for $12, are packaged 20 to a box.
Aizenman, who has been a cigar smoker for 29 years, says that a significant portion of the proceeds from cigar sales will go to benefit Achim Academy Center for Education, a school for special children with emotional and learning disabilities.