CRUNCHY CAULIFLOWER AND TOMATO SALAD

FROM ALL RECIPES.COM

We saw this one on line, and it caught our eye.  We made it.  We loved it.

 

Directions

  • Prep

    15 m

  • Ready In

    45 m

  1. Whisk olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in a bowl until dressing is smooth.
  2. Mix cauliflower, red onion, parsley, and garlic together in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over cauliflower mixture; toss to coat. Gently fold tomatoes into salad. Chill salad in refrigerator up to 3 hours before serving.
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Posted on June 22, 2017 at 12:04 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher Kitchen, Kosher Recipes

“SACRED COWS AND HOLY WARS”

BY  Kenneth Lasson

The subtitle to the book is   Verities and Vageries in Deciding What’s Kosher and What’s Not  (Carolina Academic Press)

 

A few days after reading our four part series (They Sold Us A Bill Of Goods), a friend handed us the above mentioned book.  As much as every crime TV show hammers into our head that there is no such thing as a coincidence, the truth is that the book and our article happen to be coincidentally on the same topic.

The book begins with a history of commercial kosher supervision in New York City.  Even back then, corruption was rampant. Battles between the butchers and the shochtim often turned bloody.  People who thought they were keeping kosher were, in fact, often eating trefe, out and out trefe.

Many of the topics we covered in our four part series are covered in much greater detail in the pages of this fine book.

Buy the book, and be enlightened.  Buy the book, and be afraid.  Buy the book, and learn the truth.

 

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Posted on June 21, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher News

IMPORTANT INFO FROM THE OU ON DAIRY EQUIPMENT

The Silk non dairy Milks are labeled OUD, but in fact, its true status, at the present time, is DE (Dairy Equipment).

The following products are labeled OUD, but in fact, its true status, at the present time, is DE (Dairy Equipment):
Haagen Dazs Chocolate Sorbet
Haagen Dazs Cranberry Blueberry Sorbet
Haagen Dazs Mango Sorbet
Haagen Dazs Orchard Peach Sorbet
Haagen Dazs Raspberry Sorbet
Haagen Dazs Strawberry Sorbet
Haagen Dazs Zesty Lemon Sorbet

Bark thins

Cracker Jack Original

CVS and Ludens cough drops

Kirkland Signature dark chocolate super fruits

Crunchmaster baked kale crackers
Crunchmaster Multigrain – Sea Salt Rice Cracker
Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers
Crunchmaster Multigrain Crackers 5 Seed
Crunchmaster Original Multiseed Crackers
Crunchmaster Sea Salt Edamame Chips
Crunchmaster Toasted Sesame Baked Rice Crisps
Crunchmaster toasted sesame, brown rice and chick pea crackers

 

What does DE mean? Parve products made with heat on dairy equipment may be eaten after meat, but not with meat.

Some kashrus agencies use a DE symbol, but the OU has chosen not to use a DE designation because it is felt it may be confusing to the kosher consumer. Also, to be a true DE product, the equipment must be properly cleaned of residue after dairy production, and that level of cleanliness is sometimes difficult to maintain and guarantee.

At the present time the following Oreo Sandwich Cookies do not contain dairy ingredients, though they are manufactured on dairy equipment:

– Original Oreo Sandwich Cookies
– Oreo Double Stuf Sandwich Cookies
– Oreo Original Mega Stuff Sandwich Cookie
– Mini Original Oreo Sandwich Cookies
– Chocolate Oreo Sandwich Cookies
– Golden Oreo Sandwich Cookies
– Triple Double Oreo Sandwich Cookies
– Oreo Thins Sandwich Cookies

The equipment is not necessarily cleaned before the production of these cookies, and there may be a small amount of dairy residue present. Nonetheless, the dairy component would be minimal, and from a Halachic perspective, the dairy residue is nullified (botel bishishim) and of no consequence. The bottom line of all this is that these cookies may be consumed after meat and poultry, but not simultaneously.

Please note that it is possible that the manufacturer will reformulate this product and add a true dairy ingredient. You will not be able to know this, since the OUD kosher symbol will remain the same. We recommend that you call our office every 3 months to reconfirm the DE status of this product.

The Mrs. T’s Classic Onion Pierogies are actual dairy.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us again should you have any further questions.

 

Sincerely,

 

The Web(be) Rebbe

Orthodox Union Kashruth Division

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Posted on June 20, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher Alert, Uncategorized

SIXTEEN NEW UNILEVER FROZEN TREATS

PRESS RELEASE

*********CHECK INDIVIDUAL PRODUCTS FOR HECHSHERIM

 

Unilever introduced 16 new frozen treats in 2017 across five of its brands: Breyers®; Good Humor®; Klondike®; MAGNUM® Ice Cream; and Popsicle®. New offerings include Breyers® first-ever, non-dairy line made with almond milk; a new Simply Popsicle® line made with colors and flavors from natural sources and more options that appeal to a variety of tastes and preferences from Good Humor®, Klondike® and MAGNUM® Ice Cream. The new treats are currently available in grocery stores nationwide.

Popsicle® Brand Introduces Simply Popsicle® Ice Pops

Popsicle® has been iconic to kids and parents alike since 1905. This summer, the brand introduces Simply Popsicle®, an ice pop made with real cane sugar and with flavors and colors from natural sources. The new line contains no high-fructose corn syrup and has 40 calories per pop. These varieties are sure to appeal to the whole family and come in four simply refreshing packs:

Simply Popsicle® Strawberry-Banana and Mango pairs icy-cold tropical Mango flavored pops and smoothie-licious Strawberry-Banana flavored pops together for a sweet, summer duo.

Simply Popsicle® Berry and Pineapple offers juicy Berry and tangy Pineapple flavored pops for a refreshing summertime treat.

Simply Popsicle® Orange, Cherry or Grape features the classic fruit flavors consumers know and love, made with real cane sugar and natural flavors.

Simply Popsicle® Strawberry and Raspberry couples fruity Strawberry flavored pops and frosty Raspberry flavored pops in one box.

Consumers can also find new Popsicle® pops in some of their favorite movie characters and flavors. Just look for the signature yellow box, now available in more than 20 unique flavors.

This year, new varieties include:

Popsicle® Star Wars™ Ice Pops are inspired by the iconic lightsabers in the Star Wars™ films, and come in three fruit flavors: First Order Cherry, Blue Raspberry Resistance and Galactic Watermelon.

Popsicle® Despicable Me Minions™ Ice Pops are inspired by Minions™ characters and come in two flavors, Compai Blue Raspberry and Bello Yellow Lemonade.

Popsicle® Sours are refreshing ice pops with bold, sour flavors and bright colors.

Popsicle® Banana and Lemon-Lime are ice pops with new, fun Banana and Lemon-Lime flavors.

Breyers® Expands to Include Non-Dairy Options; Non-GMO Sourced Ingredients in Six Flavors and New Varieties

Breyers® always starts with high quality ingredients.  Its pledge to quality has made the brand a family favorite since 1866.  This summer, Breyers is introducing its first-ever Non-Dairy line, available in two flavors:

Breyers® Non-Dairy Vanilla Peanut Butter, made with almond milk, offers real vanilla and luscious peanut butter to give a Breyers® moment that’s completely non-dairy.  Plus, it’s made with non-GMO sourced ingredients.

Breyers® Non-Dairy Oreo® Cookies & Cream, featuring a family favorite combination of Oreo® cookies and Breyers® vanilla, is now completely non-dairy!  Satisfy your cookie craving with a creamy vanilla almond milk dessert filled with Oreo® cookies.

Breyers® also is proud to announce that six of America’s favorite flavors are now made with non-GMO sourced ingredients, including: Breyers® Natural Vanilla; Breyers® Chocolate; Breyers® Vanilla, Chocolate; Breyers® Natural Strawberry; Breyers® Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry; and Breyers® Mint Chocolate Chip.

In addition, Breyers® is unveiling three new flavors to its Original line with more than 30 varieties to choose from:

Breyers® Chocolate Mint is a rich dark chocolate ice cream experience with chocolate chips swirled with mint ice cream. Its crisp, real mint extract is a complement to intense, bold chocolate.

Breyers® Cinnamon Swirl couples real cinnamon sugar and Breyers® signature vanilla together for a pairing of flavors.

Breyers® Butterscotch Blondie features sweet blondie pieces scattered throughout subtle vanilla ice cream to bring out the brown sugar and buttery flavors of butterscotch. It’s a butterscotch lover’s dream!

Breyers Gelato Indulgences™ Adds a New Trio of Indulgent Flavors

Breyers Gelato Indulgences™ launched in 2014 with its trio of textures: creamy gelato, luscious sauce and gourmet toppings. This summer, Breyers Gelato Indulgences™ is introducing three new indulgent flavors:

Breyers Gelato Indulgences™ Cookie Dough is a combination of sweet cream gelato paired with a rich fudge swirl and gourmet chocolate chip cookie dough pieces.

Breyers Gelato Indulgences™ Pistachio Biscotti features pistachio-flavored gelato with a rich pistachio swirl and gourmet biscotti crumble for a pistachio lover’s dream come true!

Breyers Gelato Indulgences™ Cinnamon Roll blends creamy vanilla-cinnamon gelato with indulgent cinnamon sugar and a gourmet baked cinnamon topping.

Good Humor® Brings Oreo® Cones to More Consumers

Good Humor® has been reimagining America’s favorite candies and desserts as frozen treats for more than 95 years. Whether on sticks, as sandwiches or on cones, the brand features a variety of frozen treats that everyone in the family will love. And this year, Good Humor® has partnered with America’s #1 cookie to bring an exciting new variety from the ice cream truck to the grocery store:

Good Humor®Oreo® Cone is a crispy chocolatey cone filled with sweet vanilla frozen dessert, blended and topped with Oreo® pieces, now available in a pack of four.

Klondike® Adds to the Variety with New Stick-less Bar

Famous for the original Klondike® bar and varieties like the Choco Taco, Klondike® is expanding its line of classic, stick-less bars to include 14 varieties of loaded ice cream in a chocolatey shell with the launch of a new bar.

Klondike® Brownie Fudge Swirl Bar features gooey, fudgy swirls churned through rich chocolate ice cream covered in thick milk-chocolate.

MAGNUM® Ice Cream Expands Doubles Offerings to Include Two New Varieties

Following the launch of two successful varieties in 2016, MAGNUM® Ice Cream – the only ice cream bar in the U.S. made with Belgian Chocolate – is expanding its MAGNUM® Doubles ice cream line with yet again two new varieties. Featuring two layers of decadent chocolate around a layer of sauce, these new varieties are an addition to the lineup.

MAGNUM® Double Cookies & Cream is made with cookies and cream ice cream, chocolate cookie sauce, and a crackling coating made with rich, Belgian chocolate and more cookie pieces.

MAGNUM® Double Chocolate Hazelnut is the balance of chocolate hazelnut ice cream, decadent hazelnut sauce, and a crackling coating made with Belgian chocolate.

 

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Posted on June 19, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Kosher Desserts, Kosher Kitchen, Kosher New Products

TASTYKAKE SUMMER LINE (OU-D)

PRESS RELEASE

Tastykake Summer Line

New birthday cake and fruit-inspired flavors

Snack brand Tastykake is rolling out a new limited-edeition line of summer items:

Birthday Kake Mini Donuts come in a festive-colored crunch, and are available in multipack bags with an SRP of $2.99 each, or 3.4-ounce six-count single-serve packs with an SRP of $1.79 each.

Blueberry Mini Donuts consist of blueberry-flavored donuts with a powdered sugar coating, available in 14.4-ounce six-count boxes with an SRP of $2.99 each, or 3-ounce six-count single-serve packs with an SRP of $1.79 each.

Blueberry Sweet Rolls are stuffed with a sweet blueberry filling and topped with a rich, creamy icing, available in 14.4-ounce six-count boxes with an SRP of $2.99 each.

In additon, Tastykake is puting out a new spin on its classic Kandy Kakes baked goods: Orange Kreme Kandy Kakes feature a white confectionary-coated cake layered with orange-créme-flavored filling. Multipack boxes with two cakes per pack and six packs per box have an SRP of $4.49 each, and also come in 2-ounce three-count single-serve packs with an SRP of $1.79 each.

 

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Posted on June 16, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Kosher Kitchen, Kosher New Products, Kosher News

THEY SOLD US A BILL OF GOODS PART FOUR

CAN SOMEONE PLEASE FIND ME A MASHGIACH WHO KNOWS SOMETHING

We attended a dairy catered bat mitzvah party.  The family was, and is, rigorously Orthodox.  In the goodie bags, they included M &M bags.  The mashgiach insisted that the candy was not kosher.  I pointed out to him that there was an OU-D on the label.  He told me that he was sorry, but the candy was not on his approved list.  To be frank, how stupid do you have to be to say that the candy is not kosher?  I demanded that he phone his boss/supervisor/rabbi.  I do not know what the rabbi said to him, but the candy remained.

The point is that far too often kosher certification agencies supply mashgichim with no training, no knowledge, and, apparently, no brains.

Our rabbinic group once ordered food for a small dinner from a restaurant under the RCBC (Teaneck,NJ).  We also asked to have one or two waiters serve the food.  The RCBC told us that they would provide waiters who were also mashgichim, but we had to double pay them.  Mind you, we were a group of Orthodox rabbis in the first place. All that was needed was for two people to put the food in the oven and then put it out on the buffet table and do a clean-up.

Two high school Yeshiva students showed up. They did not know what they were doing.  On top of that, having to pay double really rankled.

Some months later, we hired the same restaurant to do the same thing.  The RCBC again told us that we had to hire two boys.  We refused. We said we would do the set up and the clean-up, and for sure we did not need two high school boys to be mashgichim for a room of rabbis whose each individual knowledge was greater than those two fellows.  Note that the food came in sealed containers ready to go into the oven.

The RCBC refused. We argued and got nowhere. Finally, we told them that we would cancel the order and buy food from a vendor not under their supervision.  We phoned the caterer and canceled the order.  And just like that, the RCBC relented.

Was the RCBC was over reaching?  One has to wonder if the boys actually got double pay or not. Anyone want to bet?

Even though glatt meat is treibured (deveined) at the slaughter house, there are still some other veins that have to be removed by the local butcher. One day, we got a phone call from a young boy who was working in the local glatt kosher butcher store.

The local vaad did not see the need for a full time mashgiach, just a nichnas v’yotzei (come and go) one.  The young man had seen us devein meat in a different, and coincidentally not glatt, butcher store.  He watched the mashgiach and noted that he seemed to not know how to do it.  In truth, almost no rabbis do.  It is not their field, unless they work in kosher meat production. Nor do yeshivas train in how to devein meat. The young man said something to us.  We asked careful questions.  We went to the head of the vaad and suggested that they replace the mashgiach with someone who knew what to do. After two weeks, we again went to the head of the vaad and said that if he did not remove that rabbi, we would go public.  The rabbi challenged us on our knowledge. We presented our certification in deveining as issued by the Chief Rabbinate of Jerusalem.  The mashgiach in that store was let go and replaced with someone who knew what he was doing.

Was there fraud involved by selling meat that was not properly deveined? You decide.

We were at an affair where the mashgiach spent much of the night outside in his car watching a ball game.  Apparently his conscience was not bothered by his not earning his pay.

DOES THIS ITEM REALLY NEED CERTIFICATION?

We have seen certified kosher toothpaste.  We have seen certified kosher laundry detergent and dish soap.  The latest craze seems to be kosher vitamins.  Often times, a rabbi or an agency rep will say something like this, “While it is true that vitamins do not require kosher certification, it I always better to use only certified kosher vitamins.’

There is a total lack of logic there.  On what grounds is it better to use a kosher certified vitamin if the vitamin in the first place did not need certification?  Halacha (Jewish law) is abundantly clear that vitamins are not food, they do not satisfy, are not eaten as food, and most of the time taste (a legitimate concern in Jewish law) really bad, and do not require kosher certification.  So, again we ask- why is it better to buy certified kosher vitamins?  Here is a hint- it is a money maker for both the producer and the kosher agency.

One local vaad ran a campaign to have men have their tefillin (phylacteries- used in morning prayer) checked by a “reputable” sofer (scribe).  We shall not argue their use of the word reputable. That was just to make it seem more official and important.

Tefillin never need to be checked. Tefillin have a halachic (Jewish legal) status of always being kosher.  There is one exception: if your tefillin have been in contact with water, they need to be checked as water can damage the parchment within.

When questioned, the agency answered in print saying, “Yes, they are always kosher, but don’t you want to be really sure?”   Kind of like using kosher laundry soap to wash the tablecloth on which you put your kosher dishes upon which you put your kosher food.

EPILOGUE

As we said at the start of this paper, we believe in keeping kosher.  When we started the Kosher Nexus Kosher Newsletter, our goal was to show people that keeping kosher today is not a hardship.  Our motto was, “When kosher news breaks, we fix it.” Unlike other publications who saw disaster behind every situation, we did not, and still do not, “shrei gevalt (scream Oh God!)” at every little thing.

Our approach was totally new in terms of reporting on the kosher scene.  We prefer humor to screaming.  We want Jews to keep kosher.  We do not want to make keeping kosher onerous.

The system, however,  is out of control.  It needs fixing.

 

 

 

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Posted on June 15, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher Alert, Kosher News

THEY SOLD US A BILL OF GOODS PART THREE

SCANDALS IN THE KOSHER MARKET

A tragic fact of life is that there will always be those who cheat, lie, and steal.  In the kosher world, fraud exists.  Even the big nationals have had their fair share of scandals. The difference between the big boys and the locals or the single supervisors is that the big boys pay huge sums of money for damage control.  They are quick to leap onto the mistakes of others, and point attention away from themselves.

A certain company made a pareve éclair.  Or so the certifying agency said.   Their registered trade mark was proudly displayed on the product.  In order to make the product pareve, the company had to use a pareve artificial sweetener.  There was just one problem; the pareve sweetener was more expensive than a dairy-based one. Every night, the supervising rabbi would slip out for afternoon and evening prayers.  During the time he was gone, the company would use a sweetener that contained sodium caseinate, a dairy-based sweetener.  The supervising rabbi never had a clue.  The company got caught by the New York State Kosher Law Enforcement Agency.

No one who keeps kosher will ever forget the horrible AgriProcessors debacle over improper slaughter.  To any rational person, the PETA videos taken at the plant were a nightmare.  It was abundantly clear that the shechita(ritual slaughter) was not done properly.  Experts in Israel commented in the Jerusalem Post that the video showed that the shechita cut was not complete.

There was also the issue of tzaar baalei chaim– the prohibition of cruelty to animals.

Additionally, we saw photos of meat that was being shipped out of the processing plant that still had cheilev (forbidden fat which is always removed at the slaughter house) attached. Rabbi Harry Cohen, of the OKS kosher supervision service, fought with all the large agencies to get them to declare that the meat was not kosher!  They ignored him. Not one national agency took a stance against AgriProcessors.

Finally, Agri shipped meat that had not been properly deveined.  All glatt meat is deveined at the processing plant.

The very right-wing religious rabbis declared that all the accusations amounted to an attack against glatt kosher meat and the fervently religious community.

That was not the case.  All the debacle proved was that the OU got it entirely wrong when it said the only way to be sure that your meat was kosher was to buy glatt.

The ultimate irony of the whole Agri affair was, as several rabbis noted, the only truly kosher meat available in the US was the non-glatt meat sold under the supervision of the Triangle K.  Their standards for kosher meat were, and continue to be, stellar.

In truth, the Triangle K had their problems. Amongst the smug cognoscenti, the word on the street was the TK supervision was not reliable. Back in the day, they had experienced some problems with their supervision. The nationals were quick to jump on them and claim that their supervision was no good.

The OU had the tuna fish scandal, the Shelat chicken scandal, the oil tanker scandal, the really dairy but marked pareve cake scandal, and more.  We have a copy of a letter that was sent to us by mistake by a mid-western certifier wherein they gave permission to a company to continue to put their kosher mark on their product for a year without payment.  The company could not afford the payment, so the agency told them that they could still use the mark, but that they would not, therefore, visit the plant.  Whoa!   That is a biggie.

THE GLATT YACHT AND OTHER EXAMPLES OF OVER REACHING

Many years back, a company offered a wonderful dining opportunity.  Called the Glatt Yacht, the prix fixe dinner came with wine, and there was wonderful live music.  The Glatt Yacht could not make enough money attracting only Orthodox Jews, so they reached out to the greater Jewish community.  For a reasonable fee, people were offered a beautiful cruise around Manhattan along with dinner, wine, and dancing.

And that was when it all fell apart.  The kosher agency that supervised said a very loud, “No” to mixed dancing.  Non-Orthodox Jews, and probably no small number of modern Orthodox as well, voted with their feet as they canceled reservations in droves.  Putting it simply, the company could not survive on Orthodox Jews only.  The kosher agency, essentially, put them out of business.

A restaurant opened in lower Manhattan. It was called Jezebel.  Why that name?  Who knows?  Jezebel was a most unsavory character in ancient Jewish life, so using her name was a tad unusual.  The certifying agency told the restaurant to either change the name or lose the supervision.  Another restaurant that quickly went out of business.

Kosher restaurants and caterers have been threatened by kosher agencies that they would lose their certification were they to offer a New Year’s Eve party.

Plain and simple, what is it any of their business?  What business is it of the kosher supervision agency if the place offers mixed dancing or even has TV’s in kosher sports bars?

Again, some years back, the rabbi in charge of the Vaad Hakashrut on Staten Island threatened caterers who catered Sweet Sixteen parties in the kosher kitchens of other shuls.  Those Sweet Sixteen parties were from his own congregation.  The rabbi could not stop them from having their parties, so he threatened the caterers under his supervision.

The rabbi phoned and asked us not to allow those parties.  Our response was simple.  Even though the caterer came with a mashgiach, we oversaw everything- except for what transpired on the dance floor.

The demands by kosher agencies have grown onerous.  No one has appointed the kosher supervision agencies to be God’s stand in.  Just guarantee that the food is kosher- that is your job.

New York City does not filter its water.  Blessed with some of the purest municipal water, all the City does is chlorinate its water.  Someone discovered that there were microscopic organisms in the water called copepods.  They are not kosher. They also are not visible to the naked eye. Aside from the fact that halacha says that if you cannot see them, they are not there, the kosher agencies went wild.  All of sudden, New York City water was treife. Kosher food businesses were required to buy expensive filtration systems. Home owners were urged in the strongest terms to install whole house water filters.

Did you need a filter only for hot water? Did you need one for only cold water?  Did you need one for both?  When scientists proved that copepods could not survive in water lower than 65 degrees, and therefore there was no need for a filter (if any need ever existed) in cold weather they were ignored.  A popular magazine about kosher matters, which sees the apocalypse in everything, insisted that the scientists were wrong.  Don’t bother me with the facts!  Has anybody seen Galileo?

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Posted on June 14, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · One Comment
In: General Topics, Kosher Alert, Kosher News

THEY SOLD US A BILL OF GOODS PART TWO

THE LOCAL VAADS (AGENCIES)

The local agencies all are busy looking over their shoulders to see what more right-wing groups are doing and saying.  As a result, local agencies have gone out of their way to sell us on standards that bear little or no relation to reality or halachic need.

As an example, let us look at the Queens (NYC) vaad.  They once told their stores to use only Bodek brand vegetables and fruits. Bodek uses hydroponically grown produce and is well known for their care in producing bug-free produce.  In and of itself, that is not a problem.  However, there is another company that does the same thing, for a lower price.  The Queens Vaad has members who also serve on a large, national agency, and that large, national agency certifies Bodek.  As a result, telling the stores under their supervision to use only Bodek may have been a form of corruption. It also hurts the small store owner whose livelihood depends on the small profit margin he can eke out by selling kosher. Why pay more for product X if product Y is also certified by a most reputable, rigorously Orthodox agency and costs less?

One year, we saw a mashgiach for the Queens vaad seal off a microwave oven so it could not be used for Passover.  We asked him why.  He said that because there was a rubber gasket around the door of the microwave, it could not be made kosher for Passover.  Considering that every microwave oven has that gasket, and that pretty much every kosher agency in the US tells you how to make your microwave kosher for Passover, what was the justification for that mashgiach to seal off the microwave? Who knew that the Queens vaad had standards so beyond those of any other agencies?

For 25 years, we gave hashgacha to a bakery on Staten Island.  It was owned by Gentiles.  Our standards of kashrut were so high, the New York State Kosher Law Enforcement Agency used that store as a training site for their inspectors.  We were not a member of the local vaad. As a result, the local vaad told the community that we were not kosher.  They did not say that they did not like our hashgacha; they said we were treife. 

There was a small bakery that was under the vaad.  No one actually baked anything there.  It was what is called a commission bakery.  That is, they bought the baked goods elsewhere and resold them.  Several times, the original owner was caught weighing his knife with the cake.  But, he was acceptable to the local vaad. We finally went to the head of the vaad and threatened to go public with an exposé if they did not yank his kosher certificate.  Ultimately, they did force him to sell the store to another buyer.

There was one kosher pizza place on the island.  At one point, a second kosher pizza place opened up in a mid-island shopping mall.  The local vaad refused to certify the new store.  The new store hired a national kashrut agency to supervise it. The rabbi of the largest Orthodox shul on Staten Island, and head of the local vaad, stood on his pulpit and said it was forbidden to buy there as the place was not kosher.

KOSHER WATER, ETC.

Kosher supervision is a huge business.  The income generated runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.  In particular, the large agencies need to continue raising revenue by having the public perceive that more and more products need supervision.

Water is a classic example. Spring water does not need kosher certification.  Try to find any bottled water in the USA that does not have a kosher mark on it. The nationals tell us that they tell the water companies that they do not need kosher supervision, but the companies see having it as a selling point.

That may well be true, as market surveys have shown that a large number of consumers believe that kosher products are somehow cleaner, better, and safer than non-kosher products. So the large agencies can certify bottled water at a very low price, because they may visit the source only once or twice a year.  That supervision is almost (almost) pure profit.  Meanwhile, consumers think that water needs kosher supervision.

We once asked the big rabbi at a major kosher agency why they give their hechsher to laundry detergent.  Jewish law is abundantly clear that we do not need to use kosher soaps on our dishes, so why on our laundry? The rabbi admitted that kosher soap is not ever needed for anything.  So, we again asked the question.

The answer we got was classic:  (This is a quote)  Should we tell a Jewish housewife that the table cloth she puts on her Sabbath and holiday table, and upon which she puts her kosher dishes and silver ware, upon which, in turn, she puts her kosher food, that that table cloth can be washed in non-kosher soap?

So instead of being honest, they make money by putting their kosher mark on things that do not need it.

We once saw a bottle of methanol with a kosher mark on it.  It is poison.  Three kosher bloggers, including this one, all published on the same day, the same article asking the agency to remove their kosher mark.  The agency never responded. The only thing we can think of is maybe there are people who want to kill themselves but only want to do it with kosher poison.  (God forbid)

We can’t begin to list the number of times we have heard uninformed people, again with the certainty born of ignorance, state that aluminum foil must have kosher supervision.  They claim that non-kosher aluminum foil is extruded through rollers coated in a non-kosher oil.   There are just two problems with that bit of nonsense.  Number one, the oil used is not non-kosher. Number two, the oil is totally burned off in the process, leaving absolutely no residue behind. Yup, just one more “everyone knows” bit of misinformation.

Some years ago, a company advertised that it had kosher for Passover window cleaner.  That was a classic.  Someone actually wrote to us and wanted to know why she had to use only KP window cleaner.  We told her that just because someone sells something does not mean that you have to buy it.

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Posted on June 13, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
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THEY SOLD US A BILL OF GOODS A SERIES ON THE STATE OF KASHRUTH TODAY

PART ONE        WATCH FOR PARTS TWO, THREE, AND FOUR TO FOLLOW ON SUCCESSIVE DAYS

INTRODUCTION

We believe with all our heart and soul in the value of keeping kosher.  We are certified in Nikur (deveining meat according to halacha) by the Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate. We trained to be a mashgiach under two rabbis who each served as a Rav Hamachshir in their respective agencies. We  worked as a mashgiach for over 35 years. As you will see later on, the New York State Kosher Law Enforcement Agency used a store where I was the mashgiach as a training site for new inspectors.

Along the way, we gained some measure of expertise in food technology and ingredients.  For a number of years, we ran the Passover Hot Line (the very first 1-800 number for Pesach questions) for the Union for Traditional Judaism.  We created the Kosher Nexus Newsletter, and own the Kosher Nexus Daily Blog.

It pains us, therefore, to observe the current state of affairs in kosher food supervision today. We have remained silent for too long. Today, we speak out.  This is a long article which will appear on the Kosher Nexus Daily Blog over the next many days.

 

 

Recently, there was a thread on Facebook concerning whether or not a certain bakery was kosher or not.  The bakery is under the hashgacha (supervision) of a single rabbi.

For those who drank the Kool Aid that was enough for them to say, with the certainty born of ignorance, that it could not be kosher.  The reasons were varied:

2) The rabbi is a single-person agency, so how good could his hashgacha be?

3) The rabbi is not a mashgiach temidi (ie, on the premises all the time).

4) The food is not prepared under his careful, full time watchful eyes.

5) The store, owned by Gentiles, is open on Shabbat.

The above reasons were, in turn, absurd, false, ill stated, and wrong.

The rabbi is the graduate of a prestigious Orthodox institution.  He is a deeply religious man. He visits every one of the places he supervises every single week.

Very few kosher businesses (outside of meat purveyors) require full-time supervision. Take national brand sodas, for example. The rabbis are not there full time. Take the Costco stores that have kosher bakeries.  The rabbis come and go on an occasional basis. Costco bakes on Shabbat. Soda companies bottle on Shabbat.  If it is OK for those businesses to be open on Shabbat and to cook/produce on Shabbat, then the people who said the bakery was not kosher on those grounds were both wrong, and uninformed.

One concerned citizen wrote that she absolutely knew the place was treife (not kosher).  That was not even close. The best (worst??) she really could say with anything close to the truth or integrity was that she felt the standards of the rabbi were not high enough for her. But, then again, she probably had no clue what the rabbi’s standards were.  She was comfortable making her ex cathedra proclamation based on nothing.

 

This is a huge problem in the kosher world.  We have been sold a bill of goods, and we have swallowed the Kool Aid without ever asking any questions.

 

A rabbi wrote an article saying why vegan restaurants are not the same as a kosher restaurant. He raised many issues, some of which were accurate and worrisome.  It was clear from what he wrote, however, that the man had no real experience with vegan kitchens.

Of course, his first issue was insects.  He stated that eating, even the tiniest, of insects is “worse” than eating pork.  Apparently, he based this statement on the fact that eating insects can contain several forbidden practices, whereas eating pork involves only one sin.  As this posture is not explicit in the Torah, we can assume that he was indulging in what our Galitzianer teacher would have called Litvak musar.  Treife is treife.   There are no degrees of treife-ness.

Vegan restaurants check vegetables very carefully, because the presence of insects would render the food not vegan.  Apparently, however, it did not matter to the rabbi who wrote the article.  Either he had no clue that they check for bugs in vegan places, or he lied.

What leads us to believe that he was less than honest was found later in his article. He claimed that a man wrote to him and thanked him for showing him the true light. He wrote that the man told him that the chef at a vegan restaurant went out and bought a hamburger (not kosher of course) and “reheated it in the deep fryer.”  Really?

First of all, who reheats a hamburger in the deep fryer?  That would ruin the meat.  It would also seriously compromise the vegan status of the restaurant. How did the chef get away with this thing?  Was no one watching?  Did no one see this man place a hamburger in the deep fryer of a vegan place?  Last of all, what kind of idiot would jeopardize his job that way? On a scale of one to ten, what are the odds that this story is true?  We say not even a one.

No way, rabbi. Stick with the truth and spare us your urban myths.

The problem is that there are too many urban myths out there in kosher land.  When someone starts a sentence with the words, “Everyone knows,” you know that what they are about to say is most likely not based in kashrut reality.

We Orthodox Jews like to tell people “Ask your local, Orthodox rabbi (aka LOR).”  The problem is that very few rabbis- of any stripe- have any in-depth knowledge about commercial kosher supervision.  They rely on bad, or often outdated, information. They rely on nebulous statements of the “everyone knows” variety.  On top of all that, very few rabbis have ever given any critical thought to what we are told by the major agencies.  We just accept their statements as God-given truth, even though we have learned over and over again that much of what those agencies tell us is just not accurate.

When we were kids, there was kosher for Passover peanut oil, but we were told that we could not eat peanuts.  Sometimes, agencies would even tell us that the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein wrote that we could not eat peanuts. That was a total misstatement of what the rabbi actually wrote. People were confused, so they did not buy the peanut oil, or so we are told. Hence, no more KP peanut oil.

Apparently, kosher consumers are presumed to be stupid.  Or, at least, the big agencies think we are.   They could have taken the time to educate the community.  They could have taught that peanuts- absent a total community custom forbidding them, as per Rabbi Feinstein– are not forbidden on Passover. They could also have explained that even if peanuts were forbidden on Passover, the oil would not be.  The same applies to other oils that are derived from kitniyot (legumes).

The OU has long taken congratulatory, self-credit for changing the kosher meat market in America to almost all glatt.  They smugly told us that the kosher meat industry was so corrupt, that the only way to be sure that your meat was kosher was to buy glatt.

There are two things wrong with that.

First of all, it is specious to say that only by buying glatt meat could you be sure that your meat was kosher.  Why was no attempt made to tighten the controls to make sure that all was according to Torah? Although we like to think of glatt as super kosher, the truth is that kosher is kosher is kosher.  You may subscribe to a higher definition of what is acceptable as kosher meat, but that does not minimize any other definition.  If the meat meets the definition of kosher meat, it is kosher.

The second thing wrong was the law of unintended consequences.  Back then, cattle free ranged, and ate everything they could pick up from the ground.  I remember seeing soda bottles, shoes, wallets, and clothing inside the stomachs of kosher slaughtered cows. As a result, scabs on the lungs of the animals were very common.  Similarly, finding a nail piercing the lung of the animal was also fairly common.

The law of glatt is that the lung should be glatt, i.e., smooth.  Classic rabbinic text allowed up to three sirchot (scabs) on the lungs provided that they could be easily flicked off by hand.  (Note, Beit Yosef glatt {a Sefardic standard} is actually glatt.)

The result was that out of 100 head of cattle taken to kosher slaughter, a really good yield might have been 12 glatt kosher cows. The result of that was that the cost of glatt meat was astronomical.

In order to avoid an open revolt, the large agencies decided to allow up to five sirchot on the lungs. By allowing up to five, the number of so-called glatt animals yielded out of 100 slaughtered was much higher which, then, allowed for ever so slightly lower prices.

They dumbed down the definition, and they sell us meat that is clearly not glatt and call it glatt.  What really confounded us was that back when we gave supervision to a non- glatt butcher store, we often got meat that was labeled glatt, but was sold to the butcher at the lower, non-glatt prices, because it was a non-glatt shop.  How could it be that the wholesalers could sell glatt meat at the lower price to the non-glatt shop?  Was there an excess of glatt meat?  That just defies all logic.

On top of that, a well-known NYC area scandal was the fact that the total weight of the amount of kosher-sold brisket was out of the statistical range of probability (i.e., the amount of kosher brisket was higher than the number of kosher animals slaughtered) for kosher beef.  Once glatt became de rigeur, the situation did not change.  Huh?  So what did going glatt do for us?

 

PART TWO TOMORROW

 

 

 

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Posted on June 12, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher News

TEA PRICES WILL RISE- STOCK UP NOW

* Tea prices climb after dry weather in top producers India, Kenya

* Deadly flooding could hit tea transportation in Sri Lanka

* Markets expected to climb further

* Higher prices will help tea suppliers in Asia, Africa

By Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI, May 29 The price of tea is likely to climb further this year after dry weather slashed production of the commodity in key suppliers India and Kenya, while recent deadly flooding could disrupt shipments from Sri Lanka, another key exporter.

Output in top tea shipper Kenya dropped by over a third from a year ago in the first quarter after drought ravaged parts of the country, while production was down over 16 percent during that period in India, the world’s biggest black tea producer.

Flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka over the weekend that have killed over 150 people were expected to interfere with tea transportation in the major exporter, although an industry official in the country said the impact on production would be limited.

Stronger prices will help support tea companies such as India’s McLeod Russel and Goodricke Group Ltd, as well as African producers like Kapchorua Tea Company Ltd and Williamson Tea Kenya Ltd.

“We are expecting prices to remain firm this year. Already globally prices are up 15 to 20 percent compared to the last year,” Kamal Baheti, chief financial officer at McLeod Russel, the world’s biggest tea producing company, told Reuters.

The maximum price of the highest grade of Kenyan tea TEABP1-BEST-KE rose to $3.92 per kg at auction last week, up 22.5 percent from a year ago.

“We will see a downturn in the amount (of tea) that will come to auction (in Sri Lanka),” said Rohan Pethiyagoda, chairman of Sri Lanka’s state-run Tea Board. He added that transportation would be hit as roads were blocked by the flooding and landslides, which he said had killed nine plantation workers.

“Crops are already down all over the world. It will keep prices firm throughout the year,” said A N Singh, managing director of Goodricke Group, a producer based in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata.

India’s production in 2017 is likely to be 15 to 20 million kg lower than last year’s output of 1.24 billion kg despite rising consumption, said Singh.

BETTER WEATHER?

In Kenya, improved weather could lead to higher production in the second half, Alfred Busolo, director general of the state-run agriculture and food authority, said earlier this month.

“Kenya is not losing crop anymore, but they have lost already in the past few months. They can’t recover that in the rest of the year,” said McLeod Russel’s Baheti.

A dealer based in Mombassa added that prices would be sustained at current levels and could rise further depending on “Kenya’s production in the next few months”. He declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak with media.

A Kolkata-based dealer with a global trading firm added that global production needed to recover in the next few months or “prices could rise above $4.50”.

India is likely to get normal monsoon rains in 2017.

 

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Posted on June 9, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General Topics, Kosher Alert, Kosher Kitchen, Kosher News, Uncategorized