Blueberries, Taiku and OU Israel

And More on Blueberries…
Permit me to open with the upshot of our blueberry saga, to be followed by the events that transpired. If you seek a mehadrin blueberry, they are available under the supervision of Rav Efrati Shlita. This however does not do anything to alleviate the anxiety of the fruit picking enthusiasts, who are compelled to rely on the heter (leniency) which is not accepted by many prominent kashrut organizations. In short, you can eat, but picking brings you back to safek orla (a doubt) and in Eretz Yisrael, we are stringent, as was reported earlier. In The Diaspora, safek orla is fine.


Yaakov Binyamini Fruits - Agudat Yisrael Hechsher (expired)

I admit I too was perplexed, with most of the rabbis telling me they do not give supervision on blueberries. The very same day (June 1) that the last blueberry report was released, a quantity of blueberries, representing a fine specimen of the delectable little guys arrived, from Yaakov Binyamini, a fruit store located in Jerusalem’s Shaare Chessed neighborhood under the supervision of Badatz Agudat Yisrael. Admittedly, this added to my confusion. Permit me to interject that they may be small in size, but the issue is quite large in its complexity.

I began phoning the folks at Agudah to inquire, seeking to learn if they indeed give supervision to blueberries.

Blueberries with the label of Rav Efrati Shlita

Blueberries with the label of Rav Efrati Shlita

At the end of the phone search I learned that the blueberries are sold only in sealed containers, marked under the supervision of Rav Efrati. Rav Efrati works with a grower who adheres to the strict dictates of halacha, as explained below. Agudah does not certify blueberries as a matter of policy.

As the photos indicate, the blueberries are sold in sealed boxes, each marked with Rav Efrati’s hechsher.

Blueberries without Rav Efrati's seal

Blueberries without Rav Efrati's seal

On Tuesday, June 2nd, a second box of blueberries was displayed on sale at Binyamini. They did not display’s Rav Efrati’s hechsher, and quite honestly, I am really confused now. I have not yet reached the people I need to speak to at Agudah for an explanation.

Yes, I agree, this adds to the confusion but I did not make the decision to permit the sale of items in a store under a certain supervision (Agudah), only to learn that item does not enjoy the hechsher given to the other items in the store. I have attempted to contact Rav Binyamin Adler Shlita, who heads Agudat Yisrael, to share my thoughts in the hope of getting to the bottom of the blueberry question.

There may be consumers who wish only Agudat Yisrael and if other items are sold, additional effort should be taken to inform shoppers that while the item is permitted, it is not under the Agudah hechsher. (Regarding the outdated teudah, Agudah confirms the store is under its supervision and the new certificate should be arriving in a timely fashion).

In short, Rav Efrati found a mehadrin source and the picking in northern area communities is still problematic, safek orla.

At the end of this somewhat long story is the epilogue. The blueberries which bear the hechsher from Rav Efrati Shlita are from a grower in Kedumim, Shomron. He is apparently the one fellow who adheres to all the strict dictates and has eliminated all Orla concerns. It does not help for enthusiasts who wish to pick, but it offers a solution if you are just seeking to enjoy a bowl of blueberries and cream. Regarding the other label sold at Binyamini, I haven’t a clue as of the publication of this report.

With this, I truly hope we put the blueberry issue to rest but in reality, I realize I owe you a response regarding the second box of blueberries sold at Binyamini, the ones without the Rav Efrati label. Those who wish to eat them; enjoy. Those who do not, Baruch Hashem, Eretz Yisrael offers many other delectable items in the fruit department so no need to despair.

As always, I do not seek to instruct anyone as to what to eat and buy, but I do try to bring you the facts to permit you to make an educated decision that will satisfy your kashrut demands. Quite honestly, this one was a bit much – beginning with innocently wishing to pick blueberries in the Golan Heights, resulting in telephone calls to several rabbinical agencies and a visit to a Jerusalem fruit store. After days of research and invaluable assistance from a trusted colleague, the final report is now a reality.

The kashrus seal of Rav Efrati Shlita

The kashrus seal of Rav Efrati Shlita

AS WE GO TO PRINT: I reached Rav Motti Shafer, the mashgiach from Agudat Yisrael, who is responsible for Yaakov Binyamini’s store. He assured me that he checked out the blueberries on Tuesday, and the ones with Rav Efrati’s label and those without are all under his hechsher and there is no fear of orla whatsoever.


OU Israel and Bishul Yisrael

I am receiving an increasing number of requests regarding the growing presence of the OU-Israel. From the information provided to me by the head of the kashrus in Israel, Rav Yosef Minsky, and speaking to mashgichim, I can pass along the following.

ouOU-Israel only uses chalav yisrael, which is significant since in N. America, this is not the case. Regarding shmitah, only l’chumra. Regarding bishul yisrael for Sephardim, in adherence to the Beit Yosef’s stringent opinion, not guaranteed and you must ask each caterer. OU Israel is not strict regarding Bishul Yisrael.

Most places I have seen do not satisfy the dictates of the Beit Yosef for Sephardim. I will add that I found this to be the case regarding Jerusalem Rabbanut Mehadrin eateries in many cases as well.

Taiku Restaurant – OU Supervision
31 Emek Refaim Street (German Colony)

taikuRecently, JKN reported that Jerusalem’s Taiku Restaurant is no longer under the Badatz Agudat Yisrael supervision. We have since learned that beginning Tuesday, June 02, 2009, the restaurant is under the OU.

It is important to point out that the restaurant did not lose its previous supervision, but opted to change over to the OU, as was confirmed by Rav Shimon Kroizer of Agudat Yisrael.


One comment

  • Levi Bookin
    June 9, 2009 - 20:23 | Permalink

    The assertion was made some time ago that one of the problems is that the Rabbanut’s Mashgichim Chareidim donot take their work seriously in relation to the non-Chareidi public.

    If this is the case, why does the Rabbanut not employ non-Chareidi Mashgichim?

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