A Different Perspective Regarding Current Kashrut Realities

3 Cheshvan 5770
21 October 2009

multiple-agenciesThis report addresses the changeover of a wine company from R’ Rubin mehadrin to the Jerusalem-based Eida Chareidit, a move that was demanded by a measurable order received by the winery, an order calling for 40,000 bottle of high-end wine. This marks the first time [to my knowledge] that the Eida hechsher appears on a higher-end wine product, which to date has only been found on wines with other hechsherim, including but not limited to R’ Rubin and Chatam Sofer, bottled under labels such as Carmel and Barkan. (There are many others as well, but I gave examples dealing with more ‘mehadrin’ supervisions).

Anyway, this report deals with the Ohr Ganuz Winery, which received an order for 40,000 bottles of a higher-end table wine which will be bottled under the label “Bar Tiv” and sold by the Bar Kol franchise. When Menachem Carmel signed on the order, he included the stipulation that the wine must carry the hechsher of the Eida Chareidit, seeking to reach as large a market as possible. In actuality, there appears to be more to this story.

According to a report appearing in the Chareidim news agency, there is an ongoing dispute between businessman Carmel and the R’ Rubin agency surrounding Rubin’s decision to grant a hechsher for a slaughterhouse other than Ohf Bracha, which he owns. After giving his hechsher to Neto, Carmel angrily made a move over to the Eida Chareidit, and now, has compelled the winery to follow suit.

Carmel confirms the facts, releasing a statement “I have no dispute with R’ Rubin. I wish him well. He had every right to leave Ohr Bracha. Now, my slaughterhouse is under the Eida. Even with pretzels and other items, such as cleaning products. I have signed with them [the Eida Chareidit] and many of the 1,800 products in the Bar Tiv line now carry the hechsher. 

The Ohr Ganuz Winery is a relative newcomer, selling higher end wines, beginning at NIS 100 a bottle. Winery officials add the chareidi public “understands good wine and we only wish we could produce more”.

I am not exactly sure why I decided to share this with readers, but I think it is important to understand that in addition to providing kashrus, the agencies are indeed businesses, and there is competition, and there are factors entering into play that impact our lives vis-à-vis supervision, pricing and just which kashrut agency’s emblem will appear on our favorite products.

In my opinion, while the situation is indeed far from ideal, this does not eliminate the need for reliable kashrut supervision and blanket statements like “it’s all about money” are not to be accepted as reason to turn one’s back from the reality that reliable agencies do indeed make certain our food is kosher, on the level we demand, and yes, there is room for improvement, but the need for supervision is not negated by the realities of the profitable kashrus industry.

The profit factor does not contradict the fact that reliable agencies do provide kashrus [or at least we hope so], and on the brighter side, at times, the revenue generated is fed back into the Jewish community, perhaps best seen with the OU, which operates as a non-profit, reinvesting the profits into the greater Jewish community.

The Eida does the same as do others, each on its own level, and some agencies are entirely profit-based, which is legitimate as well, but admittedly, not to the liking of many.

4 Comments

  • SamGoody
    October 21, 2009 - 11:59 | Permalink

    > admittedly, not to the liking of many.
    What?!

    Perhaps I’m too much of a capitalist, but I want to be sure that the hechsherim are doing a good job. If they were volunteers, it wouldn’t get done.

    The more profit they make, the more it is in their interest to protect their reputation and make their value justified.
    Your comment about OU being a nonprofit scares – but fortunately I know that many of their Rabbanim do get sizeable salaries.

    Imagine what would be if Nike or Apple decided to go non-profit. Ouch.
    Innovation of those products would cease.

    How many volunteers do as good a job as their paid competition over extended time?
    [OK, perhaps Va'ad Harabonim Linyyunei Tzedaka, but they are an anomaly - and there is no competition to compare them to. All the best fundraisers are well compensated for their efforts.]

  • Chaya Chofetz
    October 22, 2009 - 00:40 | Permalink

    I was just about to send you a “yashar koach” on your informative and objective website which is probably doing a great service preventing many people from mistakenly eating improper foods. But now, you brought in an article full of negative implications about people and agencies that has nothing to do with kashrus.
    Please don’t forget that just as important as what we put into our mouths is what comes out of our mouths.
    First of all, you say that “Rav Carmel angrily made a move over to..” and the next sentence states: Rav Carmel confirms the facts. “I have no dispute with Rav Rubin. I wish him well”… You are contradicting yourself and bringing a story which besmirches Rav Carmel.
    Afterwards, you present your opinion of the Eida in a very sly and negative way…. So you’re “not exactly sure why I decided to share this with the readers…” Well, if you want to be sure, then you’d better find yourself a Rav and ask him. And if not, maybe you should remove the word “kosher” from the title of your site.

  • SamGoody
    October 22, 2009 - 14:37 | Permalink

    Somehow, this article implies R’ Rubin is at fault for not caving in to pressure from R’ Carmel.
    And Bda”tz is at fault for not refusing to certify.

    In fact, R’ Rubin’s not bending to pressure is highly admirable, whether or not I think it wise.
    The Bda”tz is certainly OK for agreeing to give a hechsher when asked.

    And R’ Carmel – who is not in the hechsher business – is the only one here trying to use business pressures to an objective. Even assuming your assessment is correct, and even assuming that there is something wrong with such a tactic (which there is NOT!), it still does not reflect your statement that the hechsherim are also into making business decisions.

    Now, while I don’t doubt that the hechsherim are running their businesses as businesses – and not as hobbies – this casepoint is invalid.

    Still interesting though.

  • SamGoody
    October 22, 2009 - 14:39 | Permalink

    @Chaya Chofetz

    It’s
    “Jerusalem Kosher” News.
    Not
    Jerusalem “Kosher News”

    I think you are being a bit harsh, but either way, the title is not relevant.
    :)

  • Comments are closed.