Update from Badatz Agudah Regarding Sushiagogo

25 Shevat 5771
January 30, 2011

agudat-yisrael2After hours of phone calls before and after shabbos, Baruch Hashem, the issue regarding Sushiagogo (listed as a Ramat Beit Shemesh business) has been clarified, thanks mostly due to cooperation of Rabbi Shimon Kroizer, a senior official and a Jerusalem mifakeach in Badatz Agudat Yisrael.

I must commend everyone dealing with the issue, since it was not until very close to shabbos that the actual picture became somewhat clear, and the persons representing Sushiagogo, Badatz Agudas Yisrael and Ramat Beit Shemesh all understood that the situation was due primarily to a lack of communication in the badatz organization, as well as a failure to update the Sushiagogo website, which still shows the business operating locally in RBS, which simply is not the case.

In short, JKN acted responsibly, confirming information with senior badatz officials, including the rav/posek who administratively runs the organization, but the badatz’s internal sloppy procedural realities resulted in misinformation given to consumers and JKN. JKN fulfilled its mandate of informing the public, at the behest of an established kashrus certifying agency.

I would like to point out the following:
1.     No names were mentioned, for this was unnecessary and the goal was to inform the public, not besmirch the name of the owner
2.     The alert stated “there was no hechsher” and no accusations of non-kosher were intimated. This would have not been factual since there was no evidence of this
3.     Only the minimum information required as per the badatz alert was relayed to the public. Suffice it to say that after hours of conversations and emails, much information is learned but halacha dictates boundaries of what needs to be shared with the general public.

For RBS customers’ familiar with Sushiagogo since its inception, you may or may not know that today, there is a new owner and there simply is no connection to the operation that existed in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Secondly, an agreement was reached a number of weeks ago between Rabbi Kroizer and Sushiagogo, which has been operating out of the Jerusalem-based Maxim Restaurant [which is under the Badatz Agudah hechsher]. The Agudah was uninformed of this arrangement, and thus took and had no acharayus (responsibility) on the food, as told to us on Friday.

According to Rabbi Kroizer, this deal began a number of weeks ago but as of today, it has ended.

Rabbis Adler and Kroizer stressed to me in conversations this morning to inform the public that as of motzei shabbos, Sushiagogo no longer has a hechsher.
 
For reasons that are not going to be shared with readers since they are not relevant, Rabbi Kroizer simply did not get around to informing Rabbi Binyomin Adler, the head of the badatz, and therefore, when calls were made on erev shabbos to Rabbi Gefner, a badatz official, and Rabbi Binyomin Adler Shlita, the rav/posek of the badatz, JKN was told that there was no hechsher, urging us to warn the public that the use of the badatz logo by Sushiagogo was unauthorized.

Rabbi Kroizer expressed his sincere apology for the mess that resulted from his failure to update the head of the badatz, and perhaps is now increasingly aware of the need to enhance the badatz’s administrative procedures.

22 Comments

  • yechiel-admin
    January 30, 2011 - 11:59 | Permalink

    FROM A READER:
    The post about Sushiagogo below was extremely unclear to me. Bottom line, there is no hechsher? And the place in RBS also doesn’t have one although it’s not connected with the other branches anymore?

  • yechiel-admin
    January 30, 2011 - 12:00 | Permalink

    FROM A READER:
    A suggestion and only a suggestion.

    Next time the issue comes up, ask the restaurant for the name of the rabbi who issued the certificate and check with him directly.

  • Ari Segel
    January 30, 2011 - 12:01 | Permalink

    Thank you for all of your constant efforts in improving kashrut. I’m not sure if it’s just me but this article was confusing – or maybe it’s just a typo – but the 3rd to last paragraph says as of this motzei Shabbos sushiagogo does NOT have a hechsher?? So… bottom line – the emails that have gone out warning people of the lack of hechsher are CORRECT??

    Thanks!
    A

  • yechiel-admin
    January 30, 2011 - 12:05 | Permalink

    I can only say and relay what I am told.

    Both rabbonim, Rabbis Kroizer and Adler stated clearly, in no uncertain terms, that as of after shabbos, the hechsher on Susiagogo has ended.

    I asked “what about this coming week?” and was told by both, clearly, “there is no longer a hechsher at this moment”.

    I think this should be sufficently clear to all
    Respectfully,
    Yechiel

  • Reuven
    January 30, 2011 - 12:48 | Permalink

    “I asked “what about this coming week?” and was told by both, clearly, “there is no longer a hechsher at this moment”.

    This means Yechiel that yesterday, when you sent out that they didn’t have one they did in fact have one.

    Have you apologized to them?

    YECHIEL:If you wish, you may take that request/inquiry to the badatz, since they created the mess.

    Perhaps it is time to begin getting facts in order and pause for a moment to separate and differentiate between friends, loyalties, responsibilities and kashrus.

  • David
    January 30, 2011 - 12:55 | Permalink

    To Ari Segel:
    What I interpret from the story:-
    - Susiagogo web/email ordering was under Badatz Agudah hechsher last week because of the “temporary arrangement”.
    - It is now not under Badatz Agudah hechsher because the “temporary arrangement” was stopped last night (mot”sh).
    - The web/email ordering establishment actually now operates out of the Jerusalem-based Maxim Restaurant.

    Does anyone know what hechsherim the Jerusalem-based Maxim Restaurant have? Do they still have a Badatz Agudah hechsher? Do/did they have a Jerusalem Rabbanut hechsher?

  • yechiel-admin
    January 30, 2011 - 13:21 | Permalink

    According to Rabbi Kroizer, at 9am Sunday morning, Maxim remains under the supervision of Badatz Agudas Yisrael

  • Miriam
    January 30, 2011 - 13:41 | Permalink

    Why doesn’t your clarification state that the sushi actually did come from a badatz-agudah factory?

    This explains why (incorrectly) everyone in the chain thought it was a-ok. instead it’s still being explained as “completely unsupervised sushi” which still casts significant aspersions on the owner or the mashgiach.

    The owner should have pursued getting the sushiagogo product added to his teuda right away – but since these hechsherim companies are chronically late with new teudot he was probably leaving it up to the mashgiach for however long it takes.

    Maybe JKN should consider publicizing which hechsherim are more responsible when it comes to updating teudot in a timely manner – it might bring those hechsherim more business.

  • Chaim
    January 30, 2011 - 14:15 | Permalink

    So if I can sum up:

    When you accused them of not having a hechsher, they in fact did. Now they no longer do.

    I am amazed that this story does not make you rethink your policies (such as perhaps asking the food provider for the name of the mashgiach in advance before publicizing the problem). You did not create the mess – Badatz did. But the only one to pay the price here is the owner of Sushiagogo.

    And just to clarify – I do not have any relationship with the owner (new or old) of this establishment, nor have I have never eaten their sushi.

    YECHIEL: I am amazed that you do not wish to accept the fact that this was actually handled most responsibly, albeit, the results are in part unfortunate due to sloppy procedure by the badatz, and the business (Sushiagogo) not making clear statements or updating its website. JKN’s responsibility to inform the public remains atop of the list, and this case was indeed handled in a most responsible fashion, consulting with relevant rabbonim and agencies prior to releasing a statement.

    When the highest authority of a certifying agency requests that you publicize that a business is using its name without authorization, and you comply, that is called acting responsibly, even if it does please you!

  • Chaim
    January 30, 2011 - 14:43 | Permalink

    Did you approach Sushiagogo to ask for the name of the mashgiach before you publicized this issue?

  • yechiel-admin
    January 30, 2011 - 14:47 | Permalink

    A mashgiach does not supersede the head of the badatz, hence your request lacks relevance.

  • Chaim
    January 30, 2011 - 14:49 | Permalink

    In other words, no.

  • Akiva
    January 30, 2011 - 14:55 | Permalink

    With all due respect, and I have never eaten at or used this business, since JKN has now clearly learned and publicized that the badatz has sloppy (or worse) procedures, will JKN slow down the process and ask this particular badatz to double check and/or do some of it’s own additional investigation before publicizing?

    Tremendous damage was done to this business based on inaccurate information, and JKN was one major channel for that damage. The information above does not offset that. This is an article title that would, “BUSINESS PREVIOUSLY STATED AS NOT-UNDER-SUPERVISION WAS UNDER SUPERVISION, bad report due to poor supervising agency paperwork”.

    Similarly with numerous agencies being poor on updating teudot, JKN should publicize “teudah found out of date, unclear if agency that often fails to update teudot on time is at fault or restaurant no longer under supervision” when it involves an agency that has such problems.

    And now being caught in an administrative (but not kashrus) error the supervising agency drops supervision???

    There’s a lot of detail missing from this story, and something stinks.

  • Shy Guy
    January 30, 2011 - 16:28 | Permalink

    Well, it’s a sushi restaurant. Something was bound to be fishy!

  • yechiel-admin
    January 30, 2011 - 17:15 | Permalink

    FROM A READER:
    Thank you, Yechiel, for exerting what must have been Herculean efforts to keep everybody on their toes (which, clearly, they were not). The upshot, however, raises larger questions than it answers.

    The crucial question from my perspective is if the people at Maxim were under the impression that they had a valid Agudah Hechsher or not on the Sushiagogo product. If they were not under such an impression and advertised that they did anyway, that would make them Muchzak Shakranim in which case, from my point of view, one could not eat there no matter whose hechsher it’s under.

    Were you able to ascertain that aspect of the case?

    YECHIEL: Maxim has a valid Agudah hechsher and has no part in this entire event to the best of my knowledge

  • Baruch
    January 30, 2011 - 18:14 | Permalink

    This last one is a low blow Yechiel. Now you are casting doubt on Maxin as well? I hope you have a good lawyer and plenty of assets to pay the law suit.

    YECHIEL:
    Do not see why/where you see anyone casting a doubt on Maxim. Do not recall such a statement being made.

    It was stated the restaurant is under Badatz Agudah. Do not see what other involvement it plays here.

  • Baruch
    January 30, 2011 - 18:53 | Permalink

    look again at the reader comment above mine

    YECHIEL: I did, and I commented on it, that the restaurant does have a valid hechsher and does not play a role here. I thought that was a fair and accurate response.

  • Miriam
    January 30, 2011 - 20:10 | Permalink

    differentiate between friends, loyalties, responsibilities and kashrus….

    I think kashrus has responsibilities too.

  • Erica
    January 30, 2011 - 21:07 | Permalink

    “When the highest authority of a certifying agency requests that you publicize that a business is using its name without authorization, and you comply, that is called acting responsibly….”

    Actually, the role of publicizing an unauthorized hechsher begins with the certifying agency, not the guy who called them. The fact that they asked you to do their press release was irresponsible – and for you to take that responsibility on yourself, rather than requesting and republishing an alert from them, is an act that in this case you bear the responsibility for. And going on about how “sloppy” they are doesn’t absolve you from wanting credit for the “scoop” and writing the initial press release that incriminated the establishment.

    And if you found a problem somewhere and called the certifying organization, and the top-level authority asked you to publicize that all is well, you’d do that too?

  • an Israeli Yid
    January 31, 2011 - 07:02 | Permalink

    Yechiel,

    You went off half-cocked on this one, and caused tremendeous harm to an innocent business. You publicly stated that they had NO hechsher, and your self-justifying post above in no way exonerates you from your responsibility. This is the second time you’ve cast aspersions on a business owned by Yarei Shamayim and Shomrei Torah u’Mitzvos in Ramat Beit Shemesh, accusing them of selling food without proper supervision, when the issues involved were administrative only. Kashrus does have to be L’mehadrin, but so does Lashon HaRah – and concern about another’s Parnasah – particularly when a couple of calls before making your irresponsible post would have led you to be Dan L’Kaf Zechus.

    G-d keeps his own Cheshbonos of Zechus and Chov; I hope whatever good you do has sufficient weight to outweigh the evil of your irresponsible reporting in these two cases.

    an Israeli Yid (who no longer trusts your blog)

  • Doogie Howser
    January 31, 2011 - 12:54 | Permalink

    Hi Yechiel, I appreciate your blog and your efforts. However, this is the second time you’ve dropped the ball on a business in RBS. Why don’t you speak with the owners. Not every owner is like those who have tried to deceive you in the shuk. And the damage isn’t small, you are actually ruining people’s reputations. So, in as much as I respect the fact you want to protect the public from those who misleed the public. I would also expect you, who to try to protect the public, to apologize when you make a mistake–and learn from them. Otherwise, you are in the second category. That’s my two cents.

  • Yehudit
    January 31, 2011 - 23:53 | Permalink

    Hi yechiel, I think your heart is in the right place and it is a shame that two unfortunate incidents should taint an otherwise wonderful service.

    I have a suggestion:
    Would you consider formulating a procedure from first sighting through investigation until publication?

    Then you could publish it online and request suggested amendment from your readers.

    Once a master list has been revised this procedure could be rabbinically approved and then posted on your site permanently.

    This way your readers will know what has been done behind the scenes and your posts will carry more weight, halachically and morally.

    What do you think?

  • Comments are closed.