29 Tishrei 5773
October 15, 2012
Anyone following JKN has read a number of articles over the years pointing to vague ads pertaining to hotels specially kashered to meet a mehadrin standard.
I cannot urge readers enough to read ads carefully, and to pay close attention for those rarely present yet ever-so-important words “under the hashgacha of”.
In this case, the ad does not say Rabbi Landau (presumably referring to Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Landau of Bnei Brak) or the Eida Chareidis give a hashgacha, but it implies this to the uninitiated and many do not ‘get’ the difference, but it is imperative that you begin doing so. NOWHERE is the ad does it say “under the hashgacha of” so that tells me no one is taking responsibility for the claim of “only Landau and Eida products” during the dates mentioned.
I called the Israel Center, the tour organizers, the hotel, Badatz Rav Landau and Badatz Eida Chareidis. The two hashgachas said “we have nothing to do with it”. The others were most polite and tried to assist, finally realizing my address is the hotel.
I reached the hotel and was connected to the mashgiach, in this case, Rabbi Moshe Sheetrit, who was helpful. He told me the following:
1. The hotel year round is under the supervision of the local rabbinate, non-mehadrin. This led me to ask about who is responsible for kashering for the mehadrin dates.
2. The kashering and supervision during the period of time mentioned in the ad is under Rabbi Moshe Nachshoni of Rishon L’Tzion.
I tracked Rabbi Nachshoni down too, and he confirmed that he is the man responsible in this case. He told me that his team kashers the hotel for the dates in question, and since the plates are porcelain, which he does not kasher, new plates will be used. He takes responsibility for the claim that only “Landau and Eida products will be served during the dates”.
I did not get into details about level of kashering or anything else for that matter, for this was not my goal. My goal was to learn who was giving the hashgacha over the dates in the ad in this particular hotel, and I achieved my goal. Hence, if you need Eida Chareidis or Rav Landau, this is not for you. If Rabbi Nachshoni works, then this is for you.
My point is not this particular hotel on these dates, but the conceptual issue. We need to learn to read ads carefully and never make assumptions. In my opinion, your best course of action is to always phone the hashgacha mentioned to verify the legitimacy of the claim. If this sounds a bit harsh then you are a novice and have not been checking these ads long enough.
I would like to add that the “Torah Tidbits” publication in which this ad appears has a disclaimer on the third page (2nd page if one does not count the cover page) clearly stating it assumes no responsibility for the kashrus of ads among other details contained in the disclaimer.
By the way, if you ever wondered, that is why JKN will not accept ads from food establishments. B”H there have been many requests, but I personally feel that an ad represents some level of acceptance or endorsement in the eyes of some readers and I prefer to avoid perpetuating this misconception. I can’t say it has always been easy, since there were a number of large companies willing to pay a premium price to appear on the website and in emails, including some well-known restaurants, but together with the rabbonim who advise me, the decision was made that nothing connected to food will be advertised under the JKN banner, even with a premium hashgacha since then we get into the murky waters of what hashgacha is acceptable and so forth.
I feel readers see the ads but are less in tune to the disclaimers and this continues to lead to the confusion described in this article.
And finally, this only address issues of food in a hotel. A non-mehadrin hotel kashered to mehadrin also presents many issues that demand review if one will be staying over shabbos since some of the non-mehadrin hotels are quite problematic. Perhaps I will address this in a follow-up article.