An Alarming Tale with a Message for All of Us

14 Elul 5770
August 24, 2010

eida-chareidit1I contemplated if I should publicize this incident, and decided that I should, not towards giving a ‘black eye’ to a reputable kashrus organization, but rather intending to send a clear message to readers, that we must always remain vigilant and to expect the unexpected.

I am deleting many details from the story to prevent identifying most involved, but I did receive permission from those mentioned by name, to include them, towards validating the details in the eye of the reader.

The incident occurred earlier this month when a client approached Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Altman in his capacity as rabbi and chief mashgiach of the Jerusalem Leonardo Plaza (know by many as ‘The Plaza’).

A client inquired as to the hechsher of yeast cakes served in the hotel, explaining he wanted to host a modest kiddush event and wished to make sure that only Eida Chareidit cakes would be served. The rav assured him this is not a problem and phoned a prominent bakery under the exclusive supervision of the Eida Chareidit and placed the order. (The hotel usually uses a yeast cakes that have a hechsher from two agencies, the Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin and Badatz Machzikei Hadas/Belz).

The order was placed and the goods arrived on schedule on that erev shabbos, and this is where the story gets interesting.

The rabbi inspected the shipping manifest (teudat mishloach) as his job demands, and sure enough, the cakes arrived from the bakery as ordered, as was verifiable by the paperwork — attesting to the fact the yeast cakes in the boxes were from the bakery which has a hechsher from the Eida ONLY.

The rabbi also checked the actual cakes, and to his absolute surprise, saw that they were from another bakery, with a different hechsher, and not Eida Chareidit. He checked the shipping paper again, and yes, the cakes were from the Eida bakery. Lacking any plausible explanation, he surmised the bakery for some reason gave the order to another bakery [WITH A DIFFERENT HECHSHER] and then delivered to the hotel as if nothing out of the ordinary took place.

Rabbi Altman phoned the chief mashgiach from the bakery, who confirmed that is exactly what occurred, adding this was not uncommon, explaining when the bakery for one reason or another had difficulty meeting an order, it would subcontract the job and make the delivery without informing the end-user that a switch occurred. He did not offer an explanation or apology for the fact that the ‘other bakery’ had a different hechsher.

This disturbed the rabbi, compelling him to telephone a senior rav who is one of the authorities overseeing the Eida Chareidit kashrus operation. He felt the situation was indeed serious enough to warrant such a call on an erev shabbos.

The rav listened to the story and basically, without going into the details, concurred with the chief mashgiach, explaining this is a routine event. He too saw no reason for an explanation or an apology, despite the fact the bakery is synonymous with the Eida Chareidit, and permits itself to use its stationary and delivery documentation to send another hechsher without prior notification or even bothering to see if substituting a hechsher is acceptable.

Making things worse, as the rabbi tried to argue the merit of his case, the prominent Eida rav hung up the phone on him.

END OF STORY

I feel compelled to comment here on a number of issues

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