Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kashrut - It's What I've Always Said

So, it has been more than a year, maybe closer to two since I have posted, but I have decided, on a whim, to try to get back into it. There are so many things that go on every day, and so little time, but let's give it a shot.

I came across an article that appeared in the Baltimore Jewish Times, sent to me by Yussi, that talks about Hebrew National and its "status" in the Kosher consuming world. (Jewish Times article) I don't fully accept everything that the article says, but much of it is true. The article implies that much of what happens in the Kashrut world is political, and I must admit, from my personal experience as a mashgiach (Kosher supervisor) with two of the largest Kashrut organizations in the world, it did not appear that way. Of course, I was removed from the front office, so I cannot tell you about the wranglings and goings on back there. I will tell you, that what should be of more concern than the politics, is the actual Kashrut of the products being supervised. But I save that for another time. Suffice it to say for the moment, that even among those supervisory bodies that everyone "trusts", there are more than a few problems that could send the whole process into question. After all, if you really want to avoid kashrut issues, eat only fruits and vegetables, and make sure you grow them yourself!

But back to Hebrew National. I ate Hebrew National as a kid. I grew up in a small town far from the Kosher world, and if you wanted Kosher meat, that was what you got. Then off to Yeshiva, where i was told, no, you cannot eat it. Why? Well, it is just not done. Something about a technical issue that the meat was out of the sight of the supervisors during packaging, and therefore, no good. So no more Hebrew National for me. Besides, Nathan Katz? (I think that was the supervising Rabbi for a while) Who the *#@#@ is he? No one knows. Can't trust him. Then, years later the bigger scandal.... they are rinsing their meat in water that is too hot, which at least had some teeth behind it in terms of disallowing it. I know, let's change supervision! And then everyone will love us and trust us.

So, we switch to the Triangle K.

Well, it was a good thought, but Ralbag? (administrator of the Triangle K) No one trusts Ralbag! I remember the rumor when i was a kid, and Drakes became Kosher under the Triangle K. Well, it's only dairy, so how bad could it be? Then I heard the "in"famous story that one day, some unnamed person, called the Drakes company and asked to speak to the Rabbi/supervisor. The alleged response, was "oh, he doesn't come in very often." By the way, we changed the ingredients. Do you think we should let him know? That was it for the Ralbags. True? Who knows, but that was 25 years ago. My brother, (who I am sure would not eat Triangle K anymore) was the one who said to me, "I met Rabbi Ralbag. He is a religious man, with a long white beard." Well, i don't know that the beard length makes much of a difference (if it did, i would grow mine longer) but there is no questioning the Ralabg's (his sons run the business now) credentials or seeming personal qualifications.

So I don't know about all of you, but in the future, Hebrew National might just find a place at my table. OK, so it will be on paper plates.

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