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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Kashrut’

IDF Drafts Secular Recruit as Kashrut Supervisor

Friday, July 29th, 2016

B, a secular young resident of Ashkelon, Israel, a few weeks ago reported to the recruiting station in Beer Sheva with the draft notice he had received in the mail. Following the medical exams, he was asked where he’d like to serve and chose the military prison corps, Haredi website Kol Hazman reported Thursday. A few days later, the young man received an IDF notice regarding his assignment as Kashrut supervisor.

The assignment notice

The assignment notice

Needless to say, B, who doesn’t eat kosher, never mind know much about the intricate laws of Kashrut, was surprised at the HR decision. His family started asking around (everybody in Israel knows somebody who is somehow connected to the military), but they hit a brick wall. They did discover that the IDF prison system rejected B, even though he had acquired a police affidavit about his clean record. It should be noted that B works as an MDA medic, giving him an added skill in almost every military field except Kashrut supervision.

Kol Hazman spoke to several IDF rabbis who said that non-religious soldiers do serve in the military rabbinate, but this is the first case of which they’re aware where an unobservant soldier is deposited with the role of supervising Kashrut compliance in the army. The IDF Spokesperson’s office is yet to offer an explanation for this bizarre assignment.


Chabad Rabbi Wins Second in Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Competition

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

One can find a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary almost anywhere in the world — but how many viewers expect to find a rabbinical expert on kosher laws competiting for the top prize on the Food Network’sChopped‘ show?

The irrepressible Rabbi Hanoch Hecht, 31, actually won second place as a contestant on the popular program, in an episode titled “Leap of Faith” in which he competed alongside a priest, a pastor and a nun.

Hecht grew up in Brooklyn, NY as one of 10 children and told Chabad.org that he managed to stay in his mother’s good graces by helping his mother in the kitchen. Those skills came in handy later in life when he began whipping up Sabbath meals at home with his own wife, Tzivie; the two are co-directors of Chabad Dutchess-Rhinebeck Jewish Center in Upstate New York.

The clerics were tasked with preparing an appetizer, entree and dessert using secret basket ingredients revealed at the start of each round, timed in 20, 30 and 30-minute increments.

It was the rabbi’s expertise in kosher laws that he said brought him to the show, which he saw as an opportunity to educate millions about kosher food, and to debunk some myths about it as well.

“The experience was phenomenal,” Hecht said. “The producers were very accommodating and sensitive to my needs and requirements.”

Those requirements were part of the agreement for the rabbi’s participation on the show, which found him due to his role as a guest lecturer at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. It was one of CIA’s professional chefs that nominated him to appear on “Chopped.”

Hecht said he’s “always enjoyed cooking,” so before he appeared on the show, “some of the chefs at CIA coached me and gave me lessons” as a way to reciprocate for his lectures of past years.

The rabbi noted that the experience emphasized for him “how no other religion requires both the ingredients and food preparation to be within certain guidelines. The other contestants didn’t have the same restrictions… [It] helped me to appreciate even more the responsibility and reward of keeping kosher.”

One of the biggest challenges, of course, was the fact that because the studio kitchen was not kosher, the rabbi could not taste any of the food. To compensate, Hecht asked the pastor to sample the condiment levels in his dishes for him.

For those who are wondering what a Chabad rabbi might create as a gourmet chef for the Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ competition, the episode (Season 28, Episode 13) aired on June 21 and is set to be rebroadcast. It is also available on demand.

Rabbi Hecht created a salmon stew for the appetizer that included raw white honey and Ezekiel bread. His entree was a Lebanese-style lamb and rice dish with a jalapeno-based relish he called “the rabbi’s heat.” But his most successful dish was the dessert — a rugelach made with fig, macadamia nut and hamantash filling (the latter was a basket ingredient), alongside a rainbow carrot tzimmes and fresh non-dairy whipped cream (since meat was served in the main dish).

The spirit was congenial among the competitors and the judges, said the rabbi. As Sister Sara Marks noted, “We all have God in common.”

Hana Levi Julian

New Bill Revokes Get-Refusing Inmates’ ‘Mehadrin’ Kosher Food, Boarding Privileges

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

The Knesset on Wednesday debated a bill submitted by Habayit Hayehudi Chair MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli revoking the special privileges of prisoners who refuse to grant their wives a get-religious divorce. The bill singles out Orthodox Jewish prisoners who are entitled while behind bars to stay in the prison’s “religious” section, participate in Jewish studies, and eat a stricter-standard “kosher l’mehadrin” meals. The idea is to use the loss of these privileges to force the prisoner to set his wife free.

To be clear, the law does not deprive the Orthodox inmate of his basic Jewish needs, it merely takes away elements of his “ultra-Religious” lifestyle.

Some Orthodox prisoners are actually sitting in jail for their refusal to grant the get, so that by freeing their wives they can set themselves free. But in the case of these Orthodox men, prison often resembles their normal everyday life, and in some cases may be an improvement — in prison they can sit and learn all day with a group of other Orthodox men, celebrate Shabbat and the holidays, and not have to worry about parnossah (making a living). MK Moalem hopes that removing those prisoners’ ability to live a full Jewish life behind bars and inserting them in the general population might help change their outlook on life in prison.

MK Moalem-Refaeli said, “A man who turns his wife into an aguna and refuses to obey the judges’ order to stop abusing her is not truly a man who values halakha and maintaining a Jewish lifestyle. He tramples the most essential Jewish principle, Love your fellow man as you would yourself, only to make his wife’s life miserable. Therefore he is not worthy of enjoying the plethora of privileges prison affords religious inmates.”


High Court Sides with Rabbinate, Rejects AG Push for ‘Alternative’ Kosher Certificates

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday embraced the position of the Chief Rabbinate on the Law prohibiting kashrut fraud, that a business may not present itself in writing as kosher, with or without the use of the word Kosher, unless it receives a kashrut certification from the only legally authorized body — the chief rabbinate, Walla reported. The decision dealt a severe blow to alternative kashrut certification services which have been operating in several Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well as food service businesses that keep kosher but do not carry a certification.

The appeal to the Supreme Court came from the Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center, in the name of two Jerusalem restaurant owners, Shai Gini and Yonatan Vadi, who argued that the food they serve is kosher despite the fact that they do not carry a kashrut certification from their local rabbinate. According to the appellants, there’s no problem with their presenting their food as kosher because it is. They appealed to the high court after their local Rabbinate levied fines on them based on the common interpretation of the kashrut fraud law, namely that only Rabbinate-certified food is accepted as being kosher.

The former AG, Yehuda Weinstein, reinterpreted the law following the appeal, ruling that the state may no longer fine restaurant owners who present kosher certificates from private kashrut services, and must cancel the fines that have already been issued. The AG only required that the restaurants in question not claim that the alternative certifications for their businesses had been issued by the Rabbinate.

In a rare exception, the Supreme Court permitted the Chief Rabbinate to present its case separately from the AG, and eventually accepted its position in a two to one ruling that the Rabbinate is the only statewide accepted authority on kashrut. The two justices in the majority were Noam Sohlberg and Elyakim Rubinstein. Justice Uri Shoham sided with the AG.

The Justices decided to limit their ruling to the next two years, subject to a system-wide change the court is demanding of the Chief Rabbinate, to reexamine the relationship between the certifying kashrut supervisor and the business he is auditing, so that they do not depend financially on the business they are expected to monitor. Justice Rubinstein suggested that “should this not be resolved in a significant and serious way, the entire subject may be reopened.”

Both Chief Rabbis commended the court’s decision; Rabbi David Lau said that a decision to permit alternative certificates, some of which are fictitious, would have led to a serious misleading of the public; Rabbi Yizhak Yosef said that the Chief Rabbinate regularly goes out of its way to make the kaashrut maintenance easier and cheaper for food service businesses.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) said it was “refreshing to see a conservative approach on the part of the Supreme Court,” and praised the majority justices on overcoming their tendency for activism. The MK said he yearns for a time of “more balance in the relationship between the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government.”


Some Ultra-Orthodox Troubled by Bazooka’s New Kosher Certification

Monday, November 30th, 2015

For religious Jewish kids growing up in America, Topps’ Bazooka bubble gum was the ultimate forbidden candy, along with the Topps’ bubble gum that was packaged along with the Topps’ baseball cards (you bought it for the baseball cards, right?). In Israel, Elite sold the gum with a standard kashrut certification and many a package of Elite Bazooka gum was shipped to America over the years.

Only recently did the Israeli ultra-Orthodox kashrut service of the “Badatz” (Hebrew acronym for Court of Justice) award the Elite Bazooka gum with a Mehadrin certification, classified as “Megadim” which is a fancy biblical word for sweets. But upgrading the certification from standard kosher to ultra kosher apparently hasn’t helped a few among the Israeli ultra-Orthodox reverse their attitudes. Yael Kliger, writing for Kikar Hashabbat, in a piece titled “Kosher but Smelly,” said she just cannot accept this chewy product, which she had been taught was made from pig’s fat.

Even the American Bazooka, which has been kosher certified for years now, was unacceptable to Israeli Haredim. “It was the treif of treifs, darkness within darkness,” Kliger recalls. The comic strip inside the gum wrapper was sought by her and her peers “to try to read the joke, often feeling bad and sinful for stupidly daring to touch the powdery wrapper of the treif gum.”

Ask any middle aged ultra-Orthodox man or woman, Kliger wrote, “they all remember some drama or horror story related to this product. Someone wrote that he remembers his grade school rabbi taking a lighter, igniting the gum in front of the students, and telling them that the dripping red liquid was the blood of the ‘other thing’ from the gum.”

“And now, unanimously it’s been decided bazooka is in?” Kliger argues that the Badatz, known for its assaults not only against unreliable kosher certifications, but also against smartphones, publications, all the many elements that they deem not to belong in an honorable Jewish home, now, for the money they received from the Elite candy maker, they see fit to reverse decades of group behavior?

There are many opinions on the reason for singling out the Bazooka as treif in the Haredi community in Israel, and to some extent abroad—as many views as there are talkback comments on Kliger’s article. Some believe it had to do with the fact that the Bazooka gum presented a challenge in terms of control — it’s so easy to grab and stuff in your mouth, so the rabbis had to put the fear of God in kids’ hearts. Others suggest it came down to the comics and the jokes — rabbis don’t like their kids reading jokes without a measure of control.

One talkbacker said the kashrut certification is meaningless, because of the halachic concept of “minhag hamakom,” the local practice. If it’s been forbidden, it should stay so.

In fact, Kliger was calling on the Badatz to demand some changes in the product, so it wouldn’t appear as if what has been so decidedly treif for so long is suddenly permissible. Like Mad Magazine and Cracked.

The Israeli Bazooka jokes, by the way, are even less amusing than the original, and are often plagued by bad translation from the English. Shahar Ilan, who reported on the new Haredi certification in Ha’aretz, used as an illustration a Bazooka comic strip in which a waiter serves Bazooka Joe soup, and the latter complains that it has “ta’am matzhik” which in Hebrew means “hilarious taste,” to which the waiter retorts: “So why aren’t you smiling?” — leaving the Hebrew reader scratching their head wondering why the soup was so hilarious.


Top Jewish Foodies at ‘Devil’s Thumb’ in Colorado

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Top restaurateurs, chefs, farmers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, cookbook authors and other Jewish food world stars are at The Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains for a three-day “Harvest” festival.

The learning and cooking event is aimed at serving up Jewish cuisine as the next major global food movement, and Jewish food leaders will explore such critical challenges as humane meat and kosher dietary guidelines as part of a dialogue aimed at enriching Jewish cuisine as a global food trend.

The Harvest issued applications by invitation to 60 participants who represent a Who’s Who of Jewish food professionals, including writer and tour guide Katharine Romanow; acclaimed chef and author Ann Cooper; Goodie Girl CEO Shira Berk; wine expert Alexander Fox; cookbook celebrity author Joan Nathan; Gefilteria founder Jeffrey Yoskowitz; Nigel Savage, founder of Hazon, one of The Harvest’s partner organizations; and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation Vice President Lisa Eisen.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Heathrow Goes Kosher

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Kosher meat and dairy sandwiches now are available at four Heathrow Airport terminals, according got Kosher Today.

The London international hub offers kosher food at the White House Smith stories in terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Kosher food increasingly is available at major international airports, and travel experts said that the London airport can support kosher fare, just as travelers in American airports have gobbled up kosher food from New York to Boston and Florida.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/heathrow-goes-kosher/2015/09/24/

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