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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Kosher Food’

Religious Groups Move to Protect Prisoner Rights

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

A coalition of Orthodox Jewish groups filed friend of the court briefs in two high-profile cases involving religious practice in prisons.

On May 28 the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs  filed a brief in the Atlanta-based federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the matter of access to kosher meals in the Florida prison system and on May 29 in the U.S. Supreme Court which in its session beginning in October will consider the case of a Muslim prisoner in Arkansas who wants to grow his beard longer than the state’s regulation one-quarter inch.

The Florida case dates to 2010 when a Jewish prisoner serving life for the 1995 murder of his parents, Bruce Rich, said the state’s refusal to provide him with a kosher meal violated his rights under federal law.

The Obama administration joined the case in support of Rich in 2012 and last December a federal court ruled that the Florida Department of Corrections had until July 1 to begin distributing kosher meals.

The state at first agreed, but then recently launched an appeal, saying it was swamped with requests for kosher meals and that acceding to the demand would be prohibitive.

Many of the prisoners requesting kosher meals are believed to be feigning adherence to observant Judaism, and assessing who is genuine and who is not is seen as constitutionally perilous for a government authority.

Prisoners prefer the meals because they are sealed and are seen as better quality. Feeding a prisoner costs $1.52 a day with regular meals and over $4 a day with kosher meals.

Prison officials said they had expected about 300 requests and instead got over 4,400 and expected the number to balloon after the meals start being distributed.

In the Commission on Law’s brief, attorney Nathan Lewin said that it would be unjust to deny truly observant prisoners kosher meals because of the fraudulent claims of others.

In the Arkansas case, the coalition was filing in support of Gregory Holt, a Muslim who says his observance requires him to grow out his beard.

In the brief, Lewin notes that 39 other jurisdictions permit beards of any length, which he says is constitutionally protected.

Lewin, a member of the Supreme Court bar, in the brief cites the precedent of observant Jews in the military who successfully sued to keep their beards.

In a release, Lewin’s office noted that his briefs “cited and discussed traditional Jewish sources such as Maimonides, the Chofetz Chaim, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.”

Among the groups making up the coalition are Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Union, the National Council of Young Israel and the Rabbinical Council of America.

Speculated Safeway Acquisition May Increase Kosher Sales

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Sources in the kosher food industry are speculating that a new major supermarket deal will have a positive effect on kosher food sales.

Cerberus Capital Management appears to be making a major investment into the supermarket industry by acquiring Safeway in addition to the Albertson’s chain which it already owns. Together, the two grocery chains will operate more than 2,000 stores and will be second only to Kroger which has 2,640 units.

The sources say that the two chains already have many stores that cater to the kosher market and that they expect the new owners to aggressively seek to expand the stores which would include kosher food sections.

Sources in the know were unwilling to confirm this information until the acquisition was finalized. The deal still has to pass muster with anti-trust regulators.

(This article was written by Kosher Today.)

Agudah Presses U.S. Military on Kosher Field Meals

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Agudath Israel of America has asked the Pentagon to restore kosher field meals and charged that the Defense Logistics Agency had solicited a bid in April for kosher and halal “meals ready to eat,” but had recast the solicitation last month to include only halal, which adhere to Muslim religious precepts.

“As things stand now, no kosher MREs are being produced and, as previous stock has become depleted, there is essentially nothing currently available for Jewish members of the Armed Forces that meet their religious dietary needs,” Abba Cohen, Agudah’s Washington director, said in a release. “How long this state of affairs will continue is unknown.”

Cohen said he wrote Maj. Gen. Donald Rutherford, the top military chaplain, expressing his “deep concern” but also confidence “that the department will find a way to address the dietary needs of Jewish service personnel” given that the Pentagon is showing “greater interest in broadening religious accommodation” in the military.

The Pentagon announced last month that U.S. troops may accommodate religious beliefs in their garb or grooming, including kippas and beards for Jewish servicemen, as long as it does not frustrate their mission.

The U.S. military introduced kosher MREs in 1999, a result of complaints from Jewish troops during the 1991 Gulf War that such meals were not available.

New Winners: A&H Kosher Hot Dog Contest

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Abeles and Heymann has announced a new winner in the Abeles and Heymann and JewishPress.com “Like us and Win Free Kosher Hot Dogs” contest.

The latest winner is Sol Matsil of Five Towns, NY. Congratulations Sol!

In addition, Rachel Antosofsky, who was listening in to Naomi Stein Nachman’s “Table For Two” during the Abeles and Heymann interview, has also won a box of assorted Abeles and Heymann Franks. Congratulations Rachel!

Remember, it’s not to late to enter the contest and win free kosher hot dogs. In fact, the more people who enter, the faster we get to the next drawing.

To enter, click on http://www.abeles-heymann.com/winfreehotdogs

Proposed Law Aims at Tighter Kosher Food Enforcement

Monday, December 30th, 2013

The Knesset will discuss and vote on a  new bill to give official kosher food inspectors powers to make sure that restaurants and other public places that are certified as kosher live up to their commitment.

The Israeli media immediately labeled the supervisors the “Kashrus Police,” implying some kind of Saudi or Iranian religious goon squad.

No one in Israel is forced to operate kosher facility, but those who do so must pay for visits by a “mashgiach” of the Chief Rabbinate, who makes sure that vegetables have been tithed, that daily and meat utensils are not mixed up and that only kosher ingredients are used.

However, the inspectors are not able to enter any place with the approval of the owner. They also are not allowed to take samples of food without the owner’s permission.

Chief Rabbi David Lau explained that the proposed new measures to let the supervisors enter the facilities are meant to make sure that people eating kosher are in fact eating kosher. The Chief Rabbinate’s Kashrut Fraud Prevention Unit will have uniforms and badges, if the bill becomes law.

That was enough to give the headline writers a field say. Yediot Acharonot’s English Ynet website wrote, “Israel set to get ‘kashrut police,” and the Times of Israel headlined, “New ‘kashrut police’ planned by Religious Affairs Ministry.”

What’s Wrong With the Star-K Kosher Phone?

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

About a month ago the Star-K, a world renowned Kashrus agency, announced that they were certifying kosher phones. These phones have no access to the Internet, cannot place or receive text messages, cannot take photos, and most importantly, cannot be hacked to perform any of these tasks.

It’s not troubling to me that people would want a phone that is insulated from certain tasks. Although I think it is an unnecessary measure and perhaps counter productive, I don’t begrudge people their personal self control restraints.

What is troubling is that a kashrus agency is part of this initiative. A kashrus agency should be concerned with one thing and one thing only. Their singular concern should be the kosher status of the food. I don’t even think that a kashrus agency must concern itself with humanitarian or other ethical issues that may arise. I have no problem with a secondary agency coming in and providing a secondary level of supervision. But the kosher status of the food cannot be affected by anything other its status as kosher food.

So when I see a kashrus agency entering into the phone market, I see an agency that should be worried about kosher status of food but is now legislating morality. It’s not even as if the technical skills involved in kosher supervision overlap the neutering of cell phones. They have nothing to do with each other. I don’t think it is smart for kosher supervision to be intertwined or even related to morality supervision.

Similarly, when kosher supervision agencies make demands on the clientele or ambience of an eating establishment I believe they are overstepping their bounds. There are restaurants that are not allowed to be open at certain hours because they will lose their hechsher if they are open. This is far beyond the scope of kosher supervision. Tell me if the food is kosher and I will decide if I want to patronize the restaurant. That is all we need from a kashrus agency. The stretching of their authority serves no important purpose for the public. It seems to me that it is merely a self-serving, self-righteous way to legislate their morality. If they can legislate phones and who can eat where, what’s next?

I am not making a slippery slope argument. I am pointing out that there is no logical connection between the kosher status of food and the kosher status of a phone. There is also no relationship between the kosher status of a restaurant and whether teenagers are hanging out. In other words, the kashrus agencies are already legislating their morality. There is no reason to think it only will apply in these two instances because there is no connection between these two things and the kosher status of food.

We need to stop using the word kosher for things other than food. Yes, the word is a general term but it has evolved into a word that describes whether food can be eaten by orthodox Jews who keep kosher. We don’t eat anything that is not kosher. Using the word kosher for phones and Internet implies that the non-kosher versions are not allowed to be used. This is sophomoric and divisive.

If anything, the kashrus agencies should be concerned with the ethics and morality of the actual food. This is something they have resisted time and time again. I am not recommending they get into the ethics of food business, but if they must expand their business and purview of supervision I think that is the first place they should be looking to legislate seeing as they have the knowledge and expertise to monitor and report on that aspect of food production. But teens mingling and phones? They don’t belong there at all.

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Israeli Food Exports to US Reaches a Record $224 Million in 2012

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Exports of Israeli Foods and Beverages to the United States reached a record $224 million in 2012, reported Kosher Today, which attributed the statistics to the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute.

While it spelled a 3% increase over 2011, it represented nearly 50% growth since 2008 when exports were valued at only $144 million. Sources told Kosher Today that the dramatic increase in Israeli food exports was due in large measure to a far “more aggressive marketing strategy at all levels by the Israeli manufacturers and their US representatives.”

The Export Institute has stepped up its activities with a more robust presence at the annual Kosherfest and an impressive showing at other shows including the upcoming Fancy Food Show, June 30 to July 2.

Israeli foods have become a significant part of the kosher food aisle with American kosher food manufacturers increasingly importing Israeli products. One reason for the growing popularity of Israeli manufactured products is “vastly improved quality and packaging,” says one major retailer.

While it was hard to find anyone who would offer a prediction for sales in the coming five years, several Israelis believe that it will reach $500 million by 2018.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-food-exports-to-us-reaches-a-record-224-million-in-2012/2013/06/19/

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