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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘KOSHER’

Amsterdam Falafel Joint Takes Israelis for a Non-Kosher Ride

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

By the time they end up at Baba’s Grillroom in central Amsterdam, Israeli tourists tend to be somewhat distracted.

Situated near the famous Rembrandt Square, this popular and veteran falafel eatery is literally surrounded by pot-selling coffee shops that help make Amsterdam one of the top holiday destinations for Israelis — and especially for the young craving a cheap and top-quality high.

Giggly and thoroughly “mastoolim,” Hebrew slang for baked or stoned, they are likely to experience another dope-related phenomenon: The munchies. And that’s a problem for observant Jews in a city that is not exactly famous for its selection of kosher foods.

How fortunate, then, to chance upon the entrance to Baba’s place, with its promising signs in Hebrew and stars of David. Those sober enough to remain skeptical despite the Jewish symbolism are welcome to see Baba’s kosher certificate — a document signed by three rabbis from the United States.

The only problem is that one of the rabbis is deceased and the other two say they never certified any business in Amsterdam, according to a Jan. 9 report by the NIW Dutch Jewish weekly.

Acting on a tip, the paper sent one of its reporters, Jigal Krant, on an undercover mission that involved dressing up like an Israeli tourist and asking (in English) about the kashrut at Baba’s. Staff showed Krant a certificate signed by three rabbis. But the two living rabbis told NIW they had no idea their name was being used by Baba’s.

When NIW confronted the owners — two Egyptian Christians named Hanna Basta Tawadrous, 48, and Nermin Angali, 34 — they denied ever claiming they had a certificate, which NIW had photographed. Apparently, the new owners bought Baba’s approximately a year ago. To NIW they explained that their meat is kosher because it’s halal. (The NIW report did not investigate whether the meat is, in fact, halal.)

This article was written for JTA by Cnaan Liphshiz.

Rabbi Aaron Metzger to Head NY Kosher Law Enforcement

Monday, January 13th, 2014

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has named Rabbi Aaron Metzger of Monsey, New York, as the new head of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division.

“As part of his duties, he will work to protect consumers by ensuring compliance with the certification, record keeping and signage requirements relating to kosher food, and maintaining the Department’s online kosher databases,” the agency said in a  statement.

Rabbi Metzger will be based out of the Department’s Brooklyn office.  Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Ron Rausch said, “Rabbi Metzger will work closely with our Division of Food Safety to enforce the statutory consumer protection provisions relating to kosher products.”

Rabbi Metzger replaces Rabbi Luzer Weiss, who resigned several weeks ago to pursue other interests. The Division once had a cadre of inspectors who fell victim to state budget cuts in the waning days of the Pataki administration. While some criticized the Department of Agriculture for dismissing the inspectors, the State agency has trained state safety inspectors to be vigilant about requirements under the State’s Kosher Law Protection Act.

Kosher law enforcement in New York State has always been under the microscope as New York is believed to account for almost half of the nation’s kosher food sales of $12 billion.

Rabbi Metzger was ordained in 2000 and has a Masters Degree in Educational Administration He worked in kosher certification on the West Coast as a leading rabbi for kashrus administration in Northern California.

Canadian Girl Guides Cookies Go Kosher

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

The famous Girl Guides cookies now have the OU approval as being kosher thanks to an all-Orthodox troop in Canada, but their chocolate mint cookies still are on the forbidden list. All Girl Scout cookies in the United States have been kosher for at least 20 years, said organization spokesman Stewart Goodbody.

When the 31 Jewish girls established the 613th Thornhill Pathfinder Unit  in Thornhill, Ontario, a heavily Jewish suburb north of Toronto, the first question member Sara Silverman asked was, “When do we start selling cookies?” according to the Girl Guides of Canada. But the troop could not bring the cookies into the synagogue where they met.

The unit “badly wanted to raise funds for Girl Guides and for camps, trips and other activities,” noted the Guides this week on its website. The unit’s leader wrote the organization, asking how to make the iconic treats kosher.

The Guides said they worked closely with the cookies’ manufacturer, Dare Foods Ltd., and found there was nothing non-kosher in  the ingredients in their classic chocolate and vanilla cookies sold in the spring.

All that was required was formal certification. Recently, the Guides confirmed that the spring cookies would be certified under the auspices of the Orthodox Union (OU).

The process was “a relatively simple and fiscally feasible endeavor,” the Guides said.

There will be no similar fate for the time being for the group’s chocolate mint cookies, sold in the fall, because of non-kosher ingredients in their coating, the group said.

“It feels like our unit has made a difference,” Avigail Rucker, a 12-year-old Guide, told The Canadian Jewish News.

OU Reverses Position and Says Quinoa Can Be Kosher for Passover

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

The Orthodox Union (OU) has re-studied its ban on “superfood” quinoa fit to eat on Passover and now says it is perfectly all right to consume it on the holiday without fear of violating the Ashkenazi custom that prohibits eating “kitniyot,” which are grains such as rice, corn and peas.

The Kosher Today publication reported this week , ”Following extensive research and on-site investigation of cross-contamination issues by OU Kosher personnel at all quinoa growing areas…as well as the collection, washing and milling stations of quinoa, OU Kosher is recommending quinoa for Passover, when processed with special OU Passover supervision and bearing the OU-P symbol.”

What changed in a year?

The Jewish Press reported here last March, “It seems that in South America, where it is grown, a wind might blow a grain of barley into cultivated rows of quinoa. Barely, like wheat, is prohibited by the Torah for use on Passover. That is enough for the OU to rule that quinoa is not kosher for Passover.”

The Baltimore-based Star-K kosher supervisors ruled differently. “Rav Moshe Feinstein said we weren’t to add on to the rules of kitniyot, so I don’t know why anyone would,” said Rabbi Tzvi Rosen of Star-K, referring to the esteemed posek of Jewish religious law who died in 1986. “And what’s more telling of this ridiculous debate is that quinoa is a seed, not a legume.”

Last year, Rabbi Genack said, “We can’t certify quinoa because it looks like a grain and people might get confused. It’s a disputed food, so we can’t hold an opinion, and we don’t certify it. Those who rely on the OU for a kashrut just won’t have quinoa on Passover.”

Well, quinoa hasn’t changed; it still looks like a grain, but the OU apparently is basing its new policy, which just happens to bring it line with the far from lenient Star K, on OU supervisors walking in the fields in South America to make sure winds do not pick up a nasty kernel of wheat a couple of miles away and plop it down in the middle of quinoa field.

“It is only recently that quinoa has become popular outside of its high-altitude growing area in the Andean mountain region of South America,” Rabbi Genack said. “Known for its nutritional qualities, it has been referred to as a ‘superfood.’”

The United Nations proclaimed 2013 as “The International Year of Quinoa.”

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.”

Authority, Shmothority, Is Hebrew National Meat Kosher?

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

A Minnesota court is hearing an appeal of a lawsuit arguing that Hebrew National is falsely labeling its products as “100 percent kosher.”

The original lawsuit, filed in May 2012 by 11 plaintiffs claiming fraud and breach of contract, was dismissed in January by U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank on the grounds that the issue is religious in nature and therefore not for the courts to decide.

The appeal of the case, Wallace et al v. ConAgra Foods Inc., was heard in St. Paul on Dec. 19 before a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to the plaintiffs’ brief, ex-employees of AER Services, which did the slaughtering for Hebrew National, testified that they were pressured to certify as kosher at least 70 percent of the beef they slaughtered, according to the American Jewish World, the Minnesota newspaper that broke the original story.

The plaintiffs contend that the U.S. court does not have to resolve any Judaic religious issue, because ConAgra employed a production quota system, where a predetermined percentage of cows would be labeled as kosher.

Anne Regan, attorney for the plaintiffs, told the panel of judges that ConAgra was well aware of the problems with AER, and with Triangle K, the firm that provided the hechsher, or kosher certification, for the meat. She reiterated the argument that the quota undermined ConAgra’s claim that it was producing kosher meat to the highest standards.

Judge James B. Loken pressed his question about what makes meat kosher or not, and suggested that if an animal “wasn’t well enough” to meet a “rabbi’s standard, you can’t go there.” In other words, the U.S. court can’t sort out what constitutes a kosher product.

Regan said that if the case was sent back to the district court, attorneys for the plaintiffs could file discovery motions and try to prove that ConAgra was defrauding consumers. The plaintiffs’ brief noted that consumers view kosher food as the “new organic.”

Judge William Jay Riley, chief judge of the 8th Circuit court, also expressed skepticism about how meat could be considered kosher, if the employees of the kosher slaughtering firm “just passed on the cows.”

AER Services, ConAgra and Triangle K have denied the allegations and blamed disgruntled former employees for trying to sully Hebrew National’s reputation. Their attorneys reiterated their argument that a U.S. court cannot constitute what qualifies as kosher, the American Jewish World reported.

“A secular court simply cannot second guess a religious determination by a religious authority,” said Corey Gordon, representing the defendants.

The judges said they would rule on the appeal “as soon as possible,” the paper said.

JTA and AJWNews content was used in this report.

Ruling Returns Kosher Meals to Florida Inmates

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

A federal judge has ordered the Florida prisons service to provide kosher meals to all prisoners with a “sincere religious basis” by July 1.

The Florida Department of Corrections canceled its kosher meal service six years ago, citing the expense and has since promised to reinstitute its kosher meal service in all its facilities. It has been dragging its heels, and kosher meals are offered at only one state prison.

The U.S. government last August sued the corrections department in the Miami federal court for ending the kosher service. It argued that the current meal policy violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 that allows prisoners to worship according to their religious beliefs.

An average of 250 inmates used the kosher meal service, including Muslims.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ruling-returns-kosher-meals-to-florida-inmates/2013/12/17/

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