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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox Union’

OU Rejects US Govt’s Criticism of Jews Buying Homes in Jerusalem

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

On Thursday, Oct. 2,  the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, strongly rejected statements made by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki with regard to Israeli plans for housing construction in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat HaMatos and Israeli Jews purchasing houses in the neighborhood of Silwan.

Commenting on these matters, Earnest stated: “This development [in Givat HaMatos] will only draw condemnation…” and “It also would call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.” He further condemned “the recent occupation of residential buildings in the neighborhood of Silwan by people whose agenda provokes tensions, it only serves to escalate tensions.”

Psaki, the state department spokesperson, stated: “This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies [and] poison the atmosphere…”

The Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy Nathan Diament issued the following statement in response:

“We reject yesterday’s harsh statements by the Obama Administration. First, they suggest that the onus for the peace process impasse is upon Israel, when in fact it is decades of Palestinian and Arab rejectionism and incitement (such as that voiced by Palestinian President Abbas at the UN General Assembly last week) that “poisons the atmosphere” for peace. Israel has demonstrated its interest in peace, not merely through words but through deeds, time and again.

Second, suggesting that Jews residing in neighborhoods of Jerusalem—the historic capital of Israel and the Jewish people—is “provocative” is offensive. It is also fundamentally at odds with the notion that differences over Jerusalem are to be resolved in negotiations.

Finally, the implied threat that Jewish residences in Jerusalem will “distance Israel from even its closest ally”—i.e., the United States—is a resort to rhetoric which is entirely unacceptable.

We appreciate the constructive conversation President Obama had yesterday with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the President’s restatement of his “unshakable” commitment to Israel’s security, which has been manifested in many practical ways. Yesterday’s statements by Administration spokespeople run counter to such a useful and productive working relationship.”

Kosher Supervisors Wary of Worldwide Anti-Semitism

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

The news that the Chief Rabbinate withdrew kosher supervisors from Turkish plants in the face of Israel’s war in Gaza is part of what some kashrus organizations call “working in a more dangerous world.”

They recall the murder of two kosher supervisors in Mumbai in December 2008, and extremists have recently threatened more terror in Mumbai.

In Europe, growing anti-Semitism has also rung the alarm bells. According to sources in the Chief Rabbinate’s office, one direct result of the turmoil in many places in the world is to restrict the travel of kashrus officials in trouble spots.

The Orthodox Union’s Kashrus Division director Rabbi Moshe Elefant whose office certifies companies in 99 nations, says that the organization relies heavily on local rabbinic authorities in many parts of the world, many within the Chabad worldwide network.

Kashrus officials think twice before dispatching a rabbi into a part of the world that they may not be familiar with. Relying on local rabbis who “understand the lay of the land” seems to be the new modus operandi of may kashrus organizations.

The caution has extended even to Israel where some food plants are located in Sderot and other border towns.

The above article was published by Kosher Today.

OU and Rabbinical Council of America ‘Cry Out in Anguish’

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

The Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union issued a statement on the day the fate of the kidnapped Israeli teenagers was learned, Monday, June 30. The theme of the statement was the unity of the Jewish people. It was united in prayer and now it is united in grief.

We cry out in anguish and in outrage at the unspeakable horror of today’s announcement that the three teens, whom Jews and so many other people of good will around the world dared to hope would be found and returned safely to their families, were instead murdered in cold blood by their Hamas kidnappers, apparently shortly after their abduction 18 days ago.

The Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union, with the rest of acheinu kol beis Yisroel (our brothers and sisters, the entire nation of Israel), mourn this unthinkable tragedy, this worst possible end to the search for Naftali Frenkel, 16; Gil-Ad Shaar, 16; and Eyal Yifrach, 19. This is, unfortunately, only the latest episode in which innocent lives have been snuffed out by adherents of a murderous, amoral death cult sworn to the destruction of Israel, and the genocide of the Jewish people.

The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America offer their profound condolences to the families of these three boys, whom we have all come to think of as our own sons. Naftali, Gil-Ad and Eyal were our family, our brothers. The world needs to recognize, as it often fails to do, the nature of the enemies that are arrayed against Israel and the level of inhumanity of which they are capable. We join in the call for swift and resolute punishment for the perpetrators of this atrocity, and call upon world leaders to continue to affirm that such heinous tactics have no place in the civilized world.

The recurring theme expressed by the courageous mothers of the teens, as they saw the throngs who joined with them in support, is the unity of the Jewish people. Before, we were unified in prayer and hope for the boys’ safe return. Now, tragically, we are unified in grief.

May the families, the people of Israel, all those who stood with the families and held them in their hearts and prayers, be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Jewish Groups Praise New EEOC Workplace Guidelines

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Jewish groups across the religious spectrum praised Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on accommodating religious attire in the workplace.

The guidelines published Thursday are for “employers with at least 15 employees (including private sector, state, and local government employers), as well as employment agencies, unions, and federal government agencies.”

These employers “must make exceptions to their usual rules or preferences to permit applicants and employees to follow religiously-mandated dress and grooming practices unless it would pose an undue hardship to the operation of an employer’s business.”

Rabbi Abba Cohen, director of Agudath Israel of America’s Washington office, said the increasing number of religious Jews in the workplace made the guidelines welcome.

“Our nation’s commitment to equal opportunity has enabled more Jews to enter the workplace,” he said in statement. “This has, in turn, resulted in a more diverse Jewish labor force — one which requires new types of accommodations for various religious practices.”

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, said that although incidents of religious discrimination in the workplace have declined in recent years, it was important to deliver clear guidelines.

“We must continue to foster open and accepting environments in all aspects of public life,” Schonfeld wrote in an email to JTA. ”With numerous countries around the world cracking down on forms of religious expression, we are grateful to the EEOC for their continued promotion of the freedoms that we enjoy under U.S. law.”

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said the guide would facilitate better workplace relations.

“To have this all in one place so employers know where to go and workers know where to go, to have the balance of the needs of the employer and the needs of the employee, will lead to comity in the workplace,” he said in an interview.

In a statement, the Orthodox Union noted that the guidelines prohibited “back-rooming,” or keeping staff out of sight from clientele because of their garb. The guidelines’ hypothetical scenarios include several involving Jewish observance.

In one, Jon, a temp worker who wears tzit-tzit and a yarmulke, is made to work away from the front desk by a client of his agency.

“Because notions about customer preference (real or perceived) do not establish undue hardship, the client must make an exception to its dress code to let Jon wear his religious garb during front desk duty as a religious accommodation,” the guidelines say.

Congress Budgets $13 Million for Nonprofits Security

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Congress budgeted $13 million for a nonprofit security assistance program that mostly aids Jewish institutions.

The money was allocated in the $1.1 trillion budget passed this week by both houses of Congress.

The program, which has existed since the mid-2000s, has so far disbursed $138 million through the Department of Homeland Security, not counting the $13 million in new funding. Of that amount, $110 million has gone to Jewish institutions seeking funding for add-ons like barriers and security cameras.

The Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America have led advocacy efforts for the funding.

“Since September 11, nonprofits generally, and Jewish communal institutions specifically, have been the victim of an alarming number of threats and attacks,” William Daroff, the JFNA’s Washington director, said in a statement. “Until nonprofit institutions are secure from such threats, The Jewish Federations will continue to strongly support the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.”

In a separate statement, the Orthodox Union praised lawmakers who champion the funding, chief among them Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

The Reform movement generally abjures the funding because of concerns about church-state separation.

The $1.1 trillion spending bill passed this week breaks a years-long budget impasse between the Republican-majority U.S. House of Representatives and the Democratic-majority Senate. It also includes $3.1 billion in assistance for Israel.

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.”

More Kosher Snack Foods Coming Up for Passover

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Snack food manufacturers are increasingly turning to the Orthodox Union for kosher certification to expand their markets during the Passover holiday.

Classic Foods announced last week that the company and its branded snack products will be kosher for Passover, under the certification of the OU, which will put Kettle Classics, California Classics, and Baked Classics on the shelves in the growing category of Passover snacks.

One reason for the increased demand for kosher for Passover snacks is that a  significant segment of the kosher market is younger or made up of large families with many children.

One distributor estimated that sales of snack foods on Passover have grown by more than 30 percent in the last three years. Even brands like PepsiCo’s Lays produces a Passover chip in Israel which makes its way to the American market. Some stores that in years past had only a small section for snacks now feature entire aisles and said one retailer, “I could probably fill another.” But one retailer complained, “My problem is that I can’t do anything with what is leftover since I have few takers after the Yom Tov ends.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/more-kosher-snack-foods-coming-up-for-passover/2013/12/16/

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