According to Rabbi Yosef Grossman, OU Kosher Senior Educational Rabbinic Coordinator and coordinator of all of the Beren ASK OU programs, “amazing” was heard again and again in his conversations with participants as a result of the shiurim they attended and their visits to Empire Poultry and Alle Processing, two leading OU certified meat/poultry producers.
As Rabbi Tsvi Heber, Director of Community Kosher for the Council of Orthodox Rabbis (COR) in Toronto, wrote, using synonyms for amazing, “I want to thank you for allowing me to participate in the exceptional ASK OU shechita seminar last week. From the shiurim to Empire Kosher Poultry to Alle Processing, the OU did a fantastic job. I wish you and the entire OU Kosher Department much hatzlacha in all of your endeavors to better kashrus and to educate the kosher community throughout the world.”
The seminar, limited to 20 high-caliber participants, who already have semicha or are studying for semicha, and who have knowledge of the Chulin and Yoreh De’ah texts, featured in-depth shiurim from renowned shechita experts; the plant tours; observation of shechita, nikkur (deveining) and melicha (salting); and meeting with OU Kosher’s “Meat Team.”
Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher and Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the kashrus department, provided shiurim, as did Rabbi Moshe Klarberg, Senior OU Rabbinic Coordinator and head of the OU’s Meat Team, who worked with Rabbi Grossman to organize the event and in Rabbi Grossman’s words, “gets much credit for its success besides giving an excellent shiur on melicha.”
Other faculty included Rabbi Aharon Goldmuntzer, Dayan, New Square; Rabbi Nosson Goldberg, OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinator; and Rabbi Yoel Rokeach, Head Shochet at Empire Kosher Poultry (who was trained in poultry shechita by Rabbi Goldberg).
As Avrohom Safrin of Brooklyn, NY, wrote to Rabbi Grossman, “The reason why I appreciated being at Empire was because I was able to experience the process up close. Learning Hilchos Treifos is a z’chus. But I was also able to see all that I had learned being implemented so professionally. The introductory presentations given by all the chushiva rabbonim at the OU office the day before our trip was very enlightening and very helpful in preparation to what we saw at Empire.”
He continued, “The state of the art plant, with all the details, from placing the chickens so very softly on the ramp leading up to the shechita, the continuous bedikah (inspections) of the sakeenim (knives), through the feather flicking machine and all the various checking, washing, rinsing, and salting stages, were all done in a truly professional way, according to halacha. Rabbi Rokeach, who was the tour guide for my group, was very patient and informative as he led us through the entire process. I would like to thank Empire and the highly esteemed personnel of the OU for making this happen.”
The Empire tour was also a highlight for Rabbi Yechiel Wahl of Lakewood, NJ, who wrote, “Thank you very much for the excellent tour! The shiurim were informative; they really brought shechita and treifos alive. All the OU magidei shiurim were experts in their field.
“The crowning jewel of the Tour, the Empire tour, was really amazing,” he added. “Rav Klarberg and Rav Rokeach took us around and explained every detail. Their passion and expertise really made for an amazing experience. Their pride in the high standards of the kashrus really stood out. The program is a ‘must see’ for anyone who is serious about understanding shechita and treifos, and wants to see the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch first hand.”
Rabbi Avigdor Speiser, a member of the kollel of Bais Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, referring to a whole area or segment of knowledge, summed up the seminar. “It is really unbelievable,” he said, “that a whole miktzoa in learning could be encompassed in the three-day conference. “