[Update below.] By Yoseph Herman
For many years we had published an annual report “A Survey of the US Grocery Scene With Relevance to Purchase of Chometz After Pesach”. We decided not to publish this report this year in updated form. The reason is that the corporate information listed in last year’s report has not changed appreciably in one year. Even more pertinent, the premise of that report was that if the officers of a company have Jewish-sounding names, most likely they are Jewish. Unfortunately, that has become less and less a given in recent years. In any case, that report was never meant to be a practical guide to the individual consumer. Rather it was meant as reference for Rabbonim and other poskim. It is possible to get a copy of last year’s report by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Write any arbitrary words in the Subject and Message part of the email.) This Bulletin is meant to call your attention to two new items of interest: potential issues with purchasing liquors, spirits and beer in local stores after pesach and a change with the arrangements at the Shoprite Supermarket on Route 59 in Tallman (Monsey) NY.
Many alcoholic beverages are chometz, being produced from the 5 types of grain. In the past we never investigated the subject of the purchase of such beverages after pesach. This year, our attention was called to the fact that many distributors of spirits and beer are privately owned. At least some of these owners are Jewish. This means that even if one purchases such beverages at local stores owned by non-Jews, such stores may be selling items that were owned by Jewish middlemen over pesach. As a starting point, the following 3 establishments were pointed out to us:
Allied Beverage Group claims to be the largest and most comprehensive wine and spirits distributor in New Jersey. It owns subsidiaries Flagstaff Distributors, Meritage Wine Group and J&J Distributors. The owner and CEO is Jeffrey Altschuler, a Jew. This company sells its chometz through Lubavich. However the sales and deliveries continue through pesach.
Manhattan Beer Distributors states that it is one of the biggest beer distributors in the Greater New York area. It has distribution centers in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Long Istand and the Hudson Valley. Through these it serves the New York area (including Rockland County-Monsey) for a total of about 12 counties in New York State. It is privately owned by a Jew. It does not do a sale of the chometz to a non-Jew through a Rav before pesach.
Peerless Beverage Company sells and delivers alcoholic beverages throughout the Metropolitan New York area. It is privately owned by a Jew. It does not do a sale of the chometz to a non-Jew through a Rav before pesach.
As a preliminary indication of the potential scope of this problem, note the following company.
Southern Wine and Spirits says it is the largest distributor in the USA, serving more that 200,000 stores and outlets. It is privately owned. The officers are Harvey Chaplin Chairman and CEO, Wayne Chaplin President and Barry Goldberg Senior Vice President and Managing Director. It is not known if the owner is Jewish.
The field of distributors of alcoholic beverage is a very complex one. It is apparent that many such distribution companies are privately owned. Some of these owned are Jewish, as a minimum as noted in the above examples which are particularly relevant to the Metropolitan New York area. The assumption that one can go to a local non-Jewish owned store after pesach and buy spirits or beer without any concern may not be correct. Most local stores only stock merchandise that covers only a few day’s sales. After a short period, these items are replenished by the distributors.
Please contact your local Rav or other posek about the relevance of this information and how to utilize it.
SHOPPING FOR CHOMETZ AFTER PESACH AT SHOPRITE TALLMAN (MONSEY) NY
Over the past many decades, a Vaad in Monsey had been working with the management of the Shoprite supermarket on Route 59 in Tallman to minimize the probability that chometz purchased there right after pesach has halachic problems of chometz. This year they have not been able to conclude satisfactory arrangements with the store management for this task. Therefore they can no longer verify the arrangements for any chometz at Shoprite. Please consult your Rav on this matter. The above warning does not apply to “heimishe” company products. Such products are not delivered on Pesach.
UPDATE 4 P.M.: THE TALLMAN SHOPRITE WILL HAVE ARRANGEMENTS FOR AFTER PESACH THANKS TO THE EFFORTS OF VARIOUS INDIVIDUALS.