The following information has been released by Heksher Tzedek, a movement of Conservative Jews trying to gain a foothold in the world of kashrus. Heksher Tzedek will wreak havoc on the world of kashrus if they get their way. They have already done damage to kosher food corporations by working for labor unions to bring as much negative information to light as they can about shechitah and general kosher food production. The reader must not be fooled by the self righteous oratory of the Heksher Tzedek leaders who claim to be bringing ethics and morals to the world of kashrus. It is important to keep this all in mind as we read the updates they provide about their initiative:
Rabbi Michael Siegel and Jerold Jacobs, co-chairs of the Hekhsher Tzedek Commission, announced today that – one year after the release of the preliminary working guidelines for the Magen Tzedek ethical certification seal – the revised Standards for the Magen Tzedek Service Mark are ready for public viewing.
The new standards were produced by Dr. Joe M. Regenstein, professor of food science at the Kosher and Halal Food Initiative at Cornell University.
In the last quarter of 2009, Hekhsher Tzedek expects to engage an established firm to prepare an industry-ready standard for its program from its full set of evaluation criteria. This will allow the Magen Tzedek application, review process and service mark to be tested in the coming months, followed by a wide release to food companies.
The new standards are especially timely, states Rabbi Morris Allen, founder and director of Hekhsher Tzedek. “It is staggering to think about the volume and scale of business world scandals that took place this past year,” he said. “Our Magen Tzedek seal is a preventative to the unethical practices that have sadly seeped into the kosher food industry and it is also a reminder that we are commanded to lead ethical lives.”
Rabbi Allen added that the purpose of Magen Tzedek is also to celebrate those companies that are engaged in good business practices. “For the first time a religious community will indeed certify that good corporate citizenship can be understood through religious teachings,” he said.
Designed to coexist with the traditional rabbinic kosher seals, Magen Tzedek is the symbol that will be featured on kosher foods whose companies successfully apply for ethical certification from the Hekhsher Tzedek commission. It will be awarded to kosher food companies based on a number of criteria having to do with such matters as employee wages and benefits; health, safety and training; humane treatment of animals; the company’s environmental impact; corporate transparency and, consumer information.
“Magen Tzedek is a catalyst for a changed consciousness about the relationship between ritual observance and the ethical underpinnings of Jewish law,” stated Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly. “I am confident that it will renew the Jewish community’s focus on the ethical teachings of our tradition and provide a roadmap for ethical renewal within the Jewish community and beyond.”
While a number of logistical concerns still exist – for instance, would the symbol physically appear on a label or be listed on the company’s website – the concept is close to being concretized, members of the Hekhsher Tzedek Commission state. “The power of Hekhsher Tzedek to mobilize and motivate our movement has already been demonstrated,” said Rabbi Steven Wernick, executive vice president of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. “Everyone eagerly awaits the opportunity to purchase products with this seal and raise the awareness that ethics cannot be separated from the ritual aspect of kashrut.”
The preliminary working guidelines produced by KLD Research and Analytics of Boston were an important first step in the creation of the new standards, said Dr. Regenstein. “What we learned about moving the Magen Tzedek from concept to service mark in the course of these past months is extraordinary,” he said. “The biggest challenge for us was creating a compliance application and process that was practical for food companies who wish to acquire this important new symbol.”
Launched during the summer of 2007, Magen Tzedek is a joint project of the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. It has received support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation.