Do Not Cripple NYS Kosher Law Enforcement

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rabbi-gershon-tannenbaumBy Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

With the Governor and the legislature of the State of New York eyeing cutting costs of every item on its budget, the division of Kosher Law Enforcement is facing cuts of more than 95% of its current budget. That cuts 95% of its staff and literally eliminates all kosher food inspections. Plainly, that is unacceptable to New York States’ kosher consumers.

The observant community herewith speaks up and proclaims that the Kosher Law Enforcement division must be maintained retained at its full force. The Rabbinical Alliance of America, representing more than 850 Member Rabbis across the United States with a great concentration in the State of New York, together with the National Council of Young Israel, representing moe than 200 synagogues, issues this call. The name New York is virtually synonymous with the word kosher. In 1879, seeking to serve its then already robust and growing Jewish population, the State of New York formulated the very first kosher food law in all of the United States

In addition to Jewish consumers, non-Jews that are vegetarian, lactose intolerant, Halal, quality oriented, etc., are satisfied when they find kosher certification on a food product. Their confidence in the kosher certification is bolstered by the effectiveness of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division of New York States Department of Agriculture. The threthened budget cuts will render the enforcement division toothless and destroy its earned universal confidence. Kosher Inspectors would be eliminated and no longer would they carry out inspections to enforce the Kosher Laws.

The very integrityof New York’s huge kosher food industry is at stake. Maintaining New York State’s Kosher Law Enforcement’s vigilance preserves the kosher integrity of the State as well as of its food manufacturers. We declare to our state political representatives the great importance of this issue to the Jewish and non-Jewish consumers, as well as to the welfare of the State. The number of inspectors and inspections is the backbone of kosher integrity. Eliminating kosher food inspectors translate directly to decreased sales, decrease revenues, and decreased employement, all that must be avoided in this time of economic recession.

New York’s immense share of the kosher industry is bolstered by its effective and respected Kosher Law Enforcement Department. That division’s strength must be mainintainedso that New York continues give confidence to kosher food consumers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to maintain New York’s percentage of the nation’s kosher food business. This citical message is for the Governor, State Senate and Assembly leaders, as well as for every member of New York’s legislature.

{Matzav.com Newscenter}

14 COMMENTS

  1. The NYS Kosher Food law doesn’t assist the kosher consumer at all. The state can not enforce any particular version of kosher, so basically it can only enforce that some sort of Jewish clergy – using any standards at all — can get paid to say something is kosher.

    Why waste valuable tax money?

  2. Some years ago the spine was taken out of the Kosher laws which had been in existence for many years. The law was declared unconstitutional. From an Orthodox Jewish perspective, this was a sad thing, however, to an attorney, with some constitutional litigating experience, the decision was understandable. As predicted by many, and as confirmed by the tragic events in Monsey some years later, there were no longer any meaningful civil or criminal consequences to the grossest violation of the remaining Kosher laws.
    In my view the current kosher law “enforcement” regime merely creates the illusion of kashrus rather than actually providing the assurance that kosher food is being sold. Like virtually everyone that really cares about such matters, I rely on the hashgacha on the product or on the establishment not on the State’s inspectors.
    Of course there is the jobs question, but that question might justifiably require a different answer in the current economic climate.

  3. I used to work in Kashrus in New York. I never saw an inspector come into an establishment I was supervising. This is a waste of time and money, it makes no difference to the “Kosher Consumer”, at the end of the day it is still up to the local kashrus supervision.

  4. The only thing that keeps all of our wonderful independent kosher certification agencies honest is the force and authority of the government. That authority, in the State of New York, is represented by the division of Kosher Law Enforcement. Were it not for the threat of government legal action, kosher certification agencies, including the big four and especially the smaller ones, would rum amok. Non-Orthodox kosher certification agencies would assume outrageous religious names, like eidah charedis and bedatz, and literally certify pigs as kosher. It’s the legal requirement of establishing and posting the certifying agency’s own rules that gives the public (Kosher Law Enforcements role) the power to regulate. This is the true power of the public in controling kosher agencies. I New York State, kashrus would be a total farce were it not for the government and the Kosher Law Enforcement office.

  5. How many times have I called the NY kosher enforcement about a kashrus problem, they dealt with it in a speedy proffesional manner. It isn’t easy to please me in kashrus issues, but they do.

  6. As has been mentioned, the Kosher Burea lost a constituional decision that does not allow to define what is Kosher per the ‘Seperation Church/State’, however what did come out of the ruling was something more informative to the consumer and that is the ‘Disclosures’ which let the consumer know what the food establishment defines as kosher, how often the Mashgiach comes etc.. So all in all as a consumer we are better off post decision and t eprment is very helpful to any observent Jew or one tat wants to abide by the Kosher laws.

  7. I could register my own Heimish named hechscher, and certify Bacon as Kosher, and the Kosher Law Enforcement could do absolutely nothing about it.

    So what exactly is it that they do?

  8. Last week, I was in Syracuse, N.Y. at a large supermarket, Wegmans, which had a large kosher meat counter. There were signs behind the counter that said ‘Kosher’ as well as a large Magen Dovid. When I asked the worker whose supervision it was under, he handed me a certificate from New York State which declared that it was under self-supervision, meaning they supervised themselves! When I asked the worker if he was Jewish, he answered that he was Roman Catholic, but knew all the laws of kashrut. Rabbi Tannenbaum is wrong. Look what happens when the government gets involved! How many people innocently think they’re buying kosher at this store? No 8, we are not better off as consumers. How can the State send kosher inspectors to check out an establishment that obviously doesn’t follow the rules of keeping kosher? Yes, what happened in Monsey was terrible, but this is not the solution. It has just made more problems. The prisoners are guarding the jailhouse! This news is good news.

  9. My dear no. 11: We don’t know which supermarket you went to, but Kosher Law Enforcement does not issue certificates of kashrus. You might very well have a Roman Catholic slice and sell you glatt kosher meat in the heart of Williamsburg or Flatbush. However, the integrity of that meat’s kashrus is ultimately the threat of criminal prosecution, which IS the job of the office of Kosher Law Enforcement. Shoul you operate under your own “Heimish Kosher” certification, you are required to disclose your criteria of kosher and prove your adherence to those criteria. Again, it is the force of authority of the Kosher Law Enforcement division that will hold you accountable under the penalty of fines or imprisonment or both. Should, Heaven forbid, the Office of Kosher Law Enforcement be eliminated or ridiculously reduced, the threat of prosecution is gone. I, for one, prefer not live in a world where kashrus is hefker. I hope that your preference is the same.

  10. My dear no 12: You are right concerning the religion of the said worker. It makes no what religion the worker is if the food is under proper supervision. As for your second point,if the state of New York does not issue certificates of kashrus as you claim, how was this worker able to procure a certificate from New York State Kashrus department attesting that the establishment is kosher and self-supervising. Besides which, the store would never have put up “Kosher” signs had the government not gotten involved. If it’s good enough for New York state, why shouldn’t it be good for Jews? Whose standard does New York State enforce for insuring that Kashrut is observed,when they allow stores with NO hashgacha from any rabbinical supervisory body to advertise themselves as being kosher? Why doesn’t the division of Kosher Law Enforcement shut this kashrus department down? In this matter, separation of “shul” and state should be our motto!

  11. To number 11: If the state of New York does not issue certificates of kashrus as you claim, how was this worker able to procure a certificate from New York State Kashrus department attesting that the establishment is kosher and self-supervising. Besides which, the store would never have put up “Kosher” signs had the government not gotten involved. If it’s good enough for New York state, why shouldn’t it be good for Jews? Whose standard does New York State enforce for insuring that Kashrut is observed,when they allow stores with NO hashgacha from any rabbinical supervisory body to advertise themselves as being kosher? Why doesn’t the division of Kosher Law Enforcement shut this kashrus department down? In this matter, separation of “shul” and state should be our motto!

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