RCC’s “Unparalleled Review and Transparency” Leads to New Era of Kashrus Standards in California

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rcc-californiaLos Angeles – Leading national kashrus officials have showered high praise on the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC) for implementing tough kashrus standards in the community following last year’s kashrus breach at a local meat market. In a letter, Rabbi Yaakov Luban, Executive Rabbinic Coordinator for the Orthodox Union, notes that “the high level of transparency and review (by the RCC) is unparalleled by any other supervisor agency that I am familiar with.” Rabbi Luban, under the direction and guidance of Rabbi Moshe Elefant, CCO of the Kashrus Division of the OU, conducted an independent audit of kashrus systems in RCC establishments following a request by the local.

Speaking to a gathering of some 250 people at an OU Kashrus Forum on January 1st, Rabbi Elefant complimented the RCC for the extremely high kashrus standards that are now in place in RCC certified establishments. He, like Rabbi Luban, noted that every kashrus agency would benefit from this type of review, which in the case of the RCC led to the creation of the Kashrut Vaad of LA (KVLA), a non-partisan oversight committee of local Rabbonim and Bnei Torah. The KVLA inspects local facilities on a regular basis to insure that kashrus standards are appropriately maintained. The OU has also instructed a number of its local mashgichim to perform ongoing inspections of RCC establishments and to file reports on their findings.

Rabbi Luban particularly singled out the cooperation of the professional staff at the RCC, “which immediately accepted my recommendations and made significant efforts to effect these changes as soon as possible.” He notes: ” I am pleased to state that in my last two visits to Los Angeles, I inspected almost every RCC retail outlet and found that my recommendations were implemented across the board. This is a major achievement, and the RCC deserves to be highly commended for this effort.” Rabbi Mayer May, President of the RCC, thanked the Orthodox Union and the local rabbonim “for helping us usher in a new era of transparency and commitment to the highest standards of kashrus in our community.” He added: “We are grateful for the strong support that we received from all segments of the community in making kashrus in Los Angeles a model for other communities, as the OU report points out.” Amongst some of the new procedures that were implemented by the RCC are stronger kashrus standards of supervision, increased levels of supervision by in-store mashgichim, written protocols with precise instructions for mashgichim in each establishment, enhanced on-going training of in-store mashgichim, and increased inspections by RCC professional staff as well as additional staff that was hired to accommodate this need and allow for crisscross inspections of a team, as opposed to individuals.

The full text of the letter by the Orthodox Union is below:

January 2, 2014

Rabbi Meyer H. May

President, Rabbinical Council of California (RCC)

3780 Wilshire Blvd. Suite # 420

Los Angeles, CA 90010

Dear Rabbi May,

In April 2013, the RCC approached the OU Kashrus Department and asked for an independent audit of kashrus systems in place in RCC establishments.

Under the able direction and guidance of Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the OU, I was asked to conduct this review process. To that end, I visited Los Angeles on five separate occasions in the past eight months.

It is fair to say that almost any kashrus organization would benefit from a thorough review, and areas of weakness would likely be identified in the best of supervisions.

During my first trip to LA, I visited many facilities and made various suggestions for enhancement of RCC supervision. My recommendations related to two areas: standards of hashgacha and systems of monitoring of establishments.

The RCC immediately accepted my recommendations and made significant efforts to effect these changes as soon as possible. I am pleased to state that in my last two visits to Los Angeles, I inspected almost every RCC retail outlet and found that my recommendations were implemented across the board. This is a major achievement, and the RCC deserves to be highly commended for this effort.

Following is a brief summary of some of the changes that have occurred:

– Stronger kashrus standards of supervision.

– Increased levels of supervision by in-store mashgichim.

– Written protocols with precise instructions for mashgichim in each establishment.

– Enhanced on-going training of in-store mashgichim.

– Increased inspections by RCC professional staff. Additional staff was hired to accommodate this need and allow for crisscross inspections of a team, as opposed to individuals.

In addition to these internal changes, the openness of the RCC led to the creation of the Kashrut Vaad of LA (KVLA), a non-partisan oversight committee of local Rabbonim and Bnai Torah. The KVLA inspects local facilities on a regular basis to insure that kashrus standards are appropriately maintained. Observations of this group regarding RCC establishments are forwarded to the RCC administrative staff and issues are addressed with proper dispatch. The OU has also instructed a number of OU local mashgichim to perform ongoing inspections of RCC establishments and file reports. I am copied on the inspections of the KVLA and OU mashgichim, as well as many of the reports of the RCC staff. In this way I am able to continue to maintain a strong level of involvement and oversight.

In conclusion, this entire process has greatly enhanced the level of supervision of the RCC. Particularly significant is the receptiveness of the RCC professional staff to recommendations for change and the alacrity in implementing such modifications. Above all, the willingness of the RCC to subject itself to layers of independent auditing on an ongoing basis and maintain a high level of transparency and review is unparalleled by any other supervisor agency that I am familiar with.

Rabbi Yaakov Luban

Executive Rabbinic Coordinator

Orthodox Union

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Why was nobody fired for the Doheny story? If the Mashgiach had permission to leave for Davening then the person who approved it should be fired. If there was no approval, then why didn’t someone in management notice that he was leaving daily for Minyan. Either way some senior people should resign or be fired. Without that accountability, all this PR won’t help people regain confidence.

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