Report: Rabbis Mull ‘Bill of Rights’ For Kashrus Inspectors


rabbi-fishbaneFrom a report by Adam Dickter, Assistant Managing Editor of The Jewish Week: As the kosher food industry in America continues to grow, rabbis who organize supervision in their local communities are considering a measure to protect employees’ rights.At a conference next week in Dallas, representatives of Orthodox regional rabbinical councils, known as vaadim, will discuss adoption of what some have termed a bill of rights for kosher certifiers, or mashgichim, that was proposed at last year’s conference.

“This is the first time there has been an opportunity for various agencies to sit under one roof and talk about this,” said Rabbi Sholem Fishbane (seen in photo), executive director of the Association of Kashrus Organizations, which convenes the annual vaadim conference. “The problems aren’t new, but the opportunity to solve them is.”

Prompted by complaints that the  quality of supervision is affected when representatives of small certifying agencies are at the mercy of restaurant owners and other businesspeople, the recommendations include ensuring minimum pay, benefits, a safe work environment and preventing mashgichim from being assigned menial tasks.

But most of all the boards want to address the potential conflict of interest that arises when a mashgiach has to fear for his job (Orthodox mashgichim are overwhelmingly male) either because an owner or manager will demand his removal or because the establishment might close as a result of the disclosure.

Two of the provisions to be discussed address the conflict issue. One suggests that a mashgiach who uncovers a violation that results in an establishment’s closure be given preference when a new position becomes available. The other suggests that a mashgiach be free to complain directly to his supervisor and that he be protected from retaliations.

Read the full report at The Jewish Week.

{Jewish Week}{Noam Newscenter}


  1. We owe it to the kosher consumer.

    We in the field of Kashrus have accepted a fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the kosher consumer. Therefore, we owe our fidelity to the kosher consumer to uphold and maintain that fiduciary responsibility.

    Executives who face troubling decisions are often confused about how to arrive at the right, moral and ethical course of action. This is not surprising since by definition a “moral dilemma” is one where there is no clear right and wrong, only positives and negatives.

    We should be guided in our moral reasoning by the insight that comes from respecting the moral rights of the kosher consumer; justice to colleagues and peers; consequences and outcomes; explaining and defending to others as well as to ourselves the decisions we make.

    Have I searched for all alternatives? Are there other ways I could look at the situation? Have I listened and considered all points of view of my colleagues and peers, while still maintaining high ethical standards?

    Even if there is sound rationality for this decision, and even if I could defend it publicly, does my inner sense tell me this is right? Will my colleagues, peers, and the educated kosher consumer agree with my rationality?

    Does this decision agree with my religious beliefs and with my personal principles and sense of responsibility to the kosher consumer? Would I want others in kashrus to make the same decision and to take the same action if faced with the same circumstances?

    What are my true motives for this action? Would this action infringe on the moral rights and dignity of others? Would this action involve deceiving others in any way? Would I feel this action was just (ethical or fair) if I were on the other side of the decision? Am I being unduly influenced by others who may not be as sensitive to these ethical standards?

    How would I feel (or how will I feel) if (or when) this action becomes known to the educated Kosher consumer? Would others feel that my action or decision is ethically and morally justifiable to the educated kosher consumer? Can I justify my action as directly beneficial to the kosher consumer and to kashrus in general?

    We can stretch and expand our moral reasoning and ethical judgment, and sharpen our ethical sensitivity and moral awareness by thinking through particular dilemmas in light of the above. If we consider all the questions discussed above with real intent and pure motives, then we can be confident that we will come with G-D’s help, to sound and ethical decisions.

    When we achieve clarity as to the issues of the dilemma, we are better prepared to make a decision that is both right and defensible. We must remember that our goal is to achieve an ethical course of action in all areas of kashrus, not to find a way to construct a rational argument in support of an unethical decision.

    Our daily decisions do (at times indirectly) impact the kosher consumer. We live in a world where other concerns e.g. profits etc., often come into conflict with the concern for ethics and principles; and where society is demanding a higher standard of kashrus, and a higher ethic of social responsibility to the kosher consumer.

    We must be willing and able to give the kosher consumer in fact, that which the kosher consumer believes he / she is getting in theory.

    We owe it to ourselves…..we are all “kosher-consumers”.

    Yudel Shain
    Kosher Consumers Union

  2. Be careful before you unionize mashgichim.
    There already is a mashgichims union and they are worthless. Not the supervision and not the protection. Just ask the old time union mashgichim.