The Last 25 Years of Kosher – Some of the Names that Helped Propel Kosher


kosher In 1988, Empire Kosher Poultry was owned by Murray L. Katz, who inherited the business from his father Joseph N. Katz, who founded the business in 1938. Empire was a thriving enterprise under Katz and was the unquestionable leader of kosher poultry before change came to the company with the departure of the Katzes in 1992.

In Brooklyn, the Weinstock brothers, Holocaust survivors, who had succeeded in establishing the Meal Mart brand were on the cusp of significantly expanding their business in what was to emerge as Alle Processing. Almost at the same time, Aaron Rubashkin, from his popular butcher store on 14th Avenue in Boro Park, was planting the seeds for what was to become Agriprocessor. The Weinstocks and the Rubashkins were riding the early tides of what was to become the “glatt kosher” revolution.

At Manischewitz, the company’s absorption of such well-known brands as Goodman’s and Horowitz Margaretten was the precursor to its eventual acquisition of Rokeach, an age old kosher brand and Season’s (owned by the Epstein brothers, once major distributors of kosher). In the early days of Kosherfest, all these brands were individually owned and had their own booths. By 1991 the last of the Manischewitz family was gone after 103 years as the company was sold to Kohlberg, the first of a number of owners in the ensuing years. Today, Manischewitz is very much alive, a leader in kosher foods, operating out of a modern plant in Newark NJ.

Still located on the Lower East Side, the late Mel Gross was continuing the business his grandfather Rabbi Aaron Streit started in 1916 when he opened the Streit’s bakery. Twenty five years later the company, now greatly expanded by the grandchildren, continues to produce Matzoh and other products. And on Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, the Herzog family was on the verge of being the pioneers in a kosher wine revolution that had undergone a transition from the sweet sacramental wines to an unprecedented world of kosher wines from every part of the globe that is now marketed from its state-of-the-art headquarters in Bayonne NJ. They were also eventually to launch Gefen, a major kosher food brand.

These are just a small sampling of the families that helped revolutionize kosher in America, particularly during these last 25 years. They were the visionaries and unsung heroes that had somehow foreseen the great potential of kosher. With each passing Kosherfest, the stories of these visionaries continued to unfold. Some experienced enormous growth, others were acquired, and a few faltered, but most are still very much the bellwethers of a huge kosher industry.


{ Newscenter}