Yechiel Spira of Jerusalem Kosher News recently commented om Kashrus Magazine’s 2010 Kosher Supervision Guide, which highlights over 1,00 kosher agencies. Rabbi Yosef Wikler responds to Yechiel’s critiques and explains the purpose and design of the guide.
First, Yechiel Spira’s comments:
I have received my copy of the 2010 Kosher Supervision Guide, which contains no less than 1,033 kashrut agencies. I must say that for me, this reference book is invaluable, as a quick reference and a simple but comprehensive directory to inquire regarding kashrut agencies around the world.I would like to add, that while the found/editor-in-chief Rabbi Yosef Wikler does not require my endorsement, his pioneering efforts towards educating the public on kashrus issues are truly unsurpassed, encompassing this guide, as well as monthly updates, Kashrus Magazine and much more.
I must however add that to my dismay, it appears some items did get by the editing staff, in the Israel section. A number of the “unauthorized” agencies as defined by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel are listed in the guide.
This is most unfortunate and I must point this out to readers to make you aware since I personally have checked some of these unauthorized agencies, which are nothing more than ‘certificates for hire’, and in no way represent kashrut on any level. As rabbi Wikler repeatedly points out in his publications, JKN as well does not seek to endorse agencies, but rather tries to present you with Orthodox kashrut agencies, and from there, perhaps in consultation with your rabbi, you must decide if a particular organization’s standard is suitable to your kashrut needs.
In the case of these unauthorized agencies, as defined by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, NOT JKN, some lack the very basic infrastructure of a kashrut agency, including mashgichim and rabbonim; and they simply are a ‘no-show’ operation intent on making money and deceiving consumers.
I do not wish to end on a down note, so I truly urge anyone interested in kashrus to seek out this comprehensive guide, which can open a window of knowledge to the somewhat complex and increasingly confusing world of kashrut.
Rabbi Yosef Wikler responds:
Yechiel Spira commented about KASHRUS Magazine’s “2010 kosher Supervision Guide” that, although it lists all (Orthodox) kosher supervisions in the world (now at 1,033), it has failed to screen out the Badatzim and Rabbonim in Israel which the Rabbinate has determined to be “unauthorized”. In fact, in KASHRUS Magazine we have already announced to our readers about the Rabbinate’s list of unauthorized agencies.
The purpose of the Guide, as stated upon each and every page of the Guide, is to provide “a comprehensive directory, not a list of recommended agencies… Ask your rabbi which symbols to rely upon.” These are not recommended agencies nor are they guaranteed to be legitimate ones, but they are kosher agencies administered by Orthodox Jews, men who are supposedly committed to an Orthodox lifestyle and who eat kosher themselves. How well they adhere to proper kosher standards is beyond the scope of the Guide.
I would add that kosher agencies in general tend to piggyback one on the other. When you see two three, four or five kosher symbols on a product rest assured that there are not five mashgichim and five rabbinic coordinators all running about the plant. Usually, there is only one set of eyes supervising that kosher is maintained and that person is deemed acceptable by all five agencies.
Likewise, there are many times that kashrus agencies will deem a product as acceptable to use without first having visited the plant or will accept ingredients — those considered Group 1 (thought to be innocuous) — with no kosher supervision.
Who is “legitimate” is up to the individual kosher consumer and his rabbi to determine.
Anyone interested in receiving a copy of the 170 page “2010 Kosher Supervision Guide” can order on kashrusmagazine.com or write to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org (Tel: 718-336-8544).
Rabbi Yosef Wikler
Editor, Kashrus Magazine