Kosher Protection Abandoned in New York State

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kosher-mcdonaldsBy Rabbi Yosef Wikler

The axe has fallen. This week, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets effectively killed the kosher protection law in New York State by letting go of all of the state’s kosher inspectors. Earlier, the state had let it be known that seven of the nine inspectors would be let go. Rabbi Luzer Weiss, the department head, and two inspectors would have to do alone the job that had been done until now by ten men. No other part of the Department of Agriculture and Markets suffered nearly so great a cut in the budget. But now, the truth has come out: All inspectors are to be let go effective January 1, 2011 – effectively closing forever consumer protection from kosher fraud.

Has the world gone mad?

In New York State, which has the largest Jewish population anywhere, with great numbers of vegetarians, halal observers and those with lactose intolerance and other allergies [all of whom shop for kosher products], where kosher law enforcement got its start and for decades brought in a large amount of money to the state, we have just waved goodbye forever to protection from kosher fraud.

This move won’t stop people from buying kosher, but it certainly does show everyone that the state is not committed to the good of the many, but to the power of the few.

Why is it that so many politicians have kept quiet over this injustice? Why have so few Jewish organizations gone to bat for kosher? There is the real story, a story of politics over prudence, of fear over caring for others, and of money and power over providing protection.

It is time for people to ask their elected representatives why kosher was abandoned.

Rabbi Yosef Wikler is the Editor of Kashrus Magazine and New York Kosher News.

{Rabbi Yosef Wikler, Newscenter}


  1. I don’t understand the fuss. Democracy is against Torah values; it’s Chukim Goyim, not to mention Malchus Goyim; all in the government are anti-semit anyway – we dont need or want their treif help, no? All of us are just cruisin’ here until we make aliyah where Kosher will be. . . .Kosher, right? HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYBODY!!!

  2. Can Rabbi Wikler explain more about this?

    I assume most Orthodox didn’t make a big issue out of it, because they patronize places that have hashgochos which they rely on.

    What has the department been doing in recent years? One didn’t usually hear about them. When Rabbi Schulem Rubin was in charge, there used to be news about them and lists of fines levied in the Jewish Press. I haven’t seen that in years.

    It is hard to get people outraged over the elimination of something that they don’t know, see, hear about, or understand.

  3. You wanted budget cuts, you got budget cuts. Why whine when the one who gets hit is you? Kosher consumers are still a minority in New York State. (Yes, upstate and NYC are part of the same state.)

    If we don’t want our tax dollars being spent on services for others, why should we complain if others don’t want their tax dollars spent on us?

    So instead of relying on the taxpayers of all of New York State to foot the bill for protecting us, we’ll have to step up to the plate and start our own effective regulatory agency, funded by us.

    Cutting public services is fine unless the one who gets deprived is us? Let’s be a little consistent here.

  4. How in the world is this putting the “good of the many” over the “power of the few”? Why would the state pay for the interests of the few, especially in these tough economic times! We should call our elected officials and thank them for every bit of spending they take out of the budget.

  5. “All of us are just cruisin’ here until we make aliyah where Kosher will be. . . ”

    So, can we expect your arrival any time soon, Kefirah? Will it be this year, next, year, in 2012,perhaps?

    Please let us know!

  6. It was the Kosher Law Enforcement office, and no one else, that dealt with the kosher scandal in Monsey. Were it not for KLE, the tragedy would have been infinitely greater. The next scandal may very well possibly come from China were everything is known to be replicated. You may see familiar kosher foods with the most reliable certifications – which would happen to be bogus. Who will deal with it? Who has the authority and wherewithall, if not KLE? Someone mentioned budget cuts. The KLE office could very easily sustain itself and actually return an impressive profit for the State with the imposition of large fines for deliberate serious infractions of the Kosher Law. Realistically, the continuance and enlargement of the Kosher Law Enforcement is a no-brainer. Sadly, those designing the budget cuts as well as most people just do not have the information to properly administer this important issue.

  7. The Kosher Law Enforcement Division was a ridiculously redundant and therefore useless agency. If its elimination saves the taxpayers money, all the better.

    It’s gratifying that the majority of commenters here recognize this, and realize that the headline — “Kosher Protection Abandoned” — is a red herring. On one hand, Orthodox Jews don’t now need, and never did need “kosher protection” from the secular state government. On the other hand, those non-Orthodox Jews who think they’re doing a big mitzvah by dining in a “kosher-style” deli can never be protected by the state from their own naiveté.

  8. There has been no meaning to this department in the State of New York for years.

    I could create my own “hechsher”, and as along as I filed my standards with the State, I could declare that chazer treif was “Kosher”, and these inspectors could do absolutely nothing about it.

    So why pay them?

  9. Before i can even comment on this issue, can i ask respondents to spruce up their English at least a bit – it is a disgrace to our community when our members display such a lack of proper language skills and it proves that we aren’t interested in being a part of the American culture, so why should they be interested in us, whom they hate ever since Esav bestowed that famous kiss upon Yakov (Vayishokayhu’s multiple dots… and Rashi’s commentary “Halacha hi beyoduah sh’Esav Soneh L’Yakov) RS FROM BP

  10. #13 – I agree with you wholeheartedly. Some of the grammar (or lack thereof) in the Comments makes me cringe. However, you could use a little brushing-up yourself. There’s this thing called a “period” – . – which is used to end sentences, thus preventing the dreaded “run-on sentence.” This prevents turning a series of sentences into one long paragraph-length marathon.

    However, you spell very well, which is far more than some posters can manage.


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