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Matza ado about nothing

August 24, 2010 – 8:06 pm122 Comments

By David Werdiger

Judging by the number of comments on the stories about soft matzah, particularly those questioning the flour used for matzos that had been manufactured locally in the past under Kosher Australia, you’d think Kosher Australia (KA) would have been flooded with inquiries from consumers (briefly, one of the many objections to the locally produced soft matzah was that all flour in Australia is washed, and that renders it chametz. If that’s the case, how was matzah made here?) After all, people who were so concerned about the (Pesach) kashrut of the matzah they had been eating for years would surely be interested in getting the facts from the ultimate source – the certifying agency itself.

I thought I would add my voice to all of those consumers, and sent an e-mail to the General Manager of KA (I happen to know him personally and have his direct e-mail address, although this information is clearly listed on their site). He responded and explained that the flour used came either from local batches especially supervised for Pesach, or from Israel under the supervision of the OU. In the last few years, the flour was sourced exclusively from Israel, after which production was entirely shifted to Israel. The reasons for the changes in all cases were price and quality.

The information was provided to me with a caveat – it is “commercial in confidence” – and at the request of KA, I have removed some of the commercially sensitive details before publishing.

There are two lessons to be learnt here:

Firstly, it is a challenge for any kashrut agency to balance the confidential nature of information it needs to have in order to do its job with the need to be transparent to consumers. However, I asked a straight question and received a straight answer, and am reasonably satisfied with the result of my “investigation”. I expect no less from any kashrut agency.

Secondly and more importantly, I was the only person who inquired about the flour used. This truly staggered me. While I’ve never actually eaten the stuff on Pesach (I only eat hand baked shmurah matzah), I would have thought that people who cared about kashrut would have taken the five minutes to send an e-mail and find out for themselves. There were several hundred comments on the handful of articles about the whole topic on this site, many of which raised the counter example of the flour used. Are readers more interested in gossip about the politics of kashrut authorities than the kashrut itself?

David Werdiger notes that KA have not edited this information.

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122 Comments »

  • Emes says:

    It’s important to note that “KA” in your post refers to Kosher Australia, not the (NSW) Kashrut Authority (which uses “KA” as part of its logo).

    I happen to know that the KA (NSW) supervises the milling of local flour for the baking of matzos by Solomons. Solomons imports its matzah from Aviv Israel, but continues to bake matzos for the purposes of crushing to produce coarse, fine and superfine matzoh meal. No one has ever raised any sheelos about this – I happen to know the mashgiach who does the supervising of the flour, and he is a heilige yid.

    As a former Sydneysider, I would also like to add my two cents’ worth regarding Kosher V’Yosher and its soft matzoh:

    1. Sydney and Melbourne are blessed with a few major kashrus authorities that are respected for their high standards. Which leads me to ask: Who needs Kosher V’Yosher – surely we have more than enough hechsherim of a high standard (the NSW KA, Adass and Kosher-Oz)? Should any rabbi be entitled to set up their own authority? Should these independent rabbis be subject to any oversight, particularly as they run their kashrus as a business and do not have a board of management? Do independent operators cause confusion in the eye of the kosher consumer? Do they contribute to communal machlokes?

    2. Should any rabbi have a right to decide that the minhagim about the style of matzoh eaten by Ashkenazim for hundreds of years can be uprooted? Is this the thin edge of the wedge – will this lead to a call to abandon the strong halachah for Ashkenazim not to eat Kitniyot?

  • Sol Salbe says:

    There is one issue missing from the discussion so far: the environmental factor. If, as Emes tells us, Solomons do make Matzot in this country we should have access of to them. As someone who uses Matzsot for cooking and baking all year round, I wrote to the AJN suggesting that we should encourage local production. That can only be done by our willingness to pay a higher price. I know I will be will to put my wallet where my keyboard is by paying more more for Matzot that have lower food kilometres.

  • frosh says:

    Emes,

    K’v’Y is a a business but so is Kosher Australia. Your argument is a bit like saying “We already have one airline operating in Australia, so do we really need another one?”

    The fact is, even before K’v’Y, Melbourne already has multiple hechsherim (Adass and KA).

    If people do not like one particular hechsher, they are under no obligation to eat that food. However, I resent them trying to control everyone else.

  • frosh says:

    Sol,

    You raise a great point. Where possible, people should try to buy locally made products rather than some of these other products that have an absurd travel history. E.g. Raw ingredients from Australia, produced in Israel, exported to New York, and then distributed from there to Australia.

  • I appreciate your article, David. This is exactly what I asserted all along, that anyone who SINCERELY wants to know the facts will simply pick up the phone and ask Kosher Australia and they will get answers. It is obvious, as I asserted on this blog all along, that there are certain individuals who have an axe to grind against the kosher establishment, and these individuals are extremely willing to spread half truths, innuendos, and bold-faced lies about Kosher Australia without ever picking up a phone and investigating if any of the rumours (lies) they spread around are based on any truth. This is because these individuals are not interested in truth or in promoting or strengthening the mitzvah of kashrus but, rather in perpetuating division and acrimony against Kosher Australia.

  • Merkaz says:

    merkaz says:
    August 27, 2010 at 2:30 am
    Emes seems to forget (or maybe he is too young to remember) that Rabbi M Gutnick operated his own Kashrut service for many years in direct competition with (KA’s ‘grandfather’) Mizrachi Kashrut. So too did Rabbi Yanky Barber. As someone here has already mentioned, it was it some ways even worse than just competition – but rather a slap in the face. I refer to when MK removed thair supervision from an establishment (for well known and justified reasons) and RMG filled the void within minutes!

    In addition to Rabbi Rudzki, Rabbi Chaim Gutnick also had his own kashrut service. And so too for many years did rabbi Sholem Gutnick (despite using the name of the BD – it was or all purposes his private operation.)

    It seems a bit hypocritical of those who now attack RMGR for behaving in exactly the same manner as did all those prominent members of the RCV.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Spot on Merkaz!

    This community suffers from a very rare form of Alzheimer’s indeed.

  • Merkaz, why should anyone believe anything you claim here as fact? Moreover, this is pure loshon hora about a good Rav who has dedicated years of his life to strengthening the kedusha of kashrus for our kehillah and who personally helps hundreds of people. And Malki, you just slandered the entire community. Not nice, not in the spirit of Torah Judaism, especially so close to Rosh Hashonah. Are such comments motivated by a desire to promote the holiness of the mitzvah of kashrut (yetzer tov), or are they motivated by the desire to disrupt and/or rebel, and/or create acrimony rooted in sinas chinam (yetzer hora)? I surmise more likely the latter.

  • And Malki, all your remarks about this issue are coloured by your extreme bias being that your catering business is under KVY so you are so-to-speak ‘bribed’. I have been accused of the same being my husband works for KA.

  • ‘it seems a bit hypocritical of those who now attack RMGR for behaving in exactly the same manner as did all those prominent members of the RCV’

    And Merkaz, As far as I know, and I am sure as far as anyone knows, none of the Rabbis ever condemned Meir Rabi for opening his own kashrus company. The Rabbis are not attacking anyone, and have never attempted to stop anyone for doing so. The issues the Rabbis have with Meir Rabi are substantive halachik issues having to do with his dubious standards and practices. So stop making up stories and spreading lies.

  • Shoshanna,

    What Merkaz says is correct. Although regarding his last statement, we don’t know whether these specific Rabbis are the ones responsible for the RCV’s statements against KVY.

    Malki,

    If your catering business is under KVY, then you are even more conflicted than Shoshanna when making statements about KVY and KA. I suggested to Shoshanna that she declare her “interest”; you should probably do the same.

  • RCV’s statement does not state anything that would indicate a stand against competition per se, rather it focuses on the RCV’s concerns regarding the halachik standards and practices of KVY. As far as anyone knows, and contrary to numerous anonymous postings on this blog, the RCV has never taken a position against competition nor against Meir Rabi as an individual.

  • frosh says:

    Last night I had the displeasure of buying groceries for a dinner to be cooked in a KA Melbourne Kosher-book kitchen (as opposed to what I would call an old-fashioned kosher kitchen).

    Apparently, one is no longer permitted to even buy a bag of dried lentils from the green-grocer unless it has a KA hechsher or has been specifically approved by the KA Melbourne Kosher-book.

    Am I the only person who thinks this is absurd?

    Requiring a hechsher or supervision for legitimately processed food makes sense.

    However, there are many items (such as lentils) that used to fall under the common-sense category. Why is this no longer the case?

  • Malki Rose says:

    My interest in my own business is something I am more than happy to declare, and the information is all freely available online.

    You’ll note that I did not make ANY statements about KA or KVY.

    To agree with Merkaz on a point which EVERYONE should remember as fact has nothing to do with my food business.

    For transparency’s sake I will mention that I have a small catering business which I started a couple of years ago, it is currently under the Hashgacha of Meir Rabi. I have no interest in mentioning it further than that, as to write anything further on my business starts to look more like advertising, and this is not why I am commenting here on GA.

    The incidents with Mizrachi Kosher et al were more than 15 years ago, and had absolutely nothing to do with any potential commercial bias on my part.

    I just remember the incident/s clearly, and I agree with Merkaz that the powers that be seem to have forgotten it, and there appears to be a lack of consistency in their handling of the current situation. I am not sure how that constitutes slander? Or how that says anything more about me than i have a relatively good memory.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Frosh, probably because common sense is no longer common.

  • ariel says:

    frosh,

    I have understood from the NSW KA that you can buy any brand of dried legumes, but you must check for bugs.
    The brands that they endorse require no checking, which is why they are endorsed…apparently…
    that’s my understanding, anyway

  • merkaz says:

    There may actually be some issue with lentils. I haven’t chekced.
    But my adass neigbour tells me that with split peas his rabbis have ruled that only a certain brand is OK. I am not sure of the reason behind this. I’ll try and find out over shabbos

  • meir rabi says:

    Shalom and thank you all for your interest.

    Sorry for this long post – and I think I must post it in parts, but I am responding to many issues raised here.

    Re enquiries about Kashrut:

    It is difficult to know how to interpret David’s (Werdiger) observation that other than his enquiry, none were made to KAM. (And I liked the pun about being “flooded” with enquiries about the flour being washed.)

    Perhaps, since it is a matter that is no longer relevant to KAM since they are no longer producing Pesach flour in Australia, it did not really interest people.

    Perhaps it is a consequence of the atmosphere cultivated around the persona of the Kashrut organisation. So if the website does not present a wealth of clear information about its Kashrus policies and protocols, perhaps people just lack the confidence that they will receive a prompt clear answer.

    We need not look far because there are many emails that have been sent recently to the relevant bodies, requesting information regarding Kashrut condemnations. These enquiries have gone unanswered. It does not take many of such non-responses for word to get around that there is no point in making a request.

    David, you are not only a friend of the General Manager of KAM, but an individual who for very legitimate reasons, wields significant presence in this community, and may I say as your relative, uses it with wisdom. You may have received preferential treatment or may be perceived as receiving preferential treatment. So your experience does not translate into a confidence building precedent.

    Neither do the regular persuasions seen on this blog site, that “all you need to do is call and ask, you will certainly receive a prompt clear answer”. If questions need to be answered, why make people ask? Better to put the answers on the open website.

    However, you make a great point: what can and what should be done to promote a vigorous interest in our Jewish life? I would presume the very first step should be to promote further open discussion. But this is not happening. We get pronouncements but they are without transparency, without reason. I have not received the slightest indication of what Halachic considerations trouble any of my critics, in spite of my repeated requests for such a written list and assurances that I will respond to such queries with all haste. Although it is said that “The issues the Rabbis have with Meir Rabi are substantive Halachik issues having to do with his dubious standards and practices” the community and I have not been provided with any substance. Now that does not cultivate confidence, on the contrary people just say, “Whats the point in even trying to talk to them?”

    KVY and “its Kosher!” on the other hand, have received many queries about the flour used for our Soft Matza and we have tons of information available at the website which was heavily visited. See http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/index.php?id=288 which has many links to much more information. And here is a PDF http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/assets/files/Documents/LSSM%20PDF%202%20CLMNS.pdf

    So from my limited perspective, it looks like there is a very healthy interest in knowing more about Kashrus in general and contemporary, prominent Kashrut issues.

    I believe it is better to provide the information in the public arena rather than responding to individual enquiries. Firstly, it is more easily accessed. Secondly, there is a suspicion that the information being disclosed to an individual enquiry, is perhaps “tailored” to the individual making the query.

  • meir rabi says:

    Re washed flour:

    But it is puzzling that we can declare that “ALL flour in Australia is washed, and that renders it chametz” and simultaneously have posters declaring that “KA (NSW) supervises (even today) the milling of local flour for the baking of matzos by Solomons” (which obviously is not washed) and also have in the same article the response from KAM that “the flour used came from local batches especially supervised for Pesach” and that they could continue this (making Kosher for Pesach flour) if they so wished but for changes in “price and quality”. So, not all flour produced in Australia is washed.

    Re the Status of KVY and need for additional Kashrus
    I have cut and pasted this from the other discussion on Galus where the identical question was posted.

    See http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/index.php?id=163. where in IGM YD 4 1:8, Rabbi Feinstein says that the smaller Kashrus orgs are preferable and more trustworthy. “I well remember the great Gaon Rabbi Rosenberg. He stood at the helm of the organisation of rabbis providing Kosher supervision, and he declared that communal agencies providing kosher certification must be fully financially independent before being able to legitimately claim any advantage over individual kosher agencies.

    If a communal agency receives any payments whatsoever from the establishments they are servicing, even if only to defray the costs of the Mashgichim, then they offer no advantage over the individual Rabbonim who are providing similar services.

    In fact, it is quite likely that the Hashgocha of the communal agency is inferior simply because there is no one single individual in whom the final responsibility rests. There is no one “at the top” who feels personally responsible. Whereas an individual Rov is far more likely to feel the responsibility and the repercussions of any errors and he is far more likely to be fearful of having erred, having caused others to sin and lose the respect of his supporters.

    Besides it is the way of the world that people tend to automatically trust the larger agencies without really checking their operations unlike the individual Rov who is queried and investigated.

    I did not set up KVY. I was compelled by a very insistent and unrelenting Rabbi Rudski, to continue his Kashrut authority. I renamed it as Kosher VeYosher and also, “its Kosher!”

    The nature of competition is well established and its success is well established. Unfortunately, so are the consequences of not having adequate competition. Rabbi Rudski knew this, and he knew more than this from his own experiences in the Melbourne Jewish community and in particular he was aware of how the provision of Kashrus worked in the community.

    Machlokes is not created by varying communities, customs and traditions. It is a symptom of those who lack Ahavas HaShem. Denying people the opportunity to overtly express their propensity to engage in Machlokes is not the way to heal the problem. Just like spraying a topical anesthetic on an injured football player’s leg does not heal the leg. It just permits the player to continue playing and exacerbate the injury.

    Surely you wish to teach your children to share and have affection for one another. This is not achieved by providing each with their own bike, computer, shower, TV (Ch VeShalom), radio etc.

    It is achieved by patiently explaining that people are different and that we are able to respect others in spite of these differences. Even more importantly, we show our admiration and loyalty to HaShem and our fellow Jews by being able to meet them without barriers and devices that imply superior and inferior status.

    There are 3 world recognised Halachic authorities who clearly indicate that soft Matza is acceptable in the first instance for all Jews, even Ashkenasim who have been eating hard Matza for the past 200 years. Rav Bluth (a noted student of HaRav Moshe Feinstein), Rav Aviner (a respected Rav and leader in the International Zionist Yeshivot) and Rav Schachter (one of the two senior authorities to provide Halachic guidance to the OU, the Orthodox Union of Synagogues) have all stated that Ashkenazim may eat soft matza.See here,http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/index.php?id=288

    Pursuin Hiddurim – The Most Mehudar Matza
    This Matza, is very likely the most Mehudar Matza in the world today.
    Firstly, speed is critical to prevent ANY opportunity for the dough to rise. From the time the dough of our Matza begins to be rolled until baking ends, requires far less than one minute. This is an improvement by a factor of 5 or 6 when compared to the best hand Matza and by a factor of 7 or 8 when compared to the best machine Matza.

    Secondly, Matza dough should not be left idle, meaning un-worked, for even one moment during its processing. LSSM is idle for no more than 5 seconds which is at least 10 times less than the best hand made Matza and many times better than that compared to the best machine Matza.

    Thirdly, according to Halacha, thin dough is at less risk of becoming Chametz when compared to an identical thick dough. Our Matza is less than 1mm thick and of all Matza, spends about two seconds, the least time of all Matza, as a thick dough.
    These are achievements that every Matza baker and every Rav HaMachshir can only dream about.

    There is nothing controversial about soft Matza. Soft Matza is the true authentic Matza. Hard Matza is not Lechem according to the Halacha. It is a biscuit. Its Beracha is Mezonot. It is not the stuff one uses for a meal. See ShO OCh 168:7

    Sefardim have always been eating Soft Matza exclusively on Pesach. Ashkenazim however, from the early 1800′s, drifted towards baking harder Matza. See http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/assets/files/Documents/LSSM%20PDF%202%20CLMNS.pdf

    Soft Matza is easier to eat. There are more people eating Matza now that soft Matza is available, this is true in EY and USA.

    There is no similarity between Kitinyot and Soft Matza. Kitniyot are banned by a decree of the GaOnim. It is a Halacha that is listed in the Shulchan Aruch. On the other hand to the best of my knowledge, there is no source at all, I do not just mean the Shulchan Aruch, no, I refer to all the authorities and commentators including the modern Poskim, there is not one who says that there is a Halacha to avoid eating Soft Matza. There is not even a recorded custom of avoiding Soft Matza. To the best of my knowledge, there is no informed person and certainly not any authority who suggests that Hard Matza is a Chumrah.

  • farmer's son says:

    David, I am sorry to say that you have probably not been given the 100% true story regarding the flour that KA OKed for Snider Carmel matzos. The proprietors of that firm have over the years been asked the same question and they didn’t seem that resolute in responding.

    The fact that the GM of KA wasn’t even there at the time this was going on also questions theh validity of his knowledge.

    Of course if he can produce documented proof of special batches of non-washed flour being produced, we may have to take him more seriously.

    But even so,anyone with minimal knowledge of flour mills knows that it is almost impossible to clean out the accumulated dough that has attached itself to to all sections of the equipment and thus rendering any flour – even unwashed – as chametz.

  • meir rabi says:

    Shalom Farmer’s Son,

    Miller’s son may have been a more appropriate badge.

    Please see http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/index.php?id=298 for a photo essay of my visit to the four mill to ensure that the machinery was clean and that the flour was milled without the use of any water.

    I can also assure you that there is absolutely no dough in any parts of the machinery. There are areas where there is an accumulation of grain dust, i.e. dust from the husks of the wheat kernels (but certainly not from the endosperm, the internal part of the wheat, the stuff which is used for manufacturing flour and which makes Chamets) which is created by the movement of the wheat kernels through the machinery; and that in the areas where the kernels are sprayed with water there is an accumulation of “mud” which is a combination of that dust with the water. Our visit and inspection was to determine and satisfy to the strictest standards that there was no water spray for production of flour used for our Laffa Style Soft Matza and that there was no “mud” to possibly taint our special batch.

    BTW, I should really say any “additional water”, since the dry wheat certainly contains some water which it simply retains from its growth and also absorbs from the atmosphere.

  • Malki wrote, “just remember the incident/s clearly, and I agree with Merkaz that the powers that be seem to have forgotten it, and there appears to be a lack of consistency in their handling of the current situation. I am not sure how that constitutes slander? Or how that says anything more about me than i have a relatively good memory.”

    That Malki, is a ridiculous assertion. Firstly, who are ‘the powers that be”? There is no monolithic group that works as a conspiracy to block competition as you seem to imply. There is not a shred of evidence that the Kosher Australia organisation or the RCV or any other Rabbis have taken any stand against other kashrus organisations coming onto the scene. None of them have never done anything to stop any new kashrus organisation from starting up. This is all supposition (or projection?) on your part. Unless you have statements stating as such from each of the Rabbis whom you call the Powers That Be you should not be spreading this slander.

    Not one of the Rabbis ever slandered Meir Rabi nor did they ever state that he has no right to be in business. The esteemed and extremely learned Rabbis have disagreements with him that are halachik, and these disagreements are not based on commercialism nor are they personal in nature.

    Perhaps you should try and consider for a moment that in regards to the lentils the Rabbis just maybe have a bit more learning and halachik knowledge than even you and, therefore there could be good reason for their pask. Or should we assume that, as you implied, they lack your great memory and abundant common sense?

  • Anyway, some people prefer lentils with a hechsher, believe it or not, there are some people who wish to be extra careful with kashrus.

  • kalmangradman says:

    hi shoshy, haven’t posted for a while,

    the ‘powers that be,’ ‘What ‘powers that be?’

    moishe carp is floating gently in a tributary of the river plotnik alongside his friend mendel marreh petch somewhere outside of lodz in rural poiland circa 1938.

    Moishe says to mendel, bist nus (rhymes with bus)(are you wet)? Mendel turns to moshe and says ‘nein, ich bin nisht en de vasseh’ (no, I’m not in the water) ‘Ich vot gevist ven ich ob zarn nus’ (I’d know if I was wet)

    If you had a issue with the self appointed members of the RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF VICTORIA or KOSHER AUSTRALIA would you seek adjudication from the MELBOURNE BETH DIN?

    1. the rabbinic head of KOSHER AUSTRALIA: Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick
    2. the rabbinic head of the MELBOURNE BETH DIN: Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick
    3. the rabbinic member of the RABBINIC COUNCIL OF VICTORIA: Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick
    4. the rabbinic head of the ELWOOD SHULE: Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick

    1. the esteemed rabbinic staff of KOSHER AUSTRALIA: Rabbi Yaakov Barber
    2. the esteemed member of the MELBOURNE BETH DIN: Rabbi Yaakov Barber
    3. the esteemed member of the RABBINIC COUNCIL OF VICTORIA: Rabbi Yaakov Barber
    4. the esteemed head of the SOUTH CAULFIELD SHULE: Rabbi Yaakov Barber

    you do the math!

  • Leshono Toivo says:

    Most Australian Lentils are polished with non Kosher oil(oil produced on tallow lines), therefore they need a hechsher.

  • So now it’s the Gutnick/Barber conspiracy? The Melbourne Beis Din deals mainly with issues of conversion and divorce.If I had an issue I would go to another beis din, probably a zablah (independent Rabbis) from overseas, which is what most people do. R. Barber and R.Gutnick don’t sit on Dinei Torah for cases in the vast majority of cases except for divorces and conversions.

  • kalmangradman says:

    hi shoshi,

    I am not suggesting a conspiracy of any kind by either rabbi mordechai gutnick or rabbi yaacov barber. they have faithfully served the community for many years.

  • I agree. And they are more than learned and competent enough. So why do some people try and malign them? We need Rabbonim of their caliber and they do not have easy jobs that just any shmendrick can do. I think a bit of appreciation is in order. Is it tall poppy syndrome?

  • kalmangradman says:

    GROUP 1

    RCV BETH DIN

    rabbi GLASSMAN-AV rabbi MORDECHAI GUTNICK-AV
    rabbi MORDECHAI GUTNICK rabbi Y BARBER
    rabbi Y BARBER

    GROUP 2

    KOSHER AUSTRALIA ADASS YISROEL KVY and ITSKOSHER
    rabbi MORDECHAI GUTNICK rabbi A Z BECK rabbi M G RABI
    rabbi Y BARBER

    1. is it appropriate for group one(1) to issue proclamations about group two(2)?

  • anon says:

    I don’t get it

    Meir writes:

    I did not set up KVY. I was compelled by a very insistent and unrelenting Rabbi Rudski, to continue his Kashrut authority. I renamed it as Kosher VeYosher and also, “its Kosher!”

    If there was a push from Rabbi Rudski, then why the need to change names, set up alternate bodies and organisations. It would just make sense to take over the reigns of an existing organisation and leverage existing community goodwill towards the name and the integrity of said organsiation – just like any business buy out/ hand over etc…

    If you have been handed the organsiation as you suggest, then why rename it, why start alternate organsiations in the names of different people whose business dealings have been subject to court action. It should have been sraight forward. Rabbi Rudski signs over a legal document giving control of his organisation to Meir Rabi, end of story.

    I can only assume the wider community who respected Rabbi Rudski would have been happy to see his legacy grow. Instead, his legacy seems to have been buried. The only connection between the Rudski kashrus and KVY and It’s Kosher! is a statement by Meir Rabi that he was gifted Rabbi Rudskis kashrus org. There is no one yet to step forward and say, “I was there and I heard the Rabbi insist that his org be continued by Meir”

    Everything is shrouded in mystery… for someone who wants to bring forth the light of truth into a world of darkness, it all seems like smoke and mirrors

  • kalmangradman says:

    hi shoshi,

    YOU WROTE, ‘WHY NOT?’

    are you suggesting that rabbi mordechai GUTNICK from the RCV issue proclamations to rabbi mordechai GUTNICK from KOSHER AUSTRALIA?

    and anyway,

    would rabbi mordechai GUTNICK be prepared to listen to reason?

    its a little bit funny!

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom,

    I must apologise for the mish mash with my postings. I was trying to address many issues and hence wrote a long post. I was having troubles submitting it to the blog and not immediately realising it was due to the length I tried a couple of times. Then when I realised it might be due to the length I submitted it two parts. It looks like it was therefore repeatedly posted and I do apologise.

    Its good to hear about lentils being “polished with non-Kosher oils”. Would it not be helpful to have this info posted a public site? Or is withholding this info an indication that there is an effort to cultivate an atmosphere where we the ordinary people must accept the guidance of our leaders without question?

    History is probably one of the best teachers about human nature – so if we have in our collective memory various events that reflect poorly upon X, then we must work to prove that matters have changed. Shouting the praises of X does not prove nor persuade. If anything it casts a greater suspicion upon X.

    I am still waiting to hear what the Halachic disagreements are that various rabbis appear to have with me.

    I am grateful to those like Anon, who did read it and I assume by their queries of limited points, concede, accept and agree with the major observations that I have made.

    I will now address Anon’s concerns.
    There was no need for me to change name of Rabbi Rudski’s Kashrus. I chose to give it a name that reflected my preferences. I certainly would not have done that had Rabbi Rudski objected – but he was not concerned about cosmetics, unless they were used to conceal truth.

    I chose Kosher VeYosher because that reflects what I wish to pursue and promote and I felt it reflected what Rabbi Rudski wished to promote and pursue. At a later stage, I realised it was too much of a mouthful for many so a new simpler name reflecting a similar image was selected.

    The handover from Rabbi Rudski was simply his introducing me to the catering establishments that he was overseeing. It stands to reason that had Rabbi Rudski offered it to anyone else there would have been no opportunity for me to step in and any dispute would have come to the public’s attention. It also stands to reason that he knew about the other big Kosher org and did not want his Kashrus to go there, he was looking for someone to retain the independent nature of his Kashrut.

    I believe I have honoured Rabbi Rudski’s mission. The KVY website is very comprehensive in its discussion of Kashrus matters. I answer all queries and answer them politely. We have expanded Kashrus to make it more understandable, more accessible and more affordable. I have not compromised Kashrut standards. I have pursued the stricter approach to Halacha when making decisions. Those decisions are clear and transparent. Please Gd we will continue.

  • Sam says:

    On a lighter note as this topic has become too serious and unfortunately just a continuation of three earlier ones; I liked the Yiddish ditty by Kalmangradman. Must be that we have mothers that came from the same shtetl. Every yomtov in my childhood, I would keep hearing from my mother, that she needed to buy some marreh petch for the gefilte fish. OK I thought; it is obviously a Yiddishe fish species that the goyim do not know about.
    She pronounced it as one word “marrapetch” and it took me well over a decade to realise that, probably it was actually Murray Perch.
    Kalmangradman, thanks for the humour and the memories.

  • kalmangradman says:

    hi sam,

    not only did my mother(lodza)and yours come from the same shtetl in poilend where the fish of choice was merrehpetch (carp actually), but when we arrived in melbourne she would shlep me and my sister to the city on a trumvey and later we would have lunch at the
    Col-Les cafetairia in bourke street upstairs.

    to this day, my now 80 year old mother(zol ze ztarn gezent und shtarek) loves to shop at Col-Les in elsternvik. my sisters and I platz with laughter when we text each other in Yinglish. my sister peggy and I have this trick we have been using for years and my mother still hasn’t caught on.

    it goes like this,
    if i havent spoken to my mother for a week or more and she happens to be with my sister and she happens to mention that her bad son hasn’t called to see how his old mother is, (they telephone each other at least 3 times a day) my sister will discreetly send me a pre programmed text with this message. ‘call mum now’

    no matter where I am or who I’m with, I call my mother immediately.
    the conversation goes like this.

    ‘hi mum,’ ‘hi kalman,’ hobb yetz ge rhet fin der!(she says)
    NO-O! (I say)

    in the background my sister has to bite her lip not to give it away!

    we chat for a few seconds, life goes on! we platz! (burst,explode)

  • kalmangradman says:

    hi sam,

    buy the way did you mother ever buy any shpondereh from the butcher!

  • Yossi says:

    Leshono Toivo(thanks, and the same to you and yours) wrote: Most Australian lentils are polished with non Kosher oil”

    So that is why Adass have-for many years- been warning to only use lentils and split peas with hechsher. Got to give KA credit where it’s due, as they have now come to the party.

  • frosh says:

    What’s the evidence for this treifing of lentils?

  • Ben says:

    It’s been going on a long time. I have been shown letters from the lentil companies, re from where this oil is purchased.

  • Ben says:

    It was a while ago. From memory, there were two oil suppliers, Peerless( Kosher) and and another oil co that also has tallow on the lines.

  • Jill says:

    does the KA kashrut book warn consumers about lentils being polished with treif oils?

  • michael says:

    Shoshi, maybe before commenting you could check with your contacts if KA hasn’t slandered KV via its rabbis in public and private conversations as well as doing so to the establishments and producers who have his seal.

  • Sara says:

    Shoshana, you seem to be in the habit of making proclamations on topics you know nothing about.

    Were you one of the several hundred people who were in Shule when Rabbi Sprung denounced Rabbi Meir’s food as “treif”? Obviously not. This was appalling and shocking to many.

    Furthermore for you to allude to Rabbi Meir as “just any schmendrick” is revolting, and you have yet to acknowledge his lengthy postings in which he indicates clearly that his knowledge of halacha far exceeds yours or that or many others.

    He is just as switched on as any other Rav, possibly more, because he
    a) has the guts to stand by his convictions
    b) cares enough about the community to make Kashrut something not meant solely for the rich or over-zealous.
    c) has the decency to enter into open discussion and provide sources in halacha for everything he asserts, at every opportunity.

    So as Michael said – check your contacts.. and open your eyes. You appear to be viewing KA as perfect and without error.
    They are still a commercial entity, still monolithic despite your protest, and still comprised of the same people as the Beis Din. maybe you need to keep that in mind.
    No secret conspiracy theories or other childish notions (including yours- which paints them as perfect) .. but they like any other commercial body has an agenda.
    They need to keep Rabbi Meir out of business to protect their own longevity.

    That is not what kashrus is about.

  • kalmangradman, but in reality, when has that actually happened? How do you know, even if it did, that R.Gutnick would not recuse himself from that particular proclamation? What exactly are you suggesting? Are you saying they are corrupt? If so, what evidence of that do you have?

  • Sara, you truly believe that Meir Rabi is the people’s Rabbi saving kashrus from being solely for the ‘rich and overzealous’? Now who is being childish? You see this as a class conflict? Since when does one have to be rich to keep kosher? I know plenty of poor people who do so very well. And how are the standards of KA which follows the OU and allows cholov stam ‘overzealous”? You are the one who is talking without knowing what you are talking about. The last thing KA has to worry about is a threat from Meir Rabi, that is as laughable as is your ridiculous ‘conspiratorial’ view!

  • Hey Kalmangradman. you are so concerned about the possible corruption of the RCV and KA while Meir Rabi is accountable to absolutely NO ONE but himself and his bottom line, with absolutely no checks and balances at all, and zero transparency. Meir Rabi’s income is directly dependent on the number of hechsherim he gets, while the Rabbonim at KA are on a fixed salary regardless of the amount of hechsherim they certify, so Meir Rabi is totally profit driven and the Rabbonim at KA are not. You as his business partner with a vested interest in the success of the commercial side of KVY (or your wife is the biz partner?) look to put your own house in order before attacking another.

  • kalmangradman says:

    hi shosh,

    I am certainly not suggesting that any rabbonim are corrupt! on the contrary, as I said in an earlier post, they have served the community faithfully for many years.

    your argument that the rabbonim of the Rabbinic Council of Victoria (RCV), Kosher Australia (KA) and the Melbourne Beth Din (MBD) are independent of each other is just not credible and plain for all to see.

    your accusation that KVY and Itskosher are a private business is self evident.

    Unlike the entities above, in concert with the OU, Star K, The London Beth Din and other international Agencies, we do not make comment or issue proclamations that relate to the kosher status of the products that other certifying organizations endorse.

  • Sara says:

    and that Kalman is the bottom line of this whole debate.

    neither Shoshana, nor anybody else has any right to issue remarks about Rabbi Meir’s kashrut standards.

  • ethics, what ethics??? says:

    Everything that Silcove accuses RMR of, was done by her favourite rabbis Gutnick and Barber.

    They had their own supervsion business with absolutely no outside controls or oversight. NONE AT ALL.

    They ran it in a pretty cavalier fashion and may we again remind you how RMG couldn’t run fast enough to Glicks to whack his stamp on their products as soon as he heard that the MK and Rabbi Zaichyk had banned them. Pretty high ethics here, no?

    So Ms SS think before you babble.

    (Oh, and talking of money, do you have the faintest doubt that the only reason rabbis G and B transferred their businesses and souls to the KA was because they were given NIG BIG bucks – far more than they were bringing in on their own?)

  • To ‘ethics, what ethics???’-There is not a shred of evidence for anything you write here. These are your own personal attacks against RMK and YB. You obviously have personal issues with them for some strange reason. Stop spreading lies. You have nothing to back up any of your assertions about their income or their motivations. You anonymously typing lies and besmirching Rabbonim. How is that ethical?

  • neither Shoshana, nor anybody else has any right to issue remarks about Rabbi Meir’s kashrut standards.

    Who says, Sara? What makes you so sure? Do you know more Shulchan Aruch than the Rabbonim to assert this? Of course the Rabbonim have every right to do so! In fact, it is their obligation and I know they have studied more Shulchan Aruch than you have!

  • Tom says:

    Ms S, What has Ethics written that’s not true? I remember it all as he writes. And except maybe the Glick story, he didn’t besmirch anyone. Just saying that it’s been done before.

  • Tom, how do I know it is true? Are some people so naive and gullible that they believe everything just because ‘someone said so’ or ‘I heard it’? Because some anonymous blogger, who probably posts 25 times under different anonymous blogger names, says so? Only a fool would take any of it as fact.

    Anyway, why bring up all these old prehistoric chestnuts? What purpose does any of these old rumours have to do with the topics at hand today? Some anonymous bloggers here are harbouring old resnetments, festering hatred in their hearts, and have ancient chips on their shoulders that no one cares about but them.

    Today, in 2010, KA has accountability and transparency and KVY does not.

  • Sara says:

    Shoshana, as you have not studied the amount of Shulchan Aruch and Gemorra that Rabbi Meir has, perhaps it is best that you not make pronouncements about him.

  • Rabbi Meir G. Rabi says:

    Although this has been said before, I will say it again since it appears as though some have not heard or digested its significance.

    And possibly some have not seen this important information amongst the chaff in this discussion.

    Ha Rav Moshe Feinstein, a very highly respected international Halachic authority, has written that the individual rabbi is MORE reliable for many reasons, than the large Kosher organisations. He specifically refers to the financial considerations mentioned in you this discussion.

    See our website FAQS for more info.

  • As I would never portend to be learned in halacha (like some people on this blog do) I hold by the opinions of the Rabbonim whom I believe to be the most learned and respected and they are the RCV and KA, not MR. MR may be somewhat learned but, not nearly on the level of learning, experience, expertise, nor does he nejoy the repsected reputation of the Rabbonim of RCV and KA.

  • Sorry for the typos aboce, was rushing to type it.

  • At the risk of repeating myself (some people need to hear something 101 times before it sinks in) Rabbi Feinstein’s opinion is a general klal and does not apply in this instance since KVY is a one man band with no accountability to anyone except himself and is in business for himself as oppossed to being a salaried an employee like the Rabbonim of KA. How many times does this have to be reiterated?

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Here is a link to the entire Tesuvah of HaRav Mosher Feinstein. http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/index.php?id=163
    I will publish on that same page, the original in Heberew as soon as possible

  • Shalom Shoshana.

    Please direct me to the source of your qualification of Rabbi Fienstien’s Halachic ruling. (BTW, where did you or anyone else state such a qualification? I dont think it has been said 101 times and I dont even believe it has been said once. I think this is the first time you have posted such a qualification.)

    I have never heard this before and I have spoken to Rabbi Fienstien’s grandson specifically about this Teshuvah. May I assume that your continued silence about this and other matters that I have posted here is an indication that you concede?

  • Meir Rabi, You misunderstood my post. Never mind. If you want to try and corner me by showing you know more halacha than me, fine, then you obviously win cause you do. That doesn’t keep me from adhering to the RCV’s proclamation about KVY. I simply trust them alot more than I do you.

  • Shalom Shoshana.

    Thank you for your response. No, I was certainly not attempting to corner you about Halachic matters.

    My purpose was to provide clarity. You made a comment that would have been misunderstood by almost anyone reading it, and I helped you clarify your true intentions.

    It would have been better had you drafted your comments with greater care in the first instance. If all you meant to say is that you simply trust the RCV a lot more than you trust me, then by all means you are entitled to that position and perhaps even entitled to say that in public. I would suggest though, that before you SAY such things you contact your LOR and verify that the Chafets Chayim and HKBH think that it is permitted to say or repeat such things.

    But you did write that, “Rabbi Feinstein’s opinion is a general rule and does not apply in this instance since KVY is a one man band with no accountability to anyone except himself and is in business for himself as oppossed to being a salaried an employee like the Rabbonim of KA”

    But Shoshana, what you have said is not true.

    I am trying to help. I think it is reasonable that postings should be accurate and that if they are not accurate, a correction ought to be made as early as possible. It is also nice to see the poster acknowledge their error and the help they have received.

    So for the record, Shoshana please confirm that Rabbi Moshe Feinstien does not qualify his opinion as I have quoted him at http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/index.php?id=163. He rules that the individual rabbi is MORE reliable for many reasons, than the large Kosher organisations. He specifically refers to the financial considerations mentioned in you this discussion.

  • anon says:

    I tend to agree with Meir Rabi. R’ Moshe Feinstein was all for individual Rabbis in conducting kashrus.

    However, I think it is implicitly clear that Rabbi Feinstein was referring to those Rabbis of the highest calibre. Rabbis who have a record of proving themselves in adding value for the Klal, for honest dealings and for not focusing themselves on ‘Empire Building’ whether that be in the form of a kashrus organisation, a community based shul or as trival as a library.

    It stands to reason that Rabbi Feinstein was Not including someone who:
    1) Is NOT qualified with the likes of a Semicha that is able to be published (all good docotrs/ Lawyers/ engineers & Rabbis don’t have a problem presenting their qualifications, particularly when they are trying to sell themselves as proficient in their area of expertise)
    2) Does NOT have a significant amount of Shimush in the area of Kashrus – > i.e. on the ground training (apprenticeship)
    3) Is continually embroiled with Machlokos with other organisations
    4) Has been shown the door (after being asked to leave) of a premier city shul, the leading city Kollel and the ecclectic city Shtiebel
    5) Has taken over the Rabbinic posting of a thriving Young Israel style shul and quickly steering its Yisroel away from the Tiferet

  • We have added the original copy of Reb Moshe’s Teshuvah to the web page so you can see the translation as well as the original.
    http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/index.php?id=163

    As for my most recent secret admirer “anon”: It is good when people see the facts of Reb Moshe’s Teshuvah and admit to their truth, you have done well. It is not good when fiction is fabricated out of various fragments of falsefacts and presented as though it is fully factual.

  • kalmangradman says:

    dear anon,

    It’s always pleasant to read about YOUR THOUGHTS and YOUR THINKING!

    based on your visions, it appears that a rush of blood to your head may have precipitated the thoughts and the subsequent writings prior to posting.

    I respectfully suggest a period of time allocated to rest, followed by a strong gluis tey (glass of tea) with at least 3 heaped teaspoons of white sugar.

    the prescription suggested above has served our community well from time immemorial and is known to help extract the venom that poisons our sense of decency and fair play.

    Additionally you may want to include 2 panadols (500mg paracetamol) with the gluis tey as I believe this assists in allowing the venom to dissipate more quickly.

    wishing you a refuah shelameh

  • kalmangradman, to be consistent, if you are truly sincere and believe in fairness and truth, you should also give the same advice you just gave to ‘anon’ to ‘ethics, what ethics???’ In my view both use similar tactics.

  • kalmangradman says:

    touche!

    ditto to ethics what ethics

  • Shalom,

    There is a common underlying thread to much of what is posted here recently, and I should like to address it.

    The issue at hand is nothing else but the transparency of public pronouncements or lack of it by people or organisations that are perceived as having legitimate Halachic credentials.

    Rabbis and Rabbinic organisations must make the reasons for their pronouncements, public and clear. The Jewish community has no independent ombudsman and it has no FOI. We should not need them. They are an intrinsic part of our Halachic life and a manifestation of our inherent religious practice and appreciation for truth and justice. These are hallmarks of the Jewish personality and community.

    In Australia, we are familiar with the offices of the ombudsman and the FOI, considering them to be a most elementary component of our society’s integrity. But they have come into existence only because we suffered abuse at the hands of those who had ascended to power and were able to do all sorts of things without need to explain or document what they had done. These injustices were perpetrated by people who did not have or did not cherish the importance of pursuing truth and justice, although they may well have paid lip service to those lofty sentiments.

    We, the community, know that various vague public declarations have been made and that private messages of similar nature have been doing the rounds. However, no one in the community, and certainly not I, are aware of the actual concerns. And this despite repeated requests for specifics of what those concerns may be and an assurance that any Halachic concerns will be explained or addressed with all due haste.

    This is a sad state of affairs that reflects poorly on the integrity and true Ehrlichkeit of those who promote these tribal clashes. We are capable of better.

  • Sam says:

    Hi Kalmangradman
    I don’t know what shpondereh is, maybe you can tell us. However wishing to tell everyone about her clever son my mother would buy lamb brains for me at least once week. After a while I even learnt to like them. Can’t imagine eating any nowadays; YUK!

  • kalmangradman says:

    hi sam,

    shponderah is known in yinglish as Top Rib beef.

    often used for cholent. tough meat that can stand long slow cooking procedures!

    the cut of beef is actually ribs cut by electric butchers saw, horizontally! but maybe thats too much information!

    kalman

  • anon says:

    Mrs Silcove & Mr Gradman,

    The issue that offends me in this childish affair here in Melbourne is the way Meir Rabi presents himself as the ‘picked on’ by all the bully boy Rabbis and hallow men of the Melbourne Jewish Community and he is always right, 100% correct and infallable

    I have no problem with more hechsherim in Australia, if sustainable, I think it great. It means growth of the community, it means more products available and perhaps even better pricing.

    It is the man, who he is, what he stands for, what his principles are and his motives that has led ALL the Rabbis in Melbourne (including the Adass) to voice their concern over his Kashrus – Note: Those in Adass do not proclaim it in open letters, but when asked the question directly, there is a consensus that his kashrus is ‘dangerous’

    Meir has written on this site that there are NO issues with LOTF and there is NO need for Mashigichim onsite. I have learnt:

    a) On Saturday night after going to the football, friends of mine have seen staff eating their non-kosher meat based burgers in a corner of the store – obviously this doesn’t make the chips and other products onsite non-kosher, but it does bite into the credibility of Meir Rabi who expalins that NO FORIEGN FOODS are allowed on premise. ‘Dangerous’

    b) At least three of my friends have explained over the months they have noted Heads of Lettuce onsite being ‘rinsed’. This is a somewhat larger issues, particularly when Meir originally stated on this site that there are NO leafy products at LOTF.
    In fact, a couple people explained that Meir had no idea about the lettuce and only found out when someone in the community had to tell him that LEAFY products ARE onsite. Meir then got his act together and now requires LOTF to purchase pre-checked lettuce and now states that there is leafy products onsite. ‘Dangerous’

    For someone who states he knows the running of the organsiation inside and out to NOT know that lettuce is on the menu, is deeply concerning. It was only dealt with when said person was told by a member of the community and reacted accordingly (for months Meir was adamant that there was NO LEAFY products – look through the earlier posts by Meir on this site)- perhaps through his own lack of knowledge he PROVES the need for mashgichim onsite in modern day food establishments

  • anon, I understand that there are serious halachik problems with Meir Rabi’s kashrus, no doubt, and they way he rebels against all authority figures irks me.

  • frosh says:

    Allegations made by anonymous people based on the hearsay of more anonymous people fall into one of two categories

    Loshon Hora (at best) or Motzi Shem Ra

    Unless you have witnesses with evidence willing to put their names to specific details, I suggest people refrain from making cowardly and sinful allegations against other people and organisations.

  • kalmangradman says:

    dear anon,

    I am pleased to see that the gluis tey and panadol have had the desired effect!

    KVY and its ‘enfant terrible’ ITSKOSHER do not seek confrontation with the existing kashrut service providers nor do we seek to OFFEND or IRK the galus posters!

    We do not invite or request commentary or advice from the existing pre-eminent kashrut authorities, nor do we seek their approval or blessing.

    As is their right, they and their constituents can choose to ignore our Kosher certified products or not as they please.

    As part of our effort to diffuse the concerns of the Adass community we have asked the manufacturers of the products currently under our Kosher certification to include an ADASS warning on all future packaging. See below

    ‘this product may be dangerous to any person or persons of the ADASS persuasion.’ ‘please seek approval from your RAV prior to consuming this product’

    LORD OF THE FRIES in melbourne operates under the Kosher Certification of Rabbi Meir Gershon Rabi and is subject to the stringent laws of halocha.

  • Frosh,

    I suspect a double standard on your part. You deem the comments from anon about practices at LOTF as sinful, but did not make the same declaration regarding the comments about KA and some of the Rabbis associated with it. It has to cut both ways …

  • Sara says:

    Shoshana,

    ah the hypocrisy!

    You accused ‘ethics, what ethics’ of “typing lies and besmirching Rabbonim”
    You then proceed to besmirch Rabbi Meir.
    “anon, I understand that there are serious halachik problems with Meir Rabi’s kashrus” (evidence????? – oh thats right, you are talking naarish! – again)
    Ha!

    You write “MR may be somewhat learned but, not nearly on the level of learning.. of those of KA”
    How are you measuring this? Have you been present in any of Rabbi Meir’s Shiurim?
    Have you bothered to read his lengthy posts? Your entire process of dealing with him seems to be one of total dismissal. And when he tries to write to you on this blog you feel cornered.. its not like he could ever win with you. Your agenda is already clear.

    It starts to look very much like you are a mere lemming, and you are making a mockery of the essence of yiddishkeit, which if you had bothered to learn any of it, you would know is to ask your own questions, not follow blindly, to not judge until you have understood entirely where another is coming from.

    And of course on the count of Loshen Hora. You fail miserably, in trying to champion the KA cause, you commit multiple aveiros, make a total fool of yourself and a huge chilul Hashem. It is clear that it is you who does not take kashrus seriously, but rather see it as some sort of accessory to zealously cling to without proper Binah.

    Perhaps it is time you got off your uninformed soapbox and thought about some of the things you have said ‘besheim Hashem’, especially only minutes before Tishrei.

  • Sara, thanks for the compliment! :^) You are projecting as you are the hypocrite, hiding behind anonimity, you are probably not even female, probably the same one bitter little man with 25 different names blogging your insipid nonsensical hateful dribble.

  • frosh says:

    Hi David,

    My comment was aimed at all anonymous parties hiding in the bushes and throwing mud around, hoping some of it sticks.

    Oh, and while Ms Silcove is not anonymous (to her credit, and only credit), she is also making nastly allegations without a shred of evidence (and based purely on hearsay). It’s not difficult to understand how she has got the reputation that she does.

  • Thanks for the compliment Frosh,;^). Go ahead and single me out as if I am the only on this blog who wrote something that may have been distasteful to some. You know that is a patent lie. You have been on MR’s side from the beginning, this entire (lefty sympathizing anti-Orthodox blog) is bent to sing his praises and bash KA. That is obvious. It is the home of his lemmings and RCV/KA haters. Ridicule and insult on, no one can please all the people all the time. I have supporters and detractors, as anyone who speaks their mind does. Some people like my straightforward honest style, and some prefer silk tongues laden with sweet sounding lies. My stand against KVY’s unreliable kashrus is backed up by the Rabbonim (whom you seem to lack respect for and disdain) and so I am in good company. I have seen and heard enough to know that while the RCV/KA Rabbonim are not perfect, and not always 100% correct, they are as reliable as any respected Rabbonim can be and, the attempt by you and your ilk to weaken their reputation is futile. Some people who do not take kashrus too seriously and are looking for leniencies will always find a champion in MR and will assuage their own guilt by making him into their anti-establishment hero who is bringing down the tall poppies. I do not wish to sit back and read lie after lie, innuendo after innuendo, made against Rabbonim whom I know personally. I know them to be good and well meaning men, fine Torah scholars. They are Jews who make personal sacrifices for the Klal and who toil day and night without fanfare quietly behind the scenes. For this they receive little financial compensation in comparison to their great communal contributions. These Rabbis who work, mostly unappreciated, and often maligned (especially by some of the ungrateful ignorant brats on this blog) towards the furthering and strengthening of Torah true Judaism in this city. I cannot and will not sit back and remain silent without protesting the unjustifiable slings and arrows thrown at them. I do not know how to put this any other way without it sounding too harsh for some of you who portend to be oh so delicate. I do not know how to express myself without running the risk of being hit with another barrage of personal attacks, insults, and accusations that I am spreading LH,and guilty of every other aveira in the book before RH, blah blah blah. Oh you holy roller anonymous ones who hate the RCV/KA, who are so self righteous, who cannot name yourselves because you are actually ashamed to reveal your identities, because probably if we knew who you were your self righteous oh-so-holier-than-thou stance would become laughable. Simply put, without meaning to insult, I do not believe that MR is an honest broker, nor do I believe he is up to par in his halachik expertise to his detractors. I do not wish to horrify some of you who may want to close your precious ears and eyes to the reality that this is so, but the facts speak for themselves. And most of you should be intelligent enough to be able appreciate my position, that I must restrain myself from disclosing most of the FACTS I have been privy to, especially in writing.

  • Tom says:

    Ms Silcove, While I am not commenting on the level of Kashrus or lack of it, what “Ethics” writes, rings true. You cannot criticize Rabbi Rabi for starting his own private label, receiving pay directly from licencsees and all the other issues you have with this type of Hechsher, when your own Rabbis started here in Melbourne exactly the same way. These are not lies. It is fact.

    And of course, Rabbis Gutnick and Barber no doubt would have been a lot better paid by Mizrachi Kashrus than they were earning from the few companies they were certifying. There is nothing shameful about this. It’s normal to endeavor to try for a better job with better pay. They have families to support. But then it is not right to get stuck into Rabbi Rabi for exactly those things that your own Rabbis did, no matter how long ago it was.

  • Tom,
    You think that Rabbis Barber and Gutnick closed shop and ran to take jobs at Mizrachi cause the pay there is so great? I am now on the floor rolling around and laughing uncontrollably. Thanks for making my night a humorous one!

    It is a time for teshuva for all of us. One should try not to not speak about things one is not sure of. How Rabbis Barber and Gutnick may have ran their own kashrus organisations in the past is pure conjecture. I will give you the benefit of the doubt on this and let us assume for a moment they did not have accountability in their own businesses in the past. It is entirely possible that they saw it was not the best situation for kashrus to be run that way, that they saw it didn’t work, and that could be one of the motivating factors as to why they both closed shop and started working for Mizrachi. The truth is we do not know what transpired without asking them. What I do know is that (as stated 101 times already) as things stand today, KA is accountable and KVY isn’t. Therefore, this makes KA much more trustworthy than KVY. So deal with it.

  • And Sara, it’s not that I dismiss what MR writes, I just refuse to get into a tit for tat discussion with someone whom I see as dishonest in the first place because what would be the point? Why argue with someone who has a slippery relationship with the truth?

  • By the way, I never go by Ms., I am proudly a married woman and not feminist.

  • kalmangradman says:

    Dear shosh,

    You wrote
    ‘someone whom I see as DISHONEST in the first place because what would be the point?’ ‘Why argue with someone who has a SLIPPERY relationship with the TRUTH?’

    You have called the RABBINIC head of KVY and ITSKOSHER a liar and dishonest. I offer you a tiny window of opportunity to make your apology!

    kalman

  • Sorry, I do not trust MR or his kashrus. That is my privilege. I do not see him as an authority figure. Where are his credentials? Why should I see him as an expert? Why doesn’t he openly discuss things over with certain Rabbonim? To me that smacks of dishonesty. No apology needed for that.

  • and what do you mean you give me a small window of opportunity? Are you threatening me?

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear shosh,

    as you say, you may hold any opinions about anyone as you please, if you publish those opinions and those opinions defame someone, the consequences will be different.

    kalman

  • kalman,don’t be ridiculous. Get a grip of yourself and stop being so thin skinned. Show me MR’s Rabbinic smicha. Let him ring the Rabbonim at KA and have an open discussion with them and then maybe, just maybe then he will be seen as beyond reproach, but not until then. As of now the RCV and KA Rabbonim are so beyond him in reputation for integrity it isn’t even a contest.

  • In any profession like a doctor or a therapist, it is illegal to practice without credentials. A Rabbi should also be able to readily produce their creds when asked.

  • if not then one wonders what they are hiding, no?

  • kalmangradman says:

    URGENT!

    dear frosh,

    I understand that you own/administer this blog.

    please contact me URGENTLY AS I wish to make a formal complaint about the postings of mrs shoshana silcove.

    kalman

  • Samuel says:

    Mrs Silcove -you write “……And most of you should be intelligent enough to be able appreciate my position, that I must restrain myself from disclosing most of the FACTS I have been privy to, especially in writing…..”.
    Of course we do not expect you to disclose what you have been privy to, but could you give us a clue as to how you came by these so called FACTS?”
    Would it be correct to assume that your source is KA?
    Are you saying that “what happens at KA doesn’t stay at KA?

  • kalmangradman says:

    dear mrs silcove,

    The imputations you make about Rabbi Meir Gershon Rabi, the rabbinic head of KosherVeyosher and It’skosher are completely false and without foundation

    The Kosher Certification processes adopted by KVY and It’skosher have been accepted by the RABBINUTE ISRAEL for a range of chocolate based products manufactured in melbourne and certified by it’skosher.

    http://www.lovingearth.com.au
    http://www.theorganicpalace.com

    As you are no doubt aware, the RABBINUTE ISRAEL carries out the functions of authorizing, assessing and approving for importation into israel, food products manufactured outside of israel which claim to be kosher.

    Accordingly, the products certified by KVY and Itskosher are clearly accepted and recognized at the very highest level, which of itself demonstrates that the imputations you have raised in your post are false.

    In addition, we do not need or seek to submit our rabbinic head for examination by Kosher Australia, one of our competitors or to Mrs Shoshana Silcove a Vitriolic and biased supporter of Kosher Australia.

  • kalmangradman, you want to make a formal complaint? How childish.

  • Easy to make a complaint against me because you already know who I am, but others made terrible accusations against MR (even with specifics against LOTF and other things like him being kicked out of a certain much more specific details etc.) so why not complain against them? Cause they are anonymous? No problem, Frosh has their ISP and they can be tracked down, anyone can be found out.

  • kalmangradman says:

    dear mrs silcove,

    you crossed the lines of decency. I gave you an opportunity to correct your error and you chose to dismiss my suggestion with contempt.

    you publically called another human being a liar and dishonest!

    no less another jew!

    do you now wish to make a retraction?

  • Stop threatening me, I don’t respond well to threats. You sound desperate. Did I hit a nerve or are you having a bad day? Why don’t you ask Frosh to find out who the anonynous ones are who said far worse things then I did?

  • Why not make a formal complaint against RCV who in essence said not to trust KVY/MR? Why not go to the Rabbonim, whom I stand by, and threaten them?

  • kalmangradman says:

    mrs silcove,

    this will be my last post on this matter!

    you made a public announcement that you consider our rabbi a liar and dishonest!

  • kalmangradman, Hope it is your last post PERIOD!

  • Kalmangradman, you called me indecent. Are you the paragon of decency? Some may feel otherwise. You called me vitriolic. Are you the role model for gentleness? Perhaps, perhaps not. You have your opinions, I have mine. Are you in favour of censorship? Perhaps.

  • Sam says:

    To all the protagonists regarding which kashrus authority has any real authority may I remind you of what David wrote in the original article, which was excellent and worth a second read.

    “Secondly and more importantly, I was the only person who inquired about the flour used. This truly staggered me. While I’ve never actually eaten the stuff on Pesach (I only eat hand baked shmurah matzah), I would have thought that people who cared about kashrut would have taken the five minutes to send an e-mail and find out for themselves. There were several hundred comments on the handful of articles about the whole topic on this site, many of which raised the counter example of the flour used. Are readers more interested in gossip about the politics of kashrut authorities than the kashrut itself?”

    Maybe eveyone should quietly eat what they are confident is truly kosher and not worry about what anyone else is eating.
    Hijacking the blog topic is very poor manners and now has been done to several related ones as well. Genug!

  • Sam,

    Thanks for bringing the discussion back on topic. This is not about whether Australian flour is/was washed or unwashed, and is not about which of KA or KVY are more trustworthy or transparent (they both have their positives and negatives). It’s about people’s response to the issue, and whether kashrut or gossip is more important to them. The very fact that this has again descended into a nasty tit for tat probably proves the point!

  • I don’t have to prove that I care about kashrus. I have been supporting my husband’s work for thirteen years, Baruch Hashem, and as someone who is a closely associated observer of the kashrus business, I do not think most of you appreciate just how complicated and difficult an enterprise it is. The biggest problem is that by and large this kehillah is very apathetic about kashrus. They whine and complain plenty but, most of the time won’t bother to do anything. The fact that they won’t even pick up a phone to ask about an issue, or that they won’t do anything as activists for their own kashrus, makes it much more difficult for the kashrus authority, who takes all their blame for every little trivial thing and then some.

    The staff at KA is overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, yet totally dedicated, even if most of the members of the community they serve don’t care as much as they ought to.

  • It is difficult to know how to interpret David’s (Werdiger) observation that other than his enquiry, none were made to KAM.

    Perhaps, since it is a matter that is no longer relevant to KAM since they are no longer producing Pesach flour in Australia, it did not really interest people.

    Perhaps it is a consequence of the atmosphere cultivated around the persona of the Kashrut organisation. So if the website does not present a wealth of clear information about its Kashrus policies and protocols, perhaps people just lack the confidence that they will receive a prompt clear answer.

    We need not look far because there are many emails that have been sent recently to the relevant bodies, requesting information regarding Kashrut condemnations. These enquiries have gone unanswered. It does not take many of such non-responses for word to get around that there is no point in making a request.

    David, you are not only a friend of the General Manager of KAM, but an individual who for very legitimate reasons, wields significant presence in this community, and may I say as your relative, uses it with wisdom. You may have received preferential treatment or may be perceived as receiving preferential treatment. So your experience does not translate into a confidence building precedent.

    Neither do the regular persuasions seen on this blog site, that “all you need to do is call and ask, you will certainly receive a prompt clear answer”. If questions need to be answered, why make people ask? Better to put the answers out in the open, on the website.

    However, you make a great point: what can and what should be done to promote a vigorous interest in our Jewish life? I would presume the very first step should be to promote further open discussion. But this is not happening. We get pronouncements but they are without transparency, without reason. Neither I nor any of the many who requested, have received the slightest indication of what Halachic considerations trouble any of KVY critics, in spite of repeated requests for such a written list and assurances that responses to such queries will be provided with all haste. Now that does not cultivate confidence, on the contrary people just say, “Whats the point in even trying to talk to them?”

    KVY and “its Kosher!” on the other hand, have received many queries about the flour used for our Soft Matza (as well as other matters) and we have tons of information available at the website which was heavily visited. See http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/index.php?id=288 which has many links to much more information. And here is a PDF http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/assets/files/Documents/LSSM%20PDF%202%20CLMNS.pdf

    So from my limited perspective, it looks like there is a very healthy interest in knowing more about Kashrus in general and contemporary, prominent Kashrut issues.

    I believe it is better to provide the information in the public arena rather than responding to individual enquiries. Firstly, it is more easily accessed. Secondly, there is a suspicion that the information being disclosed to an individual enquiry, is perhaps “tailored” to the individual making the query.

  • Something new? says:

    Who or what is KAM?

  • Re oil used to polish various dry legumes etc
    The cottonseed oil used is certified Kosher either by KA Melbourne or NSW
    It is used in proportions of 1:500
    The application of oil for such purposes does not appear to be universal amongst all providers of such products.

  • Vishniac says:

    Shoshanna Silcove says:
    September 2, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Tom,
    You think that Rabbis Barber and Gutnick closed shop and ran to take jobs at Mizrachi cause the pay there is so great? I am now on the floor rolling around and laughing uncontrollably. Thanks for making my night a humorous one!

    >>

    Come on Shosh. You’re not as naive as that are you?

    You really and truly think that rabbis barber and gutnick gave up huge money moaking business, ie, their private kashrus certifications companies – all leshem shomayim!

    Wow, do you need to get hol dof yourself and maybe have a Bex or 2 and a long deep liedown.

    Zei nit kein naar. There’s no future in it.

    Wishing you a gmar tov and all the best

  • Vishniac, Obviously, the point I meant was that Mizrachi doesn’t pay so well. You need stop putting words in my mouth and to improve your reading comprehension.

  • Shira Wenig says:

    I have only seen this article (and its related comments today) and don’t know if anyone is paying attention to this page anymore. But I am so disturbed by the turn the discussion has taken that I feel driven to add my two cents.

    1. I don’t think any of us smicha-less laypeople (no matter how much or what we have learned) have any right to comment on the halachic specifics of kashrut organisations. If we are not well versed in the whole sugya relating to a particular issue, we have no right to publicly endorse or deride anyone’s psak on it.

    2. With kashrut, just like with any other halachic issue, each individual has to pick his own Rav and go by his psak. By all means, question your Rav privately about his reasoning behind the psak, if you are genuinely interested in this.

    3. My understanding of the position of Kosher Australia, including Rabbi Sprung (mentioned by someone in a comment), is that they are not opposed to competition, they have coexisted for years with other kashrut organisations; in the particular case of KVY, they will not endorse the hashgacha purely for halachic reasons, in line with the RCV’s statement.

    4. Transparency for consumers is a good thing, but we also cannot ask for an unreasonable standard of transparency. In my view, asking KA to publicly answer questions before they are asked is next to impossible. Even to publicly answer questions that have been asked already is an unrealistic demand, as a full answer would likely be lengthy and technical and not of interest to the vast majority of people. I don’t see any problem with answering enquiries on a case by case basis. As someone who cares about kashrut and has contacted KA many a time for clarification on various issues, I have found their answers satisfying.

    5. In case my personal affiliation has any impact on my comments – I’m a Mizrachi member and don’t eat KVY as my Rav’s psak does not endorse this hashgacha. In the same breath I can also say that this does not in any way reflect on what I think of Rabbi Meir Rabi, who I believe to be a genuinely learned and God-fearing Rav.

  • Samuel says:

    Shira – refreshing to see someone with clear thinking who is able to put this matter in proper perspective. If you have the time, many people would appreciate this approach of getting subjects back on track.

  • Baruch says:

    Shira writes “I have found their (KA’s) answers satisfying”. She also writes “I don’t think any of us smichaless lay people have any right to comment on the halachik specifics of Kashrus orgs”

    Well, it works both ways. If one is not qualified to comment on the Kashrus of the org, then they are also not qualified to say they are satisfied with their answers. Their responses may sound great, but unless the asker is qualified, the responses mean nothing. If you feel comfortable with their hechsher, then that’s up to you, but don’t put your reliance on the answers you received.

  • Shira Wenig says:

    Baruch – that is a nice distinction, but when I said I found their answers satisfying, I did not mean that I approved of their halachic reasoning. I meant that they took the time to answer me, didn’t brush off my questions, explained the rationale behind their answers when necessary, updated me when they had completed investigations of products I had asked about, and were perfectly happy to give me a list of code numbers required to ascertain the kashrut of a particular item (and all its different flavours) rather than just giving the easy answer of “it’s not kosher if there’s no symbol on the packaging”. As a layperson, I find that satisfying.

  • Baruch says:

    Shira, I was not specifically telling that to you, except maybe some advice not to rely on the Kosher org’s responses, if you are a layperson. A lot of this and neighbouring threads, there are claims of receiving satisfying responses, when there are learned Rabbis who have looked into specifics and and are not comfortable with some psakim, despite being given the same responses plus having a lot more discussions with the org/s involved.

  • Sam says:

    Baruch,
    It is impossible for even one person to be fully knowledgeable in all things. Courts of Law call expert witnesses all the time to give learned opinions on technical, medical or specialized issues. Judges and lay people rely on these opinions, and they are explained by these experts in language that can be understood by the average intelligent adult. I believe that the same applies with rabbonim (as distinct from a “Kosher Business”) when declaring items as Kosher or not. Basically if you tust that person, you should accept his ruling; you do not need to qualify for a smicha youself to do so. Conversely if you trust no-one then maybe you need to be your own rabbi, or don’t eat, but this is bit too extreme for 99.99% of us.

  • vishniac says:

    Shoshanna Silcove says:
    Vishniac, Obviously, the point I meant was that Mizrachi doesn’t pay so well. You need stop putting words in my mouth and to improve your reading comprehension.

    >>

    Well here are your exact word Shoshana:

    You think that Rabbis Barber and Gutnick closed shop and ran to take jobs at Mizrachi cause the pay there is so great? I am now on the floor rolling around and laughing uncontrollably.

    ==

    So Shoshana is there anyone else around who believes that the 2 good rabbis earn less money by working for Mizrachi?

    That would be the nicest thing you’ve said for a long time

  • I know for a fact the entire story written re Rabbis Gutnick and Barber’s previous employment in kashrus here is entirely false. Pure absolute lying loshon hora.

  • Vishniac, It is a few days before YK. Don’t you have something better to do than to spread loshon hora about other Jews, especially Rabbonim? What could be your motivations for doing this? Ask yourself if this could be coming from your yetzer tov or your yetzer hora.

    AFAIK there isn’t a shred of evidence for the story told on this blog concerning either of those two Rabbis’work history. No one can claim with any veracity that either of these two Rabbis had anything at all to do with the finances of the products they paskened on as kosher, certainly not now, and even more so in the distant past. It is pure unadulterated bulldust created out of thin air and perpetuated as all loshon hora gets spread, by being repeated as fact over and over again.

  • Baruch says:

    Sam, you are correct. One cannot go through life not trusting anyone and should rely on those that he trusts. And that is why in the U.S., Israel and Europe there are a variety of hechshers. There are many learned people there, and they get to know which hechsher is higher standard and the level of others. I frequent two Shuls-one Chabad the other not- where both Rabbis told me they have looked into some of the products, in consultation with overseas after inquiring here and have come to the conclusion which I wrote above.

  • Anonymous says:

    Shalom Shira and thank you for your post.

    I agree with your first point but suggest that it may be inaccurate to link those who are smicha-less with those not well versed in Halachic matters.

    Further, even those qualified, who you suggest have a right to endorse, do not have a right to deride. I presume you meant to suggest “disagree” or “dispute”.

    Re your second point – I find it difficult to understand your stated view; that each individual must pick their own Rav and follow their Pesak. You maintain that each individual is at the same time entitled to privately question their Rav. But we need guidance here: what is one to do if the answers are not forthcoming or not adequate to the mind of the questioner?

    I also do not understand the process by which we “must” choose our Rav. This is not a beauty contest in which we can assure ourselves that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In matters relating to one’s personal life, it is probably true that members of a congregation have some type of a moral duty to abide the guidance of the congregation’s rabbi but I do not know of any Halachic source that supports this. Ashkenasim have Halachic traditions that they must follow, just as we probably have various family customs that are also Halachically binding to some extent, but there is an enormous variety of Halacha and custom amongst the congregants in any congregation. Is a rabbi empowered to select one Halachic opinion over another and impose it upon the individual members of his congregation? Does his opinion carry more weight than the opinion or preference of a Halachically aware congregant? Is a congregant not entitled to follow, or is a congregant discouraged from following, the guidance of a Rav other than his congregation’s rabbi?

    Re point three and four – I am waiting as are many others, to be presented with information about the Halachic reasons for objections to KVY Kashrut. Many written requests have been made for a list of Halachic concerns with assurances that a prompt response will be supplied. Yet there has been no response to or acknowledgement of these requests. I do not think such a request is expecting an unreasonable standard of transparency. At the same time, I do think that the lack of response fails to provide a reasonable standard of transparency.

    Even if lengthy explanations about Kashrut are deemed to be too troubling and time consuming to compile, I would suggest that at least Halachic references should be provided to support and edify the matter at hand and offer an opportunity for those interested to pursue the issues.

    Shira, you mention the RCV statements as though they offer a legitimate Halachic objection to and a properly conducted investigation of KVY Kashrut, But that is far from the truth. Please see the brief history of those events and linked documentation, http://kosherveyosher.com.au/modx/index.php?id=316

    I thank you again, Shira, particularly for your dignified reflections in your last point.

    Gemat ChaSima Tova to all
    May Yom Kippur be the opportunity to arouse ourselves and reflect; to have the courage to apologise for our errors and the strength to stand by our convictions.

  • I did not mean to post that previous note anonymously

    Rabbi Meir G Rabi

  • Tom says:

    Mrs SS, you are just attempting to deny fact to suit your ideas. Rabbis Gutnick and Barber’s pre mizrachi is public knowledge. Check the KA website “Kosher Australia was formed from an amalgamation of mizrachi kashrut and Rabbi Gutnick’s Kashrus activities”. As it was Both Rabbis private hechsher, there is no doubt that the money was paid to them. There is no other way to explain it. Who else could the licensees have been paying to.

    And I can’t see why this is Loshon hora, when there are respectable Rabbonim doing the same overseas. And I never said they receive a great wage at mizrachi. However, they only had a few licensees before, and a full time wage from KA would be a lot more than they were making on their own.

    A GMCH”T and a great year to all.

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