What Does Kosher Mean? | JewishMarketing101.com

What Does Kosher Mean? | JewishMarketing101.com

It’s a timeless question: what does Kosher mean? Some say Kosher is all about blessing the animal, some say it’s about not eating pig, and some say it’s similar to Halal. Based on the recent NYC Halal vs. Kosher wars, that last choice is way off.  For some, Kosher is comparable to eating organic. In fact, 3.5 million people are looking for Kosher products so you need to understand what it means. After you understand it, you can start reaching the Kosher market in better ways.

So, here’s a wonderful post from JewFAQ.org about what Kosher means that I’m going to summarize below! After you understand Kosher better, you can understand the difference between Kosher vs. Kosher Style, Passover Kosher and other Kosher trends!

What Does Kosher Mean?

Kashrut is the body of Jewish law dealing with what foods we can and cannot eat and how those foods must be prepared and eaten. “Kashrut” comes from the Hebrew root Kaf-Shin-Reish, meaning fit, proper or correct. It is the same root as the more commonly known word “kosher,” which describes food that meets these standards. The word “kosher” can also be used, and often is used, to describe ritual objects that are made in accordance with Jewish law and are fit for ritual use.

Contrary to popular misconception, rabbis or other religious officials do not “bless” food to make it kosher. There are blessings that observant Jews recite over food before eating it, but these blessings have nothing to do with making the food kosher. Food can be kosher without a rabbi or priest ever becoming involved with it: the vegetables from your garden are undoubtedly kosher (as long as they don’t have any bugs, which are not kosher!). However, in our modern world of processed foods, it is difficult to know what ingredients are in your food and how they were processed, so it is helpful to have a rabbi examine the food and its processing and assure kosher consumers that the food is kosher. This certification process is discussed below.

Kosher dietary laws are observed all year round, not just during Pesach (Passover). There are additional dietary restrictions during Pesach, and many foods that are kosher for year-round use are not “kosher for Passover.” A bagel, for example, can be kosher for year-round use but is certainly not kosher for Passover! Foods that are kosher for Passover, however, are always kosher for year-round use.

So what’s Kosher Style? Check here.

Why Do We Observe the Laws of Kashrut?

Many modern Jews think that the laws of kashrut are simply primitive health regulations that have become obsolete with modern methods of food preparation. There is no question that some of the dietary laws have some beneficial health effects. For example, the laws regarding kosher slaughter are so sanitary that kosher butchers and slaughterhouses have been exempted from many USDA regulations.

However, health is not the only reason for Jewish dietary laws. Many of the laws of kashrut have no known connection with health. To the best of our modern scientific knowledge, there is no reason why camel or rabbit meat (both treif) is any less healthy than cow or goat meat. In addition, some of the health benefits to be derived from kashrut were not made obsolete by the refrigerator. For example, there is some evidence that eating meat and dairy together interferes with digestion, and no modern food preparation technique reproduces the health benefit of the kosher law of eating them separately.

In recent years, several secular sources that have seriously looked into this matter have acknowledged that health does not explain these prohibitions. Some have suggested that the prohibitions are instead derived from environmental considerations. For example, a camel (which is not kosher) is more useful as a beast of burden than as a source of food. In the Middle Eastern climate, the pig consumes a quantity of food that is disproportional to its value as a food source. But again, these are not reasons that come from Jewish tradition.

The short answer to why Jews observe these laws is: because the Torah says so. The Torah does not specify any reason for these laws, and for a Torah-observant, traditional Jew, there is no need for any other reason. Some have suggested that the laws of kashrut fall into the category of “chukkim,” laws for which there is no reason. We show our obedience to G-d by following these laws even though we do not know the reason. Others, however, have tried to ascertain G-d’s reason for imposing these laws.

In his book “To Be a Jew” (an excellent resource on traditional Judaism), Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin suggests that the dietary laws are designed as a call to holiness. The ability to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, pure and defiled, the sacred and the profane, is very important in Judaism. Imposing rules on what you can and cannot eat ingrains that kind of self control, requiring us to learn to control even our most basic, primal instincts.

Donin also points out that the laws of kashrut elevate the simple act of eating into a religious ritual. The Jewish dinner table is often compared to the Temple altar in rabbinic literature. A Jew who observes the laws of kashrut cannot eat a meal without being reminded of the fact that he is a Jew.

How Difficult is it to Keep Kosher?

People who do not keep kosher often tell me how difficult it is. Actually, keeping kosher is not particularly difficult in and of itself; what makes it difficult to keep kosher is the fact that the rest of the world does not do so.

As we shall see below, the basic underlying rules are fairly simple. If you buy your meat at a kosher butcher and buy only kosher certifiedproducts at the market, the only thing you need to think about is the separation of meat and dairy.

Keeping kosher only becomes difficult when you try to eat in a non-kosher restaurant, or at the home of a person who does not keep kosher. In those situations, your lack of knowledge about your host’s ingredients and food preparation techniques make it very difficult to keep kosher. Some commentators have pointed out, however, that this may well have been part of what G-d had in mind: to make it more difficult for us to socialize with those who do not share our religion.

General Rules

Although the details of kashrut are extensive, the laws all derive from a few fairly simple, straightforward rules:

  1. Certain animals may not be eaten at all. This restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs and milk of the forbidden animals.
  2. Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.
  3. All blood must be drained from meat and poultry or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
  4. Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
  5. Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for bugs (which cannot be eaten)
  6. Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (According to some views, fish may not be eaten with meat).
  7. Utensils (including pots and pans and other cooking surfaces) that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food. This applies only where the contact occurred while the food was hot.
  8. Grape products made by non-Jews may not be eaten.
  9. There are a few other rules that are not universal.

The Details

Animals that may not be eaten

Of the “beasts of the earth” (which basically refers to land mammals with the exception of swarming rodents), you may eat any animal that has cloven hooves and chews its cud. Lev. 11:3; Deut. 14:6. Any land mammal that does not have both of these qualities is forbidden. The Torahspecifies that the camel, the rock badger, the hare and the pig are not kosher because each lacks one of these two qualifications. Cattle, sheep, goats, deer and bison are kosher.

Of the things that are in the waters, you may eat anything that has fins and scales. Lev. 11:9; Deut. 14:9. Thus, shellfish such as lobsters, oysters, shrimp, clams and crabs are all forbidden. Fish like tuna, carp, salmon and herring are all permitted.

For birds, the criteria is less clear. The Torah provides a list of forbidden birds (Lev. 11:13-19; Deut. 14:11-18), but does not specify why these particular birds are forbidden. All of the birds on the list are birds of prey or scavengers, thus the rabbis inferred that this was the basis for the distinction. Other birds are permitted, such as chicken, geese, ducks and turkeys. However, some people avoid turkey, because it is was unknown at the time of the giving of the Torah, leaving room for doubt.

Of the “winged swarming things” (winged insects), a few are specifically permitted (Lev. 11:22), but the Sages are no longer certain which ones they are, so all have been forbidden. There are communities that have a tradition about what species are permitted, and in those communities some insects are eaten.

Rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and insects (except as mentioned above) are all forbidden. Lev. 11:29-30, 42-43.

Some authorities require a post-mortem examination of the lungs of cattle, to determine whether the lungs are free from adhesions. If the lungs are free from such adhesions, the animal is deemed “glatt” (that is, “smooth”). In certain circumstances, an animal can be kosher without being glatt; however, the stringency of keeping “glatt kosher” has become increasingly common in recent years, and you would be hard-pressed to find any kosher meat that is not labeled as “glatt kosher.”

As mentioned above, any product derived from these forbidden animals, such as their milk, eggs, fat, or organs, also cannot be eaten. Rennet, an enzyme used to harden cheese, is often obtained from non-kosher animals, thus kosher hard cheese can be difficult to find.

Kosher slaughtering

The mammals and birds that may be eaten must be slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law. (Deut. 12:21). We may not eat animals that died of natural causes (Deut. 14:21) or that were killed by other animals. In addition, the animal must have no disease or flaws in the organs at the time of slaughter. These restrictions do not apply to fish; only to the flocks and herds (Num. 11:22).

Ritual slaughter is known as shechitah, and the person who performs the slaughter is called a shochet, both from the Hebrew root Shin-Cheit-Teit. The method of slaughter is a quick, deep stroke across the throat with a perfectly sharp blade with no nicks or unevenness. This method is painless, causes unconsciousness within two seconds, and is widely recognized as the most humane method of slaughter possible.

Another advantage of shechitah is that it ensures rapid, complete draining of the blood, which is also necessary to render the meat kosher.

The shochet is not simply a butcher; he must be a pious man, well-trained in Jewish law, particularly as it relates to kashrut. In smaller, more remote communities, the rabbi and the shochet were often the same person.

Draining of Blood

The Torah prohibits consumption of blood. Lev. 7:26-27; Lev. 17:10-14. This is the only dietary law that has a reason specified in Torah: we do not eat blood because the life of the animal (literally, the soul of the animal) is contained in the blood. This applies only to the blood of birds and mammals, not to fish blood. Thus, it is necessary to remove all blood from the flesh of kosher animals.

The first step in this process occurs at the time of slaughter. As discussed above, shechitah allows for rapid draining of most of the blood.

The remaining blood must be removed, either by broiling or soaking and salting. Liver may only be kashered by the broiling method, because it has so much blood in it and such complex blood vessels. This final process must be completed within 72 hours after slaughter, and before the meat is frozen or ground. Most butchers and all frozen food vendors take care of the soaking and salting for you, but you should always check this when you are buying someplace you are unfamiliar with.

An egg that contains a blood spot may not be eaten. This isn’t very common, but I find them once in a while. It is a good idea to break an egg into a glass and check it before you put it into a heated pan, because if you put a blood-stained egg into a heated pan, the pan becomes non-kosher. If your recipe calls for multiple eggs, break each one into the glass separately, so you don’t waste all of the eggs if the last one is not kosher!

Forbidden Fats and Nerves

The sciatic nerve and its adjoining blood vessels may not be eaten. The process of removing this nerve is time consuming and not cost-effective, so most American kosher slaughterers simply sell the hind quarters to non-kosher butchers.

A certain kind of fat, known as chelev, which surrounds the vital organs and the liver, may not be eaten. Kosher butchers remove this. Modern scientists have found biochemical differences between this type of fat and the permissible fat around the muscles and under the skin.

Fruits and Vegetables

All fruits and vegetables are kosher (but see the note regarding Grape Products below). However, bugs and worms that may be found in some fruits and vegetables are not kosher. Fruits and vegetables that are prone to this sort of thing should be inspected to ensure that they contain no bugs. Leafy vegetables like lettuce and herbs and flowery vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are particularly prone to bugs and should be inspected carefully. Strawberries and raspberries can also be problematic. The Star-K kosher certification organization has a very nice overview of the fruits and vegetables prone to this and the procedure for addressing it in each type.

Separation of Meat and Dairy

On three separate occasions, the Torah tells us not to “boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” (Ex. 23:19; Ex. 34:26; Deut. 14:21). The Oral Torahexplains that this passage prohibits eating meat and dairy together. The rabbis extended this prohibition to include not eating milk and poultry together. In addition, the Talmud prohibits cooking meat and fish together or serving them on the same plates, because it is considered to be unhealthy. It is, however, permissible to eat fish and dairy together, and it is quite common (lox and cream cheese, for example). It is also permissible to eat dairy and eggs together.

This separation includes not only the foods themselves, but the utensils, pots and pans with which they are cooked, the plates and flatware from which they are eaten, the dishwashers or dishpans in which they are cleaned, the sponges with which they are cleaned and the towels with which they are dried. A kosher household will have at least two sets of pots, pans and dishes: one for meat and one for dairy. See Utensils below for more details.

One must wait a significant amount of time between eating meat and dairy. Opinions differ, and vary from three to six hours after meat. This is because fatty residues and meat particles tend to cling to the mouth. From dairy to meat, however, one need only rinse one’s mouth and eat a neutral solid like bread, unless the dairy product in question is also of a type that tends to stick in the mouth.

The Yiddish words fleishik (meat), milchik (dairy) and pareve (neutral) are commonly used to describe food or utensils that fall into one of those categories.

Note that even the smallest quantity of dairy (or meat) in something renders it entirely dairy (or meat) for purposes of kashrut. For example, most margarines are dairy for kosher purposes, because they contain a small quantity of whey or other dairy products to give it a buttery taste. Animal fat is considered meat for purposes of kashrut. You should read the ingredients very carefully, even if the product is kosher-certified.

Utensils

Utensils (pots, pans, plates, flatware, etc., etc.) must also be kosher. A utensil picks up the kosher “status” (meat, dairy, pareve, or treif) of the food that is cooked in it or eaten off of it, and transmits that status back to the next food that is cooked in it or eaten off of it. Thus, if you cook chicken soup in a saucepan, the pan becomes meat. If you thereafter use the same saucepan to heat up some warm milk, the fleishik status of the pan is transmitted to the milk, and the milchik status of the milk is transmitted to the pan, making both the pan and the milk a forbidden mixture.

Kosher status can be transmitted from the food to the utensil or from the utensil to the food only in the presence of heat, (including hot spices) or prolonged contact, thus if you are eating cold food in a non-kosher establishment, the condition of the plates is not an issue. I knew an Orthodox rabbi who would eat ice cream at Friendly’s, for example, because the ice cream was kosher and the utensils are irrelevant for such cold food. Likewise, you could use the same knife to slice cold cuts and cheese, as long as you clean it in between, but this is not really a recommended procedure, because it increases the likelihood of mistakes.

Stove tops and sinks routinely become non-kosher utensils, because they routinely come in contact with both meat and dairy in the presence of heat. It is necessary, therefore, to use dishpans when cleaning dishes (don’t soak them directly in the sink) and to use separate spoon rests and trivets when putting things down on the stove top.

Dishwashers are a kashrut problem. If you are going to use a dishwasher for both meat and dairy in a kosher home, you either need to have separate dish racks or you need to run the dishwasher in between meat and dairy loads.

You should use separate towels and pot holders for meat and dairy. Routine laundering kashers such items, so you can simply launder them between using them for meat and dairy.

Certain kinds of utensils can be “kashered” if you make a mistake and use it with both meat and dairy. Consult a rabbi for guidance if this situation occurs.

Grape Products

The restrictions on grape products derive from the laws against using products of idolatry. Wine was commonly used in the rituals of all ancient religions, and wine was routinely sanctified for pagan purposes while it was being processed. For this reason, use of wines and other grape products made by non-Jews was prohibited. (Whole grapes are not a problem, nor are whole grapes in fruit cocktail).

For the most part, this rule only affects wine and grape juice. This becomes a concern with many fruit drinks or fruit-flavored drinks, which are often sweetened with grape juice. You may also notice that some baking powders are not kosher, because baking powder is sometimes made with cream of tartar, a by-product of wine making. All beer used to be kosher, but this is no longer the case because fruity beers made with grape products have become more common.

Additional Rules

There are a few additional considerations that come up, that you may hear discussed in more sophisticated discussions of kashrut.

Bishul Yisroel
In certain circumstances, a Jew (that is, someone who is required to keep kosher) must be involved in the preparation of food for it to be kosher. This rule is discussed in depth under Food Fit for a King on the Star-K kosher certification website. 
Cholov Yisroel
An ancient rule required that a Jew must be present from the time of milking to the time of bottling to ensure that the milk actually came from kosher animals and did not become mixed with milk from non-kosher animals. Milk that is observed in this way is referred to as Cholov Yisroel, and some people will consume only Cholov Yisroel dairy products. However, in the United States, federal law relating to the production of milk is so strict that many Orthodox sources accept any milk as kosher. You will sometimes see high-level discussions of kashrut address whether a product is Cholov Yisroel or non-Cholov Yisroel. See a more complete discussion under Cholov Yisroel: Does a Neshama Good on the Star-K kosher certification website. 
Mevushal
Most kosher wines in America are made using a process of pasteurization called mevushal, which addresses some of the kashrut issues related to grape beverages. See The Art of Kosher Wine Making on the Star-K kosher certification website. 

Kashrut Certification

The task of keeping kosher is greatly simplified by widespread kashrut certification. Products that have been certified as kosher are labeled with a mark called a hekhsher (from the same Hebrew root as the word “kosher”) that ordinarily identifies the rabbi or organization that certified the product. Approximately 3/4 of all prepackaged foods have some kind of kosher certification, and most major brands have reliable Orthodox certification.

The process of certification does not involve “blessing” the food; rather, it involves examining the ingredients used to make the food, examining the process by which the food is prepared, and periodically inspecting the processing facilities to make sure that kosher standards are maintained.

Kosher Certification Symbols

These symbols are widely-accepted hekhshers commonly found on products throughout the United States. These symbols are registered trademarks of kosher certification organizations, and cannot be placed on a food label without the organization’s permission. Click the symbols to visit the websites of these organizations. With a little practice, it is very easy to spot these hekhshers on food labels, usually near the product name, occasionally near the list of ingredients. There are many other certifications available, of varying degrees of strictness.

The most controversial certification is the K, a plain letter K found on products asserted to be kosher. A letter of the alphabet cannot be trademarked, so any manufacturer can put a K on a product, even without any supervision at all. For example, Jell-O brand gelatin puts a K on its product, even though every reliable Orthodox authority agrees that Jell-O is not kosher. On the other hand, some very reliable rabbis will certify products without having a trademark to offer, and their certifications will also have only a “K.” Most other kosher certification marks are trademarked and cannot legally be used without the permission of the certifying organization. The certifying organization assures you that the product is kosher according to their standards, but standards vary.

It is becoming increasingly common for kosher certifying organizations to indicate whether the product is fleishik (meat), milchik (dairy) or pareve (neutral). If the product is dairy, it will frequently have a D or the word Dairy next to the kashrut symbol. If it is meat, the word Meat may appear near the symbol (usually not an M, because that might be confused with “milchik”). If it is pareve, the word Pareve (or Parev) may appear near the symbol (Not a P! That means kosher for Passover!). If no such clarification appears, you should read the ingredient list carefully to determine whether the product is meat, dairy or pareve.

Kosher certification organizations charge manufacturers a fee for kosher certification. This fee covers the expenses of researching the ingredients in the product and inspecting the facilities used to manufacture the product. There are some who have complained that these certification costs increase the cost of the products to non-Jewish, non-kosher consumers; however, the actual cost of such certification is so small relative to the overall cost of production that most manufacturers cannot even calculate it. The cost is more than justified by the increase in sales it produces: although observant Jews are only a small fragment of the marketplace, kosher certification is also a useful (though not complete) point of reference for many Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists and vegetarians. In addition, many people prefer kosher products because they believe them to be cleaner, healthier or better than non-kosher products. It is worth noting that kosher certifiers are not the only organizations that charge for the privilege of displaying their on a product: some charitable organizations allow manufacturers to display their logo in exchange for a donation, but unlike kosher certifiers, those charities do not perform any service in exchange for that payment.

You can find more information about kashrut at the websites of major kosher certification organizations.

The Orthodox Union, which is responsible for “OU” certification, has some excellent information on its website, including a kosher primer, an explanation of their kosher policy, a philosophical discussion about “thinking kosher” and a questions and answers section. (Please note: the “Judaism 101” listed on some of their pages is not this website and has no connection with this website).

The Star-K Kosher Certification organization also has an excellent website. The wonderful thing about Star-K is, they give you an incredible amount of detail about the research that they put into determining whether a product is kosher. They tell you what products may be used without kosher certification, and they explain why such products can or cannot be used without kosher certification, giving complete detail about the research that went into making their determination. It also has articles about kashering appliances, and other useful information.

KosherQuest has a searchable database of kosher products as well as an extensive list of reliable kosher symbols and other interesting things.

Five PR Moves to Learn From Zomick’s Pest Problem

Five PR Moves to Learn From Zomick’s Pest Problem

Zomick's PR Problem
Zomick’s PR Problem

Shabbos hasn’t been the same in years recently. Zomick’s, the admired bakery for Shabbos challah, was recently torched by a pest scandal that described how Zomick’s hasn’t passed health inspections for years. Some of the inspection results have been disputed but the PR problem remains.

The news is particularly disturbing to Jewish customers that strictly adhere to high Kashrut standards. Bugs and vermin, aside from being totally unwelcome in diets, are also not Kosher. When it comes to Kosher issues, the Jewish community stands on alert. This crisis is reminiscent of the Monsey non-kosher meat scandal that surfaced years ago as well as Morrell Caterers kosher drama and  the Hebrew National kosher issue that occurred a few months ago. Bugs & rats are extremely bad; bugs, rats, and Kashrut issues are catastrophic.

When a revered brand like Zomick’s gets hit with such a bad report, it makes you wonder what major food manufacturers won’t be hit by a health scandal. Rest assured, though, the problem was more than just a health inspection. In our opinion, Zomick’s has a PR and communications issue that didn’t help them when the time was needed and, more importantly, before it all happened. So here’s five PR moves that Zomick’s did wrong (but could still do!) when averting a crisis that your business can learn from so you don’t suffer a similar bump in the road.

1) Communicate before, during, and after a crisis.

Many Jewish businesses recognize that they have a stable customer base: there’s Shabbat every week, large Jewish families are constantly growing, and there’s generally enough revenue to allow all competitors have a piece of the pie. So why invest in communications, marketing, and social media? This crisis is exactly why. Zomick’s has become a brand out of touch with the Jewish community. Currently, they don’t even have a full website with nutrition facts or product news nor a social presence to allow for customer feedback, comments, or discussions. Their health standards aren’t disclosed to the public and there’s no way for the public to be shown how they operate. The OK examined the Monsey meat scandal and determined that non-kosher meat may have been substituted for kosher meat for almost eight years! Unless there is transparency on food & health, there’s no guarantee that the problem hasn’t been ongoing for years nor that is is solved.

Businesses need to communicate with their customers instantly or they will lose the loyalty in a crisis. If Zomick’s had a Facebook page, they could have communicated directly to their customers the minute negative news hit. Instead news spread on Twitter and Facebook like wildfire about pests & Zomicks, without yielding a single social media objection instantly & directly from Zomick’s ownership. If Zomick’s had a customer email list that they had sent weekly emails to for news and products, families may not have reached for Beigel’s challah instead of Zomicks’ this past weekend. And now that the PR crisis is still on people’s minds, even in the Five Towns, their homebase, they need to start building a PR and marketing presence to let their customers know they actually care and aren’t merely trying to disprove the health department findings.

2) When it comes to food, bad PR is bad PR.

Look how quickly people turned on Paula Deen; she’s a fantastic cook and issue had nothing to do with her cooking (no matter how unhealthy it may be!). When it comes to food, bad PR can’t be turned in any direction these days. Doing a Google search on Zomick’s yields about 50% positive and 50% negative results; in customer’s eyes, that’s 100% bad. Just like sensationalist magazines and celebrity gossip, people are drawn to negative news and they hold onto it until they want to give it up or another hot negative item catches their attention. Anthony Weiner may have gotten a second chance but that was two years later… is Zomick’s willing to wait two years before they start getting good publicity from the public?

3) Being Kosher won’t save you.

Just because you are a kosher product, that doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Hebrew National learned that a while back. A Kosher product adheres to certain guidelines but is not a guarantee of healthy. Yes, green, natural, organic and kosher all tend to be lumped together positively but kosher doesn’t always oversee the manufacturing process of basic items like bread. When it comes to meat, Kashrut supervisors are extremely fastidious but challah is a simple item that doesn’t much oversight and Zomick’s reputation used to be stellar. Just because your product is kosher, it doesn’t mean you’re always answering to a “higher authority”.

4) Never take a holding pattern. Take an action pattern.

When it comes to customer loyalty, there’s no holding pattern to regain it. You need to prove you deserve it. Challah isn’t exactly a unique product – local bakers to supermarkets to moms make challah every week and this scandal is just another reason to stick with their local options. Zomick’s needs to show customers why they deserve a second chance and waiting out the bad publicity without action is just giving local bakeries a chance to gain more loyalty. In fact, numerous supermarkets, like Fairway Market, offer Zomick’s and their own baked goods so the choice between fresh and packaged is even simpler now for customers. Businesses lose loyalty all the time which is why they actively communicate through coupons, special offers, contests, and announcements. You can never wait for loyalty to return. Your business has to prove you deserve it.

5) Appeal to more than Jews.

The Jewish media was quick to pick up the news about Zomick’s. As a result, the Jewish community doesn’t exactly forgive when it comes to a doubt in Kashrut and sales & reputation will instantly fall. If you’re a brand that can sell to the American public, you have a market to fall back on when sales from your primary market take a hit. Hundreds of Jewish food companies rely solely on the Jewish community but understanding how American consumers think is vital to great success. Sabra is advertising their hummus products to the American mainstream even now. Think outside the box when it comes to your Kosher product and you’ll be prepared if your primary market starts to waver.

Zomick’s still has time to repair the damage but it involves more than simply disputing the charges. Zomick’s needs to become more upfront and communicative with their customers, establish a greater presence in food discussions, and create a social place for redemption. The Jewish community is quick to forgive but not so quick to forget. Challah is easy to find, bake or buy. Zomick’s needs to prove they’re worth the second chance.


Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder

 www.henryisaacs.net | info@henryisaacs.net | 646.833.8604


Jewish Event Planning 101 – Kosher Caterers Under the Microscope of Jewish Event Planners

Jewish Event Planning 101 – Kosher Caterers Under the Microscope of Jewish Event Planners

 

The Ups and Downs of Morrell CaterersThe ups and downs for Morrell Caterers: Below you’ll find The Jewish Week article and further below, you’ll find the Vaad of Flatbush letter about Morrell Caterers current standing after the Vaad’s investigation.

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Henry Isaacs | Jewish Marketing & Communications Consultants

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Reposted from TheJewishWeek.com

The Jewish Week
Published on The Jewish Week (http://www.thejewishweek.com)
Home > Nassau DA Opens Criminal Probe In Kosher Catering Case

Nassau DA Opens Criminal Probe In Kosher Catering Case

Morrell Caterer’s former general manager Thomas Cataldo, left, and former executive chef Michael Savitsky.

Morrell Caterer’s former general manager Thomas Cataldo, left, and former executive chef Michael Savitsky.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Stewart Ain
Staff Writer

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Morrell Caterers of Woodbury, L.I., prepared shrimp, lobster, pork and other non-kosher food in the same kitchen as kosher food.

Chris Munzing, a spokesman for Rice, said the investigation started this week after it was reported that two of Morrell’s former employees filed a civil suit alleging that Morrell started a non-kosher business in the kitchen of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, L.I. They said it was begun in September 2010 in conjunction with a high-end event planning company, Pat Glenn Productions.

Munzing declined to characterize the nature of the investigation except to say that prosecutors are exploring “possible criminal activity.”

Included in the court suit was an affidavit from Pat Casarona, a co-founder of Pat Glenn Productions, who stated that Scott Morrell, president of the company that bears his name, “explained that the non-kosher food required for events produced by Pat Glenn could be prepared discreetly in the kitchen of Temple Beth Torah, which as a Reform synagogue did not impose the same stringent rabbinical supervision as Morrell Caterers’ other synagogue venues in Woodbury and Lawrence.”

Casarona added that Morrell brushed aside suggestions that a separate kitchen be used for the non-kosher operation “until it could be determined whether the venture was becoming sufficiently profitable to make investing in a separate facility cost-effective. Mr. Morrell did express great concern during these meetings that, as he put it, ‘there can be no way to trace it back to me.’ ”

At a press conference Wednesday, Morrell angrily denied the allegations, saying: “I stand here with my integrity intact. I never broke any kosher rules, ever.”

Asked specifically about the allegations, Morrell, with his mother, RoseLee, standing behind him, said: “I have no knowledge of that.”

Morrell Caterers has its offices at the Woodbury Jewish Center, where it operates a glatt kosher catering facility whose kosher supervision is provided by the Vaad Harabonim of Flatbush. Rabbi Raphael Adler, the congregation’s spiritual leader, called the allegations “troubling, of great concern and deeply offensive.”

“We have been flooded with calls from families that have booked parties,” he said. “There is angst and concern from families, who are paying top dollar [for a party]. These allegations have shaken the trust of myself, my congregation and the greater community because hundreds of thousands of people have patronized [this caterer] expecting the highest level of kashrut. We hope these allegations will be proven false.”

In the meantime, Rabbi Adler said, synagogue leaders have “been in close consultation with our legal counsel.”

Randy Zornberg, president of Temple Beth Torah, said that within hours after the news broke about the civil suit he had received “over 50 phone calls from people who have parties in the near future and in a couple of years.”

“If the facts of this case are true and he violated kosher laws, he would be in violation of their contracts,” he said. “But these are two disgruntled employees who have left. What their game could be I don’t know. … If [Morrell] has broken our trust by violating his contract, the contract will be terminated.”

Zornberg added that his congregation’s executive board would be meeting Sunday to further discuss the situation.

Rabbi Marc Gellman, spiritual leader of Temple Beth Torah, said told The Jewish Week: “If these allegations are true, it is a violation not only of the legal trust but also of a sacred trust.”

At the press conference, Morrell said he would “consult with my rabbinical supervisor” to decide what to do about the silverware, pots, dishes and cooking utensils that were allegedly used for both kosher and non-kosher affairs.

“I regard kosher supervision with the highest priority,” Morrell said.

The kosher supervisor, Rabbi Steven Moss, said he was “surprised” to learn of the allegations because “to the best of my knowledge everything they used for parties booked at Temple Beth Torah was used only for kosher items. I will look into this as soon as I can.”

“We have to make an assessment to determine the next step,” he added. “If there are utensils that have become ‘infected,’ they either have to get new ones or kasher them.”

Rabbi Moss, spiritual leader of B’nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale, L.I., stressed that he made regular spot inspections of the kitchens of Temple Beth Torah and Temple Israel in Lawrence, L.I., but was not employed to be there full-time.

Morrell’s lawyers, Steven Schlesinger and Ronald Rosenberg, claimed that the civil suit brought by the two former employees was part of a failed shakedown attempt to get Morrell to drop a $500,000 suit against Morrell’s former lawyer. They said the two former employees, Thomas Cataldo, the former general manager, and Michael Savitsky, the former executive chef, were paid by the former lawyer to make the allegations. Both men denied it.

Rosenberg insisted that Morrell never directed his staff to prepare non-kosher food in the kitchen of Temple Beth Torah. He said photos Cataldo and Savitsky showed of shrimp and other non-kosher food in the kitchen were “fabricated.”

And Rosenberg questioned why it took so long for the two men to come forward.

“Why did they find God now?” he asked. “There are some orders you don’t follow.”

Both Cataldo and Savitsky said they had complied with Morrell’s orders because they feared for their livelihood.

“He told me in no uncertain terms that this would continue,” Cataldo said when he protested what was happening.

He said that food for between 25 and 30 off-site non-kosher parties costing at least $200,000 were prepared in the Temple Beth Torah kitchen. He said that although the bills were processed through Morrell Caterers, they were concealed from the synagogue to avoid paying synagogue fees.

Savitsky said he recalled that on at least one occasion his staff was ordered to prepare both kosher and non-kosher food in the kitchen at the same time.

They said they acted to blow the whistle now because they could no longer stand the “guilt” of what they were doing.

“I finally decided I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Savitsky, who came to the press conference wearing a white chef’s shirt. “I just finally gave up.”

Cataldo said in an affidavit filed with the court that he and Savitsky each owned a 5 percent share of the business. And in a court affidavit, he said Morrell Caterers “has no cash, is struggling to make payroll” and owes a key supplier more than $250,000.

Cataldo said that although all of the non-kosher food preparation was done at Temple Beth Torah, utensils, pots and pans, plates, glassware, display pieces and other items were routinely taken to Temple Israel in Lawrence for use there.

“A white platter that was used to pass kosher Hors d’oeuvres there was also used to pass coconut shrimp,” he said. “And sometimes we would bring food back and forth.”

——

Vaad of Flatbush Letter about Morrell Caterers

Vaad of Flatbush Letter about Morrell Caterers


Jewish PR 101 – Kosher is the New “Green” Trend

Jewish PR 101 – Kosher is the New “Green” Trend

Kosher Organic, Natural TrendsThe term Kosher has certainly migrated from an ancient Jewish ritual into a trendsetting term. Used in punchlines and vastly misunderstood (Kosher does not merely mean that a Rabbi has blessed the food), describing an item as Kosher has become as cherished a word as organic, natural, and green. (Check out the NY Times article on Kosher trend-setting)

Long known as one of the most humane ways of slaughter, Kosher is now known for its humane, natural, and ethical guidelines. Consumers see the word Kosher as a signpost indicating clean, natural, and overall, just plain good for you. For the Jewish market, Kosher has always meant that the product is supervised by a rabbinic authority for proper compliance with ritual slaughter, cleanliness, and purity (this is a basic overview – for more in depth analysis, check out this overview by the Orthodox Union).

To the layman, though, Kosher certifications aren’t always as recognizable as terms like “100% Natural”, “Organic”, or “Pure”. Yet at the same time, due to the recesssion, organic and “green” products, usually significantly higher in price, have been hit hard and passed over by price-conscious consumers in favor of regular or generic products (as reported by the NY Times and other media outlets). Kosher products, however, haven’t seen any significant sales declines due to the Jewish market’s dependence on Kosher items, adding a sense of security to companies bottom line while also having the trendy “natural/green” factor.

Now, kashrut agencies and Jewish movements are adding even more to the label Kosher. Now, those Kashrut agencies and movements are adding an ethical seal on top of the Kosher seal, adding a 2.0 element to an ancient Kosher standard. Though not strictly required by Jewish law, the new ethical seal’s theme of ethical and humane treatment is certainly consistent with what Kosher means and stands for.

Hundreds of brands currently have some form of Kosher certification. Adding Kosher certification to your product not only opens your product line to a new world of Jewish consumers, but it also transforms your product into a suitable one for health-conscious and organic shoppers even more than it was before.

Being associated with Kosher is definitely a trend setting theme for food items to highly consider. Kosher food is the new way to “go green”.

Henry Isaacs | Jewish Marketing & Communications Consultants

P. 201.357.2622  |  E. Info@Henry-Isaacs.com  | www.Henry-Isaacs.com
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