Friday, November 5, 2010

"The Supervision Conundrum"

Guest post by Kosherman:
It has been a while since I last posted here. Meanwhile things are livening up in the world of Australian Kashrut. Of course I’ll be commenting here as they happen.

For today’s post, replicating the headline of Yankel Wajsbort’s article in this week’s Mizrachi newsletter seems most apt.
I picked up this packet of Gluten-free cake mix this week and noticed it says “Kosher Pareve”. Fine. Then I see it has the stamp of KA. Fine.

But then I notice another stamp:

For those who cannot read the tiny fonts, here is the wording on the stamp:

כשר למהדרין פארעווע
בהשגחת הרה''ג רב מרדכי זאב הכהן גוטניק שליט''א
ראב''ד דבד''ץ של ק''ק מלבורן והמדינה
Kosher Pareve. Under the Supervision of Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick. Melbourne Australia

That’s when questions began popping up in my mind. The conundrum and mystery here is:

1) Why the need for 2 supervisions? (It’s not like the case of products that have both Adass and KA stamps. There the producer is aiming at 2 distinctly separate groups, one which demands its own Kashrut standard.)

2) Seeing that Rabbi Gutnick of the Melbourne Beth Din is one and the same person as Rabbi Gutnick the head of the KA, what’s the point?

3) Is the manufacturer paying 2 lots of fees?4) And would the second – non-KA – fee (all or partial) be paid to the Melbourne Beth Din – seeing that their name is used for the marketing?

5) Isn’t it strange that Rabbi Gutnick’s full-time employer, Elwood Shul, doesn’t get a mention on his stamp?

6) Remember that colossal hullaballoo recently regarding Rabbi Meir Rabi’s supervisions and him being criticised by the RCV for operating as an individual – as opposed to an organisation like KA and Adass? So what is happening here? Is Rabbi Gutnick himself moving towards again becoming independent by resuming his own Hashgacha?

7) Whilst researching this post, I was informed that the Melbourne Rabbi Gutnick’s Sydney brother, Rabbi Moshe, the head of the NSWKA also has his personal stamp of a number of products – in tandem with his organisation’s stamp. What do the committee and board members of both KAs think of this trend?

I have many more questions, but for starters this should suffice.

I would appreciate answers and comments – either via this blog's comment section or to my email address:


  1. What's this harav hagaon on the stamp? hs anyone ever seen a rav write like that about himself?

  2. Well that's a nice change. We've had just about enough of posts here and elsewhere about Rabbi Rabi.

  3. I think those 2 rabbi G and R are planning a joint supervision - to compete with the KAs

  4. Many of the products are exported and the inclusion of the rabbi's name (separate from the authority's logo) is a marketing tool to help buyers - who are not familiar with the logo - recognise the legitimacy of the product in terms of its kashrus. Having a rabbi's name always helps, as his renown (and his smicha) definitely show that the kashrus in way off Australia is run by someone who can be relied upon.

    For example, Tim Tams here in Israel have both the NSW Kashrut Authority logo and a blurb in Hebrew about Rabbi Moshe Gutnick as the supervising authority.

    By way of contrast, Oreos cookies in Israel are imported from Spain with a hechsher of the rabbinate in Madrid. However, there is no listing of their rav harashi. I do not buy them as I haven't the foggiest about the kashrus in Spain and whether the rabbinate can be relied upon. Had they named the rav harashi, I could have done some research to check his reliability...

  5. I doubt that Rabbi Mottel Gutnick or indeed brother R Moshe are that well known overseas. The KA symbol is far more famous and respected.
    The only Gutnick that most overseas have heard about is Yossel.

  6. Re Emes' comment, you may be correct. But does that mean that the manufacturer pays extra for the second stamp or is that just another service supplied by KA?

  7. Emes, just because a stamp says harav hagaon doesn't actually mean that the stamper is a world renowned gaon...

  8. To consumer, inquisitive and anonymous:

    Yes, of course most of the rabbonim are not known overseas. However, you are missing the point... It is a marketing ploy by the manufacturers/exporters. In the mind of the consumer, the name of a rav lends credence to the kashrus.

    Lhavdil elef havdalos... there are, for example, unfortunately some bogus kashrus agencies here in Israel with fancy shmancy teudas with the name of the supposed rav (who, needless to say, is not a rav) with a whole range of titles appended. It is nothing but a fraudulent marketing ploy (see the Jerusalem Kosher News website) and, unfortunately people are taken in by it, even though they haven't actually heard of the "rav" whose name is on the certificate. They think if someone with a fancy name and many titles is lending his name to the establishment, it must be 100 per cent.

    Again, the Australian rabbonim are of course legitimate and respected, but it is still a marketing ploy to list their names and titles as a way of convincing the consumer that the kashrus agency is bona fide...

    As for the manufacturer paying for a second stamp, I doubt whether they do.


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