Monday, May 24, 2010

Should ORA be the official arbiter of Australian Kashrut authorities?

A supreme kashrut authority?
Post by Kosherman:

The AJN seems quite excited by the pitch of ORA to get itself appointed by the federal government to sanction Kashrut authorities. The paper has devoted the whole front page, a half page article and even an editorial to this topic. If we didn’t know better, we could get the impression that the focal purpose and objective of the Jewish News is to advance Kashrut in Australia. Yet this is the same publication that in its Simcha supplements advertises Treif caterers and establishments using the deceptive and fraudulent tags of “Kosher-style” and “Kosher-friendly”.

In fact in this same issue you will find this ¼ page colour advertisement for a Treif chicken shop! What a disgrace! What hypocrisy!

On the issue of ORA becoming the patron saint of Kashrut in this country, let me pass on some of the concerns that I have heard from other Shul-goers since the story broke.

 1) What is the situation with smaller and newer Kashrut providers, eg, Rabbi Shalom Silberberg of Sydney Adass and Rabbi Meir Rabi of Kosher veYosher? Will ORA object to their supervision?

2) Who in ORA will make decisions for approval or non-approval? Will it be rabbis who themselves have a vested and financial (direct or via salary) interest in Kashrut and thus maybe an aversion to new competitors? Or will they be ethical and ensure that no rabbi in involved in Kashrut gets involved? And if so, will the qualifications of any new applicant be left in the hands of ORA members who have no idea or experience in Kashrut matters? Yes, I realise it is a real pickle.

3) Is it a good idea to get the government involved? Didn’t this happen in some states of the US with quite negative results? Do we really want them looking over our shoulders? How will the Kosher consumer benefit from all this?

4) Did ORA in their submission demand that fraudulent terms like “Kosher-style” and “Kosher-friendly” be proscribed? (And if so does the AJN know about this?) If not, why not?

5) Where can we read the entire submission by ORA? Why was there no public consultation with the main stakeholders, ie, Kosher consumers?

Many other questions are being asked and there is no shortage of criticism. A couple of local Jewish blogs have now joined the fray as you can read here and here.

On behalf of AJNWatch I invite our readers to comment on this matter and offer their ideas on the best way to go forward.

PS: Did anyone else notice the irony of that AJN front page being shared by an advertisement for an establishment under the supervision of non-ORA member, Rabbi Meir Rabi?


  1. This initiative would definetly effect the bottom line of the AJN. They perpetuate the ״kosher friendly" and "kosher style" industry.

  2. The concept of a national rabbinic kashrut committee to whom kosher food labelling queries can be directed is a good one. Many well-known rabbinic advisers of our kashrut organisations are members of ORA, and particularly its executive committee but over time this may change and using ORA's President and committee is probably not the best approach. However, a national committee of kashrut certification bodies is in the best interests of all of us.
    Kosher consumers try to keep track of what has been deleted from the approved kosher lists. I am aware of products with labels showing kashrut symbols for years after their kosher status was withdrawn despite the efforts of kashrut agencies to have the labels changed. Often the excuse is that it takes time to use up old labels. In another case the same packaging was used nationwide even though only one State factory had supervision. When kashrut status is withdrawn, what powers do the kashrut agencies really have. This is a nation-wide problem. It needs national food labelling legislation and some real authority to act and report to prevent it continuing.
    Labelling laws also apply to imported foodstuffs.
    Similarly, advertising "Kosher-style" food, while not involving "labelling" as such, is false or misleading advertising which is already an offence. It is unacceptable for a newspaper or web-site to publish ads containing such terms.

  3. It seems that Adass are backing Kosher Australia.
    A little strange unless there must be some secret deal that we do not know about!

  4. Anonymous of 10:56 AM: This coalition of supervising agencies will do nothing to change the problem of people using trademarks falsely. The kashrut authorities already have the power to take these companies to court and sue them for damages - which can be very significant: how much would it cost Kosher Australia if people didn't trust their logo? Joining a new alliance will not help weak agencies suddenly grow a backbone.

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  8. I don't think Adass and KA have similar agendas. Adass wants kosher to mean kosher. KA wants that too - but they probably would like to be able to stop new supervisions.

    KA has always had a dream of being the only game in town. That is why they made 'takeover bids' (successfully) for RM Gutnick's private kashrus business and so too with Barber. Give them a job and a good salary and get rid of the competition. maybe it's time for them to appraoch Kosher veYosher with an offer that Reb Meir couldn't refuse?

    But there is still Chabad and adass to contend with and I doubt that they can been bought off.

  9. I thought Rabbi X [NAME REMOVE BY MODERATOR] (who eats practically by anyone) was making a fool of himself when he attacked the Hechsher of Rabbi Rabi.

  10. I have tried several times to post a comment here and it hasn't appeared. It was pretty harmless and uncontroversial - what's going on?

  11. We seem to have been experienceing some problems in the past 12 hours with some posts not appearing and others being doubled up.

    It looks like things have now settled down.


  13. probably not.
    KA have their own agenda. Just this week someone, on behalf of KA, abused Rabbi Rabi publically and assassinated his character in a friend's facebook wall, it was all rather revolting. This KA affiliated individual (a woman) appeared to be attempting to slander Rabbi Rabi by suggesting he makes Treife things kosher.
    Is this just KA stooping to the lowest possible level? Are they so worried about being out of jobs?
    From what i've heard Rabi receives no financial kickbacks from anyone and furthermore he seems to have been the only one in the kashrus arena to engage in open debate in online blogs.
    I wonder if KA would ever do such a thing.
    Or do they just send their stooges to rip him apart online in a public forum?
    Just pathetic.

  14. Is Adass suporting KA to stop Rabbis like Rabbi Rabi etc. from competing with them to stop other Hechsherim.

    Maybe Graeme Samuels from the ACCC should be advised!

  15. I doubt that Adass cares about Rabbi Rabi (though they did come out against his matza). He isn't aiming at their type of consumer/ And then re rabbi Silberberg I understand that Adass is giving him advice and assistance.

  16. their record is spotty to say the least.


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