May 24, 2022

AKO Rabbis Honor the Past and Plan for Challenging Future

Iselin, NJ…More than 150 rabbis met here for 3 days (May 8-10) as part of the semi-annual convention of the Association of Kashrus Organization (AKO). Kashrus organizations from all over the world gathered here in person (following the difficulties of travel during the pandemic). Founded in 1985 and representing 108 kashrus organizations, AKO has enabled the kashrus industry to unite, establish standards, and meet global challenges. The convention was chaired by Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, executive director of AKO and kashrus administrator of the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc). It was hosted by Kof-K Kosher Supervision, led by Rabbi Ari Senter and Rabbi Moshe Reich. The convention honored the memory of Rabbi Zecharia Senter, founder and rabbinic director of the Kof-K for half a century, and Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, who led the OK for 33 years.

The firsthand demonstrations and workshops included one on nikkur (removing the forbidden fats from mammals), for which an almost entire cow was brought into the conference hall. And more than twenty pieces of fish–both kosher and non-kosher–were inspected and displayed during the presentation on kosher fish. In an industry where even, the smallest details can make a significant difference, there were no less than three sessions focusing on leafy greens: one by the Central Rabbinical Congress on the art of checking for bugs, one by Cincinnati Kosher on vertical farming, and one by the Star-K on the reliability of triple-washed lettuce. Other highlights included a demonstration by the OU on safely kashering commercial equipment, a thoughtful presentation of new research on the issue of DA (displaced abomasum) in cows, and a lively debate on publishing lists of items not requiring certification.