Chicago…The annual in-person AKO (Association of Kashrus Organizations) conferences typically draw 100-150 attendees. Due to Covid-19, this year’s conference was held virtually with a record 450 rabbis signed in (800 logins throughout the Conference). Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, AKO’s Executive Director, thanked the team that made it happen, dedicated the conference to the late Rabbi Abe Sharp, and welcomed Rabbi Nosson Dubin of Houston Kosher as the newest member of the AKO Executive. It was a year in which AKO lost 7 prominent members including Rabbis Don Yoel Levy, Dovid Feinstein, Dayan Osher Westheim, Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Leizer Teitelbaum, Abe Sharp, and Sholem Gurewicz.
The program covered fascinating and diverse topics, including a virtual trip to Scotland, an insider’s view of sherried scotch, as well as a virtual tour of a grape juice production in Northwest USA. There were sessions on cashew production in Ivory Coast, marijuana hashgacha, cereal production, an AKO tolayim (insect infestation) committee update, Jewish eating and Vegetarianism, Keurig reconstruction: a tevillah (koshering) alternative, and special breakout rooms for those specifically involved in foodservice and in industrial kashrus. Mashgichim (kosher supervisors) joined from all over the world, in addition to North America and Europe, including Turkey, Australia, Tunisia, and China).