Woodbridge NJ…Kashrus officials from all over the world gathered at the Delta Hotel by Marriott for the AKO (Association of Kashrus Organizations) annual conference, December 31, 2019 – January 2, 2020. It included a bus trip to Met Life Stadium for the 13th Siyum Hashas, completion of the Talmud. More than 90,000 Jews participated at the monumental event. Traditionally held the day after Kosherfest, this year’s AKO conference was moved to the new dates to coincide with the Siyum Hashas. The conference was dedicated to the memory of three well-known kashrus authorities who passed away in 2019: Rabbi Shlomo Gissinger (Kof-K), Rabbi Benjamin Shandalov (first director of AKO) and Rabbi Yacov Lipschutz. Amongst the topics discussed were Controversies with Animals and Fish; Schechita in the Era of Animal Rights; Marijuana Certification; Insect Innovations; Impossible Burger; Security; Hashgacha on Home-based Businesses and Labels and Fraud.
According to Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, executive director of AKO, there were a record 140 attendees, a far cry from the 6 that attended the first conference. This year’s speakers included many notable halachic (Jewish law) authorities such a Rabbi Asher Weiss, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Rabbi Shlomo Miller, Rabbi Hirschfeld and Rabbi Reiss. The AKO Convention was sponsored by the Kof-K and the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County. Rabbi Moshe Reich was the Convention Coordinator and Rabbi Ari Senter was the host.