November 17, 2014

Breaking News… Uncertainty in Donetsk Casts Pall on Kosher Food, but Chief Rabbi is Optimistic

New York…The estimated 30,000 Jews who eat kosher in the Ukraine are not faced with any shortages of kosher food despite the uncertain political situation, according to Rabbi Yaakov Bleich, the Chief Rabbi. In an interview with Kosher Today during a visit to New York, Rabbi Bleich said that there is a great deal of uncertainty about continued production of kosher food in Donetsk, the center of the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels. At least 20 companies in Donetsk are under kosher certification, some by the major certifiers like the Orthodox Union and the Kof-K and others by a local certification agency. The majority of Donetsk’s 18,000 Jews, many of them elderly have fled the fighting to Kiev, Odessa, and other Ukrainian cities as well as Israel. Rabbi Bleich estimated that there were as many as 70 food production plants in the Ukraine that produce kosher food. He noted that the country’s rich agriculture made it rife for the export of kosher ingredients to Israel and other countries. “I am optimistic that the needs of the country’s Jews who observe kosher will be met even if Donetsk turns out to be unmanageable,” Rabbi Bleich said. He said that a Matzoh bakery in Kiev produces more than 170 tons of Matzoh for Passover, when thousands of other Jews who do not eat kosher all year seek out kosher products. A large market for kosher in the Ukraine is Odessa where the local community consists of many schools, nursing homes, and orphanages.