June 3, 2019

Changing Kosher Demographics in Bakery or Bagel Store

Cincinnati... Many Jewish communities throughout the US are changing and perhaps the best place to notice the change is in a bagel store or bakery. One such change took place recently in Cincinnati, the institutional center of Reform Judaism. Marx Hot Bagels, an iconic bagel shop, is changing hands. The fact that the new Orthodox owner, Y Y David, would close on the Shabbos was not lost on the many secular Jews and significant number of non-Jews who patronize the shop 7 days a week. But the Vaad of Cincinnati stepped in and approved an elaborate plan that would keep the shop open on Shabbos under the previous non-Jewish owners. Rabbi Avrohom Weinreb of the Vaad Hoier of Cincinnati explained that the bagel shop has been under kosher certification for 40 years and that the Shabbos plan was consistent with Jewish law when management and profits revert to non-Jewish ownership.

The Cincinnati change of ownership was different from the iconic Houston bake shop that chose to keep its retail operations open on Passover in clear violation of its agreement with the Vaad of Houston, leaving the Vaad with no choice but to remove its certification. The action of the Vaad created a firestorm in the community with its predominant non-Orthodox community. Local Jewish leaders say that the Orthodox population is growing and, of course, relies on a reliable kosher certification.