June 13, 2011

Demand for Mashgichim (Kosher Supervisors) Jobs Soar, Kashrus Agencies Say

New York…Kashrus agencies have had little problem in filling jobs for kosher supervision (mashgichim) despite the double-digit growth of kosher. They have many more applicants than job openings, which some described as a “very surprising development.” To Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the COO of the Kashrus Division of the Orthodox Union, the depressed economy of the last few years has been largely responsible for the sharp increase in applications for mashgichim jobs. For agencies like OK Kosher Certification, the large worldwide network of Chabad emissaries has been an invaluable resource in supervising plants all over the world. In fact, Rabbi Elefant points out that as the largest kashrus agency in the world, his agency also employs large numbers of the ”shluchim” (emissaries). According to Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, the Rabbinic Administrator for the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc) and the Executive Director of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO),the demand varies somewhat for the supervision needed. “There are plenty of candidates for plant inspections, less for catering and even less for restaurants,” said Rabbi Fishbane. Despite the growing demand, salary and benefits  is an issue for many would be mashgichim. Rabbi Elefant says that the same economy that is responsible for so many more people looking for mashgichim jobs is also the reason for establishments looking for the least expensive way to get the supervision done, an obvious reference to declining sales. Rabbi Fishbane says that economics is also the reason why it is often difficult to get mashgichim for restaurants and catering establishments: “ They make more money by sitting home and collecting unemployment.” The officials also did not expect technology to diminish the demand for the human inspections, despite increased surveillance and other technology to assure the integrity of kashrus. While some kashrus organizations are increasingly using the technology in some very specific settings like small factories, the Orthodox Union says that it would only use the technology to support human inspection rather than replace it. Several well-known kashrus issues in recent years have also forced the agencies to devote more efforts and resources to training, including formal classroom  training as well as internships with qualified rabbinic personnel. “In most cases,” said a kashrus official, “we are dealing with people who are already proficient in Jewish law, primarily through their formal yeshiva and post graduate (kollel) training.” More and more young rabbis, the official pointed out, are supplementing their duties as rabbis with a career as a mashgiach. “They simply feel that as a religious functionary, the job of kosher supervision is very much a part of their career choice.”