December 6, 2010

Kashrus Agencies Expand Their Role as Educators

 New York…A recent edition of Kosher Spirit, a publication of the OK Kosher Certification in Brooklyn, featured articles on kashrus as well as many other subjects of interest to Orthodox Jews. Other kashrus agencies also publish specific publications on kashrus issues and use their Web sites as educational tools. The Orthodox Union (OU) recently introduced its Third Annual OU Kosher Essay Contest for grades 7-12, with the deadline for submissions being March 24, 2011. According to Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, Vice President of Communications and Marketing at OU Kosher, the contest is an additional component of OU Kosher’s educational outreach to schools and yeshivas. This program includes visits by OU Kosher rabbis across the country. At the Star-K Kosher Certification, based in Baltimore, offering kosher food to Jewish students on-campus irrespective of religious observance, is the best form of education, Rabbi Ephraim (Efy) Flamm, the director of the Jewish Collegiate Network, an affiliate of The Etz Chaim Center, an adult outreach organization in Baltimore, says that there is no question that Kosher has grown on the Maryland college campuses over the years. The Star-K certifies dozens of campus kosher programs, many outside of Maryland. In its newsletter, Kashrus Kurrents, Margie Pensak cites examples of how the kosher food programs have been used for effective outreach to college students.

The increased outreach by the kashrus agencies is an effort to reach out to core kosher customers as well as the broader community. One kashrus official said: “It is our responsibility to educate the masses about the intricacies and opportunities of kosher.” For OU Kosher, it has meant visiting synagogues in many parts of the country to answer questions about kashrus. It recently hosted a program in Far Rockaway and the Five Towns as part of its ASK OU program. “I was absolutely awed by the level of professionalism, erudition, sincerity and eloquence displayed by all of the rabbonim last night,” emailed B. David Schreiber, Esq., a Cedarhurst attorney.