August 4, 2014

Mashgichim Face an Increasingly Dangerous World

TEL AVIV — The news that the Chief Rabbinate withdrew mashgichim (kosher supervisors) from Turkish plants in the face of Israel’s war in Gaza is part of what some kashrus organizations call “working in a more dangerous world.” They recall the murder of two mashgichim in Mumbai in December 2008. Extremists have recently threatened more terror in Mumbai with the Indian government stepping up security around Jewish institutions.

In Europe, growing anti-Semitism has also rung the alarm bells. According to sources in the Chief Rabbinate’s office, one direct result of the turmoil in many places in the world is to restrict the travel of kashrus officials in trouble spots. Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Kashrus Division of the Orthodox Union, which certifies companies in some 99 nations, says that the organization relies heavily on local rabbinic authorities in many parts of the world, many within the Chabad worldwide network.

It is clear that kashrus officials think twice before dispatching a rabbi into a part of the world that they may not be familiar with. Relying on local rabbis who “understand the lay of the land” seems to be the new modus operandi of may kashrus organizations. The caution has extended even to Israel where some food plants are located in Sderot and other border towns.

Map BBC News