November 18, 2013

Mashgichim (Kosher Supervisors) Finally Get Recognition They Deserve

BROOKLYN, NY — It was an event at the most recent Kosherfest that many felt was a long time in coming. In a ceremony just prior to the Chef Competition on Wednesday, October 30th, Kashrus Magazine named Rabbi Favish Moster their Mashgiach of the Year for 2013. Rabbi Moster has been the head mashgiach for OK Kosher Certification at International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) for 15 years. The plant has 500 workers and produces tens of thousands of products each year. With the explosion of kosher foods, including nearly 250,000 ingredient items, the mashgichim have become the “unsung heroes” of the kosher revolution, according to many sources in the kosher community.

Rabbi Moster went to great lengths to design computer programs to track all incoming ingredients, all production in the plant and all products leaving the plant. He is an expert at “kosherization”.  Also recognized was Rabbi Yehoshua Levy, route mashgiach for the Kashruth Council of Canada (COR) for 15 years. With prior business training, Rabbi Levy approaches each of 15 facilities he works at with understanding of the food production business.

Kashrus Magazine launched their $1,000 "Mashgiach of the Year" award in 2011, choosing one man from many hundreds who exemplifies the best qualities of a kosher supervisor. Rabbi Yosef Wikler, editor of Kashrus Magazine, explained the reason behind the contest. “We recognized that the mashgiach, the on-site representative of the kosher-certifying agency, did the bulk of the work protecting kosher standards. Yet he was underpaid and perhaps undervalued- a kind of ‘unsung hero’ of kosher. After giving up opportunities to achieve fame and fortune, the mashgiach we chose opted to protect us from any non-kosher issue. We owed him royally. But, how could we change that image and how he felt about himself?  So, we arranged this contest.” 

Each year, all kosher agencies are contacted and requested to submit nominations for Mashgiach of the Year. Kashrus magazine then interviews many of those nominated, always mindful of their commitment to find a man who exemplifies the best qualities for a mashgiach, a man who respectfully gets the job done and maintains good relationships with his bosses and coworkers. 

2012 winner Rabbi Moshe Stander has worked for the Orthodox Rabbinical Board of Broward and Palm Beach counties for 10 years, becoming a mashgiach after 21 years as a computer consultant. Rabbi Gedalya Silverstein, Winner in 2011, worked for the Atlanta Kashruth Commission for 12 years when he was chosen. “We take pride in the men we have chosen but we clearly state that there are many hundreds of other mashgichim who are doing amazing work on our behalf,” Rabbi Wikler emphasized.  “The mashgichim are energized by the contest, whether they are chosen or not.”

Sponsors of the “Mashgiach of the Year” contest include Diversified Business Communications/ Kosherfest, Estihana Restaurants (Brooklyn & Manhattan), Chai Ko Tapas Fusion Steakhouse and Sushi (Staten Island), and Rose Gourmet Fine Meat Products (Brooklyn). Said Rabbi Moster: I felt very fortunate and honored to be selected as the Mashgiach of the Year for 2012. As a Mashgiach, I ultimately work for the kosher consumer, and this is for them.”