May 31, 2011

Pulpit Rabbis on Front Lines of Kashrus

New York…Being a rabbi in an Orthodox synagogue means being an expert in kashrus as well. In speaking to a half dozen rabbis, KosherToday learned that despite advance new tools of technology, (including special telephone hotlines and on-line kashrus inquiry sites) consumers often leave the final word to their rabbis. In fact, several rabbis say that they receive updates and alerts, which they often post in their synagogues. In a recent seminar series in various communities sponsored by the Orthodox Union, rabbis who dealt with diverse kashrus issues still suggested consulting with a local rabbi. In fact, many pulpit rabbis were in the audience at the OU seminars. In many cases, rabbis are already engaged in the world of kashrus, especially in the vast network of Chabad, which is why the OK Kosher Certification plans its kashrus conferences around the shluchim (emissaries) gatherings in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. For the past seven years, the STAR-K kosher Certification, based in Baltimore, has sponsored a Kashrus Training Seminar (this year planned for July 25-28). Each year participants made the trip to STAR-K headquarters, in Baltimore, Maryland, from as far away as Irvine, California, Plano, Texas, and Thornhill, Ontario. With their newly gained knowledge, they have benefitted the communities they have moved to, as distant as Warsaw, Poland. The idea for this intensive Star-K seminar, which is limited to 25 participants, originated from the need for additional training for future rabbi. “Kashrus is such a central part of a rabbi’s role that he must be fully briefed on the latest nuances of kashrus,” said one rabbi. Many Chabad rabbis see their role as “kashrus educators” which includes organizing trips to the local supermarket.