October 23, 2017

Wanted: Qualified Kashrus Personnel

Chicago - Kashrus is exploding on many fronts, which is why kosher certification agencies are on the hunt for qualified administrators and supervisors (mashgichim), according to the Association of Kashrus Agencies (AKO). As kashrus agencies at every level, including the local Vaadim (committees) expand their reach, they require additional personnel. One example is the Vaad of West Hartford, which is looking to fill positions for new accounts it has taken on. To fill some of the positions, the national certification agencies such as the OU, OK, and Star-K are involved in the constant training of kashrus personnel. They include full (lasting several weeks) courses to regional seminars. An estimated 1500 mashgichim are employed throughout the world. One kashrus official told Kosher Today that the growth of kosher food service (restaurants, nursing homes etc.) has created an increased demand for mashgichim. The kashrus jobs vary in their intensity. Some of the jobs require extensive travel or long periods away from home, while others can be part-time. Many of the mashgichim are shluchim (emissaries) of the world-wide Chabad movement. Shluchim often work for multiple agencies. According to Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, Kashrus Administrator for the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc) and head of AKO, “most job openings are not at the top (administrator) – rather one or two below.” However, he points out that often these secondary jobs quickly lead to the top job.

According to Rabbi Fishbane, a good place to connect these job openings with applicants would be with the various programs in Israel that pay yeshiva graduates to move to the US to assume such positions. He himself studied at Ohr Lagolah, an institute where he received his training from some excellent teachers. He said that he finds “that the people that are looking for administrative kashrus jobs have made a decision to combine their enjoyment of engineering and/or food science (with their knowledge of Jewish law, of course) into a productive career. Rabbi Fishbane revealed that the cRc recently hired Rabbi Eli Markowitz to run the Blue Ribbon Kosher and Minnesota Kosher agencies that were recently acquired. “He is a perfect example of a person who loves halacha, technology, “how things are made”, and even the psychological challenge of getting a non-compliant company to appreciate their kosher program.”