January 26, 2015

Needed: Kashrus Education or Marketing

It is no secret that in many markets in the US, kosher has been on the decline, primarily because of assimilation and non-affiliation with anything Jewish. A typical Jewish family of the 50’s, 60’s and ‘70’s might have been secular, attended synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and bought many kosher products like Empire poultry, Rokeach gefilte fish, and Kedem Grape Juice. They loved kosher deli and challah and so forth. Their children, the baby boomers, still maintained part of the tradition particularly on Passover. But not so the grandchildren. Dennis, a Dallas resident is one such grandson and although married to a Jewish woman, admits that his only connection to kosher food is when he gets invited to a Passover Seder at the home of an associate lawyer “who is more traditional than I am.” When asked what he knows about kosher, he responds: “Yes, it’s the greasy food my grandmother used to make. I still have the taste of the stuffed cabbage in my mouth.”

Obviously, Dennis and many in his generation do not have a clue what kosher food looks like these days. How should he? He doesn’t read any Jewish newspapers and certainly is not exposed to any marketing of kosher. His entire point of reference is his grandmother’s kitchen. To prove that he is still “a good Jew,” he adds, “but you know I don’t eat pork and shrimp.” When I filled him in as to what kosher is all about and even suggested he visit a kosher market and supermarket in his area, he answered “you gotta be kidding – kosher sushi, kosher beef jerky?” I have spoken to a few Chabad rabbis that do quite a job in kashrus education, even sponsoring tours in supermarkets. The bottom line is that there may be a huge opportunity for the industry if only it could reach people like Dennis. Call it education or marketing, contemporary kashrus begs for an expanded outreach program.