January 30, 2012

The Great Kosher Debate is Just That...A Debate

Should kosher consumers be forewarned that milk products with a higher level of kosher supervision is preferable to products with a “regular kosher symbol?” Could it be that Haagen Dasz ice cream is not so kosher because it uses liquid milk in Israel rather than powdered milk, as the Chief Rabbinate in Israel claims? Discourses in Jewish law are nothing new, as anyone who has ever studied the Talmud knows. But it is important to recognize that all of the issues debated have been thoroughly reviewed by leading rabbis and that they are in fact subject to interpretation of Jewish law. Kosher consumers, and rightfully so, have a great deal of faith in the competency and knowledge of the recognized large kosher certifiers. Kosher cannot and should not be turned on its head because of someone’s particular views. Thankfully, consumers today have choices so long as they are educated. And if they are still confused, consulting a local rabbi can often undo the confusion.

So as I watched these developments with dairy unfold, I am throwing my lots with the average customer who may say “heard that done that,” as debates over the validity of kashrus are nothing new. If anything, this is probably the appropriate time to chime in with some words of praise for the large kashrus agencies who have managed to respond to the needs of a rapidly growing consumer base and thousands of new challenges, thanks to technology. As I read and reread some of the arguments on both sides of the debating table, I was impressed with the sincerity of the debaters. Regardless, as far as the industry is concerned, it is a debate amongst rabbis, pure and simple and it should not in any way change the way consumers perceive of the integrity of a universally accepted kosher symbol.