July 29, 2013

Why dot-kosher is Mired in Controversy

On the surface it would seem that the very thought of the considerations by Icann (the Internet’s organizing body) to create a dot-kosher is testimony of the enormous growth and popularity of kosher. But as we found out last week, it is not that simple or that kosher. It seems that many kashrus officials, including the Orthodox Union, are not at all keen at what they call “commercializing” kosher. But Kosher Marketing Assets, which is affiliated with the OK Kosher Certification, applied for the domain designation and says that it is not seeking to control the category and is willing to work with the other kashrus agencies. In November, Kosher Marketing Assets, the OK Kosher unit, filed an application for dot-kosher, with a mission to "promote kosher food certification in general, and OK Certification and its clients in particular."

But other kashrus agencies don’t see it that way and are opposing the OK application. "We were concerned by the language in the application, which stated that a single agency would have the right to grant use of the kosher domain name,” Rabbi Avrom Pollak, the president of Star-K  said in an interview. Both sides say they're still hopeful their dispute can be resolved amicably. "We wanted this to be low-key," Star-K's Pollak said. "We are not interested in having this become a major battlefield."

Several of the rabbis I spoke to liked the idea of a dot-kosher but perhaps structured differently. One rabbi said: “I have been concerned about the commercialization of kosher for many years but this seals it for me. I am a purist and yearn for the days when kashrus was for kashrus sake.” Still in all I can’t help but think how much the industry would gain from a dot-kosher, provided, of course, that evokes unity not enmity.